Sue and Daniel Hanson Present Convocation at Mount Union College

April 13, 2010

While half of the 2.2 million people diagnosed with schizophrenia receive treatment, the other half end up homeless or in prison, Daniel Hanson said, a professor who, accompanied by his wife, Sue Hanson, spoke about their son Joel's battle with the illness at a Mount Union College convocation Thursday in Presser Recital Hall.

According to Sue Hanson, Joel's diagnosis was confirmed on May 1, 1995, after she received a phone call from her 20-year-old son, proclaiming he was Jesus reincarnated, needing to save the world. She said Joel's serious and persistent schizophrenia causes him to believe he is God and any person who argues against him is evil.

'This is Joel's reality,' Sue said. 'Joel would rather have the death penalty than admit that he has a mental problem.'

The Hansons said while they do not share in Joel's claim that he is God, they do respect his belief.
'We have agreed to disagree,' Mrs. Hanson said.

Even after taking medication, Joel continues to suffer from delusions and disordered thinking, which impair his social skills and lead him to isolation, Sue Hanson said.

'As parents, we think we can make life better for our children, but with schizophrenia you can't,' Sue said. 'Mental issues are a whole different ball game ' and for me, 'Mrs. Fix-It,' it is almost unbearable.'

Despite the Hanson's frustrations, they consider Joel a blessing and have learned to accept their son and his illness.

'We are better people for having Joel in our lives,' Daniel said.

Daniel Hanson said his family continues to live in hope as he read an excerpt from his book, 'A Room for J: A Family's Struggles with Schizophrenia.'

'Our love for J will never end and therefore our hope will endure,' he said.

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