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How schizophrenia patients in Turkey are finding relief on stage

In a small Turkish city, a pioneering psychiatrist has achieved remarkable success in treating schizophrenia patients with theatrical improvisation.
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AKSARAY, Turkey — In a state hospital in Aksaray, a small city in Turkey, 30 patients with schizophrenia have embarked on a new life thanks to an unusual therapy their doctor developed. Away from their families and society, withdrawn into themselves and tormented by false beliefs, the patients have performed 20 plays across Turkey over the past year as part of the innovative therapy, and many psychiatrists are closely watching. Along with its positive impact on the patients, the theater stage has served as a means to overcome fear and prejudices against schizophrenics in society.

The “Count Me In” troupe — the first comprised of patients with schizophrenia in Turkey — are expressing themselves through a play called “A New World Through a Schizophrenic Eye.” Everything on stage is improvised, allowing the actors full freedom of expression. There is no script, and their laughter, anger or weeping is all real.

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