Award winning filmmaker, and co-director/producer of Medicating Normal, Lynn Cunningham produced, directed and edited films/TV for PBS and the History Channel in the 1980s and 90s (A Quiet Revolution: The Emergence of Alternative Education in Japan; Twenty Years of Co-Education; A Family in Progress; An Innovator’s Story, Behind the Scenes, Walter Reuther & the Birth of the UAW, Tadao Ando, Butoh: A Body on the Edge of Crisis, etc).
Twenty years ago, as she was becoming a parent herself, Lynn witnessed with crushing despair the dramatic transformation of a beloved family member. Once a bright, high functioning scholar/athlete having graduated from an elite college, Lynn’s relative had become in a few short years– a terrified, suicidal shell of her former self— diagnosed with serious mental illness. Putting their faith in the best psychiatric standard of care at the time in the late 90s, Lynn and her family were initially reassured by the relief and stability provided by medication and therapy. After a ten-year period, however, one medicine had become ten, and income from a vibrant, self-sufficient career was replaced with monthly disability payments. Unable to provide an answer to her relative’s persistent self-doubt, “Is everything going to be OK?”” Lynn began searching for answers. She joined with her filmmaking partner Wendy Ractliffe, embarking on five years of research into the complex world of mental health treatment. After discovering Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic, they interviewed 100s of psychiatric patients and consulted with scores of experts across the country about their experiences. A personal quest to help one suffering individual turned into a mission to tell an untold story. In Medicating Normal, Lynn and Wendy began to piece together a stunning new perspective on the safety and efficacy of psychiatric drugs and society’s over reliance on them to relieve pain and suffering.