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'Kony' creator's illness due to stress, exhaustion, family says

March 21, 2012 | 10:48 pm

Jason Russell in 2010.
The illness that hospitalized Jason Russell, the Invisible Children filmmaker and creator of the "Kony 2012" video, was what his wife described as "reactive psychosis."

The condition can be caused by stress.

In a statement released Wednesday, his wife and other family members said they believe this condition caused him to act strangely last week, ranting and roaming around San Diego in the nude.

The family said the treatment could take months.

"Jason will get better," they said. "He has a long way to go, but we are confident that he will make a full recovery. He is, and will remain, under hospital care for a number of weeks; and after that, the recovery process could take months before he is fully able to step back into his role with Invisible Children. During that time, we will focus not on a speedy recovery, but a thorough one."

They said doctors are treating Russell for "brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by the extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration," the family said. "Though new to us, the doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks."

Russell, 33, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon by San Diego police after neighbors reported him running naked in the streets of a Pacific Beach neighborhood, pounding his fists on the sidewalk and shouting incoherently. Police took him to a mental health facility for observation.

The Associated Press reported that it's unclear how many people suffer from the condition:

"Brief reactive psychosis is triggered by trauma or major stress such as an accident or death of a loved one. Other stressors can include sleep deprivation or dehydration," the AP reported. "Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and strange speech and behavior. People typically recover within a few weeks without medication. Others have to take antipsychotic drugs to alleviate symptoms or undergo talk therapy to cope."

Last week, San Diego Police Department officers responded to "several callers [who] reported that the male removed his underwear and was nude, perhaps masturbating," according to the police statement. By the time police arrived, the man was wearing underwear.

"The callers reported the underwear-clad male was in the street, interfering with traffic, screaming, yelling incoherently and pounding his fists on the sidewalk," according to a statement released by police spokeswoman Lt. Andra Brown. "He continued to act in a bizarre and irrational manner."

A statement by Russell's wife, Danica, and other members of his family suggested the criticism of the Invisible Children video about African militia leader Joseph Kony may have contributed to Russell's bizarre behavior.

"Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard," the statement said.

Among other things, critics said the video misstated the facts about the current level of violence in Uganda, Kony's current whereabouts and the strength of his militia forces.

Russell is a native of El Cajon, where his parents run the Christian Youth Theater. A graduate of USC, he co-founded Invisible Children, which now has headquarters in an office building in downtown San Diego.  
"On Jason’s behalf, keep your attention turned to the end of Africa’s longest-running conflict, and setting a precedent for all future injustice," the family said in the statement Wednesday. "With love and overflow of gratitude for your prayers, we thank you.”

RELATED:

'Kony 2012': Which 20 celebrities are targeted to help?

Police take 'Kony 2012’s' Jason Russell to mental hospital

Video allegedly shows 'Kony 2012's' Jason Russell naked, acting strangely

-- Tony Perry in San Diego and Shelby Grad

Photo: Jason Russell in 2010. Credit: Fox 5 San Diego

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