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'Kony' creator Jason Russell suffering from psychosis, wife says

March 21, 2012 |  7:21 am

Jason Russell

Invisible Children filmmaker Jason Russell, who created  the viral "Kony 2012" video, suffered from "reactive psychosis" last week during a bizarre incident in San Diego in which police were called, his family said.

In a statement released Wednesday, his wife and other family members said he is receiving treatment from doctors.

"The preliminary diagnosis he received is called 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.

Police 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.

"Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading to" the "Kony 2012" video, the family statement said. "We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it."

In an apparent comment to the nonprofit organization's many volunteers, the statement concludes: "On our end, the focus remains only on his health, and protecting our family. We'll take care of Jason, you take care of the work. The message of the film remains the same: Stop at nothing."

The organization plans to distribute materials about Kony in several major cities, including San Diego, in April.

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.”

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego and Shelby Grad

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

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