DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows
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Watching: DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows

Chapter 5: Trauma, Stress, and Depression [9:37]

Shep and Jiwe describe the childhood traumas that affected them. What is the dynamic between genetics and environment?

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Transcript: Chapter 5 - Trauma, Stress, and Depression

NARRATION: (RESEARCH LAB) As researchers try to understand the causes of depression, they have discovered a complicated dynamic between genetics and the environment.

DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: (VO, RESEARCH LAB) We all have a vulnerability. And the vulnerability is determined by two major factors -

DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: (OC) genetic vulnerability, which accounts for about a third of risk for depression, and what I would call environmental perturbations, which would include early life trauma, child abuse and neglect, um, experiencing traumatic events as a child and young adult, poverty.

NARRATION: (DR. NULAND AT DESK) Surgeon and award winning author Dr. Shep Nuland believes that childhood trauma played a significant role in his illness.

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (VO, DR. NULAND AT DESK) Growing up with my father was unimaginably difficult.

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (OC) In the first place, here I was a small boy of immigrant parents who couldn't read and write English.

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (VO, DR. NULAND FAMILY PHOTOS) And all I wanted was to be an American. All I wanted was to be in this world and know this language and read these books. And my father to me when I was seven, eight, nine, ten, and even in my teens was a Yiddish albatross around my neck.

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (OC) And then of course there was his temper which would erupt in public places. Obviously it would often erupt

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (VO, DR. NULAND FAMILY PHOTOS) at home, but when I say 'erupt' that's a deliberately chosen word because it was so explosive and so unexpected, unpredictable. And to me, my father was the epitome, not just of failure,

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (OC) but of someone who looked ludicrous to the rest of the world, someone who seemed worthless to the rest of the world.

NARRATION: (DR. NULAND FAMILY PHOTOS) An ever-present dread of his father's moods made for an uneasy childhood. And then, at age 11, he lost his beloved mother.

NARRATION: (DR. NULAND AT DESK) Despite these hardships, Shep rose from his immigrant ranks to attend college and later Yale medical school. He experienced a minor setback with depression during this time, but managed it with a few therapy sessions.

Then, in his late thirties, his marriage of twelve years came undone.

Its dissolution threw him into a dark despair.

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (VO, DR. NULAND FAMILY PHOTOS) Is there any human being who has ever lived who doesn't have

DR. SHERWIN "SHEP" NULAND: (OC) such dark thoughts from time to time? Is there any human being who has ever lived who hasn't developed ways of getting out of those dark thoughts? And for most of us, those ways are somewhat efficient. But for some of us, those ways are self-contradictory. They just make things worse. And the more obsessional one is, the more one gets trapped in these convoluted notions of how to get out of the entrapment. They just go deeper and deeper and deeper, and there I was. I was chained. Everything about my mind was chained. And I knew something desperate had to be done.

NARRATION: (DR. NULAND AT DESK) The year was 1973. Despite the stigma of mental illness and the repercussions it could have on his life and career, Shep felt he had no other option but to check himself into a psychiatric hospital.

NARRATION: ("JIWE" MORRIS AND FRIENDS DRIVING THROUGH CITY) Like Shep Nuland, Dashaun "Jiwe" Morris was also a victim of childhood trauma. Jiwe is a member of the bloods, one of the most violent gangs in America.

Growing up on the streets of Newark, New Jersey, he and his friends have been involved in some of the city's more violent encounters.


DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (OC) You don't know that you're goin' come home. You go in there and you fight the best you can and you hope you make it up outta there. And that's what it is for a lot of us on the street.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS AND FRIENDS) A lot of my homies, a lot of older homies that I know, a lot of my elders, lot of these cats don't wanna live this lifestyle. But what else is there to go through?

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (OC) So you learn to take that, internalize that, and make it work for you, so you be (sic) the baddest S.O.B. you could be.

NARRATION: ("JIWE" MORRIS WRITING) Jiwe has suffered from early life trauma, which planted the seeds for his later depression. He was born into a world of neglect and abandonment with an absent father and a drug-addicted mother. At age nine, Jiwe was sent along with his siblings to live with relatives in Arizona.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS WRITING) My mother was supposed to actually come with us but she sent us. And, you know,

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (OC) one month turned to three months. Three turned to five, you know? And she hadn't showed.

DR. DAVID GRAND: (OC) You don't even have to think psychologically to think that if you're very young and there's nobody there for you, the sense of helplessness and the sense of-- of hopelessness and the collapse that you feel, you know? It induces depression.

NARRATION: ("JIWE" MORRIS SITTING ALONE) like many children left on their own, Jiwe adopted his peer group as his surrogate family.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS SITTING ALONE) Phoenix is infected with gangs, you know? There's a lot of gang activity goin' on out there. So, you know, when you step outside your household, this is what's out there waitin' for you.

NARRATION: (GANG PHOTOS, CHILDHOOD PHOTO) It didn't take long for gang members to come calling. Jiwe's initiation into the bloods took place when he was just eleven years old.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, CHILDHOOD PHOTO) when you wanna fit in and be accepted, you don't know what your limits are. And, again, at that age, you know, I really didn't understand the importance of what killin' was.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, CHILDHOOD PHOTO) The gun is chrome with Black electrical tape around the handle

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, READING FROM BOOK) Seconds before the showdown, with hand and fingers positioned around the gun, my anxiety thickens. I stick my head out the window, aim, and meet the eyes of the fool closest to the curb.


DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, READING FROM BOOK) Crips start running every which way. Somewhere around my third shot, I feel like I'm playing Duck Hunt on Nintendo. Everything seems to reduce in speed. I feel a connection that no other feeling can replace, jubilation at its purest and ripest form. It's the utmost penalty man can physically give and receive, and I'm behind it. I now got the power.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, GANG PHOTOS) I knew what I had done was wrong. I'm feelin' bad inside, but I'm gettin' praised for it. That was my first day of separation from myself, like,

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (OC) from that day forward, things changed for me because I knew what respect was. I knew how to get respect and I knew what-- how to equate respect and love and power. I could put that all in one. And that was violence.

YOUNG: (RAP SONG, FRIENDS ON STEPS) Take a walk into the dark side and feel our pain. See what I call a family, you call it a gang. My brother Tim shot nine times right in the street, my homeboy Maggie (name ???) killed the very next week and you can't understand why I'm depressed and I don't get no sleep? ...

NARRATION: (RAP SONG, FRIENDS ON STEPS) By age 13, Jiwe found himself back in his old New Jersey neighborhood.

YOUNG: (RAP SONG) Gangbanging put little dudie in a coma.....put a bullet through Tank's neck....or Rapee (???name) he crossed over.. Jiwe War of the Bloods in My Veins, it's a wrap.

DR. DAVID GRAND: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS AND FRIENDS WALKING ALONG WATER'S EDGE) The mortality rate among young people like Jiwe is frighteningly high. We come from a background or most of us come from a background where you expect to live to when you're in the 70s or 80s and so on. These kids, you know, the idea is, they may not make it to 20.

DR. DAVID GRAND: (OC) You know, but making it to 25 or 30, it's, like, you know, didn't even think about it.

NARRATION: ("JIWE" MORRIS AND FRIENDS IN ELEVATOR) While violence is not usually associated with depression, suicidal impulses or risky behavior can be manifestations of the illness.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS AND FRIENDS IN ELEVATOR) On few occasions, me and a couple of my partners, we would load up a-- you know, a 38, you know, leave one bullet in. And, you know, we were really-- I've done it about a half a dozen times in my life. And we would really, like,

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (OC) take this game, take it seriously, you know, get liquored up and really, like, test our fate. All the while, we was (sic) living suicidal every single day of our lives because we was (sic) out on these streets with people gettin' murdered every day. It's just a different form of suicide. And that's ...(inaudible) said. When you gangbang, it's just a form suicide as well.

NARRATION: ("JIWE" MORRIS SITTING ALONE) Jiwe's violent lifestyle caught up with him at age 23.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS SITTING ALONE) I went to jail facing attempted murder charge. My back was against the wall.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (OC) A good comrade of mine was murdered in my neighborhood.

DASHAUN "JIWE" MORRIS: (VO, "JIWE" MORRIS ALONE IN ROOM) I was fed up with it...I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

NARRATION: ("JIWE" MORRIS ALONE IN ROOM) Six months later, Jiwe would be released from prison. He felt something had to change.

NARRATION: (FEDS MAGAZINE ARTICLE) He contacted Terrie Williams, the author of an article about the influence of the environment on criminal behavior. Jiwe hoped that she could empathize with his predicament. What he didn't know was that Terrie had also struggled with depression and would later prove to be the pivotal figure in his recovery.

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