The national award stems from a research project the 20-year-old Lee produced for Dr. Elaine Perea’s Abnormal Psychology class in which he interviewed and videotaped a woman suffering from schizophrenia, as well as her mother and her daughter. The video, called Mind Over Mother: Schizophrenia vs. Motherhood, focuses on the challenges of being a single parent suffering with a mental illness and the toll it can take on the entire family.
In the video, Lee’s primary subject is a woman who worked for a telecommunications company for 27 years and, while she had often been in and out of therapy, she was not formally diagnosed with schizophrenia until later in her career. The video reflects on the insidious, gradual nature of some forms of schizophrenia and how its symptoms can eventually rob someone of their ability to function in society. It also highlights the hope that proper medication and treatment can bring to those suffering from mental illness.
Lee said his interest in psychology goes back to when he was very young. “I always loved helping people and I like to teach myself new things,” he said. “Psychology is something that’s fun to me. It makes you think about yourself.”
He plans to attend the University of Central Florida upon earning his A.A. degree at Daytona State, hoping to ultimately earn “at least” a master’s degree in clinical psychology.
Dr. Perea sees great promise in Lee, and feels his future is as wide open as his ambition and desires.
“Michael is a talented young man and his interview and video went well beyond the expectations of the assignment,” she said. “I was delighted to see the enthusiasm and commitment that he displayed, not to mention his awareness of the course content. He was able to highlight important aspects of the interviewee’s illness while allowing the viewer to gain a sense of her humanness.”
Lee will be presented his award, along with a cash prize, on Aug. 4 at the APA’s annual convention in Orlando.