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September 08, 2006



God bless you Hugo. You are a remarkable person. We all love you!


Hugo, I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your forthrightness. Thanks for sharing this, difficult though it may have been.

Shawna R. B. Atteberry

I have had to cut off a friend due to her irratic and violent behavior that could very well be NPD (her mother was bipolar, so it could be that as well). You give me hope that one day may be she will see what she really is and get the help she needs. Thank you.

The Happy Feminist

You needn't apologize for hammering home the message that it is possible to change. It can't be said enough because so few people believe it.

Thank you so much for this post.


You blow my mind sometimes, Hugo; this is one of those times. I would never have guessed any of this. Inspiring.


I am glad that you have, through a variety of support and hard work, found a balance that works for you and congrats on maintaining that.

However I am deeply disturbed by your statement: "And if nothing else, my story makes clear to me (and perhaps to others) that addictions, personality disorders, and mental illnesses can -- through a combination of grace and exhaustive, long-term effort, be overcome."

While your story has a strong "will to power" element, and can serve as an inspiration for others to work to find thier own balance - your dismissal of permanent long-term mental illness along with pharmaceutical assistance as a form of inspiration to others is misleading. Some mental illnesses cannot be overcome by a willingness to change and prayer - at least not while there is an imbalance of lithium in the brain. Bipolar, unipolar & OCD among others are ones in which submission to God may be benificial to the support of life, but pharmaceuticals are neccessary for long term stability. We don't assume that someone with dyslexia can "overcome" it though devotion and facing themselves honestly, yet we do for ADHD?

I am reminded of the 50's when MS was considered to be simply a physcial manifestation of "hysterical women" who could, if they just focused, pull themselves together. Now we know that it is a degenerative neurological disorder. But how many suffered because they just didn't "try" hard enough?


Elizabeth, my "can" is not a mandate to all sufferers. Why some make it and some don't is anyone's guess. My condition was grave and real, and my life is different today -- and I don't take meds. But as they always say, mileage may vary. I mean no disrespect to those who haven't had my experience. I am humbly grateful, not arrogantly proud.

The Happy Feminist

I didn't read this post as an anti-medication post. I think that the moral message that people can change (and should take steps to change if they are inflicting harm on others) includes change by means of whatever assistance is out there, be it therapy, God, medication, other resources, or combination thereof.

And the concept of "change" can encompass a lot -- from improvement of one's symptoms, regulation of one's behavior, or outright cure.


Oh, wow...I have a total blog-crush on you now, Hugo.

I loved this: "Especially with mental illness, a clinical diagnosis only describes the past and the present, not the future." After a friend was diagnosed with borderline PD, he found the diagnosis more crippling than his experience or symptoms. I reminded him that he was the same person five minutes before receiving the diagnosis as he was five minutes later; the diagnosis was only of any value if it helped him with self-understanding, self-control, change, growth, etc.

At the risk of hijacking a thread and/or starting tangential controversy, I have to say I was struck by a connection between your ideas about "change" as related to mental health and "change" as related to an issue close to me, namely same-sex attraction (I am "ex-gay," with a conservative viewpoint on same). Particularly in regard to your comment to Elizabeth: "My 'can' is not a mandate to all sufferers. Why some make it and some don't is anyone's guess." But the fact that some don't make it doesn't mean that others can't, or shouldn't try.

The Happy Feminist

I know I am a sucker for thread drift, but I think the issue of being ex-gay relates back to some of the points in the thread. There are three different issues here: (1) Can a person with a mental illness or same-sex sexual orientation change? (2) Should a person with a mental illness or same-sex sexual orientation change? and (3) (slightly differently) Does a person with a mental illness or same-sex sexual orientation have a moral obligation to change?

As to whether a person with same-sex sexual orientation can change, I am not gay but I suspect the answer may be yes that change at least to some degree is possible. At the very least, I am guessing a change in behavior may be possible, if not a change in orientation. (However, such a change may cause the individual great misery.)

This is a separate issue from whether a mentally ill or gay person should change or has a moral obligation to change. That comes down to whether the mentally ill or gay person is harming himself or others. There is no doubt in my mind that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder have a tendency to inflict harm on others (and the harm may be emotional harm rather than outright dangerousness). Therefore, I have no problem saying there is a moral obligation for an narcissist to change. I don't see any corresponding moral obligation whatsoever for a gay person to change. Just because he can change does not mean he is obliged to do so. There are also, I suppose, mental illnesses which the sufferer has no obligation to change.

(That is not to say that if you franksta wanted to change your orientation or your behavior that you shouldn't have done so.)


I really loved this post, and thank you so much for putting these thoughts out there. People need to understand that each of us are important enough as individuals to merit an attempt to improve our lives if we believe that something is wrong. Whether that improved well-being is attained through medication, work done in the area of personal growth, reaching out to a higher power, or a combination of these is not really relevant, is it? The key thing seems to be an awareness that you are worthy of loving yourself. Like you, I've also been able to surpass severe difficulties in my life through spiritual growth and therapy. In my case, I also discovered that I have ADHD, and without question, the medication (non-stimulant) enables me to have the life I knew I could have. I believe that in some cases (as in my own) your biology simply does not allow you to overcome certain tendencies, so medication is necessary. How much have these things helped me? I'm an ex-alcoholic and ex-drug-abusing hispanic female who grew up in difficult economic circumstances. I'm now pursuing a doctorate in Mathematics and I plan on becoming a professor. My life is refreshingly calm and non-dramatic now, and I hope to inspire others who have grown up in similar circumstances so that they understand that they can achieve and do whatever they wish. They only need to understand that they are worth the effort, and if they need help, they need only to reach out and ask for it.


OH MY GOD. Hugo, I've been your student and I have regularly read your blog, but I never ever would have imagined you were like this. I knew about the divorces, but this... this just shocks me so much. I look at you and I can't imagine you as a crazy person, doing things to end up in mental hospitals. I wish I could have seen you before to compare you to what you are like now. Or maybe I'm glad I don't know exactly what you were like back then.

Thank you for writing this. I promise not to look at you differently, and really it just makes you more inspiring and admirable. I am dying to know what your wife thinks! How does she handle your past? Will you ever post about that?


My wife is an extraordinarily wise, spiritual, and patient person. She challenges me as I've never been challenged, and she loves me with an intensity which takes my breath away. It's more than I deserve. Beyond that, Bri, I hope you'll understand that I don't post about our marriage and how we work things out together.


Nothing to say, Hugo, except perhaps to mention the Herbert which is swelling in my head after reading this-"Love bade me welcome". Sounds like you know it well.

Much love and strength from the Antipodes.



i think if I was one of your ex-wives I'd be really really angry with you as well as your current wife. Seems like it's very convenient for her- she gets to be married to the good, reformed you, while the others had to put up with all your negative behaviour and help you grow. It's a bit like getting to enjoy a nice clean room that someone else has spent all day cleaning.


Pallavi, my ex-wives (particularly the first two) are entitled to their resentments. But she who is my wife today is in no way to blame for the fact that she didn't meet me until after my transformation. And let's be clear, though my ex-wives and girlfriends often made heroic efforts to "save" me, what changed me in the end was not their codependent devotion but the radical love of God. I say that not to dismiss their efforts, but to make the point that human love alone was not enough to turn my life around.


Thanks for your courage in posting this one, Hugo. Mental illness has caused a lot of tragedy in my family, and one of the most painful things for me to witness is how people become convinced that they cannot change nor hope for a better life. Don't be too hurt by the nay-sayers. I can see that you're not aggrandizing yourself but trying to glorify God by telling this story. Hang in there.

Kara-Leah Masina

Hey Hugo,

Good on you for sharing your story. I too have had mental health issues that were part of the spiritual transformation path I am on. I was diagnosed as bi-polar after two psychotic episodes that were triggered by a kundalini awakening experience I had.

I am in the process of putting together a list fo resources for people who believe their mental illness may have spiritual causes, and have included your article in these resources.

Much joy,


Thank you very much.u


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