Understanding Schizophrenia: Fake Signer at Mandela Memorial Claims Mental Illness Read more: Understanding Schizophrenia: Fake Signer at Mandela Memorial Claims Mental Illness

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Could schizophrenia explain Thamsanqa Jantjie’s bizarre behavior?

“I don’t remember any of this at all,” Jantjie told the Associated Press when a reporter showed him video footage of him signing at the Mandela memorial service on Dec. 10.

Jantjie was on stage for more than three hours, ostensibly interpreting speeches made by dignitaries, including President Obama, in sign language for the deaf community. Except that his sign language was incomprehensible to them; during the service, they took to Twitter, describing what they saw as gibberish and accusing him of “flapping his arms about” and being an “embarrassment.” Deaf actress Marlee Matlin, told CNN, “It was almost like he was doing baseball signs.”

Defending himself to the press on Thursday, Jantjie says he suffers from schizophrenia, but stands by his sign language credentials. Although he did not recall the Mandela memorial, he said to CNN, “It has been many years I have been doing this job. My portfolio shows that I have been a champion of what I have been doing.”

Jantjie claimed he was experiencing a psychotic episode during the service; he told the Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, that he “lost concentration, started hearing voices and hallucinating.” The voices drowned out what he was supposed to be interpreting, so he said he did the best he could. He mentioned to other reporters that he saw angels enter the stadium as he was standing on the stage.

by Alice Park, Times

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