I seem to have the habit or the talent of spotting coincidences and patterns whenever I plunge into a bit of research. In the course of writing my newest book an odd coincidence to do with the University of California, Los Angeles, generally known as UCLA, has become apparent. In 2009 Jani Schofield was diagnosed with child-onset schizophrenia at an inpatient clinic of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UCLA. It was a different doctor from the same university, but from the Child Psychology Clinic and sixty-five years earlier, who invited the now-legendary film producer Val Lewton to discuss with students his new movie The Curse of the Cat People, which the doctor at UCLA was much impressed with, despite the movie's deplorable title which had been imposed upon Lewton from his bosses at the RKO movie studio. The central character in this classic movie is a young girl named Amy who has a father who is concerned about her. Amy spends more time in the company of imaginary friends than she spends with other children who are made of flesh and blood. Because of this Amy's father fears that his daughter is close to insane, but the good thing about this movie is that it is slanted from the point of view of the lonely and misunderstood child. I'm guessing that this is what Dr Fearing at UCLA liked about the movie. One scene reveals that Amy shares the same unusual neuropsychological trait that Jani Schofield also clearly experiences. What makes this particular scene even more interesting is the fact that this anecdote in the film narrative was based on experiences in Lewton's own life. What strange trait, which has speculatively been linked with hyper-empathizing, is a trait that is/was common to Val Lewton, the fictional child character Amy, Jani Schofield and also the enigmatic American child diarist Opal Whiteley, who was most famous in the 1920s? Buy my book and find out!
The Mysterious Mind of Opal Whiteley: Four Unique Lives Compared.
by Lili Marlene