Videos: Schizophrenic at age 7


Her “friends” live in a world called Calalini where the mercury sometimes soars to 200 deg C. Jani Schofield holds up a sketch of a cat. His name is 400, she says. He’s very bossy.

It’s this cat, Jani says, together with a rat called Wednesday and a girl named 24 Hours, that tell her to hurt her mother, father and little brother.

She’s only seven but her days are far from filled with carefree fun. Too often schizophrenia holds her captive in a dark world where hallucinations distort reality unrecognisably.

When she was five Jani tried to commit suicide. She tried to jump from her bedroom window on the second storey of their block of flats in Santa Clarita, California, her father Michael says. On another occasion she tried to strangle herself.

The girl has since achieved overnight fame after appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show when she described Calalini as the place where all her “friends” live.

By January last year her psychotic episodes were so bad she had to be admitted to a psychiatric unit.

Unlike other newborns she slept just four hours a day instead of 14 to 16 hours. She cried all the time and the only thing that would shut her up, her parents say, was being surrounded by lots of people.

There was nothing physically wrong with her. Then, just before her third birthday, the imaginary friends arrived.

When disturbed by a psychotic episode she would scratch and bite her parents until they bled and even tried to scratch Michael’s eyes out. Seconds later she’d be her old, loving self.

And although Jani complained of being lonely, things just deteriorated after the birth of her brother, Bodhi. And she wanted to harm herself more.

“I remember her strangling herself,” her mother Susan says. “[She was] holding her hands around her neck, and she’s like, ‘How can I break my own neck?’ ”

Eventually she had to be hospitalised and was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was six.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Doctors are trying their best to control her psychotic episodes with medication and her hallucinations aren’t as bad as they were.

But her parents don’t know how much longer they can protect their child from herself. “I’m not hanging on to the hope that she’ll get better,” Michael says sadly. “My biggest fear is she won’t live to 18.”

See video grabs of Jani Schofield below.

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