When Chris Marciano was 4 years old, he would have a blistering tantrum whenever music came on the radio. By the second grade, his teacher described him as “not with us.” At age 11, he was kicked out of school.
“The pediatrician said he was just obnoxious, which wasn’t very helpful,” said his mother, Mary Gabel, about the first assessment of her then-preschooler. “I knew something wasn’t right.”
Some 20 years after that assessment, Marciano has accumulated a long list of other adjectives in medical evaluations — excitable, fearful, grandiose, hostile, suicidal — and his mother hasn’t stopped searching for the right kind of help.
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Marciano bounced from emergency room to jail to the streets. When he believes he is Jesus Christ or Tupac Shakur or tells his mother she needs to “watch her back,” Gabel said, she double-checks the locks on her house in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood and alerts her neighbors that her son might come home. She estimates he has been hospitalized 45 times.
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