News / USA

Psychologist Tells Inspiring Story of His Giant Uncle

Psychologist Tells Inspiring Story of His Giant Unclei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Greg Flakus
November 14, 2012 5:06 PM
Millions of people seek help from psychologists in part because they feel different from others. But Phoenix-based psychologist Andrew Erlich says everyone is a freak in some way. As VOA's Greg Flakus in Houston, Texas, reports, Erlich argues for acceptance of differences in a book about an uncle who overcame prejudice and pain caused by his extreme height.
Psychologist Tells Inspiring Story of His Giant Uncle
Greg Flakus
Millions of people seek help from psychologists in part because they feel different from others. But Phoenix-based psychologist Andrew Erlich says everyone is a freak in some way. Erlich argues for acceptance of differences in a book about an uncle who overcame prejudice and pain caused by his extreme height.

In more than 50 silent movies in the 1920s, Jake Erlich amazed audiences by towering over every actor in a scene.

On stage, he was known as Jack Earle, The Texas Giant. To his show business friends, he was a gentle and considerate man. Among his friends were some of the smallest people.

This son of Jewish immigrants had a tumor on his pituitary gland that caused his unusual growth. Growing up... and up, in El Paso, Texas, Earle often was the object of derision.

"Having to dodge rocks that were thrown at me when I was a kid would become all too common," said Erlich, reading Earle's comments from his book.

Andrew Erlich is Jack Earle's nephew. His book, The Long Shadows, tells how Jack, or Jake, overcame his challenges, including depression.

"Most of us have something that we are embarrassed about. It is like an invisible clubfoot. But for Jake, it was present. Everybody saw it," said Erlich.

As a clinical psychologist, Andrew Erlich helps patients who see themselves as freaks. First, he tells them about his uncle.  

"Here is a man that overcomes the stereotypes, and he does it not by avoiding who he is, but by embracing who he is and expressing it in the visual arts and in his performances," he said.

Erlich's book tells about how Jake toured with the circus and then, after suffering temporary blindness, took up sculpture and painting.

"He found freedom through creativity. I am very interested in the creative process in the people that I see, and I use Jake as an example, and I show them his paintings," said Erlich.

Jake's paintings depict circus events, scenic vistas and the lives of common people he met traveling the country.

"Jake really wanted to do something that was not photographic. You see a scene and your emotions come through as you see it, and you paint it from different perspectives," said Erlich.

Today, advances in medicine can prevent the gigantism that afflicted Jake Erlich. He died at the age of 46 in 1952. But Andrew Erlich said openness to diversity is progress compared to Jake's era.

"People were very frightened of human differences, and they would build walls to protect themselves from those differences and those walls that separate us are very dangerous," he said.

Erlich hopes that his uncle's story will help readers accept themselves and fulfill their dreams.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid