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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid