The Feminist Schizophrenic Who Society Did Fail

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I’ve made a few prior blog posts that might give people the idea I don’t like women. This is simply not the case; I just regard myself as immune to the kind of identity politics that obstructs people from looking at a situation clearly.

There are indeed problems facing women in our culture. I’d like to talk about one such individual whom our society has failed, but not for the reasons that radfems usually give.

For the past few hours I have been listening to the video blogs of Lena Kochman. Initially I discovered her after seeing a viral video of a woman claiming a post man was stalking her and was curious what the context might be. Normally these things tend to lead to news articles of police arrests, but instead I discover she is essentially a homeless lady who is schizophrenic and has latched onto radical third wave feminism ideologies to fuel her mania. She uses the YouTube video capture function on her phone to take constant mini vblogs of all kinds of things she comes across in daily life — primarily sign advertisements like billboards — which she thinks are messages from “the Conglomerate”, which is like the feminist version of the Illuminati, apparently, which is trying to ruin her life with constant harassment she designates as some kind of patriarchal conspiracy.

Mostly she takes short videos of random signage that she believes are personally aimed at her and has interpreted as ridicule. To be fair if not for some of these videos I would not be able to piece together her issues, as she often uses these signs as an opportunity to rant about her past and present. 

Everywhere she looks she sees crimes against women, if not specifically against herself. Whether men cough, walk past her or simply stand near her while working; all of these acts are unwanted harassment in her mind. She thinks those little triangle flags that construction companies put down are territorial signs of male dominance. A lot of her videos are captures of the license plates of cars outside the women’s shelters she stays at; cars supposedly belonging to the men that are part of this mysterious Conglomerate that dominates her ramblings. She is also greatly disturbed by the presence of caution cones and is absolutely convinced every random service vehicle she sees is stalking her.

She used to have a WordPress blog. At some point she started believing Google was censoring her articles because they did not appear on the first page of search engine results for certain keywords. So she started blogging about this. She then started posting titles to articles that WordPress’ filters assumed were spam because they looked very similar to poorly created keyword stuffing — the kind that crappy bots create. So her WordPress site was shut down. Instead of understanding what had happened, she instead assumed The Conglomerate was harassing her.

Watching her entire collection is problematic; she frequently abandons YouTube channels and creates new ones when she thinks the aforementioned agency is watching her videos. Strangely her videos do not seem to actually have any comments on them — I assumed that some of her mania might be worsened by harassment from online trolls but unless she is deleting the comments on old accounts she has abandoned, nobody seems to be paying much attention to her.

As much as it is tragic, it is also interesting to watch these videos. Although I have interacted with schizophrenic people I have never seen such a personal glimpse into the everyday life like this. I mean, it’s a purely unadulterated view at how she sees the world. While she is pointing her camera at a hospital ad that features a baby and ranting about how this ad is a personal message directed at her, I am looking precisely from her viewpoint through the camera. I can pause the frame and carefully examine every inch of the ad and try to figure out precisely what the hell she is talking about, and completely fail because the workings of her mind is foreign to me. No amount of conceptual thinking assists me in understanding her thought patterns. This is rare.

In some video blogs she shows copies of her college homework (don’t ask me how she managed to get into college when she is so obviously unable to function in society — it ought to be a crime for colleges and student loan companies to take advantage of someone so schizophrenic) and I can see that her mania does not inhibit her ability to learn. She can show her work in algebra by writing out the formulas. She can write in Spanish. Her English essays are free of the kind of grammatical errors I typically make in my own prose. The thought occurs to me that if not for her mania, she could otherwise be a very intelligent woman. It at least tells me that her schizophrenia onset is probably new to her life — some of her video blogs feature letters from college admins informing her of disciplinary actions for her disruptions in class, so I cannot imagine her mania was present while she was in grade or high school. That makes her story all the more tragic.

What is most startling is some of her college essays read exactly like the kind of radical feminist manifestos that has become popular on college campuses in recent years, lending some anecdotal weight to my personal belief that many of the people who adopt these kinds of radical ideologies are suffering from some kind of disorder.

The videos from just a few years ago show a girl attractive enough for her age; her newest videos betray the impact of an untreated mania lifestyle.

In 2011 she was in the Vermont State Hospital for treatment; according to one of her posts she was released after only six months. This was obviously a mistake.

As I watch these videos I recall Lena Kochman is just one of the 1.5 million homeless Americans roaming our streets, many of them suffering from manias like she is. They don’t get the treatment they need, and without it their mania makes it impossible for them to function in our society. Instead they wander the streets from shelter to shelter, receiving free food, clothing and (obviously) smartphones with internet access that keeps them surviving but they do so while continuously angry and afraid.

I watch her and I know she will die in a gutter somewhere and it will not be a pleasant death. I know this because she frequently says she doesn’t want to keep living the way she is. She roams the streets, imagining that every passing car is a stalker. She is constantly afraid for no reason. This will never end well for her. It’s just a matter of time until she confronts someone who seriously hurts her, or she hurts herself. There will be no dignity in the way her life ends.

In her latest videos it seems she is enrolled in the Pine Street Inn homeless program where she has been given an apartment to stay in rent free.  I know this because she has talked about the program in some videos, and I was able to piece the details together. It is a noble effort but it’s clearly not a sustainable solution for someone so incredibly dysfunctional. Without treatment she will never be able to hold down a job or contribute to society in any meaningful way beyond showcasing the painful life of a paranoid schizophrenic through her videos.

I hate to suggest we should bring the asylums back, but it’s pretty goddamn obvious that what we’re currently doing is not working. The shelters are not equipped to handle schizophrenics, nor are the colleges. Only mental health professionals can assist people such as Lena Kochman through a cocktail of anti-psychotics and therapy.

As I have no other way of trying to help her, I try to reach by commenting on her latest video.



She replies back, and so do I;


The effort is in vain though;


My words of encouragement fail to convince her. She will simply delete my messages, as she has others. If anything they likely embolden her behavior. Giving attention to a paranoid schizophrenic without the ability to remove them from their current predicament is often a wasted effort. This is the reality of psychosis; once reality has become distorted, any rational arguments can no longer reach you. I know this, and yet tried anyway.

I’m not the only one who has tried to reach out to her. It’s human to want to help such a lost soul. Yet there is no way to help such a person through the internet. She, and other homeless maniacs like her need treatment that only hospitals can provide. There’s no solace to find anywhere else, be it reddit, YouTube or WordPress.

I think our country needs serious mental health reform. There’s absolutely no good reason why someone such as Lena Kochman should be in a homeless program and enrolled at a community college where she is taking on debt, instead of receiving treatment at a psychiatric hospital inpatient program. Her life serves as clear evidence that there is failure at multiple levels in our society (the city and federal government, her college, and the prior hospitals she was enrolled in) and that we can do better.

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  • Michael P

    Kind of dark viewing tbh. I had 3 bi-polar family members who suffered from delusions/psychosis and now 2 of them are dead by their own hands. I believe the 3rd will join them soon enough.

    Everyone is against them, everyone lies to cause them pain or trouble, we’ve done things to them (heinous things) that we refuse to acknowledge and apologize for. They are innocent, we are responsible.

    Even though I know better, I actually contemplated reaching out in the comments too but there’s no helping them when they’re this far gone. She likely believes the meds that would save her are part of the same grand conspiracy to control her.

    The obvious solution would be to lock her up and force feed her meds until it’s under control but there’s no guarantee that once she’s out, she won’t decide to stop taking them again. So then you’ve got to hire people to monitor her outside of a care facility.

    Now imagine the outright opposition to such a costly, tax payer funded endeavor in America….yeah it’s not gonna happen.

  • Donna in Virginia

    I’ve followed Lena online too. She is in her 40s. Her condition started when she was around 19 or 20, I believe. She is from a good family in Vermont. But from all I could gather, her condition became too much for them when she attacked one of her parents. They threw her out and don’t have contact with her. Yes, I agree that she is intelligent. She has been homeless for years. Also, in and out of the hospital programs. It really is sad. Anyone who tries to help her, she immediately becomes suspicious.

  • Leenie S.

    I was reading this up until the point where you mentioned she was “attractive enough for her age”. Wtf does her level of attractiveness have to do with anything. If she was butt ugly this would be less of a tragedy?

  • No, it would not. The reason I pointed this out is that by watching the videos you can see her sharp decline in health as her untreated illness takes its toll on her mind and body. It is a very visual change.

  • CK

    Excellent analysis, Carey, and a great read. In recent blog posts–January of ’17–she has spoken openly of suicide and that she may very well lose her digs at Pine Street Inn. Also in her own words, she is barred from virtually every homeless shelter in Boston. Couple that with daily rantings about the “conglomerate” and “stalking,” she is going to be in for a nasty surprise in 2017 barring some miraculous self-realization and/or voluntary committal to a mental health program.

  • Stacey Erickson

    I went to High School with Lena. She was a year behind me in school. Lena showed no sign of mental illness in High School. She was super smart (high honor roll), well liked, kind, sang with the choir, performed with the musicals and was on the cross country ski team. She reminded me of a little pixie – small stature, very shy around guys and very pretty. She was one of my close friends and I always imagined she would follow her Father’s footsteps and practice law. She was ambitious and driven. She has one much older sister who is very successful and her parents were older. I left for college a year before she graduated, but I attended her High School graduation and would see her in the summers. One summer I visited her in the hospital in Vermont. She was in the eating disorder wing I was told, but I wonder now if she was not there for mental health care. After I graduated from college, I married and moved to NH and heard Lena was homeless in Boston. I was horrified and was able to make contact with her and drove to Boston to pick her up. She stayed with us for less than a week before wanting to return to Boston. It was incredibly frustrating to want to help but not be able to get through to her. At the time, I was very naive to the level of illness she was suffering. It breaks my heart to see her videos. I can’t watch them anymore because they are deveststing. You are right. The system has failed her. She’s had several apartments but loses them all when she stops functioning. I often wonder what happened in college that triggered the mental illness manifest itself in her life.

  • That is tragic to hear. I really hope someone helps her.

  • I am very sorry to hear all of this and learn my suspicion was correct and that she started out in life very promising. It is terrible that our society does not do a better job to help people like her. I hope something can be done for her by someone in Boston with the proper resources and medical background.

  • disqus_tsXCzqVEOt

    Hi Carey,

    I think you have made a valiant attempt at helping this person. As someone who has experienced delusions in the past myself, I wanted to make a few essential distinctions.

    There is a difference between hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are usually visual (but they can also be auditory). One imagines objects or hears things that aren’t really there. Delusions are different. When someone forms a delusion, they take signs or micro-expressions from everyday objects or people and connect them to a series of beliefs that aren’t based on reality. Because these signs are everywhere in reality, the delusion is constantly triggered by the physical world. In many of her videos Lena acknowledges that people have told her she’s having delusions. She’ll point at a FedEx truck and ask, sarcastically: “is that a delusion?” Because she sees that the FedEx truck does exist, she assumes it’s stalking her. There is no separating the real-world object with the false belief system in her mind. Or perhaps no has explained to her the difference between a hallucination and a delusion.

    Because delusions are so difficult to separate from reality, they are extremely difficult to treat. Unless one is actually showing psychotic behavior, antipsychotics have been shown to not work in treating delusions. They will subdue patients, but they will not change the way they think. Only intensive insight therapy can do that. And that is costly.

    I appreciate you acknowledging that the mental health care system in this country is broken. However, your suggestion to treat Lena with a cocktail of antipsychotics is even less helpful than suggesting long-term inpatient psychiatric treatment. If you’ve ever talked to anyone who has lived in an inpatient psychiatric facility for a few months, you’d be shocked at their stories of the lack of cleanliness, the abuses of nurses and staff, the denial of exercise, the poor nutrition. The list goes on. Many compare inpatient psychiatric facilities to prison. Some say they are worse.

  • Benevolus

    Mental illnesses like schizophrenia usually aren’t “triggered” by anything other than brain growth. Schizophrenia and a few other illnesses happen later in life for most people because it is connected with Frontal Lobe functioning. A woman’s frontal lobe completes its growth in her mid to late 20’s, so this is when it tends to spring up.. The brain begins pruning things that it shouldn’t be pruning and it really messes with thoughts/functioning. This is just something that happens. We know of no ways to predict or stop it.

  • Karolis Masilionis

    Do you still talk with Lena? Did she tell why she wanted to return to Boston? This whole story breaks my heart, she deserves a better life.

  • Thomas

    I thought there were people that had recovered from schizophrenia and that schizophrenia can develop later in life for differetn reasons? (Not just thinking about her case).

  • Thomas

    I’m confused now, the person in that video looked pretty young?

  • Thank you for commenting and providing your insight.

    I don’t know — I still don’t think leaving individuals like this to fend for themselves in the street is a better alternative. There must be some hospitals which are better than that.

  • Thomas

    Could also be drug use. You can be an addict and a schizophrenic. There is coming research now tying drugs (also cannabis) as a cause of mental illness.

  • Thomas

    What I mostly reacted to was (as you write) how much she sounds like other radical feminists.

    Here in Sweden there has been a lot of documentaries about women that went to feminist-lead womens shelters, and they talk real horror stories about being driven around everywhere by paranoid women (feminists) who told them that men were following them.

    And then we have the whole, it’s always mens fault, whatever the issue. There are even radfems arguing that homosexuals only have sex with men because they hate women.

  • Maura

    Does anyone have any updates on Lena? She hasn’t written in her blog since the end of October and I haven’t seen any recent videos from her.

  • No Days Off

    The age of onset for schizophrenia is late teen/early adult- which makes sense in Lena’s case. She is 100% a textbook case of schizophrenia and I encourage anyone interested in or studying psychology to use her videos as learning material…and as a way to help understand those suffering from the disorder.
    Schizophrenia occurs when there is damage in the prefrontal cortex of the brain- that’s the area responsible for organization of thoughts- so with schizophrenia it’s not something like a fear of spiders where you can just talk a person out of it. Think of them like someone missing a hand- they simply CANNOT perform certain actions as that part of the body is missing. There is however ways to help manage the paranoia and delusions through medication and therapy- the same way you can give a person a prosthetic…but it will NEVER be the same thing. It’s sad, but one must accept them for who they are and don’t take their delusions personal.
    The reason Lena isn’t taken care of as well as we’d all like is because of her constitutional rights. There is however a 72 hour involuntary hold if they are a danger to themselves or others, but one cannot be detained indefinitely without a trial of one’s peers. The reason behind this is because anything more would be considered false imprisonment. It would be a violation of one’s constitutional rights if they were placed in a facility against their will and without a trial – even if it were for their own good. I will admit, it can be sad at times that those in the most need do not get it, however, as Ben Franklin once said- “Those who sacrifice liberty for safety will receive neither”.

  • No Days Off

    Or it could be that in an effort to “self medicate” she is using drugs. That also happens as well, usually in Bipolar disorder as a way to get through the lows- sufferers will often use some form of speed to re-create their natural manic highs.

  • No Days Off

    No, you cannot recover from schizophrenia, the same way a man cannot grow his hand back after having it chopped off.

  • Nachman Avruch

    Lena is fully aware of her mental health problem. As you mention, she has been in the Vermont state psychiatric hospital. She’s also been in other hospitals, voluntarily or otherwise. She spent many years in treatment and on medications that were largely successful but had difficult to tolerate side effects, making it easy for her to decide to stop taking them. As she came off the meds, she became convinced that her mental illness was a lie, even a conspiracy.

    Also, she’s a little over 40 years old. She’s from Vermont, where her father is a lawyer for a housing agency. Plenty of people have tried to help her over the years; it’s nice to think that an anonymous (more or less) reach out over the Internet might help, but it’s sadly unlikely.

  • Nachman Avruch

    Nothing happened to Lena in college – that’s the age at which schizophrenia manifests in most people who come to suffer beneath it.

  • Nachman Avruch

    She has always looked young for her age, yes. She was in her late 20s when I first got to know her, and she looked about 17.

  • Nachman Avruch

    Not seeing anything super recent, but she has always had gaps – and she also moves from one anonymous set of accounts to another pretty regularly.