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Sense of Self, A (ATOM study guide)

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We all know Liz Jackson from her powerful Four Corners stories beamed into our living rooms for over two decades. She is brave, intellectually rigorous and possesses an ability to interview without par. Prime ministers feared her; ordinary people opened their hearts to her. She changed the way we think on issues of national importance like the Children Overboard affair, the Iraq War and the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction, the fall of Soeharto and implosion of East Timor, catastrophic floods, youth suicide, euthanasia and Aboriginal deaths in custody. Her colleagues recognise her as one of the great TV journalists in our history.

When Liz was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014, she was devastated. Parkinson’s is a neuronal disease that progressively diminishes the ability to perform essential motor functions such as walking and even eating. She learned there is no cure. To make matters worse, Liz began experiencing daily pain and panic attacks that left her housebound for much of the day. She was embarrassed about her condition. She stopped seeing her friends so much and even tried to hide it from her children.

Her greatest fear is that she will lose the intellectual abilities she has relied on for her whole life, as dementia is often linked to Parkinson’s. Rather than be cowed by her predicament, Liz has decided to employ her formidable skills to communicate to the world what it’s like to go through Parkinson’s – what it is, what hopes there are for a cure and what it means for her, her family and her friends.

Co-directed by her husband, highly acclaimed filmmaker Martin Butler, and Bentley Dean, A Sense of Self offers an honest and raw insight into life’s most challenging and vulnerable moments as Liz and her family try and come to terms with her diagnosis, as well as celebrating human resilience and the power of love, family and relationships.

Curriculum links
A Sense of Self can be studied in relation to Year 10 Science and Years 9–10 Health and Physical Education, and as a supplementary text in studies of Years 11–12 Psychology and Years 11–12 English.

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