LOS ANGELES — The co-founder of an online campaign to find Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony will remain in hospital for several weeks after being found parading naked in the street, his family said Wednesday.
Jason Russell, who made a 30-minute film that went viral worldwide, suffered a “reactive psychosis” that led to an incident last week in which he was spotted screaming at cars, thumping the sidewalk and masturbating.
The 33-year-old was suffering from exhaustion and stress brought on by the massive attention garnered by the online video, which was viewed by tens of millions of people within a few days earlier this month.
“Jason’s incident was in no way the result of drugs or alcohol in his body,” his wife Danica Russell said in a statement released by the publicist for the group Invisible Children, which organized the campaign.
“The preliminary diagnosis he received is called brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration,” she added.
Russell, 33, was taken to hospital last Thursday after being spotted by passers-by “running in the street, interfering with traffic, screaming; one person said that he was naked and masturbating,” a police spokeswoman said.
Some witnesses said he was “interfering with traffic, banging on the sidewalk that sort of thing. We have reports of being in various states of undress, and neighbors in the area were concerned about him,” she added.
The TMZ celebrity news website posted two videos of the incident, showing Russell pounding his fists in anger and screaming maniacally.
His wife said doctors have told the family that the incident “is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks.”
“Even for us, it’s hard to understand the sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention — both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days,” she added.
“Jason will get better. He has a long way to go, but we are confident that he will make a full recovery. He is, and will remain, under hospital care for a number of weeks; and after that, the recovery process could take months before he is fully able to step back into his role with Invisible Children.”
Nearly 85 million people have so far watched the YouTube video, which seeks to focus attention on tracking down Kony, the fugitive head of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group.