Illuminating Six Ridiculous Myths About Schizophrenia
SCHIZOPHRENIA. What type of person comes to mind? Are they dangerous? Are they crazy? Too often the media often portrays schizophrenic characters as evil villains, either being extremely violent or dangerous.
It is safe to say that no mental disorder is more shrouded in mystery, misunderstanding and fear than schizophrenia. Yet, these depictions are unfortunate. Aside from ignorance, images of the aggressive, sadistic “schizophrenic” are plentiful in the media. I mean, not only do they perpetuate society’s lack of understanding of the disease, but also create a greater stigma for mental illnesses in general. In truth, such stereotypes quash any shred of sympathy of individuals with this illness.
It is time to start demystifying schizophrenia. So, let us start by illuminating six ridiculous myths about schizophrenia.
#6 People with schizophrenia have a split, or multiple, personalities
Schizophrenia refers to the breaking apart of one’s mental functions. The word derives from “schizo”, meaning split or fractured, and “phrenia”, meaning mind. Schizophrenia DOES NOT refer to the splitting apart of one’s personality. No, instead that is “split personality”, an entirely different disorder now called dissociative identity disorder.
#5 Individuals with schizophrenia all suffer the same symptoms
First of all, there are different types of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia remains so mysterious because it is difficult for us to put ourselves in their shoes. How would you feel if your brain began playing tricks on you? If unseen voices started shouting at you? If you lost the ability to feel emotions, or reason logically? Everyone has moments of sadness, anger, and anxiety; but schizophrenia seems so out of our realm of feeling and understanding.
#4 Schizophrenics are evil, violent, and out of control!
Interestingly, schizophrenics tend to be victims rather than villains. Schizophrenics are as dangerous as the general population! Does that idea scare you?
#3 Schizophrenia is a character flaw
Schizophrenics are identified with qualities such as lazy, lacking motivation, lethargic, etc. These can be perceived as character flaws, but for schizophrenics, these are symptoms of the disease. The idea that schizophrenia is a character defect is no more realistic than suggesting that someone could prevent epileptic seizures if they really wanted to. Doesn’t that sound completely off?
#2 Schizophrenia is untreatable
Similarly to other chronic diseases (such as diabetes), schizophrenia is not curable but it is treatable and manageable. The key is to get the right treatment for your needs.
#1 Schizophrenics can never regain normal functioning
Unlike dementia, which worsens over time or does not improve, schizophrenia seems to be a problem that is reversible. With the right medication and treatment, normal functioning is achievable.