Common Misconceptions about Schizophrenia

So firstly the movies and tv shows have seriously misconceptualized schizophrenia disorder. It is nothing like the movie “SPLIT” portrays, in fact what the movie portrays is the furthest from the truth, yet so many people assume that split personalities are the definition of schizophrenia.

If we are to look at the word “Schizo”, it means split, which is most likely where the misconception and myths originated originally from.

According to research about 1% of the entire world’s population have schizophrenia disorder, and according to the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) in the United States alone, 1.2% of the American population has schizophrenia, that’s close to 3.2 million people.

So why do we instantly assume these people are bad or dangerous; it’s because of main stream media we have been conditioned to believe that individuals with this disorder are dangerous or ‘ticking time bombs’. This is not true and this is why individuals with the disorder rarely speak up. So I am here today to smash the stigma around schizophrenia.

Firstly, when an individual is diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is because they a variety of symptoms (non of which involves multiple personalities), schizo in this case rehears to splits/gaps in an individuals ability to think and express emotions. (Individuals with split personalities are living with Dissociative Identity Disorder – but that will be for an entirely different blog later on).

So let’s look at the common misconceptions people have about schizophrenia and the facts:

  • Misconception – Individuals with Schizophrenia have multiple personalities.
  • Fact – This is FALSE; in fact a survey completed just over 10 years ago (2008) by the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), proved that 64% of the population back then were unable to identify the symptoms of Schizophrenia and instead simply believed it was a disorder involving multiple personalities.
  • Misconception – Individuals with Schizophrenia are dangerous. In popular culture, schizophrenia patients are often depicted as sadistic, unpredictable, and violent. Although it’s true that some schizophrenia people have committed crimes, only 23% of the crimes were directly related to their symptoms.
    Fact – People with Schizophrenia often have reduced housing and employment opportunities, greater stress, lower self-esteem, and a diminished quality of life because of the stigma surrounding their disorder.
  • Misconception – Many people believe schizophrenia individuals only suffer from delusions and hallucinations. This is not surprising, considering all psychotic symptoms are usually scary, and so popular culture focuses on these more than other symptoms associated with the actual disorder.
  • Fact – Along with the delusions and hallucinations, they may experience blunted emotions, disorganized speech, low motivation, and a lack to form social relationships. Some even have difficulty maintaining focus and performing certain cognitive tasks, such as decision-making, memory, problem-solving, and judgment.
  • Misconception – Old movies, and in the old times in general; people with Schizophrenia often were institutionalized, often left to live their lives in isolation. Developing a severe mental illness was unfortunately the same as receiving a life sentence in jail. Because of this, sadly many people believe that schizophrenia can’t be treated and that the individual should be institutionalized.
    Fact – With proper treatment (such as medication, rehabilitation practises and psychosocial therapy), many people with schizophrenia appear to be completely healthy and capable of living a normal life.

With any mental health disorder, researchers are continually trying to learn more and come up with better medication or treatment plans, so that we can all live a happy normal life.

I hope I have helped to break the stigma around schizophrenia in today’s blog.

From me, goodnight and remember we can’t break stigmas if we don’t talk about the issues.

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