A few days ago, I came across an interesting survey conducted by Rethink Mental Illness, which revealed that 90 percent of us can’t separate fact from fiction when it comes to perceptions regarding schizophrenia. It intrigued me, so I began to research schizophrenia — its causes, symptoms, myths and facts. The following are some interesting myths and facts that I came across:
Myth: Split Personality
Fact: The word “schizophrenia” literally means “split mind.” This often leads to the misconception that Schizophrenia is a split personality disorder, but this is not the case.
People suffering from Schizophrenia do sometimes have hallucinations and delusions, but they do not have two or more separate personalities.
Myth: Victims of Schizophrenia are violent
Fact: People suffering from Schizophrenia are not at all violent, rather they prefer to be withdrawn and left alone.
Dawn I. Velligan, Ph.D, professor and co-director of the Division of Schizophrenia and Related Disorders at the Department of Psychiatry, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio said, “When their illness is treated with medication and psychosocial interventions, individuals with schizophrenia are no more violent than the general population.”
Another commendable statement came from Irene S. Levine, Ph.D, psychologist and co-author of Schizophrenia for Dummies. She said, “People with schizophrenia more often tend to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence although untreated mental illness and substance abuse often increase the risk of aggressive behavior.”
Myth: Schizophrenia is untreatable
Fact: With the right medicine schizophrenia is a treatable and manageable illness. As per a research conducted by Rethink Mental illness, around 30% people suffering from schizophrenia have a lasting recovery, around 20% will show significant improvement and the remaining 50% will have a long term illness which will sway between getting well and getting worse depending upon the medication.
Myth: The patients need to be hospitalized.
Fact: If you can give the patients the correct medicine at home then they will recover better at home then at the hospital. They require love, compassion and support to get better and that can be best achieved by living within their community rather than in a hospital.
Myth: schizophrenia is a character Flaw
Fact: schizophrenia is a complex disorder that can be developed due to many reasons. They can be genetic, or psychological. It is not a charter flaw.
It is unrealistic to assume that people can avoid schizophrenia if they have string character. As people cannot avoid cancer by eating the right foods, similarly people cannot avoid schizophrenia by being strong and motivated.
National Institute of Mental Health
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Living with schizophrenia