Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that often involves an altered sense of reality. It is a complex condition that many people misunderstand.
Although it is not as common as some mental health conditions, schizophrenia affects a significant number of people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about
This article explores schizophrenia in more detail, including the stereotypes, stigmas, and myths associated with the condition. It also discusses how a person may help avoid spreading misconceptions about schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that can present symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and a distorted sense of reality. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), people with schizophrenia often have thought processes that interfere with their ability to manage emotions and make decisions.
The onset of schizophrenia can vary, but symptoms typically start in early adulthood.
The exact cause of schizophrenia is not clear. However, possible causes may include a genetic predisposition to the illness, problems with brain chemistry, and environmental factors, such as exposure to viruses or drugs before birth.
Schizophrenia often involves delusions and, sometimes, hallucinations. The symptoms of schizophrenia may vary in intensity. Possible symptoms include:
- visual or auditory hallucinations
- disorganized thoughts
- abnormal movement
- limited facial expressions
- social isolation
- anhedonia, which refers to the loss of pleasure in activities
- having trouble focusing or paying attention
Dispelling some of the myths about schizophrenia can help educate people about the reality of the condition and how it affects those who live with it.
Below, we look at some common schizophrenia stereotypes, misconceptions, stigmas, and myths.
People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities
Some people confuse schizophrenia with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Although the two conditions share some similar symptoms, they are distinct.
DID and schizophrenia are complex mental health conditions. Both conditions involve problems with thoughts and behaviors and involve a disconnection from reality. However, DID, which doctors previously called multiple personality disorder, involves two or more alternate personalities, known as “alters”.
A person with schizophrenia may hear voices as part of an auditory hallucination, but this does not mean that they have multiple personalities.
People with schizophrenia are all dangerous or violent
Among people with schizophrenia, those with a substance use disorder are more likely to become violent.
In reality, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be subject to violence than those without the condition.
Schizophrenia symptoms are the same for everyone with the condition
Similar to any physical or mental health condition, people have their own unique experiences with schizophrenia. The type, frequency, and severity of the symptoms may vary from person to person.
For example, according to the
There is no effective treatment for schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that is long-term and complex. People do not “grow out” of the condition. There is no cure, but effective treatment is available. According to the American Psychiatric Association, treatment allows many people with schizophrenia to live with minimal symptoms.
The exact treatment plan for schizophrenia will vary among individuals. However, the treatment will typically include a combination of the following:
- antipsychotic medication
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- supportive psychotherapy
- treatment for comorbidities, such as substance use disorder
People with schizophrenia cannot hold a job
Many people with schizophrenia have the ability to perform a job. With proper treatment, schizophrenia symptoms may not affect a person’s ability to work.
However, the stigma associated with schizophrenia may play a role in the unemployment rate among people with the condition. They are six to seven times more likely to be unemployed than the general population, with up to a 90% unemployment rate.
Schizophrenia is always genetic
It appears that several things may affect the development of schizophrenia.
According to the
Widespread stereotypes and stigmas may result in a person with schizophrenia experiencing social isolation, unemployment, and discrimination.
Combatting the myths associated with schizophrenia can lead to improved access to healthcare services, employment, and psychiatric help for people living with the condition. Preventing misconceptions also helps families, friends, and co-workers support a person with schizophrenia.
People looking for accurate information about schizophrenia and other mental health conditions can view resources from several organizations, including:
- NAMI: This organization provides education and support. It also has more than 600 local affiliates throughout the United States.
- Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance: This organization offers education and peer support for people with schizophrenia.
NIMH: This organization offers education and resources for assistance.
- Mental Health America: This organization provides advocacy, support, and education for people with mental health conditions.
In addition to getting accurate information, it is important to talk about the condition respectfully.
Several schizophrenia stereotypes exist. These misconceptions may contribute to discrimination, unemployment, and a lack of resources for people with the condition.
Putting an end to the stigma and stereotypes may allow for better access to services, better care, and improved quality of life for people with schizophrenia.
Becoming educated on schizophrenia helps people separate the myths from reality. This could be a significant step toward better understanding and care for people with schizophrenia.