Breaking the Stigma: Myths and Facts About Schizophrenia

Apr 02, 2023
Breaking the Stigma: Myths and Facts About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses. False and exaggerated portrayals of the disease in the entertainment world have led to a number of myths about the disease, creating a stigma for those who have it. Here are the facts.

Schizophrenia affects about 1 in 300 people worldwide, including 1 in 222 adults. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that causes delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized behaviors and thinking.

Unfortunately, as with many mental illnesses, schizophrenia is misunderstood. If you or your family suffer from the disease, you may feel stigmatized. Having schizophrenia can unfairly limit your possibilities for employment, relationships, and social interactions.

Joseph Kwentus, MD, Karen Richardson, PhD, and our team at Precise Research Centers in Flowood, Mississippi, diagnose and treat social schizophrenia so you or your loved one can live a full and rich life. Following are some of the most common myths about schizophrenia that should be dispelled.

People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities

One of the most common misconceptions about schizophrenia is that women, men, and children with the disease have two or more personalities, which is sometimes referred to as “split personality.” In fact, one poll showed that 64% of people associated schizophrenia with multiple personalities.

However, schizophrenia and dissociative personality disorder (i.e., multiple personality disorder) are two different conditions. Schizophrenia doesn’t involve the belief or behavior that you’re two or more distinct people in one body. 

Instead, schizophrenia is marked by being out of touch with reality and developing false ideas or delusions.

People with schizophrenia need to be committed

When you have schizophrenia, medication and therapy can help you manage symptoms and live a normal life. 

Although some people with mental illness may need to be hospitalized for others’ safety, that isn’t typical with schizophrenia unless there’s another factor involved, such as substance abuse.

In fact, rather than being a threat to others, most people with schizophrenia are more in danger of self-harm or being harmed by others. Suicide is a real risk when you or a loved one has schizophrenia.

People with schizophrenia know they have it

One frustrating aspect of schizophrenia is that when you suffer from the disease, you may not recognize its symptoms. Even when observing someone else with schizophrenia, it’s easy to mistake the disease for other mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression.

Schizophrenia has three classifications of symptoms: Positive, negative, and disorganized. Negative symptoms — which aren’t usually associated with schizophrenia in most people’s perception — are actually the ones that usually manifest first. In fact, in 73% of cases of schizophrenia, patients exhibit negative symptoms first. 

Negative symptoms include behaviors such as:

  • Not bathing or washing
  • Withdrawing from normal activities
  • Having an emotion-free, blunt aspect
  • Avoiding speech, or using fewer words than normal
  • Losing interest in goals and activities
  • Speaking in a monotone
  • Suffering from insomnia

Getting a diagnosis early helps you or your loved one get the specific therapies needed to manage schizophrenia. Without treatment, schizophrenia may progress to positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, or disorganized behavior.

Schizophrenia is associated with creativity

One myth about schizophrenia that has some truth to it is that people who have schizophrenia tend to be creative and innovative. In fact, both the 20th century Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and mathematician John Nash, who won a Nobel Prize, had schizophrenia. However, their creative bouts don’t coincide with flares of the disease.

If your parent has schizophrenia, you will, too

Although genes are involved in schizophrenia (and creativity), you won’t necessarily develop schizophrenia just because one of your parents had it. In fact, you have only a 10% risk in that case. However, if you have more than one relative with schizophrenia, your risk increases.

People with schizophrenia can’t recover

When you receive antipsychotic medications and therapy for schizophrenia, you can live a full life. Treatment for schizophrenia can:

  • Prevent psychotic episodes
  • Reduce the risk of hospitalization
  • Reduce the risk of suicide

However, you must remain on medication for a lifetime.

Even if you have schizophrenia, you can participate fully in your life when you get the help you need. Call us today at 601-685-3457 or book an appointment online. You can also send a message to our team here on the website. If you’d like to be considered for a clinical trial, please let us know.