5 Myths and the Truth About Schizophrenia

The truth about schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is an indiscriminate illness that can affect anyone, no matter what race, gender, culture, ethnicity, or economic status. 

About one percent of Americans suffer from it.

Some fifty percent of them also have trouble with substance abuse and chemical dependency.

As recognizable as the word “schizophrenia” is, most people don’t even know those three facts. But you can count on the fact that they’ve been exposed to a lot of misconceptions and myths about this disease. Often it’s because of how movies and TV shows portray people with schizophrenia.

Maybe you’ve fallen victim to some incorrect information that way as well. For clarification, why not take in some truth about schizophrenia myths?

5 Schizophrenia Myths… and the Truth

Myth #1: People with schizophrenia have split or multiple personality disorder

The Truth: Schizophrenia causes a sufferer to lose touch with reality and have false ideas, but they don’t have multiple personalities. Some people get this wrong idea because the Greek word for schizophrenia means “split mind”. This does, however, not refer to a split personality, it refers to a split from reality. Other people may believe this myth because some with schizophrenia think they are famous historical figures. In actuality, their detachment from reality simply causes delusions.

Myth #2: People with schizophrenia are violent and dangerous and belong in a mental hospital

The Truth: People suffering from schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.  A small number do become violent when they are suffering from the acute symptoms of psychosis because of the influence of the hallucinations and delusions on their thinking. But when they are under treatment, they are no more violent than anyone else and actually many are withdrawn and want to be left alone. Often people believe this myth because they find some of their behavior frightening. Due to their lack of emotional expression, a sufferer may have a blank stare or a flat tone of voice. Other people may also consider them “crazy” due to some of their bizarre beliefs. But there is no need to lock them up.

Myth #3: People with schizophrenia are lazy and unintelligent

The Truth: Although studies have shown that a person suffering from schizophrenia can have more trouble with mental skills, there have been a lot of creative and intelligent people throughout human history that suffered from schizophrenia.  Some people may get false impressions because a person with schizophrenia often has problems organizing their thoughts and making logical connections. This can cause disorganized speech and problems holding a conversation. Though, none of this has to do with intelligence.

Myth #4: Schizophrenia is caused by a character flaw or bad parenting

The Truth: Schizophrenia is not the result of anyone’s personality weakness, nor will the mistakes of parents give their child this condition. Causes include many different things, such as but not limited to trauma, drug abuse, and genes. Although, just because you have a parent that has it, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Some people imagine parental neglect is a cause because of some of the behaviors exhibited by a schizophrenia sufferer. They often make no eye contact with others, show no interest in things around them, or lack impulse control and restraint.

Myth #5: People with schizophrenia have no hope of ever recovering

The Truth: There is no cure for schizophrenia. However, there are effective treatments that help those suffering from it to lead full, independent, and productive lives. It is by no means easy to treat, but it is possible. With continuous therapy and correct medication, some 25 percent of those with the disease can recover, and another 50 percent will see major improvements.

And here is another truth:  Early identification and treatment of schizophrenia is vital for successful recovery. So, if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, make sure to seek professional help as soon as possible.