Schizophrenia: Myths and Truths

Schizophrenia: Myths and Truths

Schizophrenia is defined as “a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation,” in the Oxford English Dictionary. As an indication with various facets and components, people often create perceptions of stereotypical nature about schizophrenia. Let us break down 4 common myths:

Myth: Schizophrenia is a multiple personality disorder.

Truth: Schizophrenia is not a personality disorder, but it is a break with reality. For example, a common symptom of schizophrenia is paranoia. This is an altered perception or reality, but it still comes from the same personality of the person with schizophrenia.

Myth: Schizophrenia can be developed suddenly.

Truth: Schizophrenia is defined as “a long-term mental disorder”. Schizophrenia symptoms are developed slowly over time. As noted by the National Institute of Mental Health, “more subtle changes in cognition and social relationships may precede the actual diagnosis, often by years.”

Myth: Schizophrenia is a very rare condition.

Truth:  Schizophrenia is much more common than people may imagine. According to NIMH, schizophrenia is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability in the world. “Across studies that use household-based survey samples, clinical diagnostic interviews, and medical records, estimates of the prevalence of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in the U.S. range between 0.25% and 0.64%.” That boils down to as many as 1 in every 156 people living in America with schizophrenia.

Myth: People with schizophrenia often choose to isolate themselves and because of this, do not require friends or meaningful social interactions.

Truth: The symptoms associated with schizophrenia, such as anxiety, paranoia, fear, or even shame, can make social interactions difficult. However, a helpful, understanding support system is crucial for the successful management of schizophrenia treatment. Isolation can manifest mental illness. Without support, it can be exponentially more difficult for a person with schizophrenia to improve his/her quality of life.

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