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Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia?

Public misconceptions about the nature of schizophrenia, including that it's the result of a split personality or that sufferers are violent,...
  1. the elusive eye

    Schizophrenia does not mean you have a split personality or automatically become violent, a mental health charity has warned.

    Rethink Mental Illness said a survey of 1,500 people showed that the condition is widely misunderstood.

    Schizophrenia commonly causes hallucinations, such as hearing voices, or delusions and can make people lose interest in life.

    But it should not be "a dirty word or a term of abuse", the charity said.

    The organisation warned such myths are dangerous.

    One in 100 people is affected by schizophrenia during their life, but 45% of those surveyed thought the illness was much more common.

    Half mistakenly thought the illness was defined by a split personality and a quarter believed it definitely led to violent behaviour.

    But the reality is very different, a new campaign by the charity claims.

    How schizophrenia changed my whole life

    It is not true that "someone with schizophrenia can appear perfectly normal at one moment, and change into a different person the next", the Royal College of Psychiatrists says on its website.

    And although there is a higher risk of violent behaviour if you have schizophrenia, it does not necessarily make people dangerous.

    Comparatively, drugs and alcohol cause far more violence.

    People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them, the psychiatrists say.

    Schizophrenia can affect the way individuals think, feel and behave.

    Experiencing hallucinations is common and people often hear voices, which can sound very real and be critical and abusive, although they are all in the mind.

    Brain scans have discovered higher activity levels in part of the brain's immune system in schizophrenia patients than in healthy volunteers

    Delusions can occur too, which means believing something completely and feeling like no-one else sees the world in the same way.

    Other symptoms can include depression, loss of concentration and feeling uncomfortable around other people. Some people also have painful feelings in their body.

    The Rethink Schizophrenia campaign said the illness can affect other aspects of life too - for example people with schizophrenia die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population on average.

    And only 8% of those with the illness who want to work are currently employed.

    The charity said this is because physical health problems are often missed or attributed to mental illness, and the side-effects of medication can cause complications.

    'Change attitudes'

    Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness, said: "It's about time we all got to grips with what schizophrenia is and what it isn't.

    "Schizophrenia can be treated and managed, just like many other illnesses. It's not a dirty word or, worse, a term of abuse."

    He added that myths stopped people from getting jobs, forming relationships and getting access to the healthcare they needed.

    "The symptoms of schizophrenia don't fit neatly into a box, everyone will experience it differently," he said.

    "However, we can all play a role in rethinking schizophrenia, and helping to change attitudes, by learning to separate the myths from the facts."

    Prof Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was "astounding" that schizophrenia was still so widely misunderstood.

    "To tackle the stigma that so many living with schizophrenia face, we have a huge task ahead of us in informing and educating the public," she said.

    "We also need to ensure that more medical students choose psychiatry so that those living with schizophrenia have specialist doctors available to treat them."

    Original Source

    Sep 18, 2017, Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia?, BBC News

Recent User Reviews

  1. Getbehindmesatan
    "Great article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 20, 2017
  2. Yellow Brick Reality
    "Information decades past due!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 18, 2017
    Articles like this are critically needed for those suffering with this disease. Educating the public is a crucial step in improving the quality of lives effected by schizophrenia.
  3. detoxin momma
    "Great Read! Very informative."
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 18, 2017


  1. detoxin momma
    I think people do have the wrong impression about schizophrenia, i think alot of that has to with the fact the slang word "schizo" just sounds so, judgmental , kind of mean even.

    the schizophrenia gene runs in my family, ive had to ut that together myself. Im fairly certain my mother was scizophrenic, and i have a half brother that just landed himself back in the psych ward that is schizophrenic.

    I think like all other conditions, it can come in a wide range of levels in , how effected each individual patient is by it.

    I believe, that our mother being the way she was, really rubbed her way of thinking off onto us, some more than others, she birthed 7, and i find it interesting the oldest, Me, and the youngest, have the shizophrenic gene, i have just been diagnosed schizo effective bipolar type. sounds complicated, and it is.

    Point being, i dont feel schizophrnia is any different than any other mentall illness, some have it worse than others.

    My psychitrist happenes to believe mine was brought on by environment over genetics actually, and i could say the same for my little half brother. messed up life, bounced around in foster care, abused alot, even was raped at 17/18....theres no way all of those environmental factors didnt have a huge effect on how he is mindest in his life, no way.

    so, is it genetics, or fucked up lives that do it, that is the question. probably goes both ways.
      the elusive eye likes this.
    1. the elusive eye
      my understanding is genetics definitely plays a role, and makes the risk MUCH greater...but for the most part it takes a pattern of triggers from environment to induce the condition, i hesitate to use the word requires...but if you think about it, it generally develops and begins onset around late adolescence/20s, so it would make sense that environment plays a role in inducing the condition, since it's extremely rare for children to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. takes time for that sort of "breaking the brain."
    2. the elusive eye
      also it sort of makes sense that schizophrenics tend to have higher rates of drug abuse; the drugs help quiet their brain, let them feel more "normal." plus ,like for example with meth, both meth and schizophrenia are tied in with the dopaminergic system.
  2. Yellow Brick Reality
    As a nurse myself I have a passion for this population of people. No 2 I have met met have ever been alike.
    While there is no doubt in my mind that some are violent even the cause of there violence is often rooted in the secondary factors. Such as a long history of physical abd mental abuse. The people with schizophrenia that do become violent appear to do so as a self defense mechanism more often than as a result of a hallucination or a delusional belief.
    I have been honored to have gotten to personally know many people over the years with schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. My life has been enriched by knowing them. Imo, they are some of the most honest and caring human beings one could ever meet.
    Some of the stories which are far too common would tear your heart out, having had severe abuses in their pasts that often start in childhood and have continued for decades of their lives.
    I believe there is a definite genetic component and a environmental component that is equally as important in determining who will exhibit full schizophrenia diagnostic criteria in their lives.
    I've also met many children of schizophrenic people and their families. It is very common that these people, imo, appear to have a higher level of anxiety and tend to be very fixed in their beliefs when compared to other patients families suffering from health related conditions. The exception to this is Alzheimer's and dementia patients families. In my experience they also tend to share the sane personality traits more than other patients.
    I also recognize ghost in my setting I've only come across those suffering with this condition when it is severe enough to have taken away their ability to function in society on there own. So my picture of schizophrenia is skewed by the severity of symptoms seen in the people with this that I have encountered.
    Obviously, the few that become violent as a part of the condition, are people that have been separated from society and live in facilities that I have worked in. It is important to note that this relatively small percentage of patients make up a greater percentage of the population of schizophrenic people that I have encountered.
    Many if not most have spent years self medicating. Various drugs and alcohol are extremely common. Cigarette smoking is extremely high among schizophrenic people. I saw a documentary many years ago that addressed the almost constant cigarette smoking that almost all schizophrenic people will do when left to their own devices. It was stated that there is something in nicotine that particularly calms the brain of schizophrenics. At that time, they said that 98% of all people with the condition smoke, most often heavily.
    This observation has held up in my personal experience with people with this condition. I often advocate to family that oppose their continued smoking that smoking may have unknown benefits in their minds.
    In my observations, I have some hypothesis as to why the life expectancy is shorter for those with the condition. Many of the medications cause an increased appetite. I've witnessed many female patients that eat ravenously. Some male also but not as common. The aforementioned heavy smoking that is very common. In facility living there is a lack of funds (or willingness on part of greedy owners) to provide healthier food choices and any outlet for normal activity levels, let alone fitness.
    Many isolate themselves and have lower energy levels. This may also be due to the medications or the disease itself.
    My personal efforts to get fruit and a visually appealing upgrade in the living environment for them has routinely been shut down. They are essentially warehoused in these environments where I have worked. Often the staff is the only ones they have to bring them a new shirt or a personal item and make the purchase on the small wages the facility pays to us.
    As a RN manager of such a unit, my passion and advocacy for my patients (50+ of them on one floor) ultimately cost me my job. Too many arguments with upper management on their behalf led to the replacement with a new graduate that is meek and more complacent.
    Unfortunately, this is extremely common as well. They need a strong voice. Articles and movements like this to dispel myths surrounding mental illness are decades behind other diseases. These people need us to help fix the system yesterday. They've already endured enough. Certainly depression also leads to their early demise as well.

    Sorry for the rant. I get very upset when I think about the friends I have had with this disease and how they are forced to continue to live.
      the elusive eye likes this.
  3. the elusive eye
    i can't help but wonder. does having schizophrenia increase the chance that a given person will be violent? or is the proportion the same as in the general population?

    generally speaking, we don't know many people with schizophrenia. so if even just one is violent, we notice. it's easier to keep an individual tally with so few known instances (subjective to the person doing the tallying, of course).

    compare that with the rest of the world that we encounter...it's impossible to keep even a semi-accurate general tally of who is or isn't violent. we have a sense of the likelihood, but nothing more refined than that. (again, being general here, i know some people actually do know more specifically.)

    i think the biggest difference of all: schizophrenia, being a mental disorder, is something for which treatment is given, so it's much more likely that someone, somewhere along the way, will notice and tabulate whether the person is violent or not. with the rest of us, those of us that are more prone to violence (ex., homeless, gangs, working poor (more domestic violence, but still), etc) are also a- more used to it, and might not even notice, and b- more likely to self-regulate without getting anyone "official" like a nurse or social worker or researcher involved, much less a cop or similar. the rest of us might chalk things up to a one-time event (since we don't see the other 14 that week from that person), or as none of our business (domestic violence), or hormones, or whatever, and brush it off.

    so i ask again: how much is an actual increase in the risk of violent behavior among schizophrenics, and how much is just increased attention over other population groups due to the (potentially merely coincidental) schizophrenia?
  4. Yellow Brick Reality
    Great question!
    In my personal experience I'll explain some specific examples of violence that I have seen. It may help paint a picture of the difference in the type of violence exhibited by the few I've had personal experience with.
    One lady who I lived with all my heart was normally not violent and never with me. But if she missed a smoke break she would swing at the staff. If she needed a bath and staff tried to help her bathe, she would bite st their hands. In her case abd often the case it is an abnormal situational violence. Abnormal in the sense that I would never come to your home abd try to get you to take a bath. Then again you probably wouldn't go 2 weeks refusing to change or bathe yourself either. You also wouldn't be given certain times to smoke a cigarette in your own home.
    Others start swinging objects around threatening other patients and staff because they decide they are leaving now. But the doors are locked and they haven't thought about the next step of where they would go to. Again not a situation you or I would be in the first place.
    In the histories of these patients it is rare and I actually can only recall two patients that had an act of violence against another prior to coming into a facility setting. (Both were murder in their cases though)
    It is more common to see a long history of abuse on these patients in their histories.
    Patients with personality disorders are far more likely in my experience to be violent. Their triggers may be something as simple as not getting something the moment they ask for it. They tend to react by scratching or punching someone in the head or face. This is the type of violence I cannot recall seeing in a schizophrenic person.
    If anyone can find articles siting such statistics on violence in schizophrenia please post it here on the forum.
    1. the elusive eye
      you kinda nailed it, or at least my understanding of it...with schizophrenics, violence is "event-specific," meaning a specific action triggers a violent reaction, whereas with as you said personality disorders (coming to my mind include sociopaths, those with anger management issues, narcissists in some cases, those whose disorder involves a highly dominant/controlling aspect...), violence is more "mood-specific" or "reason-specific." they have to be upset, for example, but it could be about anything from losing $100,000 in a single bet at roulette to getting a hangnail. or the reason is "because i have a rock in my shoe," regardless of whether the target or anything related to it/them actually did anything to provoke a violent reaction, even tangentially, or could by a reasonable stretch be a victim of a simple lashing out in frustration (the way one might punch a wall or a seat cushion, for instance). with true sociopaths it could be even more vague/random - "because i felt like it" or even just "because i can/they were there."

      so in a very real sense, schizophrenics are much more like the rest of the "normal" people in that, while perhaps unreasonable as to the assigned reason for the reaction, there is still a defined, specific, non-random event-trigger; it's not vague or random or variable/unpredictable in that sense. it's just that, where a trigger for you or me might be a jerk bullying a young child verbally, loudly and in their face, in front of a stunned bus, and when we attempt to intervene he turns his attentions to us instead and we just pop him one in the kisser, for a schizophrenic the jerk would be the hot dog vendor that shorted him on his change, as an example, or the librarian who wouldn't let her eat her bag of chips in the library.

      their system isn't completely corrupted; it just has a short in a wire or two on the provocation module :p
    2. the elusive eye
      or their programming doesn't have malware built-in, just a minor glitch in a line of code, however you want to look at it :p
  5. Yellow Brick Reality
    @the elusive eye
    Yes, this is exactly what I've seen in my experience.
    One extremely rare case I had known of, involved a man that decided his mother was evil and proceeded to chase her down their street and when he cauggg up to her, he killed her with an ax. Neighbors and the father were said to have witnessed the act and were unable to stop him.
    He had never discussed this during the time I had known him and seemed to not recall it. He was very pleasant and cooperative with everyone at the place where he was mandated to live, after a cruel prison sentence was fulfilled. He had committed the crime during late teen years. He was elderly when he was ordered to reside in the facility I worked in.
    The main personality disorders I've personally seen as the most violent are oppositional defiant disorder and borderline personality disorder. At least that is what the official diagnostic label was assigned to them. Indeed, a look on someone's face that didn't like often resulted in violent behavior for these individuals.
      the elusive eye likes this.
  6. FalcoHere
    The article states that “one in one hundred people are effected by schizophrenia”, does this mean that the article suggests that 1 in every 100 people have schizophrenia? Because if so then I would like to question the validity of that statistic.
      Yellow Brick Reality likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. FalcoHere
      I found a source that states that about 2.2 million people in the US have schizophrenia, which is less than the 1 in 100 statistic given.
      Source: http://www.schizophrenia.com/szfacts.htm#
      Yellow Brick Reality likes this.
    3. aemetha
      The 1 in 100 statistic for schizophrenia is based on the mean lifetime morbid risk for a birth cohort. This means it includes the entire lifetime of a birth cohort, including those who are dead. It's considered more accurate in many cases because schizophrenics have a higher mortality rate, and so considering only those who survive misrepresents the prevalence of the disorder. It is criticised however for using the mean as a measure of central tendency when the results of the distribution are skewed right, making median a more representative measure of central tendency. The median score is much lower, closer to 0.5 in 100.
      Yellow Brick Reality likes this.
    4. aemetha
      Also, 1 in 100 is how many develop it in their lifetime, not how many currently have it. There's a lot of life left for most people in the US (except in Florida obviously).
  7. Yellow Brick Reality
    Interesting I always thought that sounded quite high.
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