Myths about schizophrenia abound in popular culture, clouding the public’s understanding of actual facts about schizophrenia. Popular myths about schizophrenia label schizophrenics as deranged and dangerous people with split personalities and an untreatable madness.
Society marginalizes and demonizes schizophrenics who need understanding and proper treatment. Myths about schizophrenia need to be replaced with facts about schizophrenia. Following are seven common myths about schizophrenia and interesting schizophrenia facts that dispel them.
Myth: Schizophrenia Causes Multiple Personalities
The belief that schizophrenics have split personalities is one of the most pervasive myths about schizophrenia. Although the disorder can cause personality and behavioral changes, schizophrenics always have a single personality.
Myth: Schizophrenics Are Dangerous and Violent
Yes, schizophrenics can be violent, but so can anyone else. Statistically, schizophrenic violence rates are no different from the general population. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s portrayal of the psychotic as violent murderers perpetuates the view of schizophrenics as crazed and violent.
One of the most disheartening, but interesting, schizophrenia facts is that schizophrenics are more likely to be victims of violence rather than aggressors. Facts about schizophrenia indicate that schizophrenics are more likely to harm themselves than others: Suicide rates among schizophrenics are high.
Myth: Character Flaws Cause Schizophrenia
The belief that schizophrenics somehow cause their own symptoms is one of the interesting facts about schizophrenia that says more about public attitudes than schizophrenics themselves. Public opinion often blames mental disorders on personality flaws, lack of willpower or other character “flaws.” A schizophrenic is no more responsible for his symptoms than a cancer victim is for her tumor.
Myth: Overbearing Mothers Cause Schizophrenia
Myths about schizophrenia often blame bad parenting for schizophrenia onset and for some reason, people tend to blame mothers. The only parental influence on schizophrenia is genetic–parenting style has no bearing on schizophrenia.
Myth: Schizophrenics Need to Be Institutionalized
One of the least known, but interesting, schizophrenia facts is that schizophrenics can function in society. With proper treatment and support, a schizophrenic doesn’t need to be institutionalized. One of the sad facts about schizophrenia is that many schizophrenia sufferers don’t receive the help and support they need.
Myth: Schizophrenics Are Mentally Retarded
The belief that schizophrenics have low intelligence or mental retardation remains a popular myth about schizophrenia, although the truth is quite different. One of the most interesting schizophrenia facts is that schizophrenics’ IQs actually tend to be higher than average. Schizophrenia symptoms, however, usually mask the individual’s intellectual potential.
Myth: Schizophrenia Can’t Be Treated
Out of all the facts about schizophrenia, this is perhaps the most important: Schizophrenia can be successfully treated. Advances in antipsychotic drugs and patient support systems have made schizophrenia treatment very effective.
Myths about schizophrenia treatment, however, continue to circulate. Many people believe the side effects of antipsychotics are worse than schizophrenia symptoms. This is rarely the case, nor does medication for schizophrenia turn people into shambling medicated “zombies.” Treatment reduces psychotic behavior, hallucinations and delusions, helping schizophrenics to live better lives.
Boruck, H. (2008). Schizophrenia myths. Retrieved July 5, 2010, from http://www.csun.edu/afye/documents/Schizophrenia-Myth-Busters-H-Boruck.pdf
Mandel, V. (2002). Schizophrenia: Myths vs. reality. Retrieved July 5, 2010, from http://www.schizophrenia.com/New/Oct2002/myths.htm
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Illuminating 13 myths of schizophrenia. Retrieved July 5, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2010/illuminating-13-myths-of-schizophrenia/