Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder. It affects about 1.1% of the world’s population; that’s around 3.5 million Americans.
As a society, we’ve begun to tear down the stigmas around mental health. But honestly? There’s much more accurate representation of other mental health disorders in TV and movies than there is of schizophrenia. This leads to a lot of confusion. So, let’s look at the facts and the fiction surrounding this condition.
What Schizophrenia Is
“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally,” says Mayo Clinic. “Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.
“It’s not known what causes schizophrenia, but researchers believe that a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contributes to development of the disorder.”
It’s a serious mental disorder, yes. But it’s highly misunderstood. So, what about all those rumors we’ve believed about schizophrenic people over the years?
Well, a lot of it is simply not true.
What Schizophrenia Isn’t
1. People with schizophrenia see and hear things all the time
Schizophrenia is not as simple as just “seeing things.” Hallucinations and delusions occur, but they are only a small part of schizophrenia symptoms. Just like with other disorders, people with schizophrenia often have trouble with motivation, focus, building relationships and feeling emotion. Schizophrenic people aren’t just “seeing stuff.”
2. Schizophrenic people are dangerous
So, back to that whole representation thing. How many times have you seen a schizophrenic character depicted as reckless, unpredictable and threatening? Most people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia are nonviolent, so this one just doesn’t add up.
3. Schizophrenia isn’t treatable
Schizophrenia is totally treatable. With the right combination of medicine, plenty of people with schizophrenia go on to lead happy and healthy lives.
For example, these famous people were all open about their schizophrenia diagnoses!
- Darrell Hammond (Saturday Night Live star)
- Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald)
- Jack Kerouac (critically acclaimed Beat poet and author)
- John Forbes Nash Jr. (Nobel Prize-winning mathematician; inspiration behind the movie A Beautiful Mind)
- Brian Wilson (leader of The Beach Boys and likely genius)
If you or someone you know might have schizophrenia, there are resources available to help. Reach out to professionals and your loved ones as you seek treatment. The following links are a good place to start.