9 Myths About Schizophrenia

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There are many misconceptions and stereotypical views out there about schizophrenia. Let's get the truth behind some of the common myths.

Myth No. 1: Schizophrenia means you have multiple personalities.

Myths about SchizophreniaHaving split personalities is one of the biggest misconceptions about schizophrenia. It is commonly thought that a person with this condition acts like they are two separate people, at different times.

This is not true.  A person with schizophrenia doesn't have different personalities, instead he has false ideas or has lost touch with reality, a form of "psychosis".  Multiple personality disorder is a different condition.

Myth No. 2: People with schizophrenia are dangerous, unpredictable and out of control.

In movies, the crazed killer is often one with schizophrenia.

Even though people with schizophrenia can act unpredictably at times, most aren't violent, especially if they are getting the proper treatment.  In fact, people with schizophrenia tend to be the victims of violence, simply because they tend to be so misunderstood and feared.

Myth No. 3: Schizophrenia develops quickly.

It’s quite rare for a sudden decline in function.  Most symptoms of schizophrenia tend to develop slowly, often times showing up during adolescence with school, social and work decline, difficulties managing relationships and problems with organization.  

Schizophrenic symptoms lie on a continuum ranging from mild to severe symptoms.

Myth No. 4: It is caused by bad parenting.

Like other mental illnesses, the exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Bad parenting is certainly not one of them.  Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition.

How you raise you child as a parent does not in any way cause him/her to develop schizophrenia.

Myth No. 5: Schizophrenia is genetic.

Genes do play a role. But it is not the only cause of schizophrenia.

If one parent has schizophrenia, your risk of getting the condition is about 10%.  In identical twins, if one twin develops schizophrenia, the other twin has a one in two chance of developing it too. This is true even if they're raised separately.

Myth No. 6: People with schizophrenia are not intelligent

People with schizophrenia may have problems with certain mental skills such as attention, memory and learning.  However, that does not necessarily mean that they are not intelligent.

Notable schizophrenics who have done very well include Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash.

Myth No. 7: Schizophrenics need to be hospitalised.

There was a time when people with mental illnesses were sent to asylums or even prisons. But now, as there are better medications for the management of the condition, most  are able to do well living in the community with outpatient treatment. Most people with schizophrenia are able to live with family or in supportive housing in the community.

Myth No. 8: You can't hold a job if you have it.

It can be difficult for someone with schizophrenia to find and keep a stable job.  Factors such as poorly controlled symptoms and social fear or prejudices may contribute to this. But with the appropriate treatment, many people with the condition can find a position that fits their skills and abilities.

Myth No. 9: You can never recover from it.

Schizophrenia is not an easy condition to treat, but with the correct medicine,  therapy, and social rehabilitation/support about 25% of people with this disease will recover completely. Another 50% will see significant improvement in their symptoms. Many people with the condition can live full, productive lives.

However, some studies show that about 20% of schizophrenics on medication will relapse within a year after successful treatment of an acute episode.

Further Reading

The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.