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8 Schizophrenia Myths

Schizophrenia Myths

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition that is often misunderstood and sometimes even feared. At Palms Behavioral Health, we offer support to people with schizophrenia every day, and we would like to help clear up misconceptions about this condition and the people who experience it.

Myth #1: Schizophrenia Means You Have Multiple Personalities.

A lot of people confuse schizophrenia with dissociative identity disorder (DID), which used to be called multiple personality disorder. Both of these mental health conditions are severe and debilitating, but DID is a condition that involves a blurred sense of identity and a sense of having multiple different personalities living within a single body. People with schizophrenia don’t typically perceive themselves as having more than one personality. Instead, they commonly experience: 

  • Paranoia – fear that they are being monitored or someone is trying to harm or control them
  • Delusions – strange beliefs that are not based in reality and which the person can not change, even when presented with clear evidence that what they believe is not true
  • Hallucinations – seeing, hearing, or feeling things that others do not
  • Disorganized thinking and speech – shifting from topic to topic with no logical connection between thoughts
  • Strange physical behavior – repetitive or excessive actions or a complete lack of movement or speech

The diagnoses also have different causes. DID is closely associated with trauma, while some of the contributing factors for a person developing schizophrenia are:

  • Genetics – having a family member with schizophrenia increases the chances of you also developing it.
  • Environment – studies seem to indicate that nutritional problems at birth, stress, poverty, and unsafe living conditions can contribute to schizophrenia development.
  • Brain structure and function – research shows that people with schizophrenia have brains that are built and work differently than people who don’t have the disorder.

Myth #2: There is no Treatment for Schizophrenia.

People with schizophrenia can find ways to manage their symptoms so that they can live happy, fulfilling lives. Some of the treatments that make this possible are:

  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Therapy
  • Behavioral skills training
  • Supported employment
  • Strong support systems
  • Interventions aimed to reduce hospitalizations and prevent homelessness

Myth #3: People with Schizophrenia are Dangerous.

Though it is possible for a person with schizophrenia to behave in violent ways, it is far more common for people with this condition to be harmed by someone else. People with schizophrenia who receive treatment are not especially likely to engage in harm toward themselves or others. Instead of being aggressive, they are often frightened, confused, and isolated.

Myth #4: If Your Parent has Schizophrenia, You Will Have it too.

While there is a genetic component to schizophrenia and you are at greater risk for developing this disorder if you have a close blood relative who is diagnosed, your risk is still only around 10 percent.

Myth #5: People with Schizophrenia Aren’t Intelligent.

People with schizophrenia sometimes don’t score well on standardized tests, but that doesn’t mean they are not smart. Imagine trying to take a test with someone constantly whispering disruptive things to you or having intense fear that someone is trying to hurt you. Your inability to focus probably wouldn’t lead to very high scores. Also, many brilliant people throughout history have had schizophrenia and still accomplished amazing things.

Myth #6: People with Schizophrenia Must Be Hospitalized at All Times.

In decades past, people with a wide range of mental illnesses were locked in asylums and forgotten. We now understand that though there may be times when a person with schizophrenia requires in-patient treatment, it is often possible for them to live with their families, in supportive housing, and sometimes even entirely on their own.

Myth #7: People with Schizophrenia Cannot Have Jobs.

Though schizophrenia can be a disabling condition that prevents people from getting and keeping jobs, with the right support, many people with schizophrenia are able to maintain employment.

Myth #8: Once a Person is Diagnosed with Schizophrenia, They Are Only Going to Get Worse.

It used to be believed that people who had this disorder were inevitably going to become less functional and more detached from reality. More recent research, however, has shown that many people with schizophrenia show huge rates of improvement, especially in the earliest years after onset. Remission rates can be as high as 70-83 percent.

At Palms Behavioral Health in Harlingen, Texas, we witness people with schizophrenia making huge strides in their recovery every day. We are here to offer help and compassion to them and their support systems.

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