Myths About Schizophrenia

Myths About Schizophrenia

I must admit that in my teen years my perspective on mental illness was different. Being a fan of Sylvia Plath, my view on the subject was a bit limited considering back then answers weren’t obtained as easily as today. Going to the library was my best option if anything wanted to be learned extensively so that meant searching for information from one book to another. That wasn’t a problem for me, of course, but now all you do is input a word in a search bar and get all sorts of options of information. What used to take me more than one sitting to learn back then now takes me less than an hour. Knowledge is more accessible. Myths are better explained like in the article “4 Myths About Schizophrenia (and the Facts You Need to Know)” by Ralph Ryback M.D. in Psychology Today.

The article clearly corrects the information that is often misunderstood by many in a matter of minutes. Each myth is backed up by facts. So let’s go a step further and apply theses myths to an actual person. In this case we’ll use me.

Myth one: People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities.
This one is common. I even believed this one way back . . .The point is it’s the first thing most people think when in reality it has nothing to do with the personality. Yes, you look different to others. You behave different. However, there is no actual different personas within one person. The reason as to why everyone notices something is off with a person with schizophrenia is because the person with the illness is being affected by thoughts, ideas, pictures, beliefs that are real and unreal. It doesn’t mean I change from being one type of person to another. What happens is that reality and fantasy get mixed together to create their own world in which the person with the illness has to adapt.

Myth two: Schizophrenia makes people dangerous.
Okay no doubt that movies and the media gives us the wrong idea on this one. Yes, there is the possibility of danger with someone that has schizophrenia but truthfully the danger is to themselves not the public. See what’s influencing the person during the episode is the fantasy being created in the mind. Reality looks or is perceived as the evil, at least that’s the way it was with me. I thought someone was trying to kill me. My delusions made me believe that jumping out my window was for my safety. So what did I do? Of course the obvious. Jump out my window! Luckily it was a one story home but that’s besides the fact. I acted to save myself not to endanger anyone. Yes, it was the middle of the night. My parents got scared. The act was done as a form of protection not as anything else.

Myth three: Schizophrenia only involves delusions and hallucinations.
Wrong. There are other symptoms as well but delusions and hallucinations are the main ones along with disorganized speech and movements. All these are called positive symptoms. Then there are the negative symptoms, which are reduced emotional expression, speaking very little, loss of interest, and catatonia. As for me, I had all the symptoms even catatonia. One thing that isn’t pleasing to admit is that my negative symptoms were so bad that my mother had to physically put me in the shower and give me a bath. You wouldn’t think that was so bad until you realize that I was a grown woman at the time of my episode.

Myth four: Schizophrenia can’t be treated.
If this was true, then you wouldn’t find me writing this article because if schizophrenia can’t be treated then this person would be in a hospital. Instead my life is as normal as almost anyone else although I still live with my mother. The reason I am with her is not due to my mental illness. Living with my mother is for her convenience since now she needs someone to take care of her. Believe it or not, that’s me. Our roles switched. Now my life consists of doing for my mother what she did for me growing up. My illness is being treated with medication, which keeps me free of all those positive and negative symptoms for now.

So next time you hear one of these myths just think back on this article, please. I know it’s not the best example to show what 1.1 percent of adults in the U.S. go through because I am only one person in that group. However, if one of us can prove that all these myths are false, isn’t it possible that others with the same mental illness can as well? Schizophrenia is not as it is often portrayed. It is easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. Don’t listen to the myths or false ideas. Do yourself the easy thing next time someone makes a statement about schizophrenia, Google for your answer. Oh and make sure you get the right answer by going to a valid source.