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The Stigma of Schizophrenia

What it's like dealing with schizophrenia
A person suffering from schizophrenia paints a picture of what life is like in his eyes.


What is Schizophrenia?

Mental illness awareness is being raised throughout the country over the last year. With this in mind, we are now tackling the certain stigmas associated with certain mental illnesses. Schizophrenia is one mental illness that has a horrible reputation. We can blame the media for that horrible stigma. The media and in some rare cases of this mental illness, label people suffering from schizophrenia as dangerous psychopaths, that are looking to harm or kill people all the time. This generalization and out right media propaganda could not be any further from the truth.

Schizophrenia is actually a serious mental disorder that affects how the person thinks, feels, and acts. People suffering from schizophrenia may have trouble distinguishing reality from what is imaginary. This symptom leaves society to believe that people suffering from schizophrenia are lunatics that cannot be controlled. Other symptoms include being unresponsive or withdrawn, and they may also have trouble expressing their emotions in social settings.

Myths About Schizophrenia

Myths about this serious mental illness are very damaging. One myth about schizophrenia is that it is a
split personality or multiple personality disorder. Schizophrenia is not something you can turn on and off by simply changing personality traits. This mental illness is more along the lines of fact or fiction. Think about, imagine you are living your everyday life and trying to figure out if it is really real. Are your friends and family really who they say they are? Is that really just a tree in your backyard? Can you image going through life hearing voices that no one else can hear? People suffering from this symptom often believe these voices are real and there is a reason why only they can hear them, which leads to not being able to distinguish between reality and the world they made up in their head.

Another myth about this disorder is that people suffering from this disorder are very violent. This is not the case. One person suffering from this disorder has come forward to break the stigma. Rebecca states, “My name is Rebecca. I have paranoid schizophrenia.” She continues, “I am married. I have a home. And I have never been a danger to anyone but myself.” Rebecca is able to lead a “normal” life just like everyone else. She goes grocery shopping, pays her bills, and does various other things that you and I do. With proper treatment schizophrenia can be controlled for most. There have been certain cases that lead to this violent stigma, like combining this disorder with substance abuse. The end result for someone suffering from this disorder and abusing a substance will be very harmful. Another factor that adds to the violent stigma is that every time a horrible acts occurs, people want to claim insanity. For example, the Batman Colorado theatre shooter is now pleading insanity, by claiming he is schizophrenic. This obviously creates a huge stigma, when something horrible like this happens. People will forever hold the horrible actions of one person suffering from that illness, to the whole population of people that also suffer from that mental illness.

No one knows what causes mental illness yet. It is not caused by traumatic childhood experiences, poor parenting skills, or lack of willpower. Research is being done everyday to figure out how and why this mental disorder works the way it does. In the meantime, find out the facts before jumping to conclusions or stereotypes. It really will make a difference.

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