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Myths about Schizophrenia

Learn some of the myths about schizophrenia from psychiatrist Jeanie Tse in this Howcast video.


Hi. I'm Jeanie Tse, and I'm here to speak to you about myths about schizophrenia. The first myth that I'm going to talk about is that schizophrenia is rare. In fact, one percent of the population has schizophrenia, which makes it more common than things like juvenile diabetes, for instance. So, it's fairly common and affects a lot of people and their families and loved ones. So, that's number one. So, that makes it even more important for us to understand this condition, how it affects people, and to be able to support them.

Number two is that it's about split personality. In fact, the word schizophrenia in Greek means split mind and that's sort of what lead to the misconception.But, actually, the idea of split personality actually is associated with dissociative identity disorder where somebody might have different identities that are displayed, but it's not the same thing at all as schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is characterized by a gradual decline in functioning and cognition along with positive symptoms that include delusions which are fixed false beliefs including paranoia, hallucinations, hearing or seeing things, disorganized behavior, disorganized thinking and negative symptoms including lack of motivation or lack of emotional response. So, that's what schizophrenia is, not split personality.

The third myth is that people with schizophrenia are dangerous. And, in fact, a very small minority of people with schizophrenia commit any acts of violence and an extremely small percentage of the violence that is committed anywhere is committed by people with schizophrenia. Most violence, whether you have schizophrenia or not, is committed in the home with people that you are close to rather than with strangers. And, in fact, it's substance use that increases greatly the risk for violence, whether among people who have or do not have schizophrenia. So, people with schizophrenia are usually not violent, not dangerous.

The next myth I'd like to speak about is that people with schizophrenia cannot lead healthy, productive lives. They absolutely can and many people do. In fact, the international study of schizophrenia tells us that at least half of people with schizophrenia end up having a favorable outcome. And so, people with schizophrenia live in society, have families, have job, and are able to enjoy lives with hobbies and pursuing all kinds of goals and enjoying vacations like anybody else. And so, people with schizophrenia can lead very healthy lives and we should as society recognize that and support them to do that.

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