1. People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities.
According to a 2008 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness(link is external) (NAMI), 64 percent of the population is unable to recognize the symptoms associated with schizophrenia and instead simply believe that people with the disorder have “split” or multiple personalities.This is false. this disorder often involves a variety of symptoms, but not one involves multiple personalities. This myth likely originated because the word “schizo” means split—however, in this case, it refers to gaps (or a splitting) in a person’s ability to think and express emotions. (People with split personalities are living withDissociative Identity Disorder.)(link is external)
2. Schizophrenia makes people dangerous.
In popular culture, individuals with schizophrenia are often depicted as sadistic, unpredictable, and violent. Although it’s true that some individuals with this disorder do commit crimes, the vast majority of patients are nonviolent. In fact, of past violent offenders who did have this disorder, only 23 percent of their crimes(link is external) were directly related to their symptoms.Unfortunately, the notion that all individuals with this disorder are dangerous contributes heavily to the stigma(link is external) surrounding the disorder. People with this disorder often have reduced housing and employment opportunities, greaterstress, lower self-esteem, and diminished quality of life.
3. Schizophrenia only involves delusions and hallucinations.
Many people incorrectly believe that individuals with this disorder only suffer from hallucinations and delusions. This is not surprising: Psychotic symptoms are unusual and often frightening, and so popular culture focuses on these more than other symptoms associated with this disorder .Along with delusions and hallucinations, though, individuals with schizophrenia may experience blunted emotions, low motivation, disorganized speech, and a lack of desire to form social relationships. They also can have difficulty maintaining attention and performing certain cognitive tasks.
4. Schizophrenia can’t be treated.
In old movies—and in old times(link is external) in general—people with this disorder often werecarted off to institutions, often to live the rest of their lives in isolation. In many ways, developing a severe mental disorder was the same as receiving a life sentence in prison. For this reason, many people erroneously believe that schizophrenia can’t be treated and that institutionalization is the only solution.Although it’s true that this disorder cannot be cured, it can be successfully treated.Medication, rehabilitation practices and psychosocial therapies can help individuals with this disorder lead independent and productive lives. In fact, with proper treatment(link is external), many people with this disorder appear to be completely healthy.