There are many misconceptions about schizophrenia. One common mistake is the belief that it results from a ‘split personality’. This isn’t true. Neither does it relate to ‘multiple’ personality disorder or any other personality disorder.

Actually, one in every hundred people will experience schizophrenia during their lifetime. It can be treated, and the majority of people who experience it will lead ordinary lives. Still, misunderstandings can result in stigma and discrimination, which might make it much harder for people to speak openly about it and seek the help they need.

What is schizophrenia?

"Before I started to get ill, I most likely thought the same as the popular understanding of schizophrenia: that it is a multiple personality disorder with violent tendencies, something that you would see in the news about murderers. So, once you receive that diagnosis, you start to feel like the popular opinion is against you."
(The Secret Schizophrenic) The first time I experienced stigma was at university

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that occurs when the parts of the brain that are responsible for emotion and sensation stop working properly. As a result, an individual might stop living their normal life; they might withdraw from people, feel confused, lose interest in things and be prone to angry outbursts.

Schizophrenia symptoms can include slower thinking, talking and movement, jumbled thoughts, emotional flatness or a lack of thought processes, reduced motivation, changes in sleeping patterns and body language, and an indifference to social contact. Symptoms might also include hallucinations (seeing, hearing and smelling things others don’t) and delusions (strong beliefs or experiences that are not in line with generally accepted reality).

There are different types – the most common is paranoid schizophrenia. Find out more about symptoms and treatments on the NHSRethink Mental Illness and Mind websites.

The stigma around schizophrenia

"When I was a kid, we used to say ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. I have changed my mind. Two of the most hurtful words in the dictionary are schizophrenia and psychotic. Those two words can ruin your life."
(Anonymous) Sticks and stones: talking about mental illness

People with mental health problems say that the stigma and discrimination surrounding their mental health problem can be one of the hardest parts of their day to day experience. As a result of the stigma, we might shy away from supporting a friend, family member or colleague. And the consequences can be large. People with mental health problems can lose friendships, feel isolated, withdraw from the world and not get the help they need.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Talking about mental health shows someone that you care about them. It aids recovery, and friendships are often strengthened in the process.

Personal blogs about living with schizophrenia

Read blog posts and personal stories written by people with personal experience of schizophrenia. By talking openly, our bloggers hope to increase understanding around mental health, break stereotypes and take the taboo out of something that – like physical health – affects us all.

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