Schizophrenia Myths & Facts

Myth:  Schizophrenia is a split personality

Fact:  People with schizophrenia have only ONE personality.  The word 'schizophrenia' comes from the Greek word meaning 'split mind' and this is perhaps where the confusion started.  The diagnosis of Schizophrenia was first introduced into the medical lexicon by the Swiss psychiatrist, Dr Eugen Bleuler in 1911.

Myth:  People who have schizophrenia are always violent

Fact:  People who have schizophrenia are unlikely to be violent and are frequently the victims of violence.  This is another very common and unfounded myth that is exacerbated by the media.  There is an increased risk of violence, especially early in the course of the illness before help has been received, however this risk is low.   There is an increased risk of self-harm among people with schizophrenia and this is linked to an increase in the rate of completed suicide.  Often, because of the nature of the illness, violence is self-directed either through fear, delusional thinking or the decision to 'no longer cope' with the illness.  It is fair to say that a person with schizophrenia has more to fear from the general community than the reverse, as they are often on the receiving end of quite severe stigmatisation, misunderstanding and outright discrimination.

Myth:  People with schizophrenia are developmentally delayed

Fact:  People with schizophrenia are NOT developmentally delayed.  This myth has its basis in the treatment programs in the nineteenth and early twentieth century..  During this period, people with a developmental delay and people with a mental illness were placed in asylums together and this is probably where the confusion arose.

Myth:  People with schizophrenia have low intelligence

Fact:  People with schizophrenia are not low in intelligence.  As with any population, there is a variation, but this is not a characteristic of the illness.  People with schizophrenia have won the Nobel Prize.