What are common myths and misconceptions about schizophrenia?

There are many misconceptions and myths about schizophrenia. There is evidence that such myths help to maintain an overall pessimism about outcomes and may reduce the patient's opportunities for improvement and/or recovery. Some common misconceptions are as follows:
  • Schizophrenia refers to a "split personality" or multiple personalities. Actually, the term "schizophrenia" refers to the split between the individual's personality or perception of reality and objective reality. Fragmented thinking processes are characteristic of the disorder. Disassociative identity disorder is a different and much less common disorder than schizophrenia.
  • People with schizophrenia are violent criminals. This is not automatically the case, although the delusional thoughts of schizophrenia sometimes lead to violent behavior. Although schizophrenia is sometimes associated with violence in the media, only a small minority of people with schizophrenia becomes violent and only a minority of people who commit criminal violence has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • Schizophrenia is a rare condition. Schizophrenia is not rare; estimates are that approximately 1% of the world's population will develop the disorder.
  • A person with schizophrenia should not have children. The chance of the child of a person with schizophrenia inheriting the illness is only 1 in 10; if both parents have the disorder, the chance of the child developing the illness increases to two in five.
  • Children cannot develop schizophrenia. In rare instances, children as young as five years old have been diagnosed with the illness. Most people with schizophrenia, however, do not show signs until adolescence or young adulthood.
  • Street drugs can cause schizophrenia. While there is some research indicating that cannabis may have a causal effect on schizophrenia, in general, street drugs do not cause schizophrenia. There are similar symptoms with the disorder and substance abuse, but one does not cause the other. Street drugs are risky for anyone but particularly so with people with schizophrenia since the drugs may trigger relapses or make the illness worse.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.