Schizophrenia has been dubbed the "modern-day equivalent of leprosy," by celebrated psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. Indeed, the disorder is cloaked in misunderstanding and distrust. The term schizophrenia refers to "splitting of the mind," so perhaps it makes sense that one of the most pervasive myths about schizophrenia is that people who have it suffer from split, or multiple, personalities. Fully 64-percent of Americans buy into this misconception, according to a national alliance on mental illness survey. But split mind refers to a disparity between thought and action such as smiling when telling a disturbing story or feeling afraid of completely mundane things. It does not refer to a variety of different personalities! The truth is that multiple personalities are a symptom of a completely different illness, called Dissociative Identity Disorder, but known colloquially as multiple personality disorder. Another prevalent myth about schizophrenia is that people with the disorder are dangerous and unpredictable. In reality, the incidence of violence amongst those with schizophrenia is not much higher than that of the general population. In fact, it is much more likely that a person with schizophrenia will withdraw from society in confusion, fear, and despair than that he will become violent or dangerous! Yet another common myth about schizophrenia is that people with the illness cannot lead productive lives. This untruth was most effectively debunked by ten years of research from the New Hampshire dual diagnosis study. This research found that 62.7 percent of people with schizophrenia were managing to successfully control symptoms of the disease while 56.8-percent were thriving in independent living situations and 41.4 percent were gainfully employed! Despite this, another prevalent myth shrouding schizophrenia is that sufferers cannot get better and that they are doomed to lead lives of suffering and sickness. While it is true that schizophrenia is not curable, its symptoms can be very successfully treated with prescription medication and psychotherapy. Myths about schizophrenia abound, education and knowledge can help end the stigma against the condition. If you believe that you or a loved one suffers from schizophrenia, please make an appointment with a mental health professional.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012