Schizophrenia: Life without Reality
Written by Salina Shafi
For far too long, mental illnesses and mental disorders have been stigmatized. In movies or tv shows, you’ll see a “schizophrenic” individual walking around talking to themselves, having violent tendencies, these are the images that society has placed around schizophrenic patients. In Criminal Minds, Diana Spencer, Dr. Spencer Reid’s mother is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Within the show, Spencer puts his mother down in some respects assuming that she is not capable of thinking clearly and making rash decisions. Spencer fears the idea of ending up like his mother, helpless, but this is not true. Schizophrenia is a disorder; it is not a death sentence.
When you see a schizophrenic individual and they seem to be talking to themselves, they are actually not talking to themselves. as they are actually responding to someone in their reality as many schizophrenic individuals lack the ability to differentiate what is reality and what is not. Around 20 million individuals around the world are living with schizophrenia; that is 20 million people that are suffering from this chronic brain disorder.
For years, schizophrenia has been surrounded by the stigma of these individuals having split personalities or having violent tendencies, neither of these are true! The time old word, “psycho” is used around with patients who are schizophrenic when these individuals are actually losing touch with reality. There aren’t a lot of conversations about how schizophrenics live and survive in society. Many people outside of medical professions and their patients, are unaware of what this chronic brain disorder entails.
Schizophrenics deal with so much stigma around their disorder. These individuals are not the ones that should be feared, the society that has failed them should be feared. Many people fall in the cracks when it comes to the healthcare systems and governmental systems, which causes these individuals to not get the care they need and deserve. (Peterson 2020)
Symptoms of schizophrenia can start to occur due to genetics, the individual’s environment, life stressors, or something specific to the individual. Researchers do not know the definite cause of schizophrenia. (Torres 2020) It is theorized that psychosocial factors may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. Some symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, paranoia, distorted behaviors and perceptions. Depending on the patient, there are different options to start treatment. Treatments can include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychosocial support. Rehabilitation is also an option for these individuals in order for them to improve their social skills and abilities.
Antipsychotic medications are typically needed to stabilize the individual to determine what the next course of treatment may be. Antipsychotic medications help individuals manage psychosis, which is a severe mental disorder where thoughts and sentiments are impaired, and the individual is unable to differentiate reality and fantasy. Clozapine and Haloperidol are two medications that are consistently used with schizophrenia, but they are not solely used to treat schizophrenia.
This mental disorder can hinder people from living their everyday lives, but it is manageable. (Whiteman 2020) Schizophrenia has been shown in a negative light through our media and our entertainment; it is time to learn and discuss these disorders in a respectful manner. Schizophrenia is already a complicated disorder, both for the patient and their loved ones, discriminating and hate towards these people does nobody good. As more information becomes available to the public, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves.
Peterson, A. (2020, October 8). Why Stereotypes About Psychosis Are Harmful. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2020/Why-Stereotypes-About-Psychosis-Are-Harmful
Torres, F. (2020, August). What Is Schizophrenia? American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia
Whiteman, H. (2014, October 10). Schizophrenia: shattering the stigma. MedicalNewsToday. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283776#Schizophrenia-and-employment