1. People with schizophrenia progressively deteriorate over time.
Reality: The symptoms often attenuate in later life and by one's sixties could be minimal. Out of respect I will not identify the person however I can tell you this is true because I have observed improvement in someone who keeps a blog on the Internet. Having read the blog in its various incarnations for the past five years, I can indeed pinpoint when the shift occurred about one year ago.
Committing to a medication routine and taking your meds every day as prescribed inoculates you from a much worse fate. Not all drugs relieve all symptoms in all people, however, taking some form of medication protects you from a greater loss of functioning.
2. Everyone with schizophrenia hears voices.
For a lot of people diagnosed with this medical condition voices are a never-ending accompaniment to their daily life. For others, the voices come and go in intensity at different pressure points in their lives. The lucky among us - and I have friends for whom this was true - stopped hearing voices once they found the right medication. A spectrum of experiences exists here which is why some experts would refer to this illness in the plura l - as the schizophrenias - because there are so many varying manifestations. The truth is I never heard voices, yet I did have delusions and paranoia and exhibited odd behavior that leads me to believe the diagnosis of schizophrenia was correct.
3. People who can string two sentences together couldn't possibly have schizophrenia.
This myth - most scarily believed by psychiatrists and therapists - holds that schizophrenia is a chronic debilitating disease so that anyone doing well surely was misdiagnosed. In 1993, I wanted to start therapy so I interviewed a guy who worked out of an office in Brooklyn Heights. He did an intake which consisted of two sessions and at the second meeting he told me: "You don't have schizophrenia. You don't need medication. You can join my group but please don't tell the other people you were in a hospital last summer." Imagine. A therapist with an MSW. Telling me to lie - and - deny that I had illness. Which was the very reason I wound up in the hospital again in the first place.
Robin Cunningham - a former Connection blogger - was actually the CEO of companies and had a 25-year career in business. He told this to a potential psychiatrist he considered seeing and the doctor told Robin he shouldn't make up stories just to feel better because he had schizophrenia and couldn't do much.
4. People with schizophrenia are violent.
This old chestnut gets cracked open at will by so many people so often that I doubt the stigma will ever go away. It makes this myth an evergreen topic for a SharePost. Reality: A new study has found a marginal increase in the risk of committing violent crime: 28 percent of those with schizophrenia and co-occurring substance abuse were convicted of violent crime, compared to eight per cent of those with schizophrenia and no substance abuse, and five percent of the general population. So you are just as likely to be at risk of a crime perpetrated by someone without SZ.