10 Schizophrenia Myths Busted

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

People deteriorate over time

Reality: The symptoms often attenuate in later life and by one's 60s could be minimal. 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.

Everyone 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 stopped hearing voices once they found the right medication. A spectrum of experiences exists here because there are so many varying manifestations.

Can't string two sentences together

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.

People with schizophrenia are violent

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 percent 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.

If it runs in the family, you will get it

In one study: children of one parent with schizophrenia had about a 13 percent chance of developing the illness and that increased to about 35 percent if both parents had schizophrenia. In another study: identical twins had a 48 percent chance of developing schizophrenia. You can access the heredity charts online.

Schizophrenia only occurs in young adults

A type of SZ called late-onset schizophrenia can occur in one's 40s or 50s or even 60s. How do you fare if you develop this illness later in life as opposed to when you are young? The prognosis appears to be good if the person continues to take their medication. Read late-onset schizophrenia for more details.

Schizophrenics don't need meds

This crown jewel of stigma I suspect is often cherished by people who have never been psychotic. The reality is everyone I know who was diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective who instituted a drug holiday relapsed and had to be hospitalized again. The risk is just too great to entertain messing up your brain chemistry permanently. Trust me you do not want to reach this point of no return.

Hearing voices is the hallmark symptom

The true classic symptom of schizophrenia is cognitive deficit syndrome according to leading researchers in the field. See my SharePosts on cognitive deficits and cognitive fitness for more on this topic.

The right to refuse treatment

On some matters the ACLU could be right. However when it comes to allowing anyone in the Beloved Community to be psychotic and homeless that is human cruelty and an injustice. In numerous cases where people with schizophrenia were treated involuntarily and then got "sprung" by a civil rights group: those individuals returned to the streets only to decompensate further. Nobody deserves to live on the streets.

Schizophrenics cannot recover

This is simply not true. All five long-term studies indicate that upwards of 60 percent of the people with schizophrenia recover fully or significantly improve.

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.