1% of the population, about 2.2 million people, will develop Schizophrenia, and 10% of the people with Schizophrenia commit suicide(Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet).The disorder is a breakdown between emotions, thought, and behavior leading to fake perception, inappropriate feelings and actions, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that usually appears in the late 20’s of a person’s life, “For some it starts gradually and for others it can be triggered by stress or trauma but, no event can cause the disorder, (Crash Course)” but can come at any time in someone’s life. Schizophrenic patients are usually viewed as dangerous and violent because of the hallucinations they see and voices they hear who usually, tell them to hurt others or themselves.
Mental patients are being discriminated in many ways, in many places, daily social discrimination, and in health care. A woman with schizophrenia was once asked to not have children. People with relatives with third-degree schizophrenia are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those in the general population. Second degree has a slightly higher incidence of schizophrenia than the general population, and first-degree relatives have an incidence of schizophrenia an order of tiny higher than the general populace. The doctor assumed that since the mother has schizophrenia that the child will probably have it as well, when in reality schizophrenia is not connected to any one gene. It is possible for the child to be born without any type of mental disorder, or it can have a different mental disorder like depression, but it is highly impossible for the child to have the exact same disorder that the parent has.
People with schizophrenia get presented in media in horrible ways, they also get pushed away from society and left there with a little help. Yet, most who take their medication can live in society like “normal people” because the medication will soften the voices down if not block them completely. Living with the stigma and misconceptions they live with is hard, that is why a lot of them commit suicide. In this paper, I will be talking about the misconceptions of patients with Schizophrenia, the discrimination faced by them and their family, and what we can do to stop it.
Accepting the diagnosis of Schizophrenia may lead to accepting the negative identity assigned to them “Am I a mindless fool? My life is a fragment, a disconnected dream that has no continuity. I am so tired of senselessness. I am tired of the music that my feelings sing, the dream music,¨ (Ross David Burke, When the Music’s Over: My Journey into Schizophrenia). When someone gets the mental disorder, they do not just have to live with the disorder itself, but also with the stigma that is attached to the disorder. An article by Dr.Harrison, a professor at the University of Bradford, showed two types of stigma, “internal stigma: where shame and expectation of discrimination are likely to inhabit a person from disclosing a mental health problem, and external stigma: which is experience of unfair treatment by others (Herrison)”. Proving that there are far more problems that schizophrenics have to live with other than the disorder.
Internal stigma is possibly because the media only shows narrowly based stories positioned on stereotypes and the extreme cases and not the minor cases. The media only shows what they believe to bring more attention or get them noticed, they will not put “28 year-old women lives a normal life with Schizophrenia,” over, “Schizophrenic patient believes his voices are coming from the afterlife.” The media is just looking to sell their products and they will focus on the extreme cases because they are more interesting and attention grabbing. The patients hold themselves to these standards and expect to be like them, like all the cases they have seen in the media. In an interview with John Bisenius, a licensed clinical social worker, Bisenius stated that patients “do not want to be seen as weak” and, therefore, do not get treatment. The media is showing the world that these patients are a certain way when in reality there are different cases for every single person.
External stigma is more about when the patient is not being treated fairly because of the disorder and it can affect their relationships. In an article written by a neuroscientist, Miguel Angel González-Torres, after the patient accepts the fact that they are ill, they will also try to hide the fact that they are ill because they are ashamed of it, “American study showing that families tend to conceal their relatives mental illness less when positive symptoms were more severe,”(González-Torres). They tend to hide the fact of the mental disorder because of all the negative light that is placed on mental illnesses. They do not want to be know as a family member of a ¨psycho¨, ¨crazy¨, or ¨nuts¨ person. In many places when they hear mental disorder the automatically think of “crazy” and schizophrenics are not “crazy,” because “medications will soften the voices down or will block them out completely,”(Bisenius) they can live a completely normal life without the hallucinations if they take the medications.
Schizophrenics and others with mental disorders are viewed as smaller or lower on the social level because of the disorder. They get discriminated because of their symptoms, for example the auditory hallucinations can cause someone to scream in anger because they want the voices to stop or they are responding to the voices in the same tone being spoken to them. While doing these things in an apartment the neighbors may complain about the noise and the schizophrenic will gets evicted from their home, instead of being understanding of their condition. Just like when looking for a job, a business owner will prefer to hire a person who will bring in less problems to work, rather than someone who has it written all over them, that they are dangerous, and violent, because that is how the media displays it to be. Schizophrenia also does not allow the patients to concentrate and focus on work, which can cause a problem for them. This kind of treatment only leads to further mental problems like depression, and relapse of the patient.
Also, people tend to fear them because they seem ¨crazy,¨ so therefore, they keep away. If someone would run into a schizophrenic in a hallway, like Bisenius stated, they would be scared of them and try to avoid them. All the fear they have is due to the fact the rest of the world is saying that they do certain things and they are supposedly psychos, movies and televisions shows convey the mentally ill as dangerous and violent. For example, a patient with schizophrenia can describe their experience as a nightmare where they see and hear terrible things, but in a real nightmare you can always wake up and it will end. With schizophrenics, that is their life and they have to live with it. Just like any person screams when they are having a bad dream, they react with terror and disapproval.
The family has lived with this person for a long time, yet they still believe in the stigma that follows the disorder. The believe what they see on the media over what they see with their own eyes. The family discriminates against their own family member and they do not understand that they are just like any other human out there, they also have feelings and emotions. A relative of a schizophrenic patient states they sometimes get mad at their schizophrenic family member because they forget about their illness. The fact that the family hides that they have a schizophrenic in their home is because they are ashamed to even be related to one and others just think of them as normal and forget they are even ill. This just proves that people with this disorder can live just like everyone else, with the help of the medication, even the family will soon forget about the disorder and it will seem like they never even had a mental illness.
In most cases, the patient lives a normal life where they have no idea and have no symptoms of Schizophrenia. Only until they reach their 20’s is when they can start to see symptoms and this is important because the misconceptions and the stigma that schizophrenics, can cause people to view others differently. When most of them are just like us, maybe even stronger, because they do the exact same things we do, but they also have to deal with everything that is added with schizophrenia. Most Schizophrenics who are able to work, wake up to go to work and have a boss they must listen to, do all the things a ¨normal¨ person would do, and they also have to face the discrimination and the disadvantages of having schizophrenia.
There are some organizations that were created to stop the stigma and get everyone informed. As humans, we tend to stay away from those things we know nothing about and assume what we have heard from other people. This organization was created to inform other of the schizophrenics and more mental disorders so we will not have to be scared of them and say things we know nothing about. The organization believes that since people are not informed they believe only what they see and hear in the media. Therefore, they want to show everyone that there is more that what the media shows. They want to show the many sides of the disorder and the good just as much as the bad is being shown in the media. For example, in movies the schizophrenic plays the serial killer or the antagonist of the film.
As time passes, minds will open up and accept that everyone is different and no one is born perfect. We will learn to live with people who are different from us just how we do not care whether a person is homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual. We have become a society that is fighting for gay rights, soon enough we will not care if they have a mental disease and because it is no ones fault that they end up with these types of diseases. In the near future, there will be much less discrimination against everyone whether it be because of sexuality to it me to their mental stability.
Further research that could be conducted is how the patient’s view other patients and themselves. Just like this research was done with society’s influence on the stigma the research could be done with the patients themselves. Also, further research could be conducted with teens with schizophrenia and how it is to have this disorder while in high school. The students would be different than adults because their maturity level is lower yet the adults in the same situation already act badly. How would high-school students act when they are around another student who is also schizophrenic, and how differently would the teachers and staff treat these students.
We may fear the fact that we know nothing in a place and we do not want to continue because it is scary to go into the unknown, but life goes on and you do not want to be left behind. This might sound selfish, but life is too short to care about others other than yourself, does it really matter what others have if it won’t affect you. No, it does not matter because at the end of the day everyone has their own life and they all live for themselves. We should not have to judge people by what they look like or what their mental stability is, but what they think and what they do, and always accept explanations because something could have just been a misunderstanding.
Schizophrenia is a disorder that can happen to anyone no matter culture, race, or nationality. Nothing from social class to your education can determine if you can get this disorder, but if it does happen to someone you know, never let the fact that they have a mental disorder drive you away because as long as they want to get better it can happen. Don’t let the unknown scare you away just because you know nothing about it. People may let bad things happen and to their loved ones, but do not let others control what you think of anything. If someone wants to state something they should know what they are talking about and not just talk without knowledge.
Bisenius, John. Telephone interview. 21 Apr. 2015.
Burke, Ross, Richard Gates, and Robin Hammond. When the Music’s Over: My Journey into Schizophrenia. New York, NY: Basic, 1995. Print.
Frances, Allen, MD. “Society’s Mismanagement of the Mentally Ill Is a Disgrace.” KevinMD.com. N.p., 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/08/societys-mismanagement-mentally-ill-disgrace.html>.
González-Torres, Miguel Angel, et al. “Stigma And Discrimination Towards People With Schizophrenia And Their Family Members.”Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology 42.1 (2007): 14-23. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
Harrison, J., and A. GILL. “The Experience And Consequences Of People With Mental Health Problems, The Impact Of Stigma Upon People With Schizophrenia: A Way Forward.” Journal Of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing 17.3 (2010): 242-250. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
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“Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet – Treatment Advocacy Center.” Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet – Treatment Advocacy Center. Treatmentadvocacycenter, 2015. Web. 3 May 2015. <http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/problem/consequences-of-non-treatment/schizophrenia>.