If you’re like most people–myself included– you probably host a lot of pre-conceived ideas from texts, movies, and what others have claimed to be “schizophrenic” behaviors.
People are often scared of things that are different, things they don’t relate to or understand. As a biological mechanism, this proved useful in our prehistoric environments, but in today’s world isolates us. This is often VERY true for the mental illness population.
Are people with schizophrenia violent? Should we keep our distance? Are they all homeless? Is it all just an act?
Well, I’m hoping to dispel some myths and provide some insight from the specialists and those suffering from the illness as well.
Let’s attack some widespread q’s and beliefs…
1. Does schizophrenia make people violent/dangerous to be around?
No, no, and no. People with schizophrenia aren’t typically dangerous to anyone besides maybe themselves… why the high rates of suicide? Because schizophrenia can be an incredibly stressful mental illness that makes it hard for people to survive in an already stressful society.
2. Is it treatable?
While there is no full treatment, symptoms can be alleviated by medications, therapy, and decreasing stressors. They can lead meaningful lives if they are provided with the right tools and support.
3. What is a hallucination like? Audio and visual…
When it comes to audio hallucinations, those suffering from schizophrenia will tell you:
-There’s often more than just voices, there’s also static and other background noises.
-Additionally, you often have stake in the conversations. They’re of interest, and they matter to you–just as someone’s conversation is of interest to you when they are sitting across the table from you. This, as we can only imagine makes it extremely hard to focus. This can often explain why some times people with schizophrenia talk slower, slurred or look a bit glazed over–but be patient. They’re just trying to sort out their experience. One person requested to make it know that they do NOT like it when you finish their sentences.
Although this doesn’t capture the familiarity and stake people have to these conversations, this clip portrays how difficult it can be to focus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL9UJVtgPZY#t=115
-Visual hallucinations seem just as real as your dreams do when you’re sleeping. They can see, hear, and feel like they have the ability to reach out and touch an illusion.
4. Why are they always paranoid and seemingly unaware of their condition?
-These two features are actually a result of the disease. They are not in denial, they are not trying to gain attention, but they are really experiencing physiologically a disconnection in understanding their disease and understanding other’s intentions.
The paranoia feels similar to how it normally feels to have an episode of paranoia–characterized physiologically about feeling that tingly “worried” sensation. Have you ever worried about a relationship, or whether you would be caught doing something as a child? It’s a lot like that, just more pervasive.
It’s very real. It’s not for attention.
Although this blog post covers only a small understanding of the features, I wanted to present a more realistic view of schizophrenia based on what I am learning. There is much that I am still learning and gaining in understanding.
As I grow to understand the intricacies of this mental illness, I will keep you posted and hopefully provide some more understanding for those outside of the field.
Feel free to share any insights, questions, or feedback you may have.