Schizophrenia is a split personality

Myth

People with Schizophrenia have only ONE personality. The word 'Schizophrenia' comes from the Greek word meaning 'split mind' and this is perhaps where confusion and the myth started.

The label of Schizophrenia was first introduced into the medical lexicon by the Swiss psychiatrist, Dr Eugen Bleuler in 1911.

People with Schizophrenia have only ONE personality. The word 'Schizophrenia' comes from the Greek word meaning 'split mind' and this is perhaps where confusion and the myth started.

The diagnosis of Schizophrenia was first introduced into the medical lexicon by the Swiss psychiatrist, Dr Eugen Bleuler in 1911.

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People who have schizophrenia are always violent

Myth

People who have Schizophrenia are unlikely to be violent and are frequently the victims of violence. This unfounded myth has been exacerbated by the media.

There is an increased risk of self-harm among people with Schizophrenia and this is linked to an increase in the rate of completed suicide.

Often, because of the nature of the illness, violence is self-directed either through fear, delusional thinking or the decision to 'no longer cope' with the illness.

It is fair to say that a person with Schizophrenia has more to fear from the general community than the reverse.

People who have Schizophrenia are unlikely to be violent and are frequently the victims of violence. This unfounded myth has been exacerbated by the media.

There is an increased risk of self-harm among people with Schizophrenia and this is linked to an increase in the rate of completed suicide.

Often, because of the nature of the illness, violence is self-directed either through fear, delusional thinking or the decision to 'no longer cope' with the illness.

It is fair to say that a person with Schizophrenia has more to fear from the general community than the reverse.

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Life expectancy is up to 25 years less for a person with Schizophrenia

Truth

International research has found that health systems have failed to meet the needs of people with Schizophrenia, resulting in their life expectancy being reduced by up to 25 years.

A recent Government report highlighted the alarmingly high rates of physical illness suffered by people with Schizophrenia.

They are 50% more likely to have a stroke, 20% more likely to get cancer and have a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes.

Another landmark report recommended a range of targeted public health programs to bring the health care of people with Schizophrenia to the level enjoyed by the rest of society. All that is required is action from our politicians.

International research has found that health systems have failed to meet the needs of people with Schizophrenia, resulting in their life expectancy being reduced by up to 25 years.

A recent Government report highlighted the alarmingly high rates of physical illness suffered by people with Schizophrenia.

They are 50% more likely to have a stroke, 20% more likely to get cancer and have a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes.

Another landmark report recommended a range of targeted public health programs to bring the health care of people with Schizophrenia to the level enjoyed by the rest of society. All that is required is action from our politicians.

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Mental illness only affects a few people

Myth

Mental illness is common. One in five Australians will experience a mental illness. It affects people of all ages, educational and income levels and cultures.

Mental illness is common. One in five Australians will experience a mental illness. It affects people of all ages, educational and income levels and cultures.

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Hearing voices is the only early warning sign of Schizophrenia

Myth

While hallucinations can occur in any of the five senses the most common hallucinations in schizophrenia are auditory, usually experienced as hearing voices which are perceived as distinct from the person's own thoughts.

There are a number of other early warning signs that can indicate the presence of Schizophrenia or another mental illness.

  • Difficulty in concentrating, poor memory, preoccupation with odd ideas, increased suspiciousness.
  • Changes in mood, lack of emotional response, rapid mood changes, inappropriate moods.
  • Odd or unusual behaviour.
  • Sleep disturbances or excessive sleep and loss of energy.
  • Withdrawal and isolation from family and friends.
  • Decline in school or work performance.
  • None of these symptoms by themselves indicate the presence of Schizophrenia or another mental illness. But if they are severe, persistent or recurrent, professional help should be sought as soon as possible.


While hallucinations can occur in any of the five senses the most common are auditory, usually experienced as hearing voices which are perceived as distinct from the person's own thoughts.

There are a number of other early warning signs that can indicate the presence of Schizophrenia or another mental illness.

  • Difficulty in concentrating, poor memory, preoccupation with odd ideas, increased suspiciousness.
  • Changes in mood, lack of emotional response, rapid mood changes, inappropriate moods.
  • Odd or unusual behaviour.
  • Sleep disturbances or excessive sleep and loss of energy.
  • Withdrawal and isolation from family and friends.
  • Decline in school or work performance.
  • While none of these symptoms by themselves indicate the presence of Schizophrenia or another mental illness. But if they are severe, persistent or recurrent, professional help should be sought as soon as possible.

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People with Schizophrenia can get better

Truth

A diagnosis of Schizophrenia does not mean a lifelong illness is inevitable. 25% of people recover fully, 40% experience some recurrent episodes and intermittent social disability and 35% of people experience long term illness.

A diagnosis of Schizophrenia does not mean a lifelong illness is inevitable. 25% of people recover fully, 40% experience some recurrent episodes and intermittent social disability and 35% of people experience long term illness.

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People with Schizophrenia are born that way

Myth

Schizophrenia is contributed to by more than 120 genes. However having a genetic predisposition, or having a relative with schizophrenia, doesn't necessarily mean that you will develop Schizophrenia.

Late adolescence and early adulthood is the time where it most commonly manifests. Psychological and social pressures can precipitate the illness or make it worse. It is important to look at Schizophrenia as being an interaction between the person and his/her environment.


Schizophrenia can be genetic and may be inherited, but having a genetic predisposition does not necessarily mean that all children of people with Schizophrenia will develop Schizophrenia.

Late adolescence is the time where it most commonly manifests. Psychological and social pressures can precipitate the illness or make it worse. It is important to look at Schizophrenia as being an interaction between the person and his/her environment.

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Stigma is a big problem for people with mental illness

Truth

Stigma is one of the biggest obstacles for people with a mental illness.

The negative attitudes of people towards mental illness often means that people with mental illness face isolation and discrimination just for having an illness.

By adopting a positive attitude toward people with mental illness, family, friends, employers and other members of the community offer hope for a better quality of life.

Stigma is one of the biggest obstacles for people with a mental illness.

The confronting the negative attitudes of people often mean that people with mental illness face isolation and discrimination just for having an illness.

By adopting a positive attitude toward people with mental illness, family, friends, employers and other members of the community offer hope for a better quality of life.

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People with Schizophrenia have above average I.Q.

Myth

People with Schizophrenia have won the Nobel Prize, but as with any population, there is a variation, unfortunately being smart is not a characteristic of the illness.

People with Schizophrenia have won the Nobel Prize, but as with any population, there is a variation, unfortunately being smart is not a characteristic of the illness.

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Marijuana use causes schizophrenia

Myth

Most people who use marijuana don’t develop schizophrenia, but for some who are genetically vulnerable substance misuse is related to the development of Schizophrenia. It is likely that substance misuse may precipitate or worsen the symptoms and interfere with the treatment of a person with Schizophrenia.


Although contentious, some research suggests that substance misuse is related to the development of Schizophrenia. It is likely that substance misuse may precipitate or worsen the symptoms and interfere with the treatment of a person with Schizophrenia.

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