Schizophrenia is a split personality

Myth

People with schizophrenia have only ONE personality. The word 'schizophrenia' comes from the Greek word meaning schizein’ (to split) and ‘phren’ (mind, soul) 'split mind' and this is perhaps where confusion and the myth started.

People with ‘split’ or multiple personalities have a different condition, called Dissociative Identity Disorder. 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 schizein’ (to split) and ‘phren’ (mind, soul) 'split mind' and this is perhaps where confusion and the myth started.

People with ‘split’ or multiple personalities have a different condition, called Dissociative Identity Disorder. The label of schizophrenia was first introduced into the medical lexicon by the Swiss psychiatrist, Dr Eugen Bleuler in 1911.

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Life expectancy is up to 19 years less for a person with schizophrenia

Truth

Health systems have failed to meet the needs of people with schizophrenia, such that they die on average up to 19 years younger than the broader population, and this gap is widening.

Premature mortality is the result of suicide, physical illnesses, (like diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia) which often go undiagnosed and un-treated, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, side effects of anti-psychotic medication, poor diet, and alcohol consumption.

Recent research shows that people living with psychosis in Australia experience higher rates of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, epilepsy, arthritis, kidney disease, migraine and stroke.

They also smoke at three times the rate of the general population.

Health systems have failed to meet the needs of people with schizophrenia, such that they die on average up to 19 years younger than the broader population, and this gap is widening.

Premature mortality is the result of suicide, physical illnesses, (like diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia) which often go undiagnosed and un-treated, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, side effects of anti-psychotic medication, poor diet, and alcohol consumption.

Recent research shows that people living with psychosis in Australia experience higher rates of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, epilepsy, arthritis, kidney disease, migraine and stroke.

They also smoke at three times the rate of the general population.

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Mental illness is only experienced by a small percentage of Australians

Myth

Mental illness is common. Nearly half (45%) of all Australians will experience a mental disorder at some point in their life; one in five Australians have experienced a mental disorder in the last 12 months. It affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.

Mental illness is common. Nearly half (45%) of all Australians will experience a mental disorder at some point in their life; one in five Australians have experienced a mental disorder in the last 12 months. 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, and unusual perceptual experiences
  • 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 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, and unusual perceptual experiences
  • 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.

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People with schizophrenia can fully recover

Truth

People with schizophrenia can and do recover. Based on a number of different studies, at least 1 in 7 people with schizophrenia fully recover; some studies report that as high as 1 in 3 or 1 in 2 people fully recover from schizophrenia.

Factors that play a very important role in influencing recovery from schizophrenia include having strong family relationships, treatment adherence, supportive therapeutic relationships, and access to community support.

People with schizophrenia can and do recover. Based on a number of different studies, at least 1 in 7 people with schizophrenia fully recover; some studies report that as high as 1 in 3 or 1 in 2 people fully recover from schizophrenia.

Factors that play a very important role in influencing recovery from schizophrenia include having strong family relationships, treatment adherence, supportive therapeutic relationships, and access to community support.

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People with schizophrenia are born that way

Myth

Schizophrenia is linked to over 100 genetic tags. 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. Many genetic epidemiological studies have shown, for more than 50 years, that genetic factors contribute substantially, but not exclusively, to the underlying cause of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is linked to over 100 genetic tags. 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. Many genetic epidemiological studies have shown, for more than 50 years, that genetic factors contribute substantially, but not exclusively, to the underlying cause of schizophrenia.

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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. Stigma can, for example, delay the start of treatment, and create difficulties in interpersonal and professional relationships.

Discrimination against people with schizophrenia can occur when they try to make or maintain friendships, look for a job, or maintain intimate or sexual relations. Moreover, discrimination often comes from members of their own family.

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. Stigma can, for example, delay the start of treatment, and create difficulties in interpersonal and professional relationships.

Discrimination against people with schizophrenia can occur when they try to make or maintain friendships, look for a job, or maintain intimate or sexual relations. Moreover, discrimination often comes from members of their own family.

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.

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.

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Very few people are affected by schizophrenia

Myth

Around 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime. If you include their families and friends, this means 1 million people in Australia will be affected by schizophrenia.

Around 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime. If you include their families and friends, this means 1 million people in Australia will be affected by schizophrenia.

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