Although the word schizophrenia is less than 100 years old (the term was first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911), most experts believe the disease dates to antiquity. Back then, there were no diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, and even now the disorder and its causes are often misunderstood among the general population. The following are five of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the illness:

Myth 1: Schizophrenia is synonymous with multiple personality disorder.


Contrary to popular belief and countless media portrayals, schizophrenics do not have multiple personalities. Although the word "schizophrenia" is derived from the Greek term for "split," the disease's name refers to a split from reality, rather than an actual split in personality. Multiple personalities are, however, seen in dissociative identity disorder (DID), a different disease.

Myth 2: There is only one type of schizophrenia.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM IV) categorizes the disease into five distinct types, or sub-classifications:





  • Paranoid Type:
  • In these patients, delusions and hallucinations are present, but thought disorder, disorganized behavior, and affective flattening are absent.

  • Disorganized Type:
  • Also known as "hebephrenic schizophrenia," this category refers to patients in which thought disorder and flat affect are both present.

  • Catatonic Type:
  • This refers to patients who have psychomotor disturbances, such as catatonic stupor and waxy flexibility.

  • Undifferentiated Type:
  • In these patients, psychotic symptoms are present but the criteria for paranoid, disorganized, or catatonic types have not been met.

  • Residual type:
  • This sub-classification includes patients who exhibit positive symptoms at a low intensity only.

Myth 3: Schizophrenics are always violent.


Although many people associate the disease with violence, most schizophrenics aren't dangerous to society. A study published in the 2002 British Journal of Psychiatry found that the percentage of people with schizophrenia who commit violent acts is several times higher than the general population but lower than the percentage of alcoholics who are violent. It should also be noted that many schizophrenics direct violence not toward others but toward themselves through various acts of self-harm.

Myth 4: Schizophrenia is caused by bad parenting, personal weakness, developmental delays, or low intelligence.


While early trauma may be a contributing factor in certain cases, most experts believe schizophrenia is not caused by bad parenting or child abuse. In addition, schizophrenia is not associated with personal weakness, developmental delays, or a low IQ. Several schizophrenics have been regarded as geniuses throughout history, including Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac and Nobel prizewinning mathematician John Nash.

Myth 5: Schizophrenics cannot live fulfilling lives.







Perhaps the most damaging of all schizophrenia myths is the idea that sufferers cannot go on to live fulfilling lives. While there is currently no cure for the disease, with proper medical treatment, illness management, and support, patients can lead long and rewarding lives.