Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Schizophrenia: Misattribution © Megan Snider
“Knowing that you're crazy doesn't make the crazy things stop happening.”--Mark Vonnegut
I do not have Schizophrenia. I have met people with Schizophrenia, as I have written in previous posts, and I also have relatives with Schizophrenia. While I was misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia for a brief while, the diagnosis was never officially put into my charts and was flatly denied by my therapist and general doctor many times. You may have noticed that in my earlier responses and posts I may have mentioned Schizophrenia in application to myself. Under this time, I was under the sway of the misdiagnosis. It has since been violently overturned. That, however, does not make the life of mental illness any easier for the sufferers.
Yet, this entry is an offshoot of my previous entry dealing with bullying online and, to a greater extent, in society at large. While I am not Schizophrenic, I cannot begin to count the times I have been called "Schizophrenic" or have witnessed other people being branded as "Schizophrenic" for reasons as asinine as grammar mistakes to abnormal excitation. Schizophrenia is indeed quite infamous. The problem is that most average people only know enough about mental illness to make themselves dangerous. Then they sloppily misapply this information to everything they see everywhere they go. Here’s a good example: I was just on a message board for people who wrote scary stories. An anonymous person commented on one of the previous posts in the forum, calling someone a “hyperactive Schizophrenic”. I found this quite interesting on many levels. My first response was anger. Yet again we see stigma. Yet, at the same time, I was almost laughing. What is a “hyperactive” Schizophrenic? This is not even a proper diagnosis and you will see in nowhere is the DSM.
I also grow weary of reading scary stories which end with a crazed killer being described as a “Paranoid Schizophrenic”. It is almost like a literary convention in amateur scary stories. You MUST be a Schizophrenic in order to kill someone, right? The truth is that there are very few serial killers who were Schizophrenic. Richard Chase is one example I can think of off the top of my head. Most serial killers and people we deem as threats are psychopaths. A psychopath knows the difference between right and wrong yet simply does not care. Psychopaths are often high functioning. There is a great difference between the Schizophrenic and the Psychopath. It does not surprise me that people confuse these two because I often remember people confusing Dissociative Identity Disorder frequently with Schizophrenia in Abnormal Psychology class. For the life of me, I could not understand where the confusion lies here.
It is all too easy to label someone as Schizophrenic. Why, it has basically become a mainstay of our society. Are you a little eccentric? Perhaps you have bizarre hobbies. Perhaps you have a few abstract theories on the way governments or history works. Perhaps you are just an abstract or deep thinker. When the average, infantile “normal” representative for mankind is greeted with this kind schism in his normal approach to the world, I find it interesting that he has the power to then slander you. You see, you are not allowed to challenge other people’s “normal” thoughts in society. This enrages all the people living happily “inside the box”. Once you challenge the “normal” person, the “normal” person brands you immediately. Even if you are NOT mentally ill, you suddenly assume all of the characteristics hastily and all too easily. It is all too easy to slander someone else in this manner. I suppose it is also funny.
The sad truth of the matter is that Schizophrenia is not a joke. It is a serious medical condition. Yes, notice that I said MEDICAL. It is a psychotic condition. I’m sure the masses read the word psychosis and immediately visions of mass murders jump into their heads and flail around for a few uncomfortable minutes. Actually, this is not an accurate representation. According to Schizophrenia.com, here are some interesting facts you may or may not have known about Schizophrenics in general:
People with schizophrenia are far more likely to harm themselves than be violent toward the public. Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia.
News and entertainment media tend to link mental illnesses including schizophrenia to criminal violence. Most people with schizophrenia, however, are not violent toward others but are withdrawn and prefer to be left alone. Drug or alcohol abuse raises the risk of violence in people with schizophrenia, particularly if the illness is untreated, but also in people who have no mental illness.
The vast majority of people with schizophrenia who are in jail have been charged with misdemeanors such as trespassing.
People with the condition have a 50 times higher risk of attempting suicide than the general population; the risk of suicide is very serious in people with schizophrenia. Suicide is the number one cause of premature death among people with schizophrenia, with an estimated 10 percent to 13 percent killing themselves and approximately 40% attempting suicide at least once (and as much as 60% of males attempting suicide). The extreme depression and psychoses that can result due to lack of treatment are the usual causes. These suicides rates can be compared to the general population, which is somewhere around 0.01%
Alright, my friends, so now we have some facts! Now, please tell me, how many statistics did you see that dealt with mass murderers, crazed killers, violent “lunatics”, people who have trouble spelling or communicating with others, people who show exuberant responses to stimuli or people who have no ability to discern between good and evil as society defines it? I encourage you to go to the site and spend a little while reading.
You see, ignorance makes me irate because ignorance, unlike stupidity, has the power to be transformed by knowledge. If you don't like being shepherded, don't be a sheep!
© Megan Snider