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What Schizophrenia Is Not

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA Updated: Mar 20th 2017

red no sign There is still a lot we don't completely understand about schizophrenia's causes. We can say that schizophrenia is without question a biologically based disease of the brain. It is not: something caused by evil spirits, witchcraft, or being possessed by demons as was once widely believed. It is also not caused by poor parenting or by brain damage. It is not a form of an intellectual disability, dementia, delirium, or intoxication. It is not a form of multiple personality disorder. It has little to do with the tendency to be aggressive or violent.

There are many other common misconceptions about schizophrenia as well. The following statements are all false:

    • People never recover from schizophrenia
    • Schizophrenia is contagious
    • Most people with schizophrenia need to be institutionalized
    • People with schizophrenia are not able to make decisions about their own treatment
    • People with schizophrenia are likely to be violent
    • Most people with schizophrenia can't work
    • Jail is an appropriate place for people with schizophrenia

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about schizophrenia is that it is not anyone's fault. It is simply a disease of the brain that some people develop. If you have schizophrenia, you should know that you did not do anything to cause your illness. Similarly, if you care about someone with the condition, know that nothing you did or didn't do caused that person to become affected.


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Balance - blur187proof - Feb 6th 2015

for years many choices I've had concerning the ills of my life I've often argued back and forth in my mind,sometimes so loud I've hit my head just so as to end the thoughts. I've believed everyone in my life had some kind of problem with me or was out to cause me some kind of harm, for the first three years of a nine year relationship that just ended i used to have my then girlfriend eat three bites of the diner she cooked for me, I've stripped grown men down to their boxers at gun point to prove they had no weapons.the list goes on, i always see the reasons clear then feel foolish. I don't believe this is my life or time to be living,I'm not suicidal or anything, i try to stay high as not to slow down and see how its everyone against me."loneliness Will never betray me"


Is it Alzheimer or Schizophrenia? - - May 15th 2014

Recently I noticed several people being placed in nursing facilities because of their age with supposedly Alzheimers but show the symptoms of schizophrenia.  If it is schizophrenia and the person is placed in a nursing facility that is not equiped this can be dangerous for all the staff and patients. 

Hope - Mitchell - Dec 12th 2008

Please do not give up, my daughter has and is going through this situation ans i pray for her daily and she seems to be progressing by the grace of God.  I so encourage you all to draw closer to God because he will shed light on things we do not understand.  And because most do not think that he is approachable our loved one suffer because we think he will not answer us.  I promise you that God listens no matter what doctors or others may tell you.  Hw may not in your time but he will move to give you answers.  He loves those who seek him and even though we do not always undestand things, it cannot ever hurt to try Him when al else fails.  May God never leave you alone.

evil spirits - peter - Aug 13th 2008

Why do you assume 100% schizophrenia is not caused by evil spirits?Because it doesn't sound professional in this day and age? I think nobody knows anything about schizophrenia even though they might think they do to be an expert. I had it and am pretty sure it was caused by stress. My Christian faith helped me overcome it and I have recovered now.

Why is it so frightening? Why does it usually involve religious topics? Isn't this funny? If no evil spirits were involved would there be so much torment? I personally believe if no evil spirits were involved we would just see red as blue or squares as circles, not torment!!

I feel sorry for so much schizophrenics that end up dead in the end. My advice would be to trust in God, listen to doctors but won't be easy as  you will see things in hospitals and even in a plsce like a church that will make you not trust anyone but you must persevere and pay no attention.

Stress - Andree - Dec 8th 2007
Living with a loved one who has the illness is stressful. I grew up with my mom having schizophrenia. At the time, it wasn't cool to talk about it. It was basically swept under the carpet. Thank goodness, the culture has broken through some barriers now & it's a little easier to talk about & there's more information out there. This is a good site for learning & sharing about the disease.   

My Thoughts and Inspirations - King Potato - May 11th 2007
Thanks EVERY1 4 their comments, some of which help me realise that we're not alone in our illnesses, and that there IS hope. that we can find practical methods to cope better, and over time, even be cured and become mentally and spiritually healthy again. I keep thinking of a Jim Carrey film that i just bought - Me, Myself & Irene . Worth watching even if it does perpetuate myths about schizophrenia (jekyl & hyde syndrome, violent tendencies) ! !

- annie - Dec 20th 2006
What is the evidence that schizophrenia is biological? How do you know it is not caused by childhood truama? You can't say it's not caused by this just because there are people who experience childhood trauma and don't end up with schizophrenia. Or that there are people with schizophrenia that never experience childhood trauma. All childhoods are traumatic to some extent whether you experience severe abuse or not. My mother has it and she has bipolar. Her parents were alcoholics. Her mother was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and even had ECT. They just said she was depressed and now [my grandmother is 83] they say she has behavioural problems! My grandfather obviously [in my opinion] had an undiagnosed mood disorder. I, myself, two/three years ago when I was 27/28 had a very bizarre experience which could be psychosis/a manic episode or [as i prefer to call it] a mystical/spiritual experience. A kundalani rising. I lost all capabilty of rational and logical thought. I functioned purely in a world of feeling. It was really weird, but it also brought positive things, it completly transformed my personality for the better. We have no idea what childhood trauma does to a growing brain- I personally think it changes the brain and sometimes it changes it in a way that can not be reversed and thus it can become a type of brain injury/damage. I was lucky because three years before I had this strange experience I sought help for anxiety and depression [existentail depression] and they taught me CBT which gave me self awareness. Nothing is straightforward though because I was abused as a child, physically, sexually and verbally and consequently I still have problems with 'spacing out' and PTS Symptoms.

Brother w/disease - Martha Salazar - Nov 27th 2006
I have a brother that has been diagnosed with this disease(schitzophreania). His episodes have gotten worse during the years, and he feels that there is no hope and no institution or medication that can help. He lives at home with my parents that have never really figured out how to deal with him and his emotions and reactions. He resides in MO, and I am seeking any information on good support groups for my parents. Or a counseling center that my brother could attend that could make him accountable for his visits and rehabilitation. He's been thru so much and through so many centers and organizations that have not given him a solution. He says that since no one could help help, that he will just home and wait for death to arrive. If anyone has any information, I would appreciate your imput.

My Episodes - Billy Staggs - Oct 30th 2006
I would like to thank you for the site, I have had episodes of schizophrenia, but it got better over time with treatment at the time, there is hope and God Bless. Billy

Thank you for your clear, concise statements. - Wilson Sloan - Aug 30th 2006
Thank you very much! I have had all of the symptons described in your website for 10 years. I have in the past month told my friends and family the truth. My sister has known all along that I was sick, but I would not admit the truth for fear of invountary admission to a mental hospital. I would like to help shed light on this VERY debilatating disease. Your site is a good tool for those of us who are suffering with non stop inernal voices that are very auditory and visual hallucinations that are un-controlable. Sincerely, Wilson Sloan

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