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What Schizophrenia Is Not

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA

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.