Schizophrenia in the Media

What comes to mind when you hear the word Schizophrenia? A homocidal maniac, a brilliant mind, an adult who suffered severe psychological or sexual abuse at the hands of a controlling and unstable mother? These are all myths perpetuated by the media. Patricia Owens, Phd at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas recently spoke about this subject at a presentation on Mental Illness in the media at the American Psychological Association’s convention in Orlando, Florida.
schizophrenia in the media

After reviewing movies portraying people with a diagnosis or presumed to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia she identified the following myths:

  1. People with schizophrenia are violent, often homicidal maniacs. In fact, people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are not more violent than the general population when it comes to aggression but they are way more likely to commit suicide. One out of ten people with this diagnosis have a successful attempt.
  2. People with schizophrenia are superior in intellect. IQ among people with schizophrenia follow the same bell curve as neurotypical individuals albeit skewed to a lower mean since disorganized thinking impairs intellectual functioning.
  3. People with schizophrenia have vivid visual hallucinations. Actually visual hallucinations usually mean there is an organic origin such as drug use, withdrawal or brain injury. Auditory hallucinations are the hallmark of schizophrenia.
  4. Poor parenting, specifically mom, causes schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disease with genetic underpinnings.
  5. A loving relationship is the cure. There is no cure but there is hope through ever-improving treatment.

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