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What Schizophrenia Is Not

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

What Schizophrenia Is Not

Though important facts are still missing from our contemporary understanding of schizophrenia's causes, we know enough today to say that schizophrenia is definitively a biologically based disease of the brain, and not something caused by evil spirits, witchcraft, or demonic possession as was once widely thought. Schizophrenia is also not caused by poor parenting or by brain damage. It is not a form of mental retardation, dementia, delirium, or intoxication. It is not a form of multiple personality disorder, and it has little to do with aggressive tendencies.

There are many other common misconceptions about schizophrenia that need correction as well. The following statements are all false, for example:

  • 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 nothing more and nothing less than a disease of the brain that some people develop. If you are schizophrenic, you should know that you did not do anything to cause your illness. Similarly, if you care about someone who is schizophrenic, know that nothing you did or didn't do caused that person to become schizophrenic.