Debunking Widely Held Notions About The Disorder
Roughly 1.1 percent of adults in the United States live with schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health . To put this into perspective, of the 52,964 people who visit Disney World every day, approximately 582 have schizophrenia. To get to Disney World, these 582 people would fill more than 11 Greyhound buses or 1.4 jumbo jets.
Of course, those 582 individuals represent only a small portion of the 2 million people with the disorder in the entire country. The total number of Americans with schizophrenia could replace every resident in Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and then some.
Do you know someone living in one of these cities? Then youre just as likely to know someone with schizophrenia.
Myth: People With Did Are Crazy And Violent
This is possibly the most unfair and harmful stigma associated with DID, but unfortunately, it’s a fairly common misconception, according to Harris.
“While it is true that those with DID can have alters or parts that hold anger and may appear to be confrontational when challenged, this population is no more prone to violence or crime than the general population,” she said. In fact, because people with DID are trauma survivors, they’re more likely to be victimized themselves than the other way around.
When an angry or confrontational part does appear, Harris said it’s merely a fear-based response meant to protect the individual from harm. Essentially, it’s a defense mechanism.
What If I Am A Carer Friend Or Relative
It can be distressing if you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who has schizophrenia. You can get support.
How can I get support for myself?
You can do the following.
- Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
- Speak to your relatives care team about family intervention. For more information about family intervention see the further up this page.
- Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
- Ask for a carers assessment.
- Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
- Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.
What is a carers assessment?NICE guidelines state that you should be given your own assessment through the community mental health team to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.
The CMHT should tell you about your right to have a carers assessment through your local authority. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.
How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525. They will search for you.
How can I support the person I care for?
You can do the following.
There is no definition for what high risk means. It could include:
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Myth #: People With Schizophrenia Have A Split Personality
A 2008 survey carried out by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that some 64% of the American population believe that people with schizophrenia have two or more separate personalities, which simply isnt the case. They have one, like everybody else.
Perhaps the confusion stems from the word itself. Schizophrenia originates from the Greek word, meaning split mind. Though schizophrenia may affect the way we think, it most certainly doesnt mean multiple personalities.
Dissociative identity disorder, which more closely relates to the split personality notion, is completely different to schizophrenia, and entirely unrelated.
What Is Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative identity disorder is a mental health condition. People with DID have two or more separate identities. These personalities control their behavior at different times. Each identity has its own personal history, traits, likes and dislikes. DID can lead to gaps in memory and hallucinations .
Dissociative identity disorder used to be called multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder.
DID is one of several dissociative disorders. These disorders affect a persons ability to connect with reality. Other dissociative disorders include:
- Depersonalized or derealization disorder, which causes a feeling of detachment from your actions.
- Dissociative amnesia, or problems remembering information about yourself.
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Myth : People With Schizophrenia Need To Be Monitored At All Times
People with schizophrenia may need differing levels of support, whether that’s medication, talking therapies or supported housing. When people with schizophrenia are getting access to the treatment and support they need, it’s absolutely possible to have a good quality of life, with all the things any of us would do from having a job, to studying or having a family.
For more information about schizophrenia and reducing the stigma of mental illness, please visit Rethink Mental Illness website.
Other Mental Illnesses Are Related To Schizophrenia
Schizophrenic patients are at a greater risk for a slew of different mental illnesses. Rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all higher among people with schizophrenia. Symptoms of schizophrenia can overlap with these disorders: Suicidal thoughts and a lack of motivation and interest in life are schizophrenic symptoms that are also hallmarks of depression.
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Myth: The Goal Of Did Treatment Is Always Integration Of Parts
There’s a broad perspective that assumes the one and only goal of mental health treatment is to make a disordered person “normal.” But no matter what their diagnosis, this is simply not always the case.
Barthels said that integration of alters or parts is often thought of as the only acceptable goal of DID treatment, but really, therapy for DID can take as many forms as therapy for anything else. “It requires that you understand your client’s goals, strengths, and resources,” Barthels said. “One client may desire integration while another may just want the parts to get along better.”
Though it may seem odd to a neurotypical outsider, a person with DID may live a happy and full life even as they experience it through different alters.
How Is Dissociative Identity Disorder Diagnosed
Making the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder takes time. Its estimated that individuals with dissociative disorders have spent seven years in the mental health system prior to accurate diagnosis. This is common, because the list of symptoms that cause a person with a dissociative disorder to seek treatment is very similar to those of many other psychiatric diagnoses. In fact, many people who have dissociative disorders also have coexisting diagnoses of borderline or other personality disorders, , and .
The DSM-5 provides the following criteria to diagnose dissociative identity disorder:
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Myth: People With Did Have Distinct Personalities They Can Switch Into Whenever They Want
DID is a trauma disorder, not a party trick. “Dissociation” describes a “mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, or sense of identity.” , a clinician based in Rockford, Illinois, said that dissociation happens on a continuum.
“Many survivors of trauma have dissociative experiences, such as being foggy and feeling slightly detached from reality,” Barthels said. “Farther on the continuum are those who leave their body during the traumatic experience. Farther still are those with dissociative disorder who have alters or parts.”
The important takeaway is that having alters isn’t some wacky, out-of-left-field symptom it’s merely an acute version of a common response to trauma.
And Harris is quick to point out that people with DID can’t always summon one of their alters on command. Rather, part of the therapeutic process is to help a person with DID connect with all their different alters or parts.
Myth: Did Is A Personality Disorder
Because of the association with multiple or split personalities, DID is often misunderstood to be a personality disorder, but they are actually two very different things.
Personality disorders are a constant fixed pattern of feeling and behaving over time, usually developing in early adulthood. Personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder, involve extreme emotional responses and patterns of behaviour which make it hard for the person with the disorder to have stable relationships and function in society.
DID is a dissociative disorder. Rather than extreme emotional reactions to the world, people living with DID lose contact with themselves: their memories, sense of identity, emotions and behaviour. Unlike personality disorders, DID may first manifest at almost any age.
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Myth #: People With Schizophrenia Have Multiple Personalities
This is another myth that refuses to die. In fact, according to a 2008 study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people still believe schizophrenia means having multiple personalities. While people with multiple personalities do exist, most do not live with schizophrenia. The condition people are actually thinking about is called dissociative identity disorder .
Part of the reason why people believe schizophrenia is the same as dissociative identity disorder is because schizophrenia derives from a Greek word meaning split mind. The split mind aspect refers to how people with schizophrenia have minds that tend to isolate them from the rest of the world, as if they were split off. The phrase doesnt mean the mind itself is split.
What Kind Of Symptoms Might People With Schizophrenia Have
People with schizophrenia may have a number of psychotic symptoms. These symptoms can come and go in phases, or they can happen only once or twice in a lifetime. When the illness begins, psychotic symptoms are usually sudden and severe.
During psychotic phases, the person may still understand parts of reality. He or she may lead a somewhat normal life, doing basic activities such as eating, working and getting around. In other cases, the person may be unable to function. Symptoms during psychotic phases include:
- Seeing, hearing, feeling or smelling things that are not real .
- Having strange beliefs that are not based on facts . For example, the person may believe that people can hear his or her thoughts, that he or she is God or the devil, or that people are putting thoughts into his or her head.
- Thinking in a confused way, being unable to make order out of the world, shifting quickly from one thought to the next.
- Having emotions, thoughts and moods that do not fit with events.
People with schizophrenia also may:
- Have a lot of energy or be overly active, or become “catatonic,” a state in which the body becomes rigid and cannot be moved.
- Talk in sentences that do not make sense.
- Not wash or groom.
- Cut themselves off from family, friends and the outside world.
- Be unable to function in school, work, or other activities.
- Lose interest in life.
- Be very sad or have mood swings.
- Have dulled emotions.
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Myth #: People With Schizophrenia Are Dangerous
Thanks in part to movies, TV, and other forms of pop culture that portray all people with mental illness as unpredictable criminals and killers, this is one of the most common myths about schizophrenia. The vast majority of those who live with the illness arent violent at all. According to studies of people with schizophrenia who have committed violent crimes, only 23% of those offenses were directly related to their symptoms.
How Common Is Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is more common than most people think. About 1 in 200 of the people in the United States will develop schizophrenia over the course of their lives. It’s also important to know that schizophrenia has many different symptoms and can show up in many different ways.
Schizophrenia is not the same as a “split personality.” A split personality is another type of mental illness. Split personality is much less common than schizophrenia.
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Myth #: Schizophrenia Only Involves Hallucinations
Though people with schizophrenia often do have hallucinations and delusions, these arent the only symptoms associated with the mental illness.
Most people think of hallucinations as seeing things that are not really there, and that can be true, but it also can include hearing disembodied voices, smelling odours that do not exist, and feeling sensations on the skin even if nobody is touching you such as someone grabbing your arm.
A delusion is a false belief that not only seems logical to the person, but persists strongly in the mind and refuses to go away. Even if the person receives the correct, logical information, this will usually be dismissed, allowing the false belief to continue.
However, people with schizophrenia can have other symptoms that many people dont realise. Low motivation, dulled emotions, rambling and disorganised speech, lack of desire to form social relationships, and the lack of ability to express emotion are a few symptoms people can experience.
Its thought that the reason behind this misconception is due to the fact that psychotic symptoms can be both unusual and frightening to some people who are not familiar with them. Therefore, hallucinations and delusions are two of the symptoms that are most sharply focused upon.
What Is Multiple Personality Disorder
Multiple personality disorder is an older name for dissociative identity disorder . It is a complex psychological condition that is triggered by many factors like severe early childhood trauma or extreme physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
DID is a severe form of dissociation. It causes a lack of connection among a persons
- Sense of identity
Usually, when a person experiences a traumatic event during his/her life, especially early childhood, they adopt the dissociative aspect as a coping mechanism. They dissociate or shut themselves off from a particularly violent or traumatic situation to adapt to their conscious self.
The peak time for personality development is early childhood. The child imitates whatever he sees and every experience has a strong impact on his mind. Experiences during early childhood help in shaping the lifetime thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and actions of an individual. Therefore, if someone undergoes emotional neglect and abuse during his early childhood, his/her personality is likely to suffer. Moreover, research studies back the fact that dissociative identity disorder is a psychological response to interpersonal and environmental stresses faced by somebody during their childhood. Almost 99% of the people who develop DID report personal histories of life-threatening traumas that took place during their sensitive developmental stages of life.
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Early Detection Of Psychotic Disorders
In clinical samples, the early detection of psychoses mainly follows an indicated preventive approach. Currently, a CHR state is alternatively defined by two complementary approaches : The ultra-high risk approach, developed to identify persons with high likelihood of transition to psychosis within the next 12 months, and the basic symptom approach, developed to detect beginning psychosis as early as possible.
The basic symptom criteria include cognitive disturbances and the cognitive-perceptive basic symptoms . Of these, the latter lacked sufficient meta-analytical evidence to be already recommended for clinical practice . Contrary to the trait character of schizotypy and SPD, basic symptoms decidedly have state character, as, by definition, they differ from what patients consider to be their normal mental self . Basic symptoms are conceptualized as the earliest primary psychopathological correlates of the neurophysiological disturbances of information processing underlying the development of attenuated and frank psychotic symptoms, which develop based on and partly in reaction to basic symptoms . Thus, independently of any thought content or perception, basic symptoms are disturbances in mental processes themselves, thereby clearly differing from more content-related positive features of schizotypy and SPD, and attenuated and brief limited psychotic symptoms .
Studies of personality dimensions, schizotypy, PDs, and SPD, in CHR samples indicate the following:
For Those With Did Medication Rarely Helps At All
Muller said drugs can help a little bit, with DID, but certainly do not help a lot.
Many drugs have been tried, but nothing really seems to help that much drug-wise, he said. Some of the drugs can numb the pain a little bit, so you get some people with DID on anti depressants, like Prozac. It can take some of the edge off, but it certainly doesnt cure the altered states of consciousness, or dissociating.
Whatever level of DID a patient has, drugs dont make it go away, or even change it in any way. Muller says its the psychotherapy which can really help people.
He said need therapists who understand trauma to help them deal with the memories of the past without getting badly triggered by them. He mentions and explains some of the concepts of trauma in his book .
DID is on the same spectrum as post traumatic stress disorder , and so a big part of the therapy is digging into the past to find out where the trauma was, to face it, and to learn what it is in day to day life that might bring it back and make the patient fearful.
Nothing necessarily bad has to be happening to someone with DID to trigger dissociation either. It might be the way a room is lit, a topic brought up in a book or a film, or the sight of a particular item of clothing. Its just that something about the situation is similar to the one where they were incredibly scared, and their brain starts protecting them again.
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