9 Schizophrenia Myths and Facts

There's a lot of incorrect info out there about schizophrenia. Some of it is spread by movies or TV shows. Or sometimes people use stereotypes when talking about this mental illness.

Get the real story behind some common myths.

Myth No. 1: It means you have multiple personalities.

This is one of the biggest misunderstandings about schizophrenia. One poll found that 64% of Americans believe the condition involves a split personality, which means someone acts like they're two separate people.

A person with schizophrenia doesn't have two different personalities. Instead, he has false ideas or has lost touch with reality. Multiple personality disorder is unrelated.

Myth No. 2: Most people with schizophrenia are violent or dangerous.

In movies and TV shows, who is the crazed killer? Often it's the character with this condition. That's not the case in real life.

Even though people with schizophrenia can act unpredictably at times, most aren't violent, especially if they're getting treated.

When people with this brain disorder do commit violent acts, they usually have another condition, like childhood conduct problems or substance abuse.

Myth No. 3: Bad  parenting is the cause.

Mothers, in particular, often get blamed.

But schizophrenia is a mental illness. It has many causes, including genes, trauma, and drug abuse. Mistakes you've made as a parent won't give your child this condition.

Myth No. 4: If your parent has schizophrenia, you'll get it too.

Genes do play a role. But just because one of your parents has this mental illness doesn't mean you're destined to get it.

If one parent has schizophrenia, your risk of getting the condition is about 10%. Having more than one family member with it raises your risk.

Myth No. 5: People with schizophrenia aren’t smart.

Some studies have found that people with the condition have more trouble on tests of mental skills such as attention, learning, and memory. But that doesn't mean they're not intelligent.

Many creative and smart people throughout history have had schizophrenia, such as Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash. Scientists are even looking into links between genes that may be related to both psychosis and creativity.


Myth No. 6: If you have schizophrenia, you belong in a mental hospital. There was a time when people with mental illnesses were sent to asylums or even prisons. But now that experts know more about this disease, fewer people need to be placed in long-term mental health facilities. Most people with schizophrenia live independently with family or in supportive housing in the community.

Myth No. 7: You can't hold a job if you have it. Schizophrenia can make it harder for you to land a job and go to work every day. But with the right treatment, many people can find a position that fits their skills and abilities.

Myth No. 8: Schizophrenia makes people lazy. The illness can make it harder for someone to take care of their daily needs, such as dressing and bathing. This doesn’t mean they're "lazy." They just need some help with their daily routine.

Myth No. 9: You can never recover from it. Schizophrenia can be hard to treat, but it's not impossible. With the right medicine and therapy, about 25% of people with this disease will recover completely. Another 50% will see some improvement in their symptoms. Many people with the condition can live full, productive lives.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella on September 27, 2020



National Alliance on Mental Illness: "Schizophrenia."

Harvey, P. Current Directions in Psychological Science, August 2010.

Keri, S. Psychological Science, September 2009.

National Institute of Mental Health: "What is schizophrenia?"

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America: "About Schizophrenia."

University of North Carolina: "Myths About Mental Illness."

University of Michigan Health System: "Schizophrenia."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Schizophrenia."

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