We don’t call a person cancerous, do we? So why call a someone schizophrenic?
Many people do not realize the severity of the stigma surrounding mental illness or what sigma really is. The definition taken from SANE Australia gives an excellent description of stigma and talks briefly on how it affects those who have to face this stigma daily.
- STIGMA is the perception of a group of people as less worthy of respect than others.
- STIGMA against people with a mental illness involves inaccurate and hurtful representations of them as violent, comical or incompetent, dehumanizing them as objects of fear or ridicule.
- STIGMA can lead to self-stigma causing a reluctance to seek treatment. This untreated illness in turn, contributes to suicidal thinking and behavior.
- STIGMA in the media is especially harmful because of the effect this has on community attitudes.
You have probably watched horror movies where the ferocious killer is depicted as suffering from schizophrenia.
These movies, watched by billions of people all over the world, create terror surround schizophrenia. They spread horribly inaccurate information and depict people with this illness as being violent and unpredictable.
However, people with psychosis are seldom violent and are at much greater risk of causing harm to themselves than to others and a large percentage of people with schizophrenia will attempt suicide in their lifetime.
Most of us seem to know very little about schizophrenia and find it easy to use the term ‘schizophrenic’ often. We don’t call a person ‘cancerous,’ do we?