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Either mad and bad or Jekyll and Hyde: media portrayals of schizophrenia

Stigma can take a heavy toll on people who suffer from mental illness. Being shunned, feared, devalued and discriminated against can impair recovery and deepen social isolation and distress. Many sufferers…

People with schizophrenia are still perceived as dangerous and unpredictable, and these perceptions have increased in recent years. JD Hancock

Stigma can take a heavy toll on people who suffer from mental illness. Being shunned, feared, devalued and discriminated against can impair recovery and deepen social isolation and distress. Many sufferers judge stigma to be more difficult to cope with than the symptoms of their illness.

Thankfully, there are grounds for hope. Australian researchers have shown that mental illness stigma, such as the unwillingness to interact with affected people, generally declined from 2003 to 2011. Some credit for this improvement must go to media campaigns by beyondblue and SANE, and to the willingness of many people to speak publicly about experiences that would once have been shamefully private.

The dark cloud inside this silver lining is schizophrenia, a serious condition that impairs thinking, emotion and motivation. While Australians’ attitudes towards depression have become more accepting, the stigma of schizophrenia has remained largely unchanged.

Misusing and misunderstanding

People with schizophrenia are still perceived as dangerous and unpredictable, and these perceptions have increased in recent years. Attitudes to people with schizophrenia have also worsened in the United States at the same time as attitudes to depressed people have improved.

Just as the media can take some credit for the declining stigma of other conditions, it must take some of the blame for the continuing stigma of schizophrenia. Media portrayals commonly associate it with violence and danger.

Schizophrenia is also often misused to refer to split personality or incoherence. This Jekyll-and-Hyde misconception persists despite countless corrections. One study of Italian newspapers, for instance, found that the term was employed in this way almost three times as often it was used correctly to refer to people with the diagnosis or their illness.

But just how negative are current media depictions of schizophrenia? My students and I recently examined this question in a study that we published in the academic journal Psychosis. We located every story published in major national, state and territory online and print news media outlets in the year ending August 2012 that cited schizophrenia or schizophrenic.

We then counted how many stories misused these terms and coded how often the condition was linked to violence or presented in a stigmatising way.

Our results were striking. Almost half (47%) of stories linked schizophrenia to some form of violence, and 28% of these associated it with attempted or completed homicide. The schizophrenic person was identified as a perpetrator of violence six times more frequently than as its victim.

Schizophrenia was misused as a split metaphor in 13% of stories. And fully 46% of stories were coded as stigmatising.

It’s hardly surprising that the public’s views of the condition continue to be laced with fear and loathing if they usually find schizophrenia presented in the context of violent aggression or as a metaphor for internal contradiction.

Better ways

What can be done about all of this? For one thing, journalists and the general public need to become aware that schizophrenia doesn’t mean split personality and it bears no resemblance to caricatures of craziness. This mistaken usage should be retired not because the police say it’s offensive, but because it perpetuates a misunderstanding that hurts real people.

Journalists and editors also need to think carefully before linking schizophrenia to violent behaviour. Often the proposed link is dubious and speculative, and adds nothing important to the story. Just as violence supposedly committed by people experiencing mental illness is over-reported – producing an exaggerated sense of their dangerousness – their victimisation is often under-reported.

An equally important corrective would be to publish more stories that feature people with schizophrenia living well, present their everyday struggles and adversities or showcase promising treatments and research findings.

Coverage can be improved. Our study found that stories from broadsheet newspapers were less stigmatising than tabloid stories, and longer, more developed stories were less stigmatising than briefer ones.

This is not a matter of white-washing the news. People with schizophrenia are indeed at a somewhat increased risk of committing violent offences (and of being their victims). They can behave in challenging ways. But the media landscape that our study surveyed is so tilted towards depicting schizophrenia as dangerous that it’s seriously unbalanced.

The news media can do better and, if they do, the stigma of schizophrenia may start to erode.

Join the conversation

64 Comments sorted by

    1. john davies
      john davies is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired engineer

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      What on earth is that supposed to mean Tom?
      Please elaborate on your thoughtful contribution on such a difficult and important subject.
      Honestly, I want to know!

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to john davies

      Thanks John, I too would like some elucidation from Tom.

      As for the article - we need more like this as the better informed the public is about mental illness, the more empathy and understanding for people with alternative brain wiring.

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    3. Miles Ruhl

      Thinker

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      So what are you trying to say Tom, associate with schizophrenics at your peril? Lock them up "just in case" they commit an offence?

      Please elaborate on that rather ridiculously vapid comment.

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    4. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I'm saying better safe than sorry. If a person has a 'possibility' of there being a danger to someone , you don't just say well let's see shall we , rather than , I am not going to turn my back on you. I was placed in that situation, told don't worry about it and it went south. Me , I could handle a schizophrenic , but others cannot and THAT is what I meant. Don't trust them UNLESS it is ONLY yourself you have to worry about when it comes to interaction , because , the person who is left to deal…

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    5. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Becoming homeless tends not to bring out anyone's good side.

      My ex-husband was not schizophrenic, however, speaking from experience, he would be described as violent and dangerous.

      Most violent riots are not caused by schizophrenics, nor wars nor other forms of violence. Most violence is actually caused by people who are not diagnosed with any type of mental illness at all.

      I am bi-polar, the only person I have ever harmed has been myself. However, maybe you should lock me away - better to be safe than sorry, eh?

      The point is not treating people disrespectfully just because they have a mental illness.

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    6. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      The article seems to lean towards , "schizophrenics are not dangerous" , and , "schizophrenics are being discriminated against because people think they are dangerous" , and I said , from personal interaction , they ARE dangerous EVEN WHEN someone TELLS you they AREN'T dangerous , just like the article says. So , I'm taken to task for saying "don't spread bullsht because you might get someone killed" ..? Well excuse me but I prefer my friends alive rather than having to explain to the rest of my friends that I told my friend not to worry about the schizophrenic fella I have living with me. The article seems to state , don't worry about it , when in reality they should be made very aware there is a chance they might harm someone. As for your husband being "dangerous and violent" , I think you found a bad husband rather than "all husbands are to be watched because they may kill you" , whereas a crazy schizophrenic would always have that chance of killing you.

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    7. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      I have been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with psychotic tendencies - and I haven't killed anyone yet.

      Although I have to admit that some days I marvel at my own forbearance.

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    8. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      "Calgary cop who survived vicious stabbing heard knife entering his skull"

      He was in an interview room with the man.

      "Cop stabber Lee Christopher Monrose was in a psychotic state and didn’t know what he was doing was wrong, a psychiatrist told court Tuesday"

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    9. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      I had ten years of working in the welfare sector which brought me into contact with many marginalised people from ex-cons to victims of torture.

      On one occasion I had to go to the home of a sad schizophrenic man who had a penchant for lighting fires. His case-workers tended not to be on his case when needed and I was alone with him when trying to get him to understand that fires can spread and do damage to much more than he may have intended. Like most schizophrenics he was not violent, even when…

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    10. john davies
      john davies is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired engineer

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      I find it difficult to comment on your contributions Tom, but some things must be said.

      People suffering from schizophrenia aren't necessarily "dangerous" to others. The vast majority aren't! I could introduce you to many such people who are gentle, sad and completely harmless. I could also introduce you to "sane" people who are extremely dangerous.

      A major problem I have with your approach, Tom, is your generalisation - the use of words such as "them" and "they." All sufferers of this terrible, tragic illness?

      Obviously you had a bad experience Tom. But you have become a major part of the problem. You epitomise some of what the original article is about.

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    11. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to john davies

      Well said, John.

      One bad experience does not indict all mentally ill any more than my experience with my ex indicts all men.

      Given the increasing level of hostility in Tom's writing I would not want him in a position of care for people who are often highly sensitive and agitated. Tom, I may well be wrong in this view of you, however you have said nothing to counter my opinion thus far.

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    12. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Hostility ? Capital letters are hostile in your world ? The article comes right out and admits , schizophrenics TEND to be more violent than those normal people. Downplaying the possibility you may hear a knife entering your skull is not a good thing. Some , yourself included would have preferred the cop got stuck in the skull with a knife rather than to search him thoroughly simply BECAUSE he IS schizophrenic , but , in this case , MY 'caution' would have saved the cop a lot of pain , suffering and longterm PTSD and that is a good thing in my world but not yours and many others it seems. I'll have to make sure I don't call on you for decisions of what I believe may constitute danger to those I know , just because of your predilection to err on the side of danger rather than caution.

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    13. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Tom, I think part of the problem is schizophrenia isn't really a defined condition but rather a vague catchall term designed to make psychiatrists look learned and knowledgeable .
      You may have as much or more in common with Lee Christopher Monrose as the homeless guy muttering to himself on the street - even though both of them may be diagnosed as schizophrenic.

      It is a bit like saying be wary of every Arab you meet because the chances a higher that a suicide bomber is an Arab. With the important proviso that unlike schizophrenia, being Arab is a real category

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    14. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to john davies

      The man who became homeless is now dead. So , if I had erred on the side of caution , not given him a place to stay , would he have found a different place where he wouldn't have assaulted someone and then not have become homeless and not died in an alley somewhere ? Live with that for awhile and see who had any favors done for anyone at all in the situation. If his friend had been forthcoming , "he's been known to become violent" , then I wouldn't have let him stay but since it wasn't pressed that he has been KNOWN to become violent I allowed him to stay simply because my friend , who is schizophrenic has never been known to be violent , in fact quite the opposite.

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    15. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      "It is a bit like saying be wary of every Arab you meet because the chances a higher that a suicide bomber is an Arab"

      Not quite. A schizophrenic has four times more chance of being violent than a normal joe.

      "an offense involving violence (8.2% versus 1.8%)"

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    16. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Yes, but that is assuming the term schizophrenic has any meaning or that the diagnosis of schizophrenia is the cause behind the violent offending.
      Presumably a person before the courts is more likely to see a psychologist than the ordinary joe - and there is also an incentive for the violent offender to obtain the medical label, whereas for the ordinary joe being diagnosed as schizophrenic is unlikely to be of much assistance - except possibly for the disability pension.
      Maybe long term unemployment is a better predictor of violence than schizophrenia, maybe relationship status, maybe age.

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    17. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      You would have a dog in this fight , so , would YOU feel offended if you were treated differently because of your diagnosis ? Sort of like the stop and frisk laws ? Would you feel 'offended' if a police officer stood FURTHER away from you when he talked to you simply because of your diagnosis , or would you feel that your 'friend' / brother in arms / cop IS deservedly cautious and his manner just may save YOU , if you managed to have a psychotic break , save your from going to jail for the rest of your natural life , simply because he was NOT 'cautious' based SOLEY on your diagnosis of schizophrenia ? Or would you rather be treated as everyone else and then everything go south and he's dead and yourself never seeing the light of day again. THAT is where the situation is , is a person with schizophrenia BETTER served by caution / discrimination or treated like a mongrel allowed to run UNTIL he is hit by a car ? What are the odds he is going to be hit by a car ?

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    18. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Tom, there are situations in all of our lives when bad things happen. Most of them have nothing to do with the other person being mentally ill though, we can be dangerous any which way :) But I can see how such a thing would color ones thinking, and how it would make one careful. But I think Diana has it right there, people are people, and mostly we can treat each other good.

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    19. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      "You would have a dog in this fight , so , would YOU feel offended if you were treated differently because of your diagnosis ? "
      So long as I can have a job and a roof over my head, other than that not really.
      "Would you feel 'offended' if a police officer stood FURTHER away from you when he talked to you simply because of your diagnosis "
      I expect I wouldn't notice as I would be too busy trying to stand further away from him or her myself.
      The only thing that worries me about the police is they may try and frame me with some of the numerous rapes and murders they need to dispose of - and even that fear doesn't keep me awake at night.
      As may be apparent although I have been diagnosed as a schizophrenic I don't have a clue as to what the word means - if anything - and I have never felt sufficiently interested to find out. My general impression is it can cover such a wide range of symptoms that it is essentially meaningless.

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    20. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      statistically, young men (between say 16 and 25) are the most violent group in our society - so are you suggesting we don't associate with any young men?

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    21. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Just for the record, people with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder are not always psychotic and it is possible to be psychotic without being schizophrenic (eg, psychotic depression) - so which group are you recommending we all avoid?

      On another note, which is often not reported, most violence by schizophrenics is against their nearest and dearest not some stranger in the street...I suspect that at the moment you are more at risk of being king-hit in Sydney over the weekend than violently attacked by someone with schizophrenia!

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    22. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Actually Tom if you look at the figures re those (few) schizophrenics who are violent they are generally untreated and recently diagnosed...ie, 16 to 25 year old males...who just so happen to be the most violent group in our society whether they are mentally ill or not.

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    23. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean - just for the record, "schizophrenia" means "split mind" - but not of the "Many Faces of Eve" type but rather a split between cognition (thinking) and emotions.

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    24. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      "because my friend, who is schizophrenic has never been know to be violent" - replace that with "my friend, who is left handed has never been known to be be violent" - are either particularly relevant???

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    25. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Vicki High

      "are either particularly relevant???"

      Statistics say significantly relevant increased violence in the schizophrenic.

      "It is now generally accepted that people with schizophrenia, albeit by virtue of the activity of a small subgroup, are significantly more likely to be violent than members of the general population"

      As pointed out before, 4X the rate.
      "an offense involving violence (8.2% versus 1.8%)"

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    26. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      "albeit by virtue of the activity of a small subgroup" - incidentally more schizophrenics are the victims of violence than perpetrators and schizophrenics are more at risk of violence than the general population...

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  1. Tony Martin

    Mr

    One of the more common places to read of the misuse of the words schizoprenia is in Hansard!
    And try bringing it to the attention of the Minister, or Shadow Minister who used the term and you will either get no answer, or a fob off about the "rough and tumble"of Parliamentary debate.
    There seems to be some progress in educating Police about dealing with schizoprenia and the psychotic symptoms which it, and other mental illnesses, can present. It needs to go much further and extend to security personel. Often the general public seem more accepting of unusual behavior than those in authority who sometimes are more inclined to want to enforce order than establish safety.
    This is one of the reasons that incidents develop, or get out of control.

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  2. Nev Williams

    Retired

    Time for a positive comment, I think. I have known quite a few people with schizophrenia. They include some of the nicest, gentlest and creative people I have met in my life.

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    1. Daryl Adair

      Associate Professor of Sport Management at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Nev Williams

      Me too, Nev. And that applies to a range of mental conditions. The debate here thus far seems to assume that there is a definitive diagnosis of "schizophrenia". In truth, there is lots of variation in and around this condition, with a vast array of symptoms - such as auditory hallucinations, psychosis - and degrees of impact on individual lives. The greater the amount of support people with these conditions have, the more likely they are to have functional and happy lives (within the constraints of the obstacles they face). One simple form of support is to assist those who need medication to take it on a regular basis. That may involve the aid of a relative or a friend. Of course people with a mental condition need more than medication; that is where a trusted companion or confidante is so important.

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Daryl Adair

      Nev and Daryl - of course there is a range of severity and specific features within schizophrenia - but the diagnosis is more precise than you suggest.

      Psychosis is an essential feature for the diagnosis - it essentially involves being out of touch with objective reality - suffering delusions (false beliefs) and / or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not verifiably there).

      It is certainly a disabling as generally distressing disease which can lead to a chaotic life - though the newer anti-psychotic medications - while not perfect - can control symptoms for prolonged periods.

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    3. Daryl Adair

      Associate Professor of Sport Management at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Sue, Thx for your comment. Yes the newer anti-psychotics are helpful. They are often much needed, even though the side-effects can be debilitating - particularly sleepiness and (for some) a sense of being slightly removed from what is going on around them. There are, as you suggest, features commonly associated with schizophrenia, but the degree to which they apply to individuals varies immensely, As I'm sure you realise, doctors have noted considerable variation among their patients in terms of…

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  3. Tom Hennessy

    Retired

    I tried to get Dr. Hoffer to think about the PROVEN oxidation , iron , connection and how hemochromatosis is KNOWN , proven , to cause schizophrenia , but he wasn't able to believe that if something is PROVEN to cause something , you are FORCED to at the very least , START , there especially when you have no idea but DO know one.. But , logic doesn't seem to work with most people. If everyone says they don't know what causes schizophrenia but someone says , "iron has been proven to" , a good scientist…

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    1. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Ah - all those posts before Mr Hennessy's obsession with iron being involved in all human illness is revealed in this thread.

      Impressive self-restraint, Mr Hennessy, and only a smattering of UPPER CASE.

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    2. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      You , a simpleton, believe you have more insight than the likes of Karl Bonhoeffer , Mustak MS, Hegde ML, Dinesh A, Britton GB, Berrocal R, Subba Rao K, Shamasundar NM, Rao KS, Sathyanarayana Rao TS , Koch HJ, Husan P, Nanev D, Zellmer H, Hönicke H .

      Let me let you down gently.
      You don't.

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    3. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Vicki High

      What, you don't believe they have shown hemochromatosis is linked to psychosis?
      "bipolar"
      "three studies implicate an area of Chromosome 6 (6p22.1)"

      "Human hemochromatosis protein also known as the HFE protein"
      "The HFE gene is located on short arm of chromosome 6 at location 6p22.2."
      "Hereditary hemochromatosis is a condition of improper iron absorption in the body caused by a mutation to the HFE gene on chromosome 6"

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    4. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      Sorry Tom but there is a huge difference between your prior comment "hemochromatosis is KNOWN , proven , to cause schizophrenia" and your comment above where you say they are "linked"! There is another article you may not have read, "Genetic linkage between the loci for colour blindness and Duchenne type muscular dystrophy" - I suppose you would now claim that colour blindness causes muscular dystropy??? Besides which psychosis is a symptom not a disease - you can become psychotic if you have schizophrenia, depression, drug reaction, the list goes on...

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    5. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Vicki High

      I included the link which found many years ago hemochromatosis causes schizophrenia / psychosis / Karl Bonhoeffer, and now the recent finding I just posted , the genetic link, and you say the close proximity, 6p22.2 - 6p22.1, is coincidence'. Fine by me.

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    6. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      "Bipolar symptoms completely subsided after phlebotomic reduction of iron overload"

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    7. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      my heart and lungs are in close proximity - is that meaningful in any way? and yes, I do not believe there is any relationship between two genes that happen to be next to each other on a chromosome - certainly not in a causal relationship like you are suggesting.

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    8. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      If there is a relationship (not even necessarily causal) between iron and mental illness wouldn't you expect there to be a sex difference given that women's iron levels fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycle???

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  4. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    Nick,
    All the World is mad except me and thee, and I'm not so sure about me
    This is a (mis)quote that's been around for a while, that is usually attributed to "A Yorkshireman"

    Worth keeping at the back of the mind.

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  5. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    Mental Health providers are between the devil and the deep blue sea when asked to assess, and act upon, the likely danger of a person with psychotic illness to themselves and/or others.

    This discussion has re-emerged following the Coronial inquest into the murder of his father and sister by Antony Waterlow - a sufferer of chronic paranoid schizophrenia who had frequently rejected treatment and lived a chaotic life.

    The law only allows people with a mental illness to be detained and medicated…

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      "We don't have a perfect solution to this situation, but the solution is neither to blame the sufferers or to blame the mental health workers who try to balance needs and the requirements of the law."

      Well said, Sue.

      Hysterical, knee-jerk reactions only exacerbate already stigmatised people.

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  6. George Harley
    George Harley is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired Dogsbody

    British football crowds are known for their chants, a notable one (to the tune of Guantanamera) goes " One (players name) there's only one (players name)". When a UK paper reported that a Scottish goalkeeper had a mild form of schizophrenia, he was greeted by the chant "Two Andy Gorams, there's only two Andy Gorams"
    Inaccurate, unfair and slightly cruel. But (ashamed to say now) I did laugh.

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    1. George Harley
      George Harley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Dogsbody

      In reply to john davies

      John
      It was an attempt to show that the stereotype is well entrenched, and even people that should know better sometimes slip up. I did not intend to offend anyone, nor should you infer that I do not empathise with all sufferers of mental illness.
      If you do not approve of anecdotal evidence, next time I will try to get my message across using the medium of interpretive dance.
      Regards

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    2. George Harley
      George Harley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Dogsbody

      In reply to George Harley

      That reads harsher than I meant it too.
      Believe me John, you and I are as one on this issue and but for privacy issues, you would see why.
      Regards

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  7. john davies
    john davies is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired engineer

    Having been diverted by the first comment and some of the ravings that followed, I would like to say:-

    The article raises, yet again, an extremely important issue. The stigma perpetuated by the media and others does enormous damage to people who are unfortunate enough without that.

    Also, there is no doubt in my mind that a great deal of the anti-social (and even aggressive) behaviour displayed by schizophrenia sufferers is a direct result of how they are treated in the community because of that stigma.

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    1. Tom Hennessy

      Retired

      In reply to john davies

      "a great deal of the anti-social (and even aggressive) behaviour displayed by schizophrenia sufferers is a direct result of how they are treated in the community"

      Another anecdotal report , I'm standing behind a fella in the queue at the store and as one does I am looking down at the groceries on the counter and the fella turns and looks at me and sees I'm looking down at his groceries. He says , " the eyes the eyes looking at my food" , .. ?
      Yikes.
      If that is all it takes to 'set someone off' , I prefer they be caged.

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    2. john davies
      john davies is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired engineer

      In reply to Tom Hennessy

      I'm afraid this has ceased to be rational Tom. There is a lot that could be said, but I've finished!

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    3. In reply to john davies

      Comment removed by moderator.

  8. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    "The Conversation" blog often raises matters for which there is no solution unless there is a perfect world. This often causes a set of polarised responses, the net effect of which is little help to anyone. Having watched a friend with 10 years of medical drug addiction, and the decade since recovery, it's bleeding obvious that people with behaviour disorders need more care people around them than society is able to provide or even train. That comment does not even approach the related question of whether this is the best way to allocate the human resource of the country. There is no answer.
    One suggestion is that medicos are taught to prescribe narcotics with more skill. (I have no experience with schizophrenia treatment). I knew of several GPs who would ask the patient on walking in "What drug do you want?" Reports to the relevant State health authorities were met with the usual "Ring the Wagons" response from the medical bodies. Might be fertile ground to explore there.

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  9. Steve Phillips

    Nurse Practitioner

    How many readers or posters here have actually worked with people suffering from psychotic conditions?
    I spent 4-5 years working in the prisons and doing mental health relief nursing in the locked units all over Perth.
    Indeed there are many sufferers who are realatively harmless to those around them. Most are more of a danger to themselves. Just one small form of self harm that is prevelent is chain smoking. Then theres more violent forms of self harm especially during times of depression or strangely…

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    1. Vicki High

      company director

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      ummm, you worked in the locked wards yet find it surprising that you came across more violent schizophrenics than in the "normal" population? isn't that a bit like saying you worked in a gaol and came across a high proportion of people with criminal tendancies???

      As to your comments about the unpredictable behaviour - if you actually find out what the individual's delusion is, you will also find their behaviour is surprisingly predictable - eg, if you believe your mother is trying to poison you because of the abnormal taste of foods due to hallucinations it is not surprising that you wouldn't eat the food and would be suspicious of your mother in general. The beliefs may not be 'real' but they are often quite logical given the distortions of thought and sensations.

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  10. Allan Gardiner

    Dr

    Any person who labels another as being schizophrenic, when this other person is deemed to suffer from bipolar disorder, is not necessarily incorrect because the labelled person may in fact have both aforementioned disorders and even some others besides. Just because someone has a broken leg doesn't mean that they're prevented from having a broken arm at the same time, and with a person having both a broken arm and a broken leg together, it is very difficult to categorically state which broken limb…

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