Mental Health Awareness: Schizophrenia and Related Disorders

Our Mental Health Awareness series continues as we discuss schizophrenia and related disorders. 

First of all, we want to tell you what schizophrenia is not. It is not the same as having 'split' or multiple personalities. Looking at the origin of the word, we can see why people mistakenly confuse split personalities with schizophrenia. The first part of the word, "schizo-opens a new window," comes from a Greek word meaning a split or a division. The second part, "-phreniaopens a new window" comes from the Greek word for mind or brain. The split, or break, that occurs in the minds of those of us with schizophrenia, is not a split personality disorder. It is a psychotic break -- a disconnect from the rational mind.

In general, a person receives a diagnosis of schizophrenia only after experiencing a psychotic break. However, there are early warning signs that can indicate an impending psychotic break. Please consult a physician if you are having any of these early warning signs:

  • unable to concentrate or think clearly
  • suspicious of people for no logical reason 
  • seeing or hearing things that no one else can (hallucinations; confused perceptions)
  • pulling away from loved ones and spending increasing amounts of time alone
  • neglecting hygiene habits and avoiding self-care
  • having intense or sudden beliefs that most other people consistently claim are not true (delusions; confused beliefs)

 Those of us who have schizoaffective disorderopens a new window experience a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorder symptoms. If we have schizophrenia in addition to a depressed mood, we may feel sad and worthless. If we have a 'manic' mood along with schizophrenia, we may have racing thoughts and feel extreme happiness.

Some of us may experience a psychotic disorderopens a new window. In the book "Psychosis and Schizophrenia in Adults: Treatment and Managementopens a new window," available online from the National Library of Medicine, the authors state, "The early stages of psychosis and schizophrenia are often characterized by repeated exacerbation of symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions and disturbed behavior."

It is our belief that people who suffer from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are stigmatized far more often than people with any other mental health disorder. The article "Schizophrenia Stigma and Violenceopens a new window," by Rashmi Nemade and Mark Dombeck states "Today, when schizophrenia is mentioned in the news, it is almost always in connection with some alarming crime . . . While there are certainly violent and murderous people who have schizophrenia and related mental illnesses, such individuals make up only a very small portion of the population of chronically mentally ill people. The vast majority of mentally ill people, including schizophrenic people, are non-violent people who never cause problems of this sort." 

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessnessopens a new window, "Schizophrenia affects a little more than 1 percent of the U.S. population, but it’s much more prevalent among homeless persons. Estimates are wide ranging, but some go as high as 20 percent of the homeless population. That’s thousands of people living with schizophrenia and experiencing homelessness each day."

Please note: This discussion of schizophrenia and related disorders is intended for informational purposes and is not meant to take the place of consultation with a physician.

For those of us with schizophrenia or any mental illness living in the greater St. Tammany Parish area who need to find a treatment plan, a place to stay, or other necessities, please visit the NAMI St. Tammany Resourcesopens a new window search page. If you are interested in taking part in a nearby mental health support group, visit this pageopens a new window from NAMI St. Tammany for more information.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please try one of these hotlines:

We have put together a list of St. Tammany Parish Library resources and external websites that have additional information about schizophrenia and related disorders. If you are interested in any of the downloadable titles from Hooplaopens a new window, Cloud Libraryopens a new window, OverDriveopens a new window, or Libbyopens a new window, please contact your nearest St. Tammany Parish Library reference librarianopens a new window for assistance with these or any other digital services from the library.

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders

Schizophreniaopens a new window by Stephen J. Glatt, Stephen V. Faraone, and Ming T. Tsuang, Hoopla eAudiobook, 2019
"Schizophrenia is one of the most traumatic psychiatric disorders, both for the affected person and their family. It also carries an unfortunate stigma and suffers from frequent misinterpretation by the popular media. The disorder usually manifests itself through significant periods of hallucinations, bizarre delusions, and disorganized behavior, but the individuals who suffer from this brain disorder are not generally violent, and do have periods of remission. However it is often difficult for these individuals to maintain a regular lifestyle and relationships at home and at work, and many individuals with schizophrenia end up unable to live independently or, worse, homeless. This new edition in the popular 'Facts' series provides a concise and up-to-date account of the underlying causes and symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as current theories about the disorder. The authors look at all the current treatment options, both medical and psychological, together with likely side-effects and the problem of compliance with treatment. The role of the family and the community in caring for individuals with schizophrenia is also considered." Please Note: This title is available from St. Tammany Parish Library's Hoopla digital service. In order to bring you new and interesting titles, Hoopla content is updated monthly, and this title may not be available in the future. To find the latest titles, please visit www.hoopladigital.comopens a new window

"Throughout Jean Guerrero's childhood, her father, Marco Antonio, was an erratic and elusive presence. A self-taught genius at fixing, creating, and conjuring things--and capable of transforming himself into a shaman, dreamcaster, or animal whisperer in his enchanted daughter's eyes--he gradually began to lose himself in his peculiar obsessions, careening wildly between reality and hallucination. . . Guerrero tries to locate the border between truth and fantasy as she searches for explanations for her father's behavior. Refusing to accept an alleged schizophrenia diagnosis at face value, she takes Marco Antonio's dark paranoia seriously and investigates all his wildest claims. She crisscrosses the Mexican-American border to unearth the stories of cousins and grandparents and discovers a chain of fabulists and mystics in her lineage . . . As she delves deeper and deeper into her family's shadowy past, Jean begins mirroring her father's self-destructive behavior. She risks death on her adventures, imperiling everything in her journey to redeem her father from the underworld of his delusions."



"How did we, as a society, get to this point? It's a question that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Ron Powers set out to answer in this gripping, richly researched social and personal history of mental illness . . . Braided into his vivid social history is the moving saga of Powers's own family: his bright, buoyant sons, Kevin (a gifted young musician) and Dean (a promising writer and guitarist), both of whom struggled mightily with schizophrenia."



"In this sharply remembered portrait of the people and places that shaped him, Armand paints his seemingly negative experiences with a sympathetic and understanding brush. As the reader follows Armand through his childhood and later into adult life—when he is reunited with his mother after she makes a failed suicide attempt—a surprisingly new world of hope and possibility is rendered, despite the overwhelming challenges of this reunion."



"This renowned journalist's classic Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of schizophrenia — now reissued with a new postscript — follows a flamboyant and fiercely intelligent young woman as she struggles in the throes of mental illness. 'Sylvia Frumkin' was born in 1948 and began showing signs of schizophrenia in her teens. She spent the next seventeen years in and out of mental institutions. In 1978, reporter Susan Sheehan took an interest in her and, for more than two years, became immersed in her life: talking with her, listening to her monologues, sitting in on consultations with doctors — even, for a period, sleeping in the bed next to her in a psychiatric center. With Sheehan, we become witness to Sylvia’s plight: her psychotic episodes, the medical struggle to control her symptoms, and the overburdened hospitals that, more often than not, she was obliged to call home."

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