The new name for schizophrenia?
The term schizophrenia (meaning “split mind”, freely translated from the Greek) is still loaded with misconception and stigma (https://heilablog.com/2013/09/02/stigma-is-for-the-stupid-2/).
So let’s just get this straight: Schizophrenia has nothing to do with a split personality or Dissociative Identity Disorder, as its name may be misunderstood to suggest; and people suffering from schizophrenia are no more violent than the general population, maybe even less so.
Schizophrenia is a highly complex mental disorder, which may include a variety of symptoms, the most outstanding and typical being hallucinations and delusions, together referred to as psychosis or psychotic symptoms: http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-delusion-and-hallucination
A person suffering from schizophrenia can be without symptoms over extended periods of time and lead an active and fulfilling life, especially if he/she receives consistent treatment. In this context I would like to encourage you, my friends and readers, (once again) to listen to this impressive and inspiring TED talk by Prof. Elyn Saks:
“Is it okay if I totally trash your office?” It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke. A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately. http://www.ted.com/talks/elyn_saks_seeing_mental_illness.html
Modern scientific knowledge in the field of mental health proves the term “schizophrenia” to lack accurate description of the condition, and it is thus outdated. The idea to change the name was born.
I am convinced that, combined with increased efforts to educate the public about what this illness/disorder is really about, the fresh breeze coming along with the name change can considerably reduce stigma, increase acceptance by society, and thus tremendously improve the situation of sufferers.
In 2002, the Japanese established a name change for “schizophrenia” which led to much improvement. They changed the name Seishin Bunretsu Byo (mind-split disease) into Togo-Shitcho Sho (Integration Dysregulation Syndrome). Patients were more willing to accept treatment (medication and/or psychotherapy) and as a result there were less relapses and fewer suicides. There is an article about the Japanese experience by Mitsumoto Sato in the journal World Psychiatry (February 2006). It is important to notice that the lead-up to the name change consisted of an educational campaign about the “disease”; this will have given an opening for providing information also about factors on an individual level that could lead to a relapse and about how to cope with these stressors. Psycho-education is nowadays a key element in the modern treatment of schizophrenia.
Another example of a successful name change is of people who have Down Syndrome. Since the name change, they are much better accepted by society than before. Here too, the public were given helpful information and people with Down Syndrome got psycho-education about their condition and how to cope with it.
These two examples indicate that a change of name, together with education of patients, family, and society can be helpful. With this in mind, the Dutch patient organisation Anoiksis has begun a campaign to replace “schizophrenia” by Psychosis Susceptibility Syndrome (PSS). We are taking this opportunity to inform the public about what formerly “schizophrenia”, now Psychosis Susceptibility Syndrome, actually is; we need to put across the fact that the cases of unstable persons shooting innocent bystanders that reach the headlines are not typical.
My son does not like the idea of changing the name. He thinks “schizophrenia” is cool and from the moment he received the diagnosis, he was fascinated with being “a schizophrenic”. He’s nuts, I told you. 😉