Stigma of Schizophrenia: Myths About Violence and Crime
The myth of schizophrenia and violence, that people with schizophrenia are inherently violent, persists. Unfortunately, the news media and the entertainment industry must take considerable responsibility in the stigma schizophrenia patients and their families battle daily. By spreading and promoting myths about schizophrenia and violence, these industries have caused great damage to the struggle to reduce shame associated with mental illness.
Myths About Schizophrenia Violence and Crime
Rather than promoting myths about schizophrenia violence and crime, the movie (Schizophrenia Movies) and news media should work to stop unfounded fears about mental illness. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
Profits and yellow journalism cause the stigma schizophrenia patients deal with to remain strong. There’s a popular saying in the news media, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This slogan speaks to the often-sensational reporting tactics employed by the media to boost viewership and newspaper subscriptions. The general public often finds it difficult to ignore these headlines and news teasers, filled with hyperbole and myths that perpetuate the stigma schizophrenia has attached to it.
Schizophrenic Crime: A Fear Unfounded
Debunking the myth of schizophrenia crime only takes a little research. Numerous, fastidiously-conducted research studies indicate that people with schizophrenia, and undergoing treatment, pose no greater danger to public welfare than anyone else in the general population.
People with untreated schizophrenic illness do, however, have an increased tendency toward violent behavior. Frequently, the initial psychotic episode, indicating the onset of schizophrenia, causes the patient to act out in bizarre and violent ways.
The truth is, most people struggling with the torment of schizophrenia don’t commit violent crime or aggressive acts against others. Studies show that people with drug and alcohol addictions, or even recreational users, are two times more likely to participate in acts of violence and crime than a typical person diagnosed with schizophrenia.1
Movies: A Powerful Tool for Ending the Stigma Schizophrenia Holds
In the past decade or so, the mainstream movie industry has stepped up and produced some powerful movies that serve to lessen the stigma schizophrenia holds for those suffering with the illness. A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, follows the true-life struggle of John Nash, an exceptionally talented mathematician and musical prodigy who suffered greatly with the ravages and darkness brought by schizophrenia. Nash came out on top of the fight, winning the Nobel Prize for economics and experiencing triumph over the destructive and chaotic forces that plagued his mind.
Many other documentary and educational films, as well as reality-based fictional films are available for those wishing to raise their awareness of the dark and chaotic place visited by those suffering in schizophrenia’s clutches. Check the PBS.com website for titles as well as Films.com, using keyword schizophrenia in the search box (see also: Schizophrenia Movies, Films and Documentaries).
Don’t forget your local library. Libraries represent a budget-friendly resource for those wishing to learn how to debunk schizophrenia myths. Doing nothing lends power to the problem. Educate yourself with accurate information and become part of the solution.
Last Updated: 27 March 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD