Should We Work To Change The Name Of Schizophrenia – Or Change Peoples Attitudes About It – What Are Your Thoughts?
I had lunch the other day with Magpie Media’s group publisher and the chief executive officer of a schizophrenia organization, and as we were all chatting the subject of the name of schizophrenia came up. I was telling my colleagues a little about SZ, our schizophrenia magazine, and that it was formerly named Schizophrenia Digest for many years. In fact, that name was so well branded that many people still refer to the magazine as Schizophrenia Digest. We got to talking about the term ‘schizophrenia’ and the stigma surrounding it. Not surprisingly, the question of whether we should change the name of schizophrenia to something else came up. A movement to change the name to one that includes the word ‘psychosis’ is nothing new.
In my opinion, I think it is more important to focus on recovery. I consider myself recovered from schizophrenia because I define recovery as reaching a point where you wouldn’t want to be anyone else than who you are. That is how I feel about myself and my life. It is important to know that recovery is not easy—it certainly wasn’t for me. To get to the stage I am at now, I had to survive six hospitalizations and spend time in three group homes. I tried to kill myself because I felt there was nothing worth living for. I spent five years lying in the couch in a deep depression because my diagnosis led to the loss of my house, my financial security, my job, and my friends. Suddenly I was just another one out of 100 who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Why couldn’t I be one of the other 99?
I don’t feel that way anymore. I have a wonderful life that I am grateful for: I am married with three children and I run a successful business. But it sure wasn’t easy. Only by the grace of God did I get to where I am today.
And so what about the name ‘schizophrenia?’ Well, I always use the analogy of war: Canada and the U.S. are still part of the war in Afghanistan. Before the war even started, you can bet that the military was well educated on its enemy’s air force, infantry, navy, nuclear power, etc. Much in the same way, I looked at my enemy (schizophrenia) and learned about the positive symptoms, negative symptoms, medication, psychosocial support, etc. If I didn’t know about my illness, how could I live with it every day? And, frankly, what will happen if we change the name of ‘schizophrenia?’ The first time someone new hears the new name he/she will ask, “What is that?” and we’ll end up saying, “Oh, it used to be called schizophrenia.” We’ll never get away from the term ‘schizophrenia,’ no matter how many times we change it.
What we really need is improved education. So many people still have no idea about what schizophrenia really is, and we need to make people more aware of its symptoms and prevalence. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on changing the name. Send me an email at email@example.com or comment in this blog to share your thoughts.