The world we live in is filled with people of all types of races, ethnicities, genders, and cultures; yet we still find it acceptable in our society to judge others based on one, two, or even all of these. Take the perspective of someone who is suffering from a disorder such as schizophrenia, they may act in a manner that may be seen as strange or outside of what we would call societal norms; but do they deserve to be judged based on how they act in public? The answer to this should always be no; however, due to the stigma attached to mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression, it is not always possible to completely separate people with these conditions from those without them. Most people believe that mental disorders are typically caused by a person’s mental strength. They also believe that those suffering from these conditions lack the will to overcome their condition. This logic is not supported by the evidence. Many people find it hard to accept a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychological disorders due to their nature. Also, these conditions have a stigma attached to them that makes it hard to talk about them in public. Research proves the opposite as it explicitly shows that although sometimes it is caused by issues surrounding their mental health, it is often the product of a chemical imbalance within the brain. As a byproduct of not being talked about enough, not enough has been done to help people who suffer from these disorders, leading to the problem not being solved, and the cycle still repeating. In order to break this cycle, we must assess how a disorder such as schizophrenia can be made more mainstream and how we can change the narrative to match that of what we hope to achieve.
Understanding schizophrenia can help people change their minds about the condition. It is a serious mental illness that can be caused by delusions or hallucinations, as well as incoherent or illogical thoughts. The age of onset is typically between the late teens and mid-30s” (APA, 2021). These delusions and hallucinations may take a form or present themselves as a sound, a whispering voice in the back of your head telling you to perform certain actions or do specific requests in order to satisfy the voice. Symptoms such as these take their toll on the person suffering from them and as such, may exhibit social withdrawal or simply overall social issues therefore, it may be harder for them to engage in prosocial behavior and to fit within the current confines of what our society deems normal. An example of this can be stated from a study investigating nonverbal behavior in face-to-face social interactions where they found “inpatients with schizophrenia displayed a reduction in nonverbal behaviors designed to invite social interaction, particularly prosocial facial expressions” (Lavelle, Healey, and McCabe, 2014). This furthers the thought that people with schizophrenia may suffer socially and may be judged unfairly for something that lies outside of their control. Educating the public about schizophrenia is also important to help break the current stigma surrounding this condition. If the public is educated about schizophrenia, then eventually change will be made in a way that will allow people with this condition to get the help they need. This will also help those who used to be judgemental. Accepting that everyone is different and that there are certain characteristics that make people unique will help decrease the stigma surrounding mental disorders.
The concept of mental disorder is a controversial one, as it can either be something to fear or something to learn. Understanding it can help improve the way society views mental disorders. Destigmatization at this level can only occur through enlightenment, in the form of knowledge, allowing for the public to be better informed that psychological disorders are not something to hide thus, allowing for a more significant number of people who suffer from these disorders to get the help that they need or the friendships that they deserve. Every person experiences a point in their life where they have suffered from some form of mental disorder. It is important to remember that one day, you may be the one who tries to hide this condition from society due to how it makes you feel.
Schizophrenia. (2021). Apa.org. https://www.apa.org/topics/schizophrenia
Lavelle, M., Healey, P. G. T., & McCabe, R. (2014). Nonverbal Behavior During Face-to-face Social Interaction in Schizophrenia. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 202(1), 47–54. https://doi.org/10.1097/nmd.0000000000000031