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Mental Illness: Stigma: Enemy of the Afflicted

A simple pocket dictionary defines stigma as "a brand or mark of infamy; disgrace."

How it ever became such a situation in today's modern society that the people afflicted with a type of the most difficult medical condition to treat is still really quite a mystery to many, yet it does go on.... this treatment of the mentally ill in negative ways.

Introduction:

Schizophrenia is a most misunderstood disease. It will affect one in every 100 Americans during their lifetime, yet too often it is hidden in the closet by families and ignored by professionals. A revolution is underway, for schizophrenia is emerging. Schizophrenia is now known to be a disease of the brain and is not caused by any guilts, acts or failures of the patient. Like diabetics, schizophrenics may be able to control their symptoms with medication.

Physicians, mental health professionals, and families may all advance the revolution by learning as much as possible about the disease and educating others. This website will hopefully be able to facilitate that.


Schizophrenia: A common disease destigmatized

Schizophrenia in the United States:

  • The average prevalance rate is 3.4 per 1,000 people.
  • Each year, 100,000 people are newly diagnosed as schizophrenic.
  • On any given day, 600,000 people are in active treatment for schizophrenia.
  • The estimated cost to society is 10 to 20 billion dollars annually for hospitalization, social security disability, welfare payments, and lost wages.

Schizophrenia worldwide:

  • The schizophrenia rate is high for Sweden, Norway, western Ireland, northern Yugoslavia; lower in Southern European countries and in most developing nations.
  • Countries with the same population rate as the United States are Japan, England, Germany, and Denmark.

Schizophrenia demystified:

"Schizophrenia is a brain disease, now definitely known to be such. It is a real scientific and biological entity as clearly as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cancer are a scientific and biological entities. It exhibits symptoms of a brain disease, symptoms which include impairment of thinking, delusions, hallucinations, changes in emotions, and changes in behavior. And, like cancer, it probably has more than one cause. Thus, though we speak of schizophrenia and cancer in the singular, we really understand them as being plural; there are probably several different kinds of schizophrenia of the brain just are there are several different kinds of cancer of the brain."

Schizophrenia is not a split personality, nor is it an idiosyncratic way of thinking, correctable through psychoanalysis. It's no one's fault.

As a disease, schizophrenia is not uncommon, therefore it need not be a stigma. Its symptoms are predictable - and, fortunately, it is enormously treatable.


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