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Psychiatric Labels

I hate the term "Schizophrenic" because it identifies the person by the illness and not by their character. I mean, I understand when people use the term they do not intend to offend anyone, just state in the illness (in its rawest form).

While watching a lecture the other day I was oblivious to what was being said because I could not get over the term "Schizophrenic". I thought the professor should have been more careful with wording because someone, like myself, may be listening to the speech. But should I really let it get me? It's just a label, right?

This is what other groups are saying about the term, states: "To be labelled ‘a schizophrenic' is one of the most devastating things that can happen to anyone. This label implies dangerousness, unpredictability, chronic illness, inability to work or function at any level and a lifelong need for medication that will often be ineffective (Whitaker 2005)".

In addition, an October 9, 2006 article "Experts Call for Ban on Schizophrenia 'Label'" (Mail Online) states: "Once given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, a person was labelled an incurable social misfit and placed at the mercy of a psychiatric system that mostly benefited the drug industry.

A new campaign called CASL (Campaign for the Abolition of the Schizophrenic Label) is said to be gaining increasing support from both patients groups and professionals".

Stigma surrounding the term schizophrenia has such negative connotations that in 2002 or 2004, The Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology abolished the term and renamed the condition, from "Seishin Buntreyso Byo" (mind- split disease) to the new term: "Togo Shitcho Sho" (Integration disorder).

Whether you have schizophrenia or not, how do you feel about the term "Schizophrenic"? If it bothers you, why? If it does not bother you, why not?

Read more:

To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI, Embracing My Mind, or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).


ACDesign said…
I agree with you 100% . I have written a couple of news editors after seeing the term "schizophrenic" used in a negative way. People say it is just a descriptive word but I ask them to show me a situation where the word is used positively. To me, the words our society uses to describe strange behavior (psycho, lunatic, wacko, etc...) are just as offensive as the N word. I hope for a day when people will be called out for using derogatory words to describe someone who is dealing with an unexpected mental illness. This will only happen by raising awareness. It's funny how other illnesses allow a person to keep their identity in tack. When it comes to mental illness, people are so quick to judge. People should look past the illness and see these individuals for the wonderful human beings that they are (such as yourself).
Stark1974 said…
I also agree with you re the label "schizophrenic" as it tends to encompass the whole being of a person, rather than seeing the person as a human being first and foremost. We don't call someone with a physical injury "broken boned", we say "that person has a broken bone".

Nice site - keep up the good work and feel free to check out my blog, 'Thanks for the Psychoses' (

Ashley, I agree. It's not just that the term is used as a noun to describe a kind of human being, much like calling a person with living with cancer "cancerous person". There's even more to it than that (as if that was not bad enough). The term "schizophrenic" is used in our society to describe people who act bizarrely, or to describe people who are possibly psychotic and also presumably dangerous. It's never, ever used in a positive way. You don't hear "wacko cancerous person commits murder", very often, but statistically people with schizophrenia are not much more likely to commit a violent crime than the general population or the people with cancer are. It's an outdated, stigmatized word shrouded in discrimination and negativity. I would like to see it changed, and changed permanently and radically. There should be a word that describes the illness as what it is, a neurological condition with which people can live.

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