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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am overcoming schizophrenia, and I believe others can too. Here is how I am managing my condition...

Friday, July 27, 2012

How is Schizophrenia Portrayed in Media

Last week's Colorado theater shooting tragedy. When I first heard about this incident I assumed media and the public would identify schizophrenia; a brain disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and other symptoms loosely categorized as either negative symptoms, positive symptoms or cognitive symptoms. Schizophrenia, schizophrenia- the media is doctor and authority over correct diagnosis of individuals and their actions, overnight- I am NOT surprised! Immediately, I understood the consequences- STIGMA- shame, fear, and suffering in silence, for individuals living with this medical condition and for their families and loved ones. Initially, I did not want to address the issue because I know how it will manifest in media and ultimately in the eyes of the United States society and beyond. Remember the Arizona shooting- "schizophrenia" was immediately suspected... To me, schizophrenia- the scapegoat for horrific crimes and everything negative, in media! Sigh... So disheartening.

Well, media needs to also publicize individuals living with the medical condition in a REAL life manner- holding jobs of diverse capacities- and higher educational degrees, and wonderful talents; John Nash, Elyn Saks, Nathaniel Ayers, etc., being family-oriented, respecting laws, supporting self and peers, volunteering, managing recovery, and living NORMAL lives... Let me share with you a positive story- the one not mentioned in the headlines- about three individuals coping with schizophrenia; visit www.choicesinrecovery.com to watch the short documentary, LIVING WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA: A CALL FOR HOPE AND RECOVERY... I apologize to my peers and their families for what they are enduring as a result the Colorado theater shooting; the blame game, fear, embarrassment, and SILENCE. But there is HOPE. When we open dialogue about mental illness and educate ourselves, we are breaking the cycle of stigma- please, please educate yourself and know the truth about schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, NOT the fast-selling gossip and myths!


To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, NAMI, Choices in Recovery, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

7 comments:

The Blue Morpho said...

This is an excellent post. You say "Well, media needs to also publicize individuals living with the medical condition in a REAL life manner" - I agree. It will be an uphill run, though, to get media to realize the benefits of putting out a balanced story (on any issue.) I applaud your efforts in getting people to understand. Personal blogs are one way we can get the real story out there, and not bend to anyone's agenda.
Adventures in Anxiety Land

Anonymous said...

I know whenever something like this happens I fear they will be mentally ill and what the public will make of it. The stigma and fear seem understandable in ways but it gets made into more than the reality of it. The number of mentally ill people who do violent acts are very small but the public doesn't often know or hear that. Information and education are the only way we can have everyone be a vital part of the world.

Anonymous said...

I have dealt with my schitzoprenia over the years. Truth is alot of people dont understand it because they (as stated above) believe what is said by the media and by gossip. Education is the key to fair treatment for those of use with unique mental abilities. How many people really want to treat us fairly is undetermined. Nontheless; i will not be ashamed of who i am because i have no reason to be. But those who claim that it is the reason for violent acts and those who treat us unjust should be ashamed.

Amy Karon said...

I echo your call for media to provide a more balanced treatment of people living with schizophrenia. Media outlets that only focus on violence undermine people's attempts to recover and contribute to social isolation and stigma.

I wrote about this topic about a year ago and provided examples of more balanced media coverage -- you can read more here. http://psychscoop.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/schizophrenia-medias-distorted-lens/

Kerry Kuskopf said...

I actually disagree. I know that stereotyping people is not good. If it's true that somebody who commits a crime has a psychotic illness, though, they deserve to be treated in a manner that takes their psychiatric condition into account. Others also deserve to know what schizophrenia can come to. I don't think admitting that violence is sometimes part and parcel of schizophrenia is a necessarily a negative thing, especially if it encourages people to quit with this apathy they seem to sometimes have about getting delusional people to treatment when they need it. If it is true that it takes a little self-interest/fear to get people motivated, then that's what it takes. Really, it's not so important what state of mind (diagnosis-wise) the killer was in at the time when he did this. The important thing is that it would have been better if clues as to his state of mind had been recognised before this terrible tragedy occurred so that it could have been prevented.

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Momofthree said...

I suggest WE ALL GET INVOLVED with Treatment Advocacy Center. Org. There are many easy ways that we as individuals can join together and teach the world in wonderful, peaceful ways that mental illness is better and more hopeful than what the media typically portrays. We have hope!!! Mental illness is treatable!!! It is NOT a death sentence!!! Keep the Faith, Cindy