Got a burning question about mental health difficulties? Want non-professional, peer-to-peer advice? Look no further, this feature will appear every month and invites readers to send in questions regarding mental health for tips and advice*. My name is Leanne and I have both specialist training and personal experience in mental health and will aim to provide user-friendly, non-professional advice to anyone who asks for it!
HOW TO ASK:
Please send your questions to: [email protected]
*Please note not all questions will be answered, and all will be posted anonymously. If you are seeking urgent or professional advice, please see our contact list at the end of this sub-section.
Q: What is schizophrenia, I hear lots of people talk about people being ‘psycho’ and ‘having split personality’, are these all the same thing?
A: Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that causes long-term psychological symptoms; it is often described as a type of psychosis. Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes a person to interpret things differently to those around them. Schizophrenia can be accompanied by psychosis, the specific types of psychosis that can accompany schizophrenia are hallucinations and delusional thoughts.
A combination of both hallucinations and delusional thoughts can cause extreme stress and mental upset for a person, their reality is not what others is and it can become difficult to manage and cope. A common delusion that people with schizophrenia suffer with is where they believe there is a conspiracy to harm them – this can be in the form of ‘government chips in their necks’, ‘thoughts that nursing professionals are out to harm them’, ‘thoughts of family conspiring against them’ – naturally these thoughts and beliefs can cause a tremendous amount of stress and emotional upheaval for someone. Hallucinations are where a person sees, hears, feels, and sometimes tastes and smells things that aren’t there.
This is most likely the reason for why people mistake schizophrenia as split-personality. The most common hallucination experienced by people who suffer with schizophrenia is hearing voices. Many people associate hearing voices as someone having a split-personality – this is not the case.
Split-personality, more formerly known as dissociative identity disorder, is defined under the NHS as a person who experiences the presence of other identities. This may mean that the person could have uncertainties about their identity and who they are. The ICD-10 is the UK’s diagnostic manual for mental health conditions, this can be accessed online and can give formal descriptions of mental health conditions.