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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.