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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Schizophrenia – disambiguation

I have a long-term interested in Psychology, having graduated in 1992 as a Bachelor of Science from the University of Bristol.

The point of this post is to say that (IMHO) it is wrong to view Schizophrenia as being synonymous with split personality, as the quotes from Wikipedia (below) attest.

I get frustrated when the word schizophrenia is used when ‘split-personality’ would be more appropriate.

Schizophrenia is defined by Wikipedia [accessed 25/5/09] as:

“Schizophrenia (pronounced /ˌskɪtsəˈfrɛniə/ or pronounced /ˌskɪtsəˈfriːniə/), from the Greek roots skhizein (σχίζειν, "to split") and phrēn, phren- (φρήν, φρεν-, "mind") is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality.

Distortions in perception may affect all five senses, including sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, but most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction.

Onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood,[1] with approximately 0.4–0.6%[2][3] of the population affected.

Diagnosis is based on the patient's self-reported experiences and observed behavior.

No laboratory test for schizophrenia currently exists.[4]

The entry continues:

“Despite its etymology, schizophrenia is not synonymous with dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder or split personality; in popular culture the two are often confused.”

Wiktionary defines it thus [accessed 25/5/09], and thereby shows there is an informal use of the term:



  1. (pathology) A psychiatric diagnosis denoting a persistent, often chronic, mental illness variously affecting behavior, thinking, and emotion
  2. (informal) Any condition in which disparate or mutually exclusive activities coexist

For the purposes of balance, I am including the Wikipedia entry on Dissociative Identity Disorder [again, accessed 25/5/09]:

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a single person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment.”

I realise this is probably a hopeless cause, but nonetheless worthwhile!

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