“EEEH… that person is already wearing no clothes, laughing alone on the street, that’s a crazy person.”
“His clothes are really shabby, especially when his hair looks like he hasn’t washed it in a month, he must be crazy.”
Have we ever said like these sentences? Or even, have you ever heard other people talk or comment like that? Someone who has a severe psychological disorder such as schizophrenia is often given a negative stigma by society, one of which is the label ‘crazy person’. This is because they dress, speak, and behave in ways that deviate or do not conform to the norms that exist in society.
Other labels that are often associated with schizophrenia are ‘dangerous’, ‘lazy’, ‘weak’, and so on. Labels attached to individuals with schizophrenia are not only negative, but also discriminatory and unethical. As a result, it becomes difficult for them to get the support and access to the treatment they need. So, let’s get to know more about schizophrenia so that negative stigma can be minimized or even eliminated.
Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that causes disturbances in both thinking, feeling, and behavior (Nevid, Rathus, & Greene, 2005). Based on Riskesdas (Basic Health Research) 2018, the prevalence of schizophrenia in Indonesia is 6.7 per 1,000 households. This means that in 1,000 households, there are 6.7 households that have household members with schizophrenia (Jayani, 2019).
There are several symptoms of schizophrenia, ranging from; a) hallucinations, i.e. a person hears, sees, smells, and/or feels things that are not really there, b) delusions, which are persistent, false, and unreasonable beliefs but are still believed even though all evidence is contradictory, c) thoughts (and conversation) disorganized, for example moving from topic to topic that has nothing to do with the previous topic or talking in circles, d) and disorganized behavior, such as maintaining a rigid posture, inappropriate, strange, or activity motor without excessive purpose.
Schizophrenia also has negative symptoms such as decreased pleasure and interest, inability to connect with others, and/or not showing emotions according to the situation (Levine & Levine, 2009; Marcsisin & Gannon, 2017; APA, 2022; Preda, 2022).
Schizophrenia disorder is like any other physical disorder. They too are sick and injured. But the difference is, the pain is invisible. If we are able to say positive and encouraging words to individuals who are physically ill (eg diabetes and cancer), we can begin to say those words to individuals with schizophrenia as well.
They also need acceptance, support, and motivation from us as part of society. Individuals with schizophrenia can recover and function fully in society with ongoing treatment and appropriate social support. We can make the world warmer—especially for individuals with psychological disorders such as schizophrenia. Let’s get rid of negative labels and start seeing them as fully human. Let’s learn to humanize humans.