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Schizophrenia: The Harm Politicians And Doctors Do With Their Words

the harm politicians and doctors do with their words about schizophreniaI expect, and I am tolerant of some ignorance regarding schizophrenia. But for a doctor, and presidential hopeful, to say that Muslims, who love America, are “schizophrenic” is an ignorant and stigmatizing comment. It also shows a lack of compassion and understanding.

You can read the article about what Ben Carson said here.

Lately, I have heard several politicians use the word schizophrenic in a way that means double minded or split-minded. First of all, that shows a lack of understanding and ignorance of schizophrenia. The symptoms of schizophrenia have nothing to do with holding two opposing views at the same time. Major symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions and hallucinations. Lesser symptoms can be a lack of motivation and social isolation.

Delusions and hallucinations don’t mean the same thing as holding two different or opposing views. Someone with schizophrenia who is hallucinating may hear voices that others can’t hear, but there is nothing about hearing voices that have to do with holding two different views at the same time. I don’t know where this use of the word “schizophrenic” came from, but it is inaccurate in regards to the actual illness and what people with the illness experience.

Nearly half of American adults will develop diabetes and one in every four Americans suffer from a mental illness. But as the article I linked to stated, you would never hear someone say “That is so diabetic of them!” But frequently I hear things similar to Ben Carson’s statement, “They would have to be schizophrenic.” Why are mental illnesses used as a derogatory statement when we would never consider using a physical illness in the same way?

Also, why is schizophrenia derogatory in the first place? Having an illness isn’t something someone chooses to do, and it has no bearing on a person’s morals or values. Why then do we consider schizophrenia in negative terms? People that use the label of schizophrenia in this way are further stigmatizing an often dehumanized and marginalized population.

Then there is the fact that we would never say that people who are Christians and love America are people holding two opposing viewpoints even though many of American policies and philosophies are in direct conflict with the teachings of Christianity (like not caring for the homeless and poor when Christianity calls for it).

Both Muslims and people with schizophrenia are hurt by these types of negative and inaccurate comparisons. I wish we could expect more from our politicians than to spread ignorance, intolerance and misunderstandings. If we can’t expect more from politicians we should, at least, be able to expect more from doctors like Ben Carson, but he has proved that having those expectations is too much to ask.

Schizophrenia: The Harm Politicians And Doctors Do With Their Words

Rebecca Chamaa

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APA Reference
Chamaa, R. (2016). Schizophrenia: The Harm Politicians And Doctors Do With Their Words. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Feb 2016
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