Schizophrenia: 35 Facts

Schizophrenia: 35 Facts


These facts are part of the ‘Mental Health Factfile` largely researched and compiled by Hywel Davies of Hearing Voices Cymru (Wales), See publications  for how to get a copy of the Mental Health Factfile:



1. The term ‘schizophrenia’ originates from the Greek for “broken mind”. The term “schizophrenia” was invented by Eugen Bleuler  in 1908.

2. “Schizophrenia” was originally known as “dementia praecox” (‘dementia of early life’). The term “dementia praecox” was invented by Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist, in 1896. In 1919 Emil Kraepelin published a set of clinical characteristics for the condition that remain largely valid today.

3. “Schizophrenia” does not so much involve a “split mind” as the hearing of nasty and good voices inaudible to others. According to Aidan Shingler, a “schizophrenic” who held an exhibition of his two and three-dimensional work at Durham Cathedral in August 1971 “schizophrenia” consists of a “spiritual conflict”.

4. The “positive” symptoms of “schizophrenia” include the hearing of voices (“auditory hallucinations“) and the seeing of visions (“visual hallucinations“). “Delusion” may lead the “schizophrenic” to believe that he or she is a great prophet, or is a person of great spiritual and/or religious significance. “Delusion” may lead the “schizophrenic” to believe that he or she possesses special information, has been profoundly wicked or evil, is being victimised by “the system”, or attacked or poisoned by relatives or aliens.

5. The “negative” symptoms of “schizophrenia” include profound apathy, loss of interest, marked withdrawal, reduction in spoken communication, lack of drive and interest in work, friends, family or career, a fall in self-esteem leading to personal neglect and a loss in enjoyment in activities that were previously a source of pleasure.

6. “Schizophrenia” accounts for nearly 10% of the total NHS inpatient budget, more than any other “illness”. As many as 20% of UK National Health Service hospital patients have the diagnosis of “schizophrenia”.

7. Unwanted adverse side-effects of antipsychotic medication include:
i. extrapyramidal effects (stiffness and trembling, like Parkinson’s disease) This occurs in about a third of patients and can be treated with anti-parkinsonian drugs (e.g. benzhexol, benztropine, orphenadrine and procyclidine).
ii. acute dystonic reactions (sudden onset of stiffness and rigidity, sometimes with eye-rolling
iii. akathisia (inner and motor restlessness)
iv. tardive dyskinesia (lasting uncontrollable movements, initially affecting the face, lips and tongue). Tardive dyskinesia affects up to 20% of patients over the long-term, l0% of whom are severely affected.
v. muscarinic effects (dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, difficulty passing water, fast heart rate)
vi. anti-alpha adrenergic effects (dizziness when standing up quickly)
vii. antihistaminic effects (drowsiness)

8. Nine out of ten people with “schizophrenia” do not physically hurt themselves or others.

9. There are approximately 40 million “schizophrenics” in the world.

10. There are approximately 250,000 “schizophrenics” in the UK.

11. 1 in 100 people have “schizophrenia”.

12. 1 in 200 people have “psychosis” at any one time.

13. 10% of “schizophrenics” commit suicide.

14. In the book “Accepting Voices” (ed. Marius Romme & Sandra Escher, Mind, 1994) there are three stages to the “schizophrenic” voice hearing experience:
i. the startling phase
ii. the organisational phase
iii. the stabilisation phase

15. Some “schizophrenics” believe that we have all lived before and they were significant historical figures in a previous life or previous lives. In the book “The Divided Self” by R. D. Laing, a “schizophrenic” believes in effect that in a previous life he was Napoleon. In the book “Accepting Voices” (edited by Marius Romme and Sondra Escher), a “schizophrenic” believes that he was Mussolini in a previous life. The author of this present text is convinced that he has lived three times before in terms of blood, flesh and bone. He lived as Judas Iscariot, a Cathar and James I of England (James VI of Scotland). He was labelled by psychiatry as a “schizophrenic” in 1983.

16. “Schizophrenics” are 100 times more likely to physically harm themselves than physically harm anybody else.

17. For every person killed by someone with a diagnosis of “schizophrenia”, drink drivers kill approximately twenty-four.

18. In the Phaedrus, Plato calls insanity “a divine gift, and the source of the chiefest blessings granted to men”.

19. In the Dialogues by Plato, four types of insanity are distinguished: prophetic madness due to Apollo, ritual madness due to Dionysus, the poetic madness “of those who are possessed by the Muses” and, finally, erotic madness due to Eros and Aphrodite.

20. It appears that in a majority of “schizophrenic” cases, “schizophrenics” were sexually, emotionally and/or physically traumatised at a formative stage of their lives. In a minority of “schizophrenic” cases, “schizophrenia” appears to have been caused by severe drug abuse.

21. North American Indians believe that “schizophrenics” as voice hearers have a religious and/or spiritual significance.

22. Traditional western psychiatry regards “schizophrenia” as a bio-chemical imbalance of the brain that involves “excess” dopamine activity in the brain itself.

23. Voice hearers from history and the present include the Prophet Amos, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Moses, Mohammed, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Joan of Arc, Swedenborg, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Zoe Wanamaker.

24. People diagnosed by psychiatry in the 20th century as “schizophrenic” include Louis Wain (the man who drew cats), Syd Barrett (ex-Pink Floyd), Peter Green (ex-Fleetwood Mac), David Helfgott (classical Australian pianist portrayed in the 1997 film “Shine”) and Brian Wilson (Beach Boys).

25. Around one third of homeless people in cities in the UK suffer from “schizophrenia”.

26. 2% of the prison population in the UK have a “psychotic illness”.

27. There are 40,000 homeless “schizophrenics” in the UK.

28. 1,200 “schizophrenics” commit suicide annually in the UK.

29. One in three “recover” completely from “schizophrenia”. The rate of “recovery” in 1998 is the same as it was in 1938.

30. A number of studies have found that a past history of birth difficulties or obstetric complications is more common among people with “schizophrenia”. The general risk of being “schizophrenic” is 1%. The chances of a person developing “schizophrenia” are increased if there is already someone in the family with the condition. The risk of “schizophrenia” in an identical twin is 46%. The risk of “schizophrenia” in a non-identical twin is 16%. If a parent has “schizophrenia”, the child of the “schizophrenic” has a 14% risk of being labelled by psychiatry as a “schizophrenic”.

31. In “The Politics of Experience” (Penguin,1990) by R.D.Laing, Laing regards “madness” to be “the birth pains of a higher consciousness”.

32. In David Cooper‘s Introduction to Michel Foucault‘s “Madness and Civilisation”, Cooper writes that “madness has in our age become some sort of lost truth”.

33. The subtitle of Thomas Szasz‘s book “Ideology and Insanity” (Syracuse University Press,1991) is “Essays On The Psychiatric Dehumanization Of Man”. For Szasz, mental ‘illness’ is a myth.

34. In Thomas Szasz’s book “The Manufacture of Madness”, psychiatry is to twentieth century science what the Inquisition was to seventeenth century Catholicism. The Inquisition “protected” Catholic orthodoxy. Similarly, psychiatry “protects” scientific orthodoxy. For Szasz, traditional western psychiatrists are in effect the “thought-police” of scientific orthodoxy.

35. 10 – 15% of the general population have heard or do hear a voice over a long period of time. The voice or voices may be triggered by a traumatic event such as bereavement, an accident, an illness or some other significant occurrence. 1% of the general population are “schizophrenic”. For more detailed information about voice hearing, “Accepting Voices” (ed. Marius Romme and Sondra Escher, MIND,1994) is recommended. “The Voice Inside: A Practical Guide To Coping With Voices” (Paul Baker, Working To Recovery, 2009) and “Working With Voices: Victim To Victor” (Ron Coleman and Mike Smith, Handsell Publications, 2007) are equally recommended.

Hywel Davies

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