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Myth Buster: People with Schizophrenia have a Split Personality

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that impairs the cognition and behavior of a person. A Person Suffering from schizophrenia often experiences situations that may not align with reality. On a simpler note, they see things or hear voices that aren’t present. This challenges their judgment of differentiating reality from imagination. This also affects your ability to think, make decisions, and manage emotions. 


This disorder can appear in both men and women equally but is rare in children younger than 12 years of age. Women usually tend to have the onset of schizophrenia in their 20s or 30s while men are in their late teens to early 20s. The various symptoms of schizophrenia may be:


  1.      Delusions or false beliefs
  2.      Hearing voices, seeing things, or smelling things others can’t
  3.      Disordered thoughts and speech
  4.      Lack of expression of emotions
  5.      Cognitive deficits
  6.      Unusual behavior
  7.      Social withdrawal 


Generally, people suffering from schizophrenia do not have the cognitive ability to tell that they're seeing unusual things, which makes it very challenging to treat. 


Does schizophrenia lead to a split personality? 

This is one of the biggest myths surrounding schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disorder in which a person generally hallucinates and has delusions, while he may also act on false beliefs. But it's completely different from what a person with multiple personality disorder, or, more accurately,


dissociative identity disorder (DID) experiences. A person with schizophrenia does not have two different personalities but rather loses touch with reality. The ‘split mind’ in schizophrenia is in fact a split from reality, not split personalities. While a person with DID has two or more distinct personalities which direct their thoughts, actions, and behaviors. These identities may have their own personal history, traits, likes, and dislikes; and may be linked to childhood trauma. Even Though people with schizophrenia can act unpredictably at times, multiple personality disorder is completely unrelated. 


Some other notable characteristics of each of these diseases that might help you to differentiate them better: 


  • One of the most characteristic distinctions between DID and schizophrenia is the age of onset of symptoms.  Schizophrenia usually appears in people in their late teens to 30 while DID symptoms, on the other hand, may begin showing up in childhood.


  • Gaps in memory, and memory loss/amnesia, might occur in schizophrenia as well as DID, but it’s more common in DID. 


  • According to a survey, people with DID also have higher instances of derealization depersonalization. For instance, if a person with DID has “switched” to a different personality, they may not recognize themselves in a mirror or not recall the experience of their other personalities. People with schizophrenia are less likely to experience depersonalization and derealization. 


  • People with schizophrenia more commonly show deficits in cognitive functioning than people with dissociative identity disorders. 


How can you help? 

If you have noticed symptoms of schizophrenia in someone, the first and most crucial step is to talk to them about their concerns. You can encourage and help them in their journey with the proper guidance of a qualified doctor or mental health professional. 


It is very common for people with schizophrenia to be suicidal, so if your loved one expresses an intent to put themselves or others in danger or has lost the ability to provide for themselves like food, clothing, or shelter, you may need to alert emergency responders for help. In some cases, emergency hospitalization and professional attention may be needed. So You Can Enhance your awareness about mental health agencies in your area so as to help those in need.

Dr. Saurabh Mehrotra
Meet The Doctor
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