Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

There is a strong stigma attached to Schizophrenia

I have been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and it’s something that outside of online communities needs to be kept as secretive as possible. Even though I’m perfectly capable of normal function on medicines, society has strong negative feelings about this particular issue. I have been ghosted by a date I had, when confronted she gave me the reason that I give off “Weird vibes”. If I had told the date I had this issue she would probably call the cops on me.
I have lost friends, I have been made fun of by my peers, all due to them knowing.
For a country where we are so empathetic to mental health struggles (Of course, only such as depression and anxiety, nothing “scary”), it sure stings how much this illness is really stigmatized and demonized.


Agree. It’s very stigmatizing. I hate using the word when describing my son’s diagnosis to family members – e.g. my brother-in-law.


The stigma is frustrating and inconsistent. Some people are quite knowledgeable and helpful- others- ahhhhh…. not so much. You never know which response you are going to get and the bad responses really do make you think it’s better to not share.


Honestly I feel you probably do give off creepy vibes or it could be the girl is really sensitive. I have told countless girls and my employers of my schizophrenia and no one has ever stigmatized me. Beautiful girls talk to me all the time. I tell them after meeting them once, twice or several times. My illness is seen as a strength and I was given opportunities beyond that of even my senior manager at the work place of an 80,000 people company. My name is more widely known by senior vice presidents who are only two levels below the CEO at the bank I worked for than many people senior to me.

At the end of the day, your illness doesn’t define you. If you always stand tall and carry yourself in a dignified way and be genuine and kind to others, everyone who isn’t blind will see that. I am the perfect example of that. Improve yourself whether physically and mentally, chances are, many mentally ill people do give off weird vibes from what I have seen.


It’s the worst and I will say that my son suffers from schizoaffective, bipolar type, I use his bipolar diagnosis with everyone that I encounter. I told him to use the diagnosis and I even bought a beautiful medical emblem gold/blue lapis necklace and on the back it states bipolar and in case of emergency contacts on the back. Society is so scared and the stigma is way too much for me. I’m glad that I have a ‘fall back’ diagnosis to use. It’s total BS - this is a neurological brain disorder which presents close to Alzheimer’s. In fact, if someone doesn’t understand the schizophrenia spectrum, I use Alzheimer’s as an example all the time - funny how that diagnosis is respected, but our is not. So sorry, we all understand this completely! Xo


@interestedinissue, one of our family members with SZ prefers to call his illness a dopamine disorder - that’s how he explains it to people.
Another family member (my son) also has SZ and if I have to tell anyone, I just say he has a mental illness. Out of respect for him I don’t share his medical info unless he gives me permission to do so.
Never-the-less I am comfortable now with the term schizophrenia and believe we should be able to use it without fear of negative reaction. I guess the time will come eventually when that will be the case. Perhaps the more we use the terminology the quicker the stigma will be broken down? Just a thought.
I do hear you, some reactions can certainly be very distressing.


We use schizophrenia, the more we say / use the term, the more people will hear it and become familiar with it.


Congratulations on your success!

At work, my daughter talks about her most obvious and troubling symptom- anxiety. Everyone gets that. She has mentioned mood swings to a couple of close co-workers. She has schizoaffective disorder. I’ve advised her not to mention psychosis. She also works in a very accepting environment.

In her personal life, the entire, very large, extended family knows and are very accepting.

There is tremendous stigma around this mainly because of ignorance. The dilemma is, do we risk educating people or do we protect the privacy of our loved one. I’ve worked hard to educate a close friend who was worth my time and investment. I think she gets it now.

Good luck.


I’m with Lirik on this one. It’s most likely “vibes” that you put off or your discomfort in social situations. I’m in the camp of keeping my illness hidden from most people, as I haven’t seen much of an upside to disclosure, and I prefer not to lead with my illness lest people define me by it.

I found dating behavior rather baffling at first and had a tendency to overcomplicate it. When you go into a situation not knowing how to act and with something to hide, perceptive people have a way of picking up on your self consciousness. I can’t say I’ve lost friends because I disclosed, but I’ve had some relationships fail after I’ve disclosed. While my illness may have been a contributing factor in this, there were always more compelling reasons behind failures to launch or breakups. In some cases I disclosed after the fact if I hadn’t already, in part to give myself and the women an “out” or excuse, in part a way of debriefing what went wrong. Typically it came down to lack of “chemistry” or conflicting goals.

While it’s difficult to separate your mental well being and recovery experience from “chemistry”, you can improve how you project yourself, your social poise and confidence. I approached my development by way of voice training and acting, some like Lirik find it in the work environment or social or hobby groups. Ghosting is detrimental to Neurotypical and Neurodivergent people alike, because it robs them of feedback they need to grow, however some ND people have a tendency to latch onto and obsess on people who don’t feel the same way, so people ghost in defense to extinguish this behavior.

I feel my experience with the audition process in acting helped me significantly in navigating dating. After a while, you understand most decisions aren’t personal and even if they are, there’s little you can do to change that. My main revelation was the people conducting auditions were just as concerned they might not find the right person to fill the role, so as long as I showed potential and a degree of poise and confidence, they were often willing to take a chance on me. Paradoxically auditions I went into with less investment and preparation went better, and I often got a better role and came out with a degree of confidence that I’d be cast. I feel people can “smell” neediness and unease, and there’s a difference between not disclosing my illness because the timing isn’t right and actively hiding it. An interviewing technique I’d been taught is to treat “bad news” on your resume as “speed bumps” or framing them as growth moments or what makes you unique from other applicants.


Another interesting point/fact is that Japan has taken the diagnosis of schizophrenia out of their society and currently use ‘integration disorder’ and it has proven to be more effective with psychiatry and handing out the diagnose.

In order to contribute to reduce the stigma related to schizophrenia and to improve clinical practice in the management of the disorder, the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology changed in 2002 the old term for the disorder, “Seishin Bunretsu Byo” (“mind-split-disease”), into the new term of “Togo Shitcho Sho” (integration disorder)

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Wish we were as strong as you - awesome!

I like it! Problem is, if I said that my son had an “integration disorder” to my brother-in-law I’d have to explain what it meant and it might mean going into describing what happens during psychosis.


Yes, I don’t think there is any easy answer, but I know that I hate the word and all the stigma that comes with it. I will continue to educate myself and I recently moved to another county, so I’m going to go through another NAMI family to family and hopefully I’ll find more strength to overcome the stigma. Xo

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My wife has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been on Olanzapine (10 mg every night) for about 8 years now. There’s a lot of stigma, especially in these parts of our world. Everywhere we live, she makes a lot of trouble with neighbours. Now we’re in our own home but we’ve yet to find any peace of mind… especially me. She makes constant trouble with our neighbours. There’s a lot of stigma, for this reason. Is/are there any suggestion/s about any new drugs? I’m always stressed out for her “abnormal behaviour” with our neighbours.

OMG I feel the same way. My son has been diagnosed with that disease since he was 17. Now he decided he will not take medications and has wound up in the hospital several times. I am so embarrassed sometimes with the neighbors for his abnormal behavior, so I am always begging him to come inside the house and yell inside not outside. It is a terrible, terrible condition and there is lots of stigma still.

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Stigma does exist because of abnormal behavior or even cues that may be quite subtle, but the worst sort of stigma seems mostly due to the amount of attention given to the rare incidences of violent crimes committed against others during psychotic episodes. If I had been diagnosed with SZA or perhaps even bipolar mental illness, I don’t think I would tell anyone outside of trusted family members, except possibly my employer (to give notice to the company that I was in a protected class). It’s sad that one label has been applied to a condition with such a wide variance of behaviors.

With regard to truly abnormal behavior, both my sister and my parents have been affected by mentally ill neighbors living alone. My parents’ neighbor’s illness was under control while his parents (with whom he lived) were alive, but things began to spiral out of control after they passed away. He started yelling at the other neighbors, who ignored him, but he ultimately had a really bad psychotic episode, during which he attempted to set fire to one of the neighbors’ homes and broke into another. We are very thankful that he didn’t choose the home of my parents, who were in their eighties at the time, and that the neighbors whose home he had entered had not been present. (They had to stay away for a few days during the cleanup process, because they didn’t want their children to see the blood that the man had dripped all over the floors after cutting himself on window glass during the break-in.) The police were called, and he was removed from his home. We don’t know where he lives now. My sister’s neighbor’s behavior, taking the form of yelling at and otherwise generally harassing the other neighbors, as well as keeping a very unkempt home and yard, has lately become much worse, as his wife has left him, moving out of state. I must say that these sorts of aggressive behaviors make being sympathetic and understanding very difficult, especially given the threat to one’s own family members, and that mandatory medication requirements might make for a better experience for everyone.