Should we rename schizophrenia?

Over at Medical Daily, Stephanie Castillo has written an article about how some researchers want to rename the illness known as schizophrenia with the hope that it would lessen the stigma associated with it. It has an excellent discussion of the etymology of the word compared to the actual symptoms. She points out that (links in original omitted):

Schizophrenia wouldn’t be the only mental illness to undergo a name change. Multiple personality disorder, for example, is now referred to as dissociative identity disorder. Lasalvia and his team added that while these changes reduce stigma, and ultimately better the state of mental health care, there need to also be “parallel changes in legislation, services, and the education of professionals and the public.”

I do think that the article makes a decent case and I would be the first to admit that the words “schizophrenia” and “schizophrenic” have (unfortunately) very strong negative connotations in colloquial English. I have always been more on the side of owning those words and wearing them without shame rather than avoiding the stigma.

The thing is though, I am far from the only person who has to deal with this. While I am proud of my accomplishments, my outcome is unfortunately not the only outcome. While I enjoy challenging stigma by causing, well, a realization in people that perhaps their mental construction of what schizophrenia is when compared to seeing me as a person, I can completely understand a desire to not have to deal with that crap. Particularly when you just want to focus on getting well, functioning socially, getting/maintaining a stable job or whatever.

So what do you think? Should we rename the illness in hopes that it will make things easier for all of us? Should we not and make the word ours? What do you think?

About Neil

I happen to have paranoid schizophrenia. But that is only a small part of who I am. I define me, not my illness. I always try and choose hope and choose to be a better person, though like all people, I have more than a few failures. Some have been rather spectacular.
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