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Schizophrenia is one of the oldest mental illnesses known to mental health disorders. It’s also a disorder that takes on the look of several other traits of disorders at the same time. So much so that many people think it’s part of another mood disorder or oftentimes, a personality disorder.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people loosely use “schizophrenia” as a lay term for multiple personality disorder and assume they are one in the same. And because of the misunderstanding of these persistent mental illnesses I thought it would be helpful to share some of the myths between the two and  set the record straight that schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder are two distinct disorders.

1. People with schizophrenia suffer from multiple personality disorder.Absolutely not true! The two major components of schizophrenia are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are fixed ideas or beliefs one has that are not based in reality.

Hallucinations are sensations that appear real but are created in one’s mind.  Multiple personality disorder, also presently known as dissociative personality disoder, is the enduring experience of a person’s life that also impairs behavior and memory. There is a split off of two or more co-existing personalities that have significant changes in presentation at any given time. Those splits can appear as individual changes in thoughts, behaviors, interests, names and even changes in facial and vocal expressions.

2. People with schizophrenia will have changes in their mood that appear to look like different personalities and mood disorders. The fact is people who live with schizophrenia are living with delusions and hallucinations on an ongoing basis. Even with medication, which if taken consistently, can decrease the symptoms of schizophrenia, a person living with schizophrenia is almost always dealing with their own delusions and/or hallucinations.

#MentalHealth Myth Buster: Schizophrenics Have Multiple Personality Disorder? was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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