Many of us have heard about schizophrenia, a mental disorder of delusions, hallucinations, internal voices, and a fragmented reality. People are so terrified of the word “schizophrenia”. A parent’s world shatters when their child is diagnosed with such a disorder. Some parents are so distraught, they would even wish for leukemia instead. Schizophrenia has such a negative reputation, making it very misunderstood.


In hearing the word, people generally think of that crazy person on the street flailing their arms around, talking to themselves, with outbursts of yelling, and probably violent behaviors. Yes, we see people like this, but that person does not represent everyone with schizophrenia. That person on the street is probably one of 89% of people with schizophrenia who report not getting the right support they need.


Believe it or not, but there are people with schizophrenia who hold jobs, attend college, and become scholars and highly respected professionals. People can live with schizophrenia. There is definitely hope for recovery and ways to cope. A study published in 2005 by psychologist Martin Harrow of the University of Illinois College of Medicine and his colleges looked at patients over 15 years and found that 40% experienced periods of substantial recovery (no significant symptoms, being able to hold a job, engage in social activities, and live outside of a hospital for a year or more). Yes, relapses could still occur post recovery, but patients are more aware about coping with their symptoms in healthy ways and know/trust the support they have that helped them reach recovery.


Let’s look at Eleanor Longden. She’s a great example of someone who overcame schizophrenia and continues to achieve great success. She was diagnosed in college, but managed to graduate with the highest level of a Bachelor’s Degree (BSc) and Master’s Degree (MSc) from the University of Leeds, England. She’s currently working on getting her PhD, gives lectures and writes about recovery-oriented approaches to psychosis, dissociation and complex trauma.


She’s a TED Talk speaker who details the voices in her head, the hostile things they would tell her, and how she turned those nasty voices into companions. She realized it wasn’t about “what’s wrong with her,” but rather “what happened to her.” Once she listened to the voices with empathy, she was able to connect each voice to a part of her that was screaming out from past trauma. The more damaging the trauma, the more hostile that particular voice was. In showing compassion to the voices, she was practicing self compassion and healing herself. She saw her schizophrenia as a creative survival strategy and meaningful experience to be explored.


If you or someone you know has symptoms of schizophrenia and need treatment and therapy, and live in the San Diego region, please contact Crownview Medical Group. You will be connected to a medical professional who will provide some advice, therapy, and an individualized treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs.