Things have been crazy at school lately…’

Ally Blankartz and Ally Blankartz

“I won’t go schizo, will I?”

Whilst pondering all of life’s great questions during a routine viewing of the American classic, “Animal House,” the above line struck a nerve. I was interrupted briefly from my musings, to question aloud; do people really know what it means to go schizo? With the response of Larry’s strung out, ex-hippie teacher of “it’s a distinct possibility,” I am reminded of my greatest pet peeve regarding schizophrenia.

To have schizophrenia does not mean you have more than one personality. To have a split of your personalities is to have Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. When an individual suffers from schizophrenia they are strictly hearing voices and experiencing delusions. There is a big difference.

And now a fun little factoid for your enjoyment; how many times in a day do you use the phrase, “I am losing my mind!” I am going to take a guess and say it’s more times than one can count on both hands. My point is a common slang descriptive of individuals suffering from schizophrenia is to say they have lost their mind. Schizophrenia is categorized as a form of psychosis. The natural consequence being, when someone loses their grip on reality and starts hearing voices commanding them to carry out bizarre behaviors, they are losing their mind. It certainly would make conversation more exciting if everyone replaced “I’m losing my mind,” with “I’m going schizo.”

Most self respecting psychologists and psychological educators will vehemently discredit any attempt by Hollywood to paint a depiction of someone suffering a mental disorder. The general consensus of opinion is that Hollywood is to blame for the misconceptions behind certain mental disorders. Propagating movie lines, such as my first sentence, misconstrue what it means to suffer from a mental disorder.

Despite the blatant objection towards trusting products of Hollywood, I still hold hope in the stock of several movies centralized around mental disorder. Let’s begin with Multiple Personality Disorder. My favorite example is the flick “Fight Club.” While most multiples experience more than one personality within one body, the dissociation that plagues Edward Norton is a key symptom. The blank pages in his memory, the crawling sense of d’eacute;jà vu – all due to the presence of Tyler Durden.

Another stellar portrayal of the dissociation is in the Johnny Depp flick, “Secret Window.” Johnny Depp plays an author “haunted” by a character from his novel and is agitated with blank holes in his memory. He becomes unable to connect the dots between sequences of events.

A contentious point is these characters’ visualization of their respective personalities. Remember that multiples do not visualize their personalities.

Schizophrenia on the other hand, is based heavily upon whether or not patients are visualizing their hallucinations and delusions. A personal favorite, “Donnie Darko,” provides a great example for this concept of visualization. Donnie not only believes Frank (the giant rabbit) is real, but Donnie willingly obeys orders given to him by Frank. Not to mention Donnie is harboring delusions of the exact date of the end of the world. One of the most famous depictions of a mental disorder, “A Beautiful Mind,” portrays the intelligence that many mental disorder sufferers are graced with, despite the stigma of being labeled as mentally unstable.

I am neither discrediting nor endorsing the use of loose fictional film for enlightenment as well as entertainment. Hollywood is definitely flawed, although without such flaws, it would cease to exist. Hollywood has its own story for every situation, and on various occasions these stories have actually been correct.

We must remember that Hollywood has its bias, but with bunk psychology aside, the story beneath can be a treasure trove of unique stories waiting for ears to listen to their tale. Ignorance of concepts we do not know and understand is unacceptable both in my eyes and in today’s society. Remove your blind eye and help people to understand the difference between Dissociative Identity and schizophrenia.