Monday, January 5, 2009


A coworker sent me a logo today (I work at an design agency) and I was reminded of how unaware people are about schizophrenia. The above logo shows an icon which illustrates happiness and sadness. As clever as this icon is, in no way does it describe the word below it. If anything, it relates to bipolar disorder. I then found out that the creator is under the impression that schizophrenia is a split personality disorder (this is inaccurate). 

Aside from all of this, why in the world would someone want to sell a logo with schizophrenic as the name? It's upsetting when those who suffer from schizophrenia are referred to as "schizophrenic". Why should a disease serve as a noun and an adjective? When used as an adjective, the term "schizophrenic" creates shame and labels someone with his or her illness. People are not SCHIZOPHRENIC. They are real people, just like you and me, yet they suffer from a mental disorder. Some people tell me to "lighten up" but find it funny because this is the same attitude that perpetuates stigma. Our society uses more hurtful words to brand someone with a mental disorder than any other form of discrimination (check out this study). Here are ONLY few:

Screw Loose
Loony (Bin)
Mentally Ill
Fruit Cake
Padded Cell
Head Case


  1. I so agree with you, separating the person from the mental disorder. I try to make sure I do not use the term schizophrenic, instead I say "people living with schizophrenia."

  2. Confronting inaccuracies and misconceptions like the one you show here is how to raise awareness. The creator of this icon probably had no idea it was a false representation, and I am glad you were able to intercede effectively. On another website, it was suggested that the word "schizophrenia" be replaced with some other name for this disease. I agree with the previous post that separating the person from the disease is important, and with years of historically inaccurate, stereo-typed behaviors attached to the disorder only a complete change in attitude will effect change. One example of an effective name change was leprosy to Hansen's Disease. I don't know how a name change would be accomplished, and if anyone knows I would be interested hearing about it.

  3. Thank you a211423 and Valash for your comments. I have also heard about schizophrenia being given another name. I wonder if this would work. Unfortunately, many people think that if you even see a therapist or psychiatrist that you are weak and don't have control over your mind. Very sad. Just like we exercise our bodies to stay healthy, some people have to do the same for their minds. Why do people have nervous breakdowns? It's usually due to high levels of stress that our minds can't handle. But still, our society views the mind as indestructible. Our society also focuses too much on what is NORMAL. I notice now on a daily basis how frequently people descrive anything of of the ordinary as being crazy or psycho. Just today a client used the words, crazy, psycho, lunatic and nut job IN ONE SENTENCE. I couldn't believe it. We default to comparing anything that is different or WIERD by using words that label others dealing with a mental illness. In the end, we won't see change until we embrace what is DIFFERENT. I love things that are out of the ordinary because anything too normal is boring. Different is the reason why we have creativity. I will shut up now, and just post more about this stuff:)

  4. Amber,
    Re: Words
    The word "crazy" is the most commonly used. I confess I have found myself using it without thinking, and then say to myself "what are you saying!" We can make a conscious effort to not use terminology that degrades or stereotypes the mentally ill, but most people don't care or by using these terms they distance themselves from "those people." I agree with you totally that the broader application is embracing what is different, whether it's the mentally ill, the handicapped, mentally challenged, races, religions, political affiliation, etc.
    And please don't feel you need to "shut up."
    I want to know how others feel, and embrace all points of view. This is how we learn. : )

  5. ACDesign, I just wanted to let you know about a very good site that people with schizophrenia and family members of relatives with schizophrenia visit, it is called Schizophrenia Connection on, check it out the latest sharepost some time.


  6. Thank you for the link Valash. I always found that the message boards are so helpful for people who are new to the disease. I had so many questions and fears when my brother was diagnosed. These sites allow you to connect with others going through the same thing. I am thankful for them.

  7. Amber,
    I feel so much for your parents. I am the parent of an adult son with sz., and his symptoms vary even when he is taking his medicine, although it's much worse when he has stopped taking it which has happened. I don't know the laws in NY, but if he is diagnosed, can medical practicioners insist on administering depot injections of medication, so he doesnt have to take daily meds? My son has no insight either, but now ten years after his diagnosis, he says he knows he has to take medication and is cooperative in doing so. But then there is the issue of the medications working, which we are dealing with now. Was he discharged home after these hospitalizations? Perhaps, having him live in a licensed board and care where he has to comply might be better than living with your parents.

  8. Amber,
    This post was suppose to on the thread "The System Isnt Working." I have had some problems logging in. I have to post a comment twice in order for it to work.

  9. again. They say he needs a much longer stay and at a place more suited to someone who is not sticking to the program. In a way, I am glad because maybe this psychiatric center will have more staff to help him gain insight or at least become compliant to some degree. This is the same place that I used to hear about and think it was so scary. But now, I am thankful that we have a facility he can go to find the tools he needs to get better. They asked my brother if he wanted to do the depot injections but he said no and only would take risperdol. Problem is, he only takes it until he feels relief then stops. I worry that this back and forth could reduce the effectiveness of the meds. Also, it takes much longer to see results each time he discontinues his medicine.

  10. Amber,
    You are correct in worrying about his going on and off medications. This is the worse scenario. Each time they have a psychotic break when stopping medications, it takes longer for them to stabilize, and then they don't recover to the level they were at before the break. At least this has been my son's experience, and he had a break even when he was taking medications once.

    As much as we hate to see them in a hospital or inpatient clinic, sometimes it is unavoidable. My son's last hospitalization was in 2006 for four months, and he recovered well. But he had a break in June of 2007, and he has not recovered to the level he was at when he was discharged from the hospital in 2006.

    I think I know a little how you feel in terms of wanting to make your brother's life better, and some how find definitive answers to his care for his life time. I always feel like new approaches with medications and cognitive therapy will make a difference for him and be lasting, but I have accepted the fact that with mental illness it is a day to day struggle. There is no cure or lasting therapy that will finally be the answer. It has taken me ten years to accept this, and I still find myself wishing for the lasting answer because one day I will not be here, and who will care for him then. Please know I am not being negative or gloomy, just realistic. A 59 year old man who is sz on said his life is made up of a thousand little successes; and as caregivers if we can enfold this philosophy into our point of view, we will be better caregivers.

    My best to you and your parents as you continue to help your brother with love and persistent care.

  11. I know what you mean. We have had to learn that we must lower our expectations a bit and not be so concerned with the outcome. At least I wish he would stay on meds. Anything has to be better than now. Plus I worry that frequent psychosis could have a long term affect on him. We are trying to support him but it's hard when he thinks nothing is wrong. I truly think people should be aware of just how strong a person becomes from this experience. I want that to be the root of my concept for a national campaign. What a person must overcome when battling schizophrenia is such an accomplishment. I want people to be honored for their bravery not judged.