Rate of Misdiagnosis in Schizophrenia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I know I’ve killed someone, but it’s worse then that. For one I’d like to know the known rate of misdiagnosis of Schizophrenia. Statistically confirmed and estimated.

For second, I feel screwed, destroyed, helpless and hopeless, lost, and complacent, scared and depressed.

I probably have no real friends. I’m also misanthropic and I hate myself because of the murder I’ve committed. However, there’s zero proof what so ever that this murder ever took place. No Death Record no Birth Certificate, nothing. The only proof I have is the threats of the family, the very clandestine stalking and my horrible memories. There’s so many variables to this story. So many contradictions on one hand you have zero physical proof/witnesses and much more that would make me agree that I was properly diagnosed with Schizophrenia, but I know I don’t have it. I’d much rather believe I have a severe degenerative illness then know that I’ve killed someone and that I myself will possibly be killed. My entire life has turned into a conspiracy theory and I need help getting out of it!

A. I am aware of no official statistics regarding the misdiagnosis of schizophrenia. There may be statistics that estimate the number of individuals who receive differing diagnoses from multiple clinicians but I don’t think that is what you’re asking. Misdiagnosis of schizophrenia does occur but to the best of my knowledge there are no official estimates of the number of cases in which this occurs.

I obviously can’t know if you have schizophrenia but I am concerned about your symptoms. They are causing you a great deal of distress. Symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions or hallucinations can make someone believe in things that are not true. This is in part what makes delusions and hallucinations so difficult to manage without the help of mental health professionals. Delusions and hallucinations can trick the mind into believing that something happened when it really didn’t.

I would strongly encourage you to receive help from mental health professionals as soon as possible.

Logic describes reality; what is real. Delusions do occur. No educated person or professional would deny this. We have a long historical record of individuals having delusions. I think we can both agree that delusions do occur and not just rarely. A delusion is a belief in something that is simply untrue. When someone has a delusion, they do not know it. To them it is as real as the sun in the morning. They have no doubt whatsoever that what they believe is real. It is 100 percent, undeniably real to them. How do they know that the delusion is real? They saw it with their own eyes. They heard it with their own ears. They clearly remember it. They remember other people telling them about it. They heard others talking about it.

In reality, their delusions are not true. No delusion is. Often times, with treatment and time they will come to realize completely that their delusion was false.

A common type of delusion in schizophrenia is called a delusion of sin and guilt. This type of delusion causes someone to believe that they have done something terrible, the worst thing that they could possibly think of. Often for a mother, this will involve the belief that they have killed their own children. They are sick with the thought that they have committed the unpardonable sin. But the truth is, they have not killed anyone and certainly not their own children. How strongly do they believe their delusion? When the children are brought in to see their mother and prove to her that they are quite fine, the mother insists that these are not her children. Oh sure, they look like her kids, sound like her kids, act like her kids but they are not her kids. Why? Because they could not be. She clearly remembers killing them.

Yes, delusions do occur and when they do, you do not believe them to be delusions. It is very difficult to admit that you are having a delusion because it seems so very real. The most important thing is to allow for the possibility of something being a delusion. Maybe it’s not, maybe it is. Anything that is true will be provable in the real world. Maybe you have killed someone, maybe not. Where is the hard evidence? Where is the birth certificate? Where is the death certificate? Where are the police records, after all the family knows and surely they would have involved the police.

Memories can be false. That is a simple scientifically proven and accepted fact. Mine could be false and so could yours. It would be very nice indeed if your memories of a murder were false and they could be. Maybe not but maybe so.

It is important that your symptoms are treated. Generally, symptoms can become worse overtime. Medication can significantly reduce psychosis symptoms. It can also help to restore psychological stability. Please seek help immediately.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 May 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Rate of Misdiagnosis in Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/31/rate-of-misdiagnosis-in-schizophrenia/