Schizophrenia is one of the more debilitating types of mental illness. Over a year ago, I wrote an article for Psych Central about living with schizophrenia. In the beginning, I featured an excerpt from E. Fuller Torrey’s, M.D., excellent book Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients and Providers, because it captures the confusion and misinformation about this disorder.
“Your daughter has schizophrenia,” I told the woman.
“Oh, my God, anything but that,” she replied. “Why couldn’t she have leukemia or some other disease instead?”
“But if she had leukemia she might die,” I pointed out. “Schizophrenia is a much more treatable disease.”
The woman looked sadly at me, then down at the floor. She spoke softly. “I would still prefer that my daughter had leukemia.”
Even though Dr. Torrey wrote this part in the book’s first edition in 1983, I think it still applies today. Though we’ve made advances in treatment and some strides in minimizing stigma, people with schizophrenia still face little empathy or even sympathy from others — in addition to the devastating symptoms they deal with on a daily basis.
That’s why, today, I’d like to share with you several excerpts from Torrey’s book in hopes that they’ll help us to better understand the disorder and be able to put ourselves in the shoes of someone with schizophrenia.