Has the term “schizophrenia” become outdated? Some experts are beginning to think so.
For several decades now, “schizophrenia” has been the word used to describe a condition with a specific type of psychosis. However, many agree that the word tends to stir up a negative image with significant stigma — suggesting discrimination, labeling, isolation and social rejection.
Recently, discussions have emerged about whether or not to change the term “schizophrenia” to something that would be less stigmatizing. Several suggestions have been made, but it seems that the most accepted term is salience syndrome.
The majority of experts in the scientific community agree that salience — which describes the internal process of reacting to and processing of stimuli — most accurately conveys the actual experience of individuals with schizophrenia.
However, the patients themselves had yet to weigh in on the name change, so Constantin Tranulis, M.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal in Canada wanted to assess their opinions on the topic.
Tranulis asked 161 college students as well as 19 patients who were in the early stages of psychosis about the acceptability, validity, and impact of both diagnostic terms — schizophrenia and salience syndrome.
The college students did not seem to prefer one term over the other.
The findings showed that the college students already had preconceived beliefs about the stigmatizing characteristics of the illness, including social rejection and discrimination, no matter which name was assigned to it.
The only difference in opinion was found in the psychology students, who had a slight preference for salience syndrome when compared to biology students.
However, when Tranulis surveyed patients with the actual disorder, the results were quite different. The individuals with psychosis almost unanimously chose “salience syndrome” over “schizophrenia.”
The biggest reason for their choice was that the name change could help protect them from experiencing the stigmatization associated with the well-known term of schizophrenia.
But they also were concerned that eventually people would know that salience syndrome and schizophrenia were the same disorder, and that, overtime, patients with salience syndrome would be subjected to the same negative stigma.
Overall, the participants had varying views on choosing a name for the disorder, but people who actually lived with the pain of stigma seemed most sensitive to the options. An interesting findings was that the patients felt less self-inflicted stigma with the term “salience syndrome.”
Tranulis added, “Future studies with larger samples are warranted in order to clarify the role of labels on self-stigmatizing attitudes.”
Source: PLoS ONE