Schizophrenia and stigma are often a combo package, but they don’t have to be. These voices channel grief, pain, humor, and hope to share their experiences.
Schizophrenia doesn’t discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life: musicians, teachers, doctors, students, and Nobel Prize winners. It reaches all socioeconomic groups, ethnicities, ages, and genders.
Below are the thoughtful musings of people who have lived with — or are still living with — schizophrenia. The quotes are as unique as the people who spoke (or wrote) them.
A few quotes reflect pain and fear. Others ooze humor and creativity. Some offer encouragement and advice to others who will walk this path — wisdom that could only come with years of experience.
Through these quotes, we get a glimpse into the determination, courage, and unique perspectives of people who have lived with schizophrenia, both past and present.
Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic mental health condition affecting about 20 million people around the world, according to the
When symptoms are active, schizophrenia can affect your:
- ability to interpret reality
Over the years, there have been many misconceptions and myths surrounding schizophrenia, contributing to persistent stigma.
Many think it’s having a “split personality” or that people with schizophrenia are prone to violence. Previous theories suggest bad parenting or a “sick society” cause schizophrenia. None of these are true.
Schizophrenia occurs in all cultures and societies. While the exact cause is unknown, research suggests a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop it.
Elyn R. Saks
Elyn R. Saks is a professor, lawyer, psychiatrist, and mental health advocate who lives with schizophrenia. These quotes can be found in her autobiography, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.”
Mark Vonnegut, son of Kurt Vonnegut, is a memoirist and pediatrician.
In 1971, Mark was hospitalized and received a schizophrenia diagnosis after experiencing psychosis. In 1980, the definition of schizophrenia was changed, and his diagnosis was switched to bipolar disorder — but his experiences with psychosis remain unchanged.
He wrote two memoirs: “The Eden Express: A Personal Account of Schizophrenia” and “Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So.”
Dr. Daniel Schreber was a German judge living with schizophrenia (at the time diagnosed as dementia praecox). He recorded his experiences in his book “Memoirs of My Nervous Illness,” published in 1902.
In these quotes, he talks about his experiences with psychosis.
John Forbes Nash, Jr.
John Nash is a mathematician and Nobel Prize winner for his contributions to the economic sciences. His life and experiences with schizophrenia were depicted in the award-winning movie, “A Beautiful Mind.”
In these quotes, he reflects on some early signs of schizophrenia and his perspectives on having a mental health condition.
Brian Wilson, who lives with schizoaffective disorder (symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder), was an original member of the Beach Boys. By the late 1960s, he quit touring for reasons related to mental health. By the 1990s, he was feeling well enough to begin recording again and occasionally going on tour.
In the quotes below, Brian Wilson shares his long-term experiences with schizophrenia and his thoughts on overcoming mental health stigma.
Arnhild Lauveng is a Norwegian psychologist who describes her experiences with schizophrenia in her memoir “A Road Back from Schizophrenia: A Memoir.”
Lori Schiller, now Lori Jo Baach, describes her experiences with schizophrenia in her autobiography “The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness.”
If you think you might have schizophrenia, it’s a good idea to reach out for help and discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional you can trust. You can learn more about the treatment options available to you here.
If you’re wondering how to support someone you love who lives with schizophrenia, here’s a look into how you can be their ally.
If left untreated, schizophrenia symptoms can impact your day-to-day life in significant ways.
But this mental health condition doesn’t define a person — and it doesn’t impact everyone in the same way, either. Many people have lived with schizophrenia and led meaningful, fulfilling lives.