In this episode of Schizophrenia and the City, Michelle Hammer from Schizophrenic.NYC and Cecilia McGough from Students With Psychosis go over a list of seven things that one should never say to a schizophrenic. The first thing not to tell a schizophrenic is that their schizophrenia must be the reason why they are so creative. Schizophrenia is not something that can be explained so easily: it is a life experience; a core identifier. In addition, to tell someone that their diagnosis explains their creativity detracts from their own qualities and instead attributes it to a stereotype, and for people with schizophrenia who are not creative it makes them feel “abnormal.” Another thing to never ask a schizophrenic is if the voices they hear tell them to hurt people. That schizophrenics are violent is a stereotype that is not only incorrect but incredibly harmful to society’s perception of psychosis. In fact, the voices that Michelle hears, for example, don’t tell her to hurt others but instead tell her to hurt herself. “Is it because you smoke too much weed?” is another question that should not be asked. Although there are some studies that indicate a correlation between schizophrenia and marijuana, that does not mean that all schizophrenics are schizophrenics because of weed. Don’t tell a schizophrenic that “it’s all in their head,” either, because everything you think, your perception of the world, and how reality appears to you, is all in your head. Of course schizophrenia is in the head; that’s what makes the voices so unpleasant. “Will you ever be able to lead a normal life?” is another question which makes no sense. There is no definition of a “normal life,” and even if there was, nobody has any right to dictate to another person how they should live their life. The harmful stereotype of the crazy, straitjacketed criminal with crazy hair in a mental institution causes people to ask “shouldn’t you be in an institution?” And finally, “are you dangerous?” is probably the most offensive, for obvious reasons.
Schizophrenia And The City is a podcast and video series hosted by two New York City women Michelle Hammer and Cecilia McGough spilling the tea about their lived experiences with schizophrenia and life in NYC. Topics cover a range of everyday New York City life from dating to social entrepreneurship but from the lens of a person living with schizophrenia.