So a lot of times in certain roleplays such as mental hospitals, asylums, supernatural, etc. characters will obtain a disease commonly known as Schizophrenia. This character guide was made as one of my presents for hitting a hundred mark and it has been brought to my concern that some people play the myths of this disease and not the truths. So in this guide I will cover: The Myths of Schizophrenia, The Different Types of Schizophrenia, and How to Portray that in your Character.
Okay, so first off I am going to start by going over The Myths of Schizophrenia. (These myths were taken from psychcentral.com & other PHD websites and elaborated on by myself)
Actually people who have this disease all have different symptoms and each case should be treated differently. There are even different types of schizophrenia which will be explained in detail in the next section. Due to this fact you should never base a schizophrenic character off of one you have seen a show, read about, etc. This could lead to a misinterpretation as well. The best thing to do is research, research, research.
“When their illness is treated with medication and psychosocial interventions, individuals with schizophrenia are no more violent than the general population,” says Dawn I. Velligan.
“People with schizophrenia more often tend to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence although untreated mental illness and substance abuse often increase the risk of aggressive behavior,” said by Irene S. Levine.
So just because your character my suffer from schizophrenia does not mean that they are violent or aggressive (unless it is part of their personality). If they are in a psych ward or mental hospital chances are they are being monitored/given prescription medication. Do not make you character violent just because of this disease.
“Schizophrenia” derives from “schizo” meaning split and "phrenia" meaning mind but it means the breaking apart of one’s mental abilities not a different personality. That is an entirely different disease.
Now those are the three main myths that I have searched through and the three main stigmas that I have seen played in countless of RPs. So now this brings us to the second section: Different Types of Schizophrenia. There are 4 main subtypes of this disease and sometimes people will try to portray their character as a couple at once or none at all. It is better to be aware of the different types so when being accepted for a character with schizophrenia you can solely focus on one subtype and research that one to the best of your ability.
This is the most common know type of schizophrenia. This “Paranoia” is caused by auditory hallucinations or thoughts plaguing the mind revolving around conspiracies. Despite contrary belief, this subtype might be the most capable of functioning in the real world. People diagnosed with this type might not seem “odd” or “unusual” by outsiders and most likely will not be willing to talk about their illness.
This subtype is categorized by the disorganization of the thought process. Usually hallucinations are not common in this subtype but they can sometimes have small symptoms. People in this category find it hard to do daily activities and at times will seem emotionally unstable if not on proper medication. The most common symptom is impaired speech. At times their speech will become more of a gibberish due to their disorganized thoughts or their words will be out of order.
Features to this subtype is either catatonic stupor, so lack of physical activity and movement, or catatonic excitement, which is increased activity. Some people may resist movement and may stand or sit in unusual body positions, unwilling to move. While others can become hyperactive.
This subtype is diagnosed to those who have decreased their symptoms. Meaning inabilities, hallucinations, etc. have all reduced either due to therapy, medication, or other treatments.
Now that you know the different types of Schizophrenia and the common myths that are attached to it, how do you implement it into your character? There are many different attributes you can add to your character but do not use them all the time. Just because they may be schizophrenic does not mean they hallucinate or slur their speech 100% of the time. Vary your symptoms and lessen them a bit. Here are some symptoms that can be portrayed in your character at a lowered rate.
Remember to use these attributes sparingly and only use attributes that relate to one subtype. My main advice for all of you is to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. Sometimes it is hard to portray something you have never experienced like Dr. Torrey states: “Those of us who have not had this disease should ask ourselves, for example, how we would feel if our brain began playing tricks on us, if unseen voices shouted at us, if we lost the capacity to feel emotions, and if we lost the ability to reason logically.”
There are many research tools for you to use out there for if we are not willing to make a trip to the library for an RP character there are thousands of online resources. But please do not make your character seem crazy, try to stick with the symptoms and attributes and stick to one subtype and avoid playing the myths!