The Schizo Stereotype

Jim vanOs1Jim Van Os and his gert list of “schizo” stereotypes

“Schizophrenia” is not a thing its an idea.
Its not a thing we can catch or contract , become infected with or born with.
Its an idea,  a story.

And if you don’t believe it ask yourself why is The Schizophrenia Bulletin seriously considering removing the term from its name?

What something is – in this case the many ways people can struggle- and what we call it are separate things yet we tend to conflate the two.

And,  because we’d rather be texting and snapchatting with celebs, or shopping, or millions of other important stuff,  we want things to be simple so once we get a name for something, that’s it, we’re done. Brain.dis.en.gaged

Which is ok –  except when its not ok.

We do get to call ourselves whatever name we like but it pays to be more careful when we choose the name we use for others.
What we call someone else says more about us than it could ever say about them.

“Schizophrenia” is a story – of the worst kind
What limits our freedom is the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other…

“Schizophrenia” is a story of the worst, most limiting kind – a stereotype.

The “Schizo” stereotype might seem convenient and harmless – and like most stereotypes they all can seem that way – until we encounter the one that’s applied to us.

And once we stereotype someone, we blind ourselves – all we see from that point forward is the stereotype that we assigned them to.

And that’s our shit – not theirs.

The “Schizo” stereotype consists of three things…
1. A mystifying greek name
2. An unproven hypothesis of a genetic brain disease and
3. A hopeless view of outcome.

– Jim van Os

“Schizophrenia” is at best a stereotype

Its often called a “diagnosis” yet it is widely known to fail to meet the standard of what constitutes a valid medical diagnosis.

It does, though,  serve perfectly well the first part of original meaning of “diagnosis” – to set apart from –  in order to know.

As with other stereotypes, once awarded with this label people can easily become very much separated or cast-apart from the rest of us: de-humanised, denied their humanity, deemed non-human.

As with other forms of stereotyping we deny a person their humanity,  we cast them out to that “zone of non-humanity” as Franz Fanon called it,  so we can free ourselves from responsibility for them, so we can tell ourselves we’re ok with whatever is done to them.

Well, it’s not ok.


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3 Responses to The Schizo Stereotype

  1. kayakangst says:

    Great article. People often say that calling certain problems a brain disease will make others more understanding. In practice, it doesn’t work that way. The disease-label separates people. I agree that everyone should call themselves what they like, but we should be careful not to stigmatise others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi kayakangst
      Nice one, and thanks.
      I believe there’s research emerging showing how the disease mantra has actually made people fear and blame and shun those who are diagnosed even more – since it provides a convincing rationale to regard people who have been diagnosed as biologically inferior.
      and hence it’s easier to cast those people into that “zone of non-human”.


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