Imagine what it would be like to feel as if you were constantly watched. You start to become detached from the ones you love in fear of them turning against you. How about a different scenario? You phase out for a moment and the next thing you know, you are clawing your face in horror and bawling like an infant. Or how about this? You feel nothing.Time stops but only for you, as if you are trapped in a bubble that separates your being from the universe. To some, this may sound like hogwash, the blabbering of someone with a stagnant mind who believes that a bogeyman is the root cause of all this. The thing is, this bogeyman actually exists and its name is schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is characterised by disorganised emotions and behaviours that are often incongruent with their situations, such as disturbed perceptions, including delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia is born from a combination of biological and genetic vulnerabilities and also because of environmental stressors. The symptoms of this disease are in line with a loss of contact with reality, disorganised thinking and speech mental breakdowns and making up narratives of persecution and paranoia. Schizophrenia is stigmatised by society as a whole. People with mental diseases, unfortunately, have this stigma surrounding them that causes others to isolate them or label them in a way that worsens their situation. Schizophrenia still remains a mystery to many psychologists and doctors. A bigger mystery for everyone is how to accommodate this psychosis. This intricate situation is multifaceted and cannot be solved with a linear solution.
The stigma of schizophrenia mostly stems from the misconceptions of people that are diagnosed with it. They see themselves in a derogatory manner and thus isolate themselves. The thought of schizophrenia, a vile abomination that will plague them for the rest of their lives, can take a toll on their mental and physical health. Although it is true that a cure for schizophrenia has not yet been found, this certainly does not mean that it cannot be treated. With proper medication and a good support system, the said person can get back on his feet and become a viable asset to society. Self help also plays a major role in healing. Needless to say, if they are willing, then anything is possible.
The other issue which cannot be glossed over is the problem posed by the lack of interest of governmental institutions. The apathy shown by the Pakistani Supreme Court for a schizophrenic patient is rather appalling. Even though the patient, Imdad Ali, was declared clinically insane, he was still convicted of murder. The judges overruled his plea of insanity stating that “schizophrenia is not a permanent mental disorder.” However, the execution was reprieved after an immense public backlash, but it is still saddening to see that our civil institutions have a fleeting grasp on the understanding of mental disorders. This reinforces the idea that information about mental health should be given in civil training institutions, as well as in schools so that children can grow up to be accepting of these disorders.