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Stigmas Against Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Isn’t a Show

This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.

BACKGROUND:

I was inspired by Randi Davenport’s Book, The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes, a memoir about her son who suffers from schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder. I realized that so few people actually know about schizophrenia, and therefore, don’t know how to discuss it respectfully. I hope to foster respectful conversation about schizophrenia and other abnormal disorders with my catalyst project.


I decided to use my experience in the performing arts to write a couple short sketches about schizophrenia and some symptoms an outsider might observe. See the video below for some examples of what one might see in a schizophrenic patient.

Currently, the most common form of treatment for schizophrenia are anti-psychotics, a category of drug that inhibits dopamine. A psychiatrist may combine many different types of anti-psychotics in order to achieve the most effective treatment with the smallest dose of medication. Many patients are reluctant to take medication because of the serious side effects that can accompany ingestion of anti-psychotics. When a psychiatrist notices a positive change in behavior, they may send the patient to psychotherapy, social skills training, family therapy, or vocational therapy and supported employment, which involves preparing the patient to return to work long-term.


THE CHALLENGE:

The main challenge I am trying to attack is stigmas against mental health caused by fear of the unknown, thinking especially of schizophrenia. After reading Davenport’s novel, I realized that a lot of Davenport’s peers who expressed worry and frustration with her son had no idea how to label her son’s disorders, and as a result, their fear of the unknown only sparked these negative emotions.As Dr. Peter Silen said, the stigma is rooted “in labeling these disorders as abnormal…There is a great breadth in behavior that can serve people in their lives…We shouldn’t limit life with a label.” My own sessions in therapy have helped me recognize my own battles with my fear of the unknown, but once I recognized it, I was able to make personal goals to diminish that fear. I believe by drawing the public’s attention to this issue, I can inspire my audiences to do the same. I want my audiences to leave in state of self-reflection as they ponder how they can improve their attitudes surrounding mental illness, especially a disorder such as schizophrenia. So few people know about this disorder that develops in teens all across the globe. As an adolescent myself, I think my work will draw my audiences’ attention to the importance of education oneself about “abnormal” disorders such as schizophrenia. Perhaps once the general public knows more, they will fear less.
(The interview with Dr. Silen is linked under “Sources Cited”)


THE SOLUTION:

In short, I hope to use my experience in the performing arts to write some scripts educating my audiences about how to respectfully discuss schizophrenia and other abnormal disorders. Watching performances can be a great way to learn what to say to people who have abnormal disorders. I’m not an expert, but I think this is a good stepping stone to educate the people around me. I won’t be able to perform them at my high school, but I plan to bring them to college.

 

Here is the link to the scripts!: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y86OPtluiZx1WmejmkLlOcrm68DYAcGzJ-OEcdEevso/edit?usp=sharing


WHAT’S NEXT?

I’d appreciate any and all constructive criticism. Please be mindful that this is a very sensitive topic in itself, so try to be respectful towards the writer and all sufferers of abnormal disorders such as schizophrenia. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll see if I can include answers in the script.

I am going to involve my peers and film a table read, as well as present the scripts to my drama teacher and future internship boss at the Mental Health Association of San Francisco. I also plan to bring these works to college for future editing and performance.


SOURCES CITED:Interview w/ Peter Silen

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