Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric condition that causes people to lose their sense of reality – usually through hallucinations, delusions, and distorted thinking. ¹ With that said, the question arises, do people with schizophrenia know they have it?
Simply put, most people with schizophrenia aren’t aware they have it until a doctor or counselor informs them. Furthermore, even after a medical professional’s input, many people with schizophrenia will deny their illness.
Throughout this article, we’re going to explore why people with schizophrenia reject their condition. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
Schizophrenia Symptoms: Onset & Diagnosis
The age of onset for schizophrenia varies from person to person. However, most people will begin to experience symptoms soon after puberty.
Still, there are differences between genders. For example, men usually show symptoms in their late teens to early 20s. Whereas women are more likely to be diagnosed in their late 20s to early 30s. ²
It’s extremely rare for someone to be diagnosed before the age of 12 or after 40. For this reason, if someone does have schizophrenia, signs and symptoms will be apparent within their mid-20s.
Furthermore, those who do have schizophrenia will have to treat it for the rest of their life. Schizophrenia is not curable nor a temporary condition.
While symptoms vary depending on the severity of one’s condition, the most common symptoms of schizophrenia are:
- Movement disorder
- Thought disorder
The combination of these symptoms will lead to a number of day-to-day problems. For example, people with schizophrenia may have low energy or trouble anticipating activities. Most importantly, people with schizophrenia are at risk of suicidal ideation. ³
Do People with Schizophrenia Know They Have It?
Since schizophrenia produces a distorted reality, it’s unlikely someone with the condition knows they have it. Even more so, delusions are one of the most catastrophic symptoms that blur the line between reality and fantasy.
A delusion is defined by an obsession with an idea and having absolute certainty that the idea is right. In turn, a person’s thought process becomes distorted. More specifically, their ability to logically reason in any given situation. ⁴
Beyond being dangerous to the person with schizophrenia, delusions can also be a threat to those around them. Sometimes a delusion is powerful enough to influence other people. For example, a person with schizophrenia may have delusions about his best friend’s wife cheating on him and, in turn, convince the best friend of this faulty reality.
However, sometimes delusions can be much more obvious. For example, a person who experiences delusions may be convinced they’re famous or being controlled by higher powers.
Alongside delusions, a person with schizophrenia may also experience hallucinations. This is when you see or hear something that’s not really there. ⁵
Since delusions and hallucinations can feel very real, most people with schizophrenia believe their symptoms are a part of reality. Therefore, they do NOT know they have schizophrenia.
What are Weird Things Schizophrenics Do?
People with schizophrenia often show signs of disorganized behavior. These signs can be subtle, such as smiling and laughing for no reason or talking to oneself. However, they can also be much more apparent to others. ⁶
For example, a person with more apparent behaviors may dress oddly or partake in inappropriate sexual behaviors (such as public masturbation).
What Do Schizophrenics Do All Day?
The day-to-day functions of someone struggling with schizophrenia vary. Some people may sit for hours without moving or talking. Others may hear voices in their heads telling them to participate in abnormal behaviors.
While symptoms can be obvious to someone who doesn’t have schizophrenia, they aren’t to someone with the condition.
Do Schizophrenics Remember Their Episodes?
Since people with schizophrenia aren’t aware of their condition, it’s unlikely they’ll remember an episode of abnormal behavior. Or, at least, they won’t recall the episode as abnormal.
According to one body of research, people with schizophrenia have impaired monitoring and memory when it comes to emotional experiences. ⁷ Therefore, they’re unlike to remember material from an experience and its relationship to emotions.
In turn, it’s possible they develop false memories over these relationships. However, this effect has not been thoroughly researched and remains inconclusive.
The bottom line is people with schizophrenia don’t know they’re struggling with it. For this reason, external intervention is necessary to get a person the treatment they need.
The earlier schizophrenia is treated, the better chance a person has at overcoming the condition. As mentioned, schizophrenia is incurable. However, the early treatment ensures the best possible chance of someone being able to manage symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you have schizophrenia and be aware of it?
While some people may be aware of their schizophrenia, it’s extremely unlikely until a medical professional steps in and offers a diagnosis.
How would a person with schizophrenia feel?
People with schizophrenia tend to reveal drastic and abnormal behavioral changes. In turn, they may feel upset, angry, confused, anxious, and suspicious about their surroundings.
Can a schizophrenic love someone?
Yes! People with schizophrenia will reveal qualities of love seen among all human beings. However, due to symptoms, they may have trouble properly showing their affection.
Can a person with schizophrenia act normal?
With the right treatment, a person with schizophrenia can regain normal functioning and go on to live a fulfilling lifestyle.
Still have questions concerning whether or not people with schizophrenia know they have it?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Schizophrenia
² Schizophrenia Bulletin: Age of Onset of Schizophrenia: Perspectives From Structural Neuroimaging Studies
³ Journal of Psychopharmacology: Suicide and schizophrenia
⁴ Industrial Psychiatry Journal: Understanding delusions
⁵ MedlinePlus: Hallucinations
⁶ HHS Public Access: Disorganization and Reality Distortion in Schizophrenia
⁷ frontiers in Psychiatry: False Memories for Affective Information in Schizophrenia