Families and Friends
A Message for Caregivers
A Message for Teens
Arm Yourself with the Facts
Consequences of Stigma
Myths About Schizophrenia
What Causes Schizophrenia?
How the Brain Operates
The Course and Outcome
Stepping Stones to Recovery
The Stereotype of Violence
Schizophrenia at School,
Work, and in Relationships
Links to Other Resources
Myth / Schizophrenia is caused by evil spirits
Fact / There is a multitude of misconceptions
about the cause of schizophrenia:
- Schizophrenia is not caused by a "curse or an evil eye."
- Schizophrenia is not Gods punishment for family sins.
- Schizophrenia is not caused by a lack of faith in God.
- Schizophrenia is not a form of demonic possession.
- Schizophrenia is not a result of frustrated love.
- Schizophrenia is not caused by reading too many books.
The genetic hypothesis / Relatives of people
with schizophrenia have a greater risk of developing the illness than
others. This risk is progressively greater in relatives who are more genetically
similar to the person with schizophrenia. Below is a chart showing the
increasing probability that someone will develop schizophrenia.
Genetic factors appear to be important in
the development of schizophrenia, but they are not sufficient to explain
the entire pattern of occurrence. If an illness is entirely caused by
genetic factors then identical twins share the same risk of the illness.
That is, if one identical twin has the illness, the other should too.
(In fact, in most studies of identical twins in which one twin has schizophrenia
it is rare to find more than half of the other members of the pairs also
More than one hypothesis / That means that
schizophrenia is not a simple, inherited disease, but rather what is called
a complex genetic disease, which may have a variety of "triggers".
Researchers believe that a predisposition
to develop schizophrenia is inherited, but an environmental "trigger"
must also be present to bring on the disease. Possible triggers are:
- Complications during the mothers pregnancy or labour;
- Prenatal exposure to virus, specifically during the fifth month of
the mothers pregnancy, when most brain development occurs;
- It is thought that complications during pregnancy and delivery increase
the risk, probably because of damage to the developing brain;
- Studies have shown that a pregnant woman contracting a viral illness
may have a child with a greater risk of developing schizophrenia. (However,
maternal viral infections probably account for only a small fraction
of the increased risk of schizophrenia.) Additional environmental factors
that can complicate illness include stress, particularly the stress