The Stigma of Mental Illness Psychosis

May 7, 2015 Andrea Paquette

The stigma of mental illness psychosis remains a serious concern for our society because the stereotypes and thoughts around this topic work to silence and stigmatize the people who have these experiences. Mental illness psychosis is highly stigmatized and it is up to all people to learn the facts about it to break down the inaccurate perceptions, especially so that those having been psychotic, may feel comfortable sharing their personal experience.

Thoughts and Assumptions About Mental Illness Psychosis

I have asked the question time and time again, “What do you think of when I tell you that I have been psychotic?” I perform numerous mental health presentations in classrooms to students, and they respond by admitting that they picture immediate thoughts of someone going absolutely crazy, picture images of multiple heads that invokes the idea of split personalities, and often point to an association of violence and fear. I then ask them, “Am I really that scary?” Then a resounding no fills the room and we are left to discuss the true facts about mental illness psychosis, which works to break down the apparent stigma.

I challenge you to type the word "psychosis" into Google and tell me what you observe.

You may gaze upon images of demonic and dark scary faces looking fearful or threatening. Or, the common double or quadruple head of a person, even with skulls, and perhaps a zombie or two. People with mental illness do experience psychosis, but they are not necessarily violent, scary or dangerous. The general population does not understand psychosis, nor do they have the accurate facts about this experience.

Facts About Mental Illness Psychosis Defeats Stigma

  1. The media sensationalizes mental illness psychosis and does not reflect the true nature of the illness. It is not always disturbing and the media insinuates that psychosis always drives people to madness and murder.
  2. People with mental illness psychosis can, and often, become stable again, sometimes in a timely manner, and it is usually done through the administration of antipsychotics. People can still lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, even after having had a psychotic break.
  3. The stigma of mental illness psychosis remains a serious concern and stigma against mental illness psychosis highly stigmatizes the many experiencing psychosis.A number of studies indicate that most patients with stable mental illness do not present an increased risk of violence. Mental illness may increase the likelihood of committing violence in some individuals, but only a small part of the violence in society can be ascribed to mental health patients.
  4. People with ongoing bouts of psychosis are often able to function in their daily lives and learn coping strategies to manage the condition, while after some time, they are often able to recognize the early onset of symptoms and get help when they need it.
  5. Psychosis actually makes people more susceptible to having a crime committed against them, than actually committing one themselves. People in psychosis have a lack of sound judgement and people may be lured into risky and dangerous situations without even knowing what is truly happening.

I do not have all the answers about this controversial topic, but I do know that people experiencing psychosis do have an actual break with reality, and they are not able to know the difference from reality and fantasy. While in psychosis, I, personally, did not know that my sense of self was not grounded in the real world and I certainly did not know that I was sick. I had no agency because all of my five senses were still experiencing the world, and I was assured that my senses were telling me the truth.

In psychosis, do you believe that people know the difference between what is real, and what is presented to them in a deep, psychotic episode?

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APA Reference
Paquette, A. (2015, May 7). The Stigma of Mental Illness Psychosis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Andrea Paquette

May, 30 2015 at 9:15 pm

In the midst of the psychosis I went through no one could ever convince me that what I was experiencing wasn't real. I had no idea that I wasn't in reality. It was as real as real gets & was a terrifying time in my life. I had a complete break from reality & am thankful I don't remember all of it.

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