When it comes to medicine, we’re extremely bad at ignoring the mentally ill. We focus on what we understand or can visualise. We can understand a man with brittle bones being confined in a wheelchair, because we can picture the bones and we can see the chair. We understand bronchitis because we can imagine infection in the lungs. We understand… You get the picture.
But we can’t understand mental illness because we can’t see it. A mentally ill brain looks exactly like a regular brain and that’s what scares us about the mentally disabled. So we try to forget them, ignore them, or even lock them up out of sight if we can.
This video is a kick in the face to our misconceptions, forcing us to imagine just for a few minutes what life is like for a schizophrenia sufferer. While schizophrenia usually turns up in young adults with a family history of mental health problems, it can strike any person at any time. Extreme stress is a possible trigger, with a UK man named Sean Hodgson famously developing schizophrenia after he was wrongly jailed for raping and murdering a woman. Hodgson spent 27 years in prison before DNA proved his innocence.
Schizophrenia is a breakdown of normal thought. A schizophrenia sufferer typically hears voices, which sound not as if they are in their head, but as if they are standing nearby. A paranoid belief the world is out to get the sufferer is also common, as is seeing things that aren’t there, such as the TV talking to you. All of these are simulated in the video.
Thinking is also usually interrupted or disorganised, and in extreme cases even speech can be completely broken up to the point of being utterly impossible to understand. Untreated schizophrenia is a living hell.
Thankfully schizophrenia can be treated with various drugs, but these are too expensive for regular people where healthcare is not free, or countries with poor economies. For the rest of the sufferers, provided you take your medicine you should be okay. As this video shows, though, one missed dose can spell a whole whack of trouble.
Anybody who claims not to know anybody with mental illness is talking shit. We all do. Mental health problems are very common. People hide illnesses away because we shun them, and we shun them because we do not understand them. Watch this simulation of schizophrenia and remember it next time you hear about the mentally ill.