An anecdote on Schizophrenia from Ajahn Brahm, a Buddhist monk

I told the above story at a conference on mental health a few years ago. One of the department heads at a prestigious mental health facility was very impressed. He invited me to “bless” his building.

“What form of mental illness are you involved in?” I asked.

“Schizophrenia,” he replied.

“And how do you treat the schizophrenia?” I enquired.

“Just like you explained in your presentation,” he responded. “I don’t treat the schizophrenia. I treat the other parts of the patients.”

I raised my hands up in the Buddhist gesture of respect to him. He had understood.

“What are the results?” I asked, even though I knew what the answer would be.

“Brilliant! Much better than any other treatment,” he answered.

When you call people schizophrenic, they are likely to live up to your label. You have stigmatized them. When you regard them as people who suffer episodes of schizophrenia, that they are more than their illness, then you give the healthy part a chance to grow.

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