Student Voices: Seeing schizophrenia from the patient's viewpoint
Laura French RN

October 2011 
Volume 41  Number 10
Pages 18 - 19
  PDF Version Available!

MANY PATIENTS with mental illness, especially schizophrenia, are marginalized. I've seen patients with schizophrenia treated with anger, fear, disrespect, dehumanization, and annoyance. I believe this marginalization is mostly due to people's fear and lack of knowledge, and to patients' unpredictable behavior. When people don't know what a person with schizophrenia is going through during a hallucination, some become afraid and judge or label the patient. This results in dehumanization, transforming the patient from a person to a disease.During a clinical rotation in mental health while in nursing school, I met a patient with schizophrenia I'll call "Timmy." The following account of our interactions was written from his viewpoint.As I follow the nurse down the hall, I hear a whisper in my ear, "You suck!! Jump out the window and kill yourself. Do it now. You know that you want to." A chill runs down my spine as I try to block out the raspy words. I can handle the full-scale voices, but I hate the "Whisperer.""Nurse, why are spiders all over the walls?" I ask."They aren't," she replies, obviously annoyed. I contemplate the tiny creatures climbing all four walls around me and wonder who's wrong, the nurse or me.Arriving at the psychiatrist's office, the nurse opens the door and rolls her eyes. "He'll be here soon." She flips through her papers as she speaks, mentally somewhere else. Slam. I'm left alone. But I'm not really alone thanks to the spiders climbing up my arms, into my mouth, into my nose, and over my eyes. They taste like peanut butter and jelly.A man in a brown suit and tie enters the room. His voice sounds like a lethargic train: "According to your symptoms...start you on a higher treating schizophrenia, we usually...." I decipher only scraps of what he's droning on about because of a second conversation bouncing around in my head like an oversized beach ball."Everyone, please come to the group room for community meeting." A voice from the overhead

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