The presentations that I’m involved in throw up some misconceptions that are bandied about by the media and the general public buy into these. I’ll deal with some of these here:-
1. People with OCD are obsessed with cleanliness and tidiness
Not the case. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) has an element of cleanliness and tidiness in it, and anyone that has OCD like to keep things neat and tidy. But OCD can manifest itself by for example, when leaving the house, going back to check whether you’ve turned all the electricity and gas off, and doing that a few times.
Also OCD can manifest itself by an order based regime. Say you have a mantelpiece indoors with several objects on it. You know which order they’re in. But if someone moves an object, you have to put it back in exactly the right place. OCD is a thought process that keeps on repeating until you short circuit the loop, by moving that object into that right place.
Another form of OCD is washing of hands repeatedly after touching a door handle or surface. The person thinks they will pick up germs and this process again, will only end when the hands are washed (the short circuit of the loop).
That’s what OCD is basically about. As I said, cleanliness and tidiness is an element of it, but doesn’t define it totally.
2. Schizophrenia is a case of split personality
I used to think that. But it’s not the case. Schizophrenia affects people in a way where they are divorced from reality, living in their own world. For example, some people may think they are a historical figure, like a celebrity or a member of royalty.
3. People who are schizophrenic are violent and dangerous
Not so. This is a misconception carried by the media that focuses on schizophrenics as dangerous mass murderers. Definitely not the case. Most people with schizophrenia are law abiding and tolerant members of society. Schizophrenia can lead to psychosis, which can manifest in believing voices in your own head or believing that inanimate objects like walls or door handles are talking to you. Sounds amusing on the surface, but sufferers of this will not see the joke. There are scores of hearing voices groups in the UK.
4. People with autism are stupid.
Certainly not. Autism doesn’t mean a person can’t read, write, add up, be articulate and string a sentence together. People with Autism live very fulfilling lives and people in politics, sport, industry, and other walks of life are autistic. Having Autism is a strength, not a weakness. So when people mention that Autism means that someone is stupid, just gently put them right.