Update: Inquiry into the 'schizophrenia' label

Preliminary findings show that over 80 per cent of those who gave evidence believe the 'schizophrenia' diagnosis is damaging and dangerous.

The independent Inquiry into the ‘Schizophrenia’ Label (ISL) was launched to investigate the usefulness of ‘schizophrenia’ as a diagnosis and medical condition, and the impact this diagnosis has on people’s lives. Since the launch, the Inquiry received evidence from around 500 people in the form of responses to an online survey, testimony submissions via the Inquiry website, comments on Facebook, a focus group in Manchester, and other submissions in the form of articles, personal narratives and memoirs.

The coordinating group and the independent panel are currently collating and examining the evidence. Preliminary results from our survey show that:

  • The majority of respondents feel that a diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ is damaging: Over 80% of the respondents said that the diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ makes life more difficult for people diagnosed;  88% think that ‘schizophrenia’ is associated in the minds of the public with violence against others despite evidence to the contrary.
  • 50% thought that they would be treated more harshly by the criminal justice system.
  • 60% of respondents believe that ‘race’ and ethnicity affect the diagnosis of schizophrenia, for a range of reasons including impact of social class, racism and cultural assumptions.
  • Well over half (57%) of the respondents do not see ‘schizophrenia’ as a medical illness and do not think that there is enough scientific evidence to underpin the diagnosis.
  • 49% think that medication should be given only if a service user requests this.
  • 46% think that the diagnosis of schizophrenia should never be used by professionals in case notes or discussion, with the majority of these arguing that people’s own words for their condition or problems should be used.
  • Alternatives to diagnosis include working with people’s narratives as the basis for support and using techniques developed based on this concept such as those promoted by the Hearing Voices movement and the Finnish Open Dialogue project

You can read more about the preliminary results on the Inquiry website.