Experts are beginning to think that the term “schizophrenia” is becoming outdated. Many are agreeing that the term schizophrenia tends to bring up negative images with significant stigma, suggesting discrimination, labeling, isolation and social rejection. Discussions have started to emerge about whether or not to change the term “schizophrenia” to something that is less stigmatizing. The most accepted new term, as of now, is salience syndrome. Many experts agree that salience would most accurately convey the actual experience of individuals with schizophrenia because it describes the internal process of reacting to and processing stimuli. Patients have yet to weigh in on this decision. Constantin Tranulis, M.D., Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal assessed their opinions.
Researchers asked 161 college students and 19 patients who were in the early stages of psychosis about the acceptability, validity, and impact of both diagnostic terms: schizophrenia and salience syndrome. The findings showed that no matter which name was assigned, the college students already had preconceived beliefs about the stigmatizing characteristics of the illness, including social rejection and discrimination. However, for patients who actually had the disorder, almost unanimously chose the term salience syndrome over schizophrenia. Their reason for their choice was that the change in name could help to protect them from experiencing the stigma associated with the term schizophrenia. They are concerned though that people will eventually know that salience syndrome and schizophrenia were the same disorder, and overtime, they will be subjected to the same negative stigmas. Tranulis added, “future studies with larger samples are warranted in order to clarify the role of labels on self-stigmatizing attitudes.”