Is it Time to Give Schizophrenia a New Name?

By Lou Portero - Last Updated: April 13, 2023

Given the history and impact of the term “schizophrenia” on Black people diagnosed with the disorder, there is a need to consider a name change for the disorder, according to an article published on

The term “schizophrenia” was coined in the early 20th century and has since been associated with negative stereotypes and stigma. The term describes various symptoms and behaviors, including hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. However, the author notes that this term has also been used to pathologize and marginalize people who experience these symptoms.

Black people are disproportionately affected by a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Data analysis from 52 different studies revealed that Black people are 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than White people; this has been a consistent finding for the past thirty years. The author notes that this disparity may be due to various factors, including systemic racism, discrimination, and lack of access to quality mental health care. Also, the diagnosis of schizophrenia may be particularly stigmatizing for Black individuals, as it can reinforce negative stereotypes and contribute to a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

A name change for schizophrenia may be one way to address this impact. The author notes that there have been previous efforts to change the disorder’s name, including proposals to use terms such as “psychosis spectrum disorder” or “neurocognitive disorder.” A new name could help to reduce stigma, promote understanding, and encourage more people to seek treatment.

There are potential challenges to implementing a name change for schizophrenia. The term is widely used in research, clinical practice, and public discourse, and changing the name could require significant changes to terminology, diagnostic criteria, and treatment guidelines. However, the author argues that these challenges should not prevent efforts to consider a name change and that it is important to prioritize the needs and experiences of those who are most affected by the disorder. Overall, this article highlights the impact of the term “schizophrenia” on Black individuals and the importance of considering a name change for the disorder.

While there are potential challenges to implementing a name change, prioritizing the needs and experiences of those most affected by Schizophrenia is important.



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