Why All Writers are Secretly (or not so much) Schizophrenics

They’re trying to hide it, with varying levels of success, but, as you suspected, writers are all, in fact, closet schizophrenics.

Let’s look at the definition of schizophrenia, from that renowned, infallible bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia:

A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations (most reported are hearing voices), delusions (often bizarre or persecutory in nature), and disorganized thinking and speech. The latter may range from loss of train of thought, to sentences only loosely connected in meaning, to incoherence known as word salad in severe cases. Social withdrawal, sloppiness of dress and hygiene, and loss of motivation and judgment are all common in schizophrenia.[6] There is often an observable pattern of emotional difficulty, for example lack of responsiveness.[7] Impairment in social cognition is associated with schizophrenia,[8] as are symptoms of paranoia; social isolation commonly occurs.[9]

Now we’ll take these one at a time:

A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations (most reported are hearing voices)

Ask any (honest) author. They hear them. The author will write down what the voices are saying to give them some legitimacy, but regardless of the more respectable labels they might try to apply, hearing voices is a classic sign of mental disorder.

delusions (often bizarre or persecutory in nature)

Of grandeur. Of what is and isn’t possible. Of what really happened. Yep. Delusions. Of “I” and “me” being persecuted, and persecuting in such delicious, horrible ways… (this touches on psychopathic behavior, but that’s another day’s lesson.)

disorganized thinking and speech. The latter may range from loss of train of thought, to sentences only loosely connected in meaning, to incoherence known as word salad in severe cases.

If you’ve ever read a writer’s first draft, you know all about this.

Social withdrawal, sloppiness of dress and hygiene, and loss of motivation and judgment are all common in schizophrenia

We’re talking no shower and rationed pee breaks for days on end when facing a deadline or caught up in an epiphany. Friends, loved ones, spouses and children all cease to exist. There will be no clean dishes in the house.

There is often an observable pattern of emotional difficulty, for example lack of responsiveness.[7] Impairment in social cognition is associated with schizophrenia,[8] as are symptoms of paranoia; social isolation commonly occurs.

This is most commonly observed in the writer going through the querying stage of novel writing, or who is submitting short stories to magazines and contests. The unpredictable mood swings and agitated impatience are classic indicators of this phase.

To start healing you have to admit you have a problem. I’m standing up today to say “I’m Leah, and I’m a writer. And I know that I’m abso-fricking-lutely nuts.

Let the healing begin.

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29 Responses to Why All Writers are Secretly (or not so much) Schizophrenics

  1. Islinda says:

    Hi, I’m Islinda, and I’m a writer. And I think I have 16 lost hamsters (and possibly one missing friend) buried under the giant pile of garbage that is my room.
    Islinda recently posted..darkonfire- @eyemah There is an NUS outdoor concert now- and this girl is mauling all Adele songs Bet youd love to meet herand punch her in the headMy Profile

  2. Rik Davnall says:

    Shh! Don’t admit it! *They* will hear you!
    Rik Davnall recently posted..Multi-sample Sunday Test and Beta readers requested!My Profile

  3. Tessa says:

    HEHEHE…. Yep, definately true. I hear voices ALL THE TIME. *grins*
    Tessa recently posted..10 Things about Plot BunniesMy Profile

  4. I’ve been whispering in AmyBeth’s ear that she should write about my husbands giving me footrubs every night, but so far she’s not cooperating, and neither are they.
    Charity Kochsato recently posted..RomanceKillsMy Profile

  5. Please don’t take them one at a time – I know they’re coming to take me away he he….

  6. We’re in good company, psychos.
    Leah Petersen recently posted..Your StupidMy Profile

  7. First step is admitting you have a problem

    The second step is acceptance.

  8. Violeta says:

    Ahhh, you are so right! There’s different types of schitzophrenia of course, but I won’t tarnish your pretty post with details. 😛 Thanks for that. Also, why not liken writers to multiple personality types. I know I have too many people trying to take charge in my own head, lol.
    Violeta recently posted..How does pain relate to humorMy Profile

  9. Vusi Sindane says:

    Hi, I’m Vusi and I’m a writer.

  10. I embrace my inner madman! 🙂

  11. This is a good point, V.

  12. Julie Glover says:

    This must be why I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says, “I don’t suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it!” Loved the post!

  13. Jennifer Hord says:

    I really love this post!!! Look at all the really awesome writers in history. Weren’t most of them just at least slightly mental?

  14. Monica says:

    OMG, that cappuccino was so scary!
    And this post was so true! LOL

  15. I know, I love the picture.
    Leah Petersen recently posted..Your StupidMy Profile

  16. RB Wood says:

    Hi. I’m Richard. And I’m a writer. I…what was that? Really? A knife? Oh…okay.

  17. Kel says:

    “I hear voices in my head, they council me, they understand, they talk to me…” Randy Ortan’s entrance music in the WWE. It should also be the theme song of writers everywhere. 🙂

  18. alberta ross says:

    doesn’t everyone hear voices? some of the best and deepest conversations have been with them – problem not I have no problem – just fine as I am – just fine and dandy!!

  19. JM Kelley says:

    I love this! So true. In addition to the schizophrenia, I have a co-worker who is always asking me what’s wrong. Since, half the time I’m working, I’m also thinking about what to do when I get my hands on my laptop, my concentration must be projecting itself as great inner turmoil. How many times can you say, “Nothing’s wrong. I’m just writing in my head.” ?

  20. ‎”Being an autor is a means of making your schizophrenia acceptable for society” -Fydor Dostoevsky –

  21. Sahar says:

    Great. The secret I have been trying to keep for so long is out. Thanks, Leah 😉
    Sahar recently posted..Noticing the Glimmering of the Lesser PeaceMy Profile

  22. Andrew says:

    I think schizophrenia is a band aid often used to define natural abilities we have yet to understand. I do not hear voices etc. I do find I have few to relate to and the ones I would likely relate to the most are the Hindus, Buddhist, Tao, etc. Explorers of chairs, – the minds eye, auras etc. Normal, natural stuff long blocked by the ignorances of mankind.

  23. Andrew says:

    correction: Chairs should be Chakra.
    I hate these Android self spellers. Always typos.

  24. Becca says:

    GREAT post! So funny, and so so so true!

  25. Kristy Shields says:

    A knife? Always typos.
    Kristy Shields recently posted..Cancer Tattoos TumblrMy Profile

  26. Sara says:

    I’m not sure if this is meant to be serious or not, but I take talks of schizophrenia quite seriously. I’ve been diagnosed and been on and off of medication for years now. I’m not sure why people believe we tend to dress sloppy, and become anti social with our loved ones. Its not true at all! I dress very well, from what I see and what I have been told, and I spend as much time as I possibly can with my loved ones.
    But I will admit, we are probably the best when it comes to writing great novels and such.

  27. Jared says:

    This is amusing, ha. It’s funny because not only am I interested in schizophrenia (found this searching about the illness) but I’m also preparing my first big epic, which is a fantasy/sci-fi amalgamation. Now I’ve got to explore the rest of your site 🙂 Funny stuff, thanks for the share.
    Jared recently posted..Paranoid SchizophreniaMy Profile

  28. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Good luck!

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