"Ladies and gentlemen, tonight I want to talk to you about the very serious problem of schizophrenia. — No he doesn't!
— SHUT UP, LET HIM SPEAK!"
In Real Life
, mental illness of any kind is rarely a laughing matter
. In media, however, it can be played with for humor
. When a character swings wildly back and forth between different versions of himself
, it's almost always used this way.
It's also far too often referred to as "schizophrenia"; while the word literally means "split mind", Psychology Marches On
is a complicated condition affecting perception of realitynote
, while "dissociative identity disorder
" is the much rarernote
condition relating to Split Personality
See also Talking to Themself
, The Schizophrenia Conspiracy
(a Self-Demonstrating Article
about the portrayal of the disease) and Insane Equals Violent
, another widespread myth about psychosis.
Anime and Manga
- Ah! My Goddess: Urd is split into her goddess and demon selves. The attempt to reunite them results in a single Urd that switches between their personalities. The change is shown by her markings changing from blue to red.
- In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Kaere/Kaede's split personality as a stereotypical Japanese Yamato Nadeshiko and stereotypical jerkass Eaglelander is played for laughs, as is Kafuka's description of previously having two split personalities who differed in respect to a slight food preference - although the latter is also a sign that Kafuka is actually cute, psychotic and Ax-Crazy.
- More broadly, the whole class is some sort of crazy, and it all is played for laughs.
- Well, everyone except for Nami Hito. She's pretty normal (but don't tell her that).
- A decidedly dark take in Air Gear has Agito/Akito, who swings from Ax-Crazy to "cute kid" depending on which side his eye patch is.
- Me, Myself & Irene had Jim Carrey's character diagnosed with "Advanced Delusionary Schizophrenia with Involuntary Narcissistic Rage", which was really Multiple Personality Disorder that caused him to flip into his Jerk Ass alter-ego anytime he got angry.
- Lars and the Real Girl takes a man who is clearly delusional and incapable of connecting comfortably with other human beings, so he buys a life-size sex doll off the Internet and appears to be convinced that she's alive.
- Nutty Nut has a protagonist with a half-dozen alternate personalities, such as Tough Guy (impervious to pain and will beat you up for looking at him funny), the Clown, the Magician (who can do actual magic) and the Dog (don't... don't ask). They tend to switch with the slightest stimulus, such as someone snapping their fingers.
- The Nutty Professor plays it for laughs (at least the Eddie Murphy version does). In this one it's due to Phlebotinum.
- Felsic Current's Thendy Bravura (also known by himself and others as a dozen other names) is the embodiment of Funny Schizophrenia. We are even treated to a chapter written entirely from his point of view, complete with internal conversations and bickering between his various personalities. Although he tends to drive other characters up the wall, his antics are generally of great comedic appeal to the reader.
- The eponymous protagonist in Geoph Essex's Jackrabbit Messiah has actual schizophrenia (not the "split personality" version), and has frequently humorous conversations with his auditory hallucinations. Sadly, though, his struggles with mental illness are not always so funny.
- Completely averted in Sophie's Choice, where it's revealed near the end that Nathan has schizophrenia, which explains his delusional jealousy and erratic behaviour throughout the novel. There is no mention of having a split personality.
- Averted on Dollhouse, where Sierra/Priya's symptoms are much more realistic. Even though she doesn't really have schizophrenia at all—-her Stalker with a Crush is poisoning her with psychotic medication.
- Played straight with Alpha. He doesn't really have schizophrenia, but two of his personalities do, and it is indeed played for black comedy.
- One episode of Becker has a very realistic schizophrenic man named Lloyd. It even includes unexciting things like flat affect and mundane examples of magical thinking. It's still played of laughs, though.
- This is supposed to be the case with iCarly where the four lead characters go to a mental hospital and witness various patients' behavior. One notable example might be Sheldon Cooper laughing and screaming a TV screen with static.
- There's a nameless "traditional" summer camp song mocking a huge number of occupations that can include the verse:
...A schizophrenic I would be!
No I wouldn't!
Yes, I would!
I'm not listening!
- "Physical Neurose" by Buck Tick. Slightly more Truth in Television, in that the song's lyrics are literally Word Salad Humor fused with Word Salad Horror - much like the thoughts/speech of an actual schizophrenic.
- "The Chosen" by Voltaire has "Roses are red, violets are blue. I'm schizophrenic, and I am too!"
- There's a song on Styx's Kilroy Was Here called "Double Life" with the lyrics "Nowhere to hide though we both might try, I'm schizophrenic, and so am I..."
- Emilie Autumn has a bonus track on the rerelease on Opheliac in which, among other things, she lists the mental illnesses she doesn't have, obviously taking the Michael, including Tourettes Shitcock Syndrome, OCD (OCD, OCD, OCD), amnesia, and schizophrenia: she enjoys the latter, and so does she.
- "Lucky 4 You (Tonight I'm Just Me)" by SHeDAISY plays with multiple personality disorder. It goes from "you always said that I have multiple personalities" to "where'd you dig up the audacity / To ask me how we've all been doing since you broke our heart" in the first verse. It has a chorus of:
Number five just cries a river a minute
Seven wants to tie you up and drown you in it, yeah
Fourteen just wants to say so long, bygones
Thirty-two wants to do things to you that'll make you blush
Ten will key the El Camino that you love so much
And there ain't nobody wants to mess with twenty-three
Oh, lucky for you, tonight I'm just me
- And then just to cross the line twice, "It's not just up to me / I don't know, girls, what do you think?" precedes a repetition of the chorus with the group's vocals overdubbed several times.
- Flanders & Swann's "The Elephant" has these lines: "I suffer from schizophrenia/It comes on me in spells/Sometimes I'm King of Armenia/And others I'm Orson Welles!"
- The aforementioned Robin Williams quote.
- One of Zach Galifinakis' bits include his mentioning that his sister was recently diagnosed as schizophrenic, which isn't funny. However, she once called him... and his caller ID blew up.
- This was one of the laments surrounding the Malkavians in Vampire: The Masquerade. In theory, you have an entire clan of vampires whose weakness is that they pick up some form of madness, from schizophrenia to megalomania to fugue, upon Embrace (that is, if they weren't already insane before), which could be scary seeing as you have an immortal being with supernatural powers, unnatural insight, and little control over their own faculties. In reality, you have a bunch of idiots playing Malkavians who either act like children or use their insanity to commit wacky pranks (hence the term "Fishmalk" — Malkavians who would do something like run up to someone on the street and slap them with a fish, and call it a "prank").
- And to be fair, the game itself suggested this route in the first edition, then, when they decided that True Art Is Angsty, tried to turn it into the more "serious" mental problem area. Most players ignored this, and Malkavians have been a bright spot in the Old World of Darkness ever since.
- Averted in Pathfinder, where various mental illnesses can affect your characters and lead to changes in their personalities; schizophrenia is one of them, and so is multiple personality disorder, but they aren't depicted as the same thing. The in-game descriptions of all these disorders are accurate and it's clear the writers did their research before including them.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, almost all Nightkin have developed Schizophrenia due to constant stealthboy use. For the most point the trope is averted: the Nightkin's illness is portrayed very tragically, especially for the Courier's companions Lily and Dog/God. The two times the trope's played straight is with Tabitha, a cult leader and Radio DJ, and the Brooks Tumbleweed Ranch "Wind Brahmin Salesman."
- There's a parody of the famous "Roses are red, violets are blue" poem that goes "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm a schizophrenic, and so am I."
- A common saying found on FunnyT-Shirts is "I used to be schizophrenic, but we're okay now."