Would it surprise you to learn that most schizophrenics are in fact not paranoid, and that paranoid schizophrenia is in fact only one of 6 types of the disorder? note Yet all media always portray schizophrenics as being ridiculously paranoid. Why is this?
It's because Hollywood is attempting to cover up the other types of schizophrenia and propagandize the paranoid type to make everyone assume that paranoia is schizophrenia, causing people to dismiss all conspiracies as schizophrenic delusions so that everyone will dismiss cries that The Secret Cabal of the Brotherhood of the Cold Sun is taking over America with its black helicopters and its air-conditioners. Or else, Hollywood wants you to think that schizophrenics are founts of wisdom when it comes to conspiracy theories and must never be blown off simply because they're insane, even if what they think the Secret Cabal of the Brotherhood of the Cold Sun is doing would break the laws of physics, in order to distract you from their real activities. It depends on the studio and film-maker.
In medical jargon, schizophrenia is a general term for a group of disorders that are all characterized by disorganized thought, general difficulty in thinking, delusions, hallucinations, and jerky or "odd" movement. This is combined with a lack of desire and motivation, and other "negative symptoms" such as the loss of typical abilities like speech or empathy. Of course, this is just what the doctors want you to think.
Schizophrenia is Greek for "splitting of the mind." It should not be confused with Split Personality, but it often is in fictional works. Paranoid schizophrenia is the most obvious and dangerous of the 6 types with the most overt symptoms, but isn't as common as you'd think based on media depictions. (Yes, only one of the schizophrenic's personas knows the truth about the Secret Cabal of the Brotherhood of the Cold Sun.)
It's called schizophrenia because some abilities are impaired, but not all. The Brotherhood of the Cold Sun doesn't want people to know the other symptoms of schizophrenia so we will all be docile after the sun has been blocked. Also, a diagnosis of schizophrenia requires that the disturbed functioning persist for at least six months; in real life, it is impossible for a doctor to take one look at someone and instantly diagnose them as schizophrenic. In fiction, however, it happens all the time.
The Brotherhood of the Cold Sun has not infiltrated all the dramas and medical shows, and such shows are often more accurate; but most will show schizophrenics in recovery with horrible medications that are depicted as being worse than the illness. Anti-psychotic medication is heavy-duty stuff, but things have improved since Thorazine. Today there are newer, gentler medications and ways to work around side effects — even if it does mean you can end up taking more pills for side-effects than for the schizophrenia! The Brotherhood of the Cold Sun is happy to help...
Not every Conspiracy Theorist is schizophrenic, and not everyone suffering from schizophrenia is necessarily a Conspiracy Theorist. The Brotherhood of the Cold Sun just wants you to think that. Fear the night!
- In 12 Monkeys, Brad Pitt plays a paranoid schizophrenic, while Bruce Willis plays a man sent back in time to save the Future from a viral plague but everyone assumes he's a paranoid schizophrenic because he claims he was sent back in time to save the Future from a viral plague. Additionally, most of the other patients at the hospital Bruce Willis's character was at were quite paranoid or delusional.
My doctor heard from the producer of the movie that Brad wanted to research the role and was looking for people to interview...I said yes. [A]t that time I was still mentally unstable... Brad walked into the room with a stack of 3×5 cards. He said he had some movie lines on the cards and wanted to know how we would act out the situation on the card. I remember show[ing] him how I would act... Watching the movie it turned out to be a classic scene. Brad giving the tour in the psych ward was fairly close to me at this time.
- To develop his character, Pitt observed real-life real-time interactions of people who (at that time) had been treated for mental illness. From a first-person account (no longer present at this link, except from Google's cache) of a man with bipolar disorder:
- Clean, Shaven: Peter is a paranoid schizophrenic who is off his meds and suffering severely. He believes the people at the mental institution put a transmitter in his fingernail and a receiver in his scalp. This is what he blames for the voices he hears. So he digs a hole in his head and slices his fingernail off.
- Used in the movie Conspiracy Theory. As it turns out, everything the seemingly paranoid schizophrenic says is true.
- Donnie Darko is a diagnosed schizophrenic, which makes it even harder than might otherwise be the case to determine how much of the plot is real.
- "Chief" Bromden, the narrator of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. One of the main themes of the novel is the patients' struggle against the "Combine", a vast force trying to control all of society through forced conformity. Not that this was Kesey's commentary on The '50s in any way...
- Inside Out (not to be confused with the other book of the same name) by Terry Trueman is narrated by a fellow who went into a schizophrenic state and, essentially, never came out. Voices often interrupt the narration to taunt him, and there's rhyming nonsense in the margins of the pages. ("Squish-wish, squish-wish, don't you wish you could squish a wish?") It should be noted that Trueman is a psychologist, so this is presumably an accurate depiction of some form of the illness.
- The novel Dec treats Francis E. Dec's less racist ramblings this way.
- Larry Niven plays with this in his Known Space works. Earth's government, The ARM, secretly cultivates paranoid schizophrenics as a sort of defense branch for a world where the majority of the populace has been manipulated into pacifism. It turns out to have come in handy to have a bunch of Properly Paranoid crazies on staff when the Kzinti show up.
- Star Trek: Voyager had an episode ("The Voyager Conspiracy") where Seven of Nine goes temporarily crazy from information overload and links most of the major events of the series up to that point into a massive Federation conspiracy to capture her, a Borg Drone. This is easily dismissed until you realize that, even though her conclusion about it being all about her was flawed and delusional, several of her premises were, in fact, quite grounded and made for some tantalizingly uncomfortable questions that were completely swept under the rug by the show. One can't help but wonder if there really WAS a conspiracy going on there: specifically, why was a glorified scout ship on a reconnaissance mission armed with several banned WMDs?
- And where the hell did the tractor beam come from?
- An interesting side note is that some neurobiologists think that some forms of schizophrenia may actually be caused by a malfunction in the part of the brain responsible for filtering information for significance and this could potentially cause the afflicted to try and process ALL information equally, looking for patterns and correlations, similar to what Seven experienced. In fact, some scientists even tested this theory with a computer and got pretty convincing results.
- CSI: NY even has a doctor get it wrong. A schizophrenic goes off his meds, and without knowing anything about his medical history, she says that after a few days he'd "start seeing the world as a very hostile place." Of course, she's a medical examiner, not a psychiatrist, but still...well, it's CSI.
- The Stargate SG-1 episode "Shadow Play" returned to the home nation of Jonas Quinn, Kelowna on the planet Langara. Diplomatic relations between Kelowna and the SGC are rocky, and SG-1 makes contact with a scientist who claims to be a part of the local resistance planing to overthrow the government. The SGC is interested, especially since the resistance is offering an enticement of a large amount of naquadriah as an incentive, but they ultimately discover that there is no resistance at all. Due to exposure to naquadriah he has developed advanced delusional schizophrenia and hallucinated the entire conspiracy.
- Diana Reid, the mother of Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds, has been a paranoid schizophrenic most of her son's life. She's a brilliant academic, but also believes the government is after her, accuses her son's FBI co-workers of being fascists, and sporadically lectures about her field of expertise (15th-century literature) to either her fellow mental institution patients or students created from her own mind. Because schizophrenia carries a risk of genetic heredity, Reid fears ending up like her someday in the future.
- Before this reveal, it's implied that growing up with her helped Reid to empathize with another paranoid schizophrenic — who'd taken a train car hostage believing that all his fellow passengers were government agents — and talk him down. Or at least try to.
- Averted on Cracked. Of the numerous schizophrenics on the show, only one is paranoid and only two (including the paranoid) have been violent.
- Jack Hodgins discovers he has a brother in a mental institution on Bones. Jeffery has a schitzoaffective disorder, which is a real life umbrella term for the category of disorders. As expected, hes paranoid. He thinks Hodgins is a spy at first and talks about seeing past the static. At times hes fine, but he has uncontrollable paranoid outbursts.
- One episode of Burn Notice ("Signals and Codes") has Team Westen helping a paranoiac who approaches them insisting that his boss is an alien who plans to ruin the lives of several people in preparation for an invasion — and while his insistence that the boss is an alien is a Running Gag, he is right about the "ruining lives" part because said boss is planning on selling out a list of undercover operatives to the highest bidder.
- The famous Piranha Brothers episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus implies this trope in the case of Dinsdale Piranha, a mentally-ill gangster harbouring the paranoid conviction that he's being stalked by a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman. Only implied, because Dinsdale is never specifically identified as schizophrenic.
- The Journal of Polymorphous Perversity had the one-page magazine-within-the-magazine Journel [sick] of Schizophrenic Processsssssssss, full of misspelled and irregularly spaced paranoid ramblings.
We anticipate their will be five (five) issues for eachofthe seasons but they may TAKE one of them away from me.
- "Spies" by Coldplay is about someone who believes spies are watching everything but most other people are oblivious to the danger.
- Call of Duty: Zombies has an odd case in Stuhlinger, of the Victis crew. He was an ordinary Conspiracy Theorist before the Zombie Apocalypse, and after it began he took up eating zombie flesh in order to survive. Eating "The Flesh" allows him to hear the voice of Richtofen, the man controlling all of the zombies, who drives him even further into his crazy conspiracies.
- Boyd Cooper from Psychonauts? His mind was a... nice... normal... neighborhood... except no, oh no. Streets were twisted, and if you stood in one place, cameras popped up from parking meters and took pictures, and the only inhabitants were either the Rainbow Squirts, girl scouts who were behind the conspiracy, and the G-Men, men with red eyes, green skin and long, brown trench coats, who tried to figure out the conspiracy. And the level didn't end with you curing his sick, sick mind, but unleashing his psycho pyromaniac alter ego so that he would unlock the gate to the mental asylum. And then burn the asylum to the ground.
- The protagonist of the television show Address Unknown in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is diagnosed as "paranoid schizophrenic" allegedly caused by a brain tumor. Or as least, our protagonist says this happens.
- In Portal 2: Lab Rat, a companion comic to the game, Aperture Science researcher Doug Rattmann has this type of schizophrenia. Without medication, he experiences hallucinations such as that his Companion Cube is talking to him and that the AI Master Computer in charge of the laboratory is out to kill him. This is an odd case in that, luckily for him, the latter is actually true. His constant paranoia allows him to be the Sole Survivor of GLaDOS's purge of the scientists. Hidden away, he manipulates the system to put protagonist Chell into a position to enact the events of the two games.
- Kenji from Katawa Shoujo is implied to be schizophrenic, but whether or not he is he is very paranoid.
- In The Last Days of FOXHOUND, Liquid is diagnosed as "paranoid schizophrenic" or "total whackjob".