There’s no surer sign that the holidays are around the corner than hearing Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” waft through the air. The classic Christmas anthem has stood the test of time because of its soulful, cheery tune, so it’s hard to imagine that it came from such a troubled mind.
Hathaway was a musical genius that suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. It was reported that he frequently heard voices and experienced hallucinations that instructed him to do harmful things.
Well into adulthood when he was diagnosed, his condition was severe and reports stated that the medication only seemed to amplify the illness. According to Hathaway’s Wikipedia page, he was prescribed 14 different medications that he was to take twice a day. In fact, it caused a cognitive delay for him, carrying him through manic highs and devastating lows.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, schizophrenia is defined as a chronic brain disorder that affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking, and lack of motivation.
Although schizophrenia is incurable at the moment, researchers are diligently working toward finding safer and more effective treatments.
Research is also being done to unpack the reasons behind the disease by delving into genetics, exploring behavioral research, and capturing advanced brain images to look at its structure.
Since schizophrenia is such a complex disease, there are misconceptions about its symptoms.
Despite earlier claims, schizophrenia is not the same as split-brain or multiple-personality. Also, schizophrenia is not an automatic precursor to dangerous or violent behavior. While limited mental health resources and lack of understanding of the disease can lead to homelessness and neglect, it is a common misconception that those with schizophrenia end up living in the streets or long-term hospital patients. In truth, most people with schizophrenia live with their family, in group homes or on their own.