The Reality of Psychosis
Belief Vs Reality

Unhelpful Beliefs About Psychosis

There are many unhelpful beliefs about psychosis and other mental health disorders that persist due to a lack of awareness and understanding of the facts and realities of mental health. Below are some of the most common beliefs about psychosis, along with the actual facts:

Belief: People experiencing psychosis cannot recover and have everyday lives, jobs, or families.

Reality: Research shows that when people with severe mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, are treated with a combination of medications and effective therapy, they can and do get better. While there is currently no cure for schizophrenia, effective treatments work and help people lead productive, successful, and independent lives. Programs like (re)MIND®, BEAM, and BEAM UP use the individual’s personal goals to involve work, school, family, and relationships for meaningful recovery.


Belief: People with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, are usually dangerous and violent.

Reality: This belief is false. People with severe mental illness are no more likely to become violent than anyone else. Instead, they are more likely to be victims of violence from others. It is much more common for those suffering from psychosis to be frightened and confused than violent.

Reference: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2019). Mental health myths and facts.

Belief: A severe mental illness means an individual has failed and seeking treatment is for the weak.

Reality: Seeking treatment for a mental illness is not a sign of weakness. Just like any other medical condition affecting bodily organs, treatment is required to achieve recovery. Those seeking professional help show tremendous courage as they work to take back their lives.

Reference: Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, C., Ahmad, S., & Khan, M. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. Risk Analytica.

Belief: Mental illness is the result of bad parenting.

Reality: Mental illness is a complex condition that is not caused by any single factor. Instead, many factors contribute to how our brains respond to extreme stress, including genetics, previous exposure to trauma, substance use, sleep, and other environmental and physical factors. Mental illnesses are part of the human condition and can affect anyone regardless of upbringing.

Reference: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2021). Mental illness.

Belief: Schizophrenia means a split personality, and there is no way to control it.

Reality: While the word “schizophrenia” means “split mind,” the symptoms of psychosis, which include confusion, changes in behavior, and confusion with reality, should not be confused with dissociative identity disorder, which is a different disorder with different symptoms. With appropriate treatment, individuals with schizophrenia can learn to manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

Reference: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2021). Schizophrenia. Retrieved from

Belief: Substance use doesn't cause psychosis or worsen symptoms.

Reality: Substance use, such as cannabis, hallucinogens, and opioids, can directly contribute to the development of psychosis in youth and young adults. It is crucial to address substance use as part of treatment for psychosis and other mental illnesses.

Reference: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Substance use and mental health. Retrieved from

Belief: You can't do anything for a loved one with psychosis.

Reality: Family and friends’ support is essential to people who have psychosis. With respect and understanding, family and friends can help increase the chance of individuals getting into treatment, staying in treatment, and achieving recovery.

Reference: National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Helping someone with a mental illness.

Belief: People starting to have unusual experiences or mild symptoms should ignore it, and it will go away.

Reality: Ignoring mental health problems will not make them go away. Early intervention makes a world of difference, especially in psychosis treatment. The longer the symptoms are left untreated, the greater the risk of severe life disruption. It is essential to seek help as soon as possible.

Reference: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2021). Early intervention.

The good news is that there is hope and help available for both individuals who are currently experiencing psychosis or who may be at a higher risk of developing it through early intervention.

Experiences and Insights

Some individuals who have been affected by psychosis have shared their experiences and insights:


  • Lionel Aldridge once said, “I was just a victim of schizophrenia… Once I accepted and cooperated with the treatment, I started to beat the illness.”


  • Lady Gaga “There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness. You feel like something is wrong with you…but you can’t help it when in the morning, you wake up, you are so tired, you are so sad, you are so full of anxiety and the shakes that you can barely thinking…but opening up about mental health was like saying this is a part of me and that’s okay.”


  • Selena Gomez “I had to stop, cause I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down. But I kept it too much together to where I let myself down…If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken.”


  • Elyn R. Saks believes that people with these disorders can lead full, happy, productive lives if they have the right resources. She added, “If you are a person with mental illness, the challenge is finding the life that’s right for you. But in truth, isn’t that the challenge for all of us, mentally ill or not? My good fortune is not that I’ve recovered from mental illness. I have not, nor will I ever. My good fortune lies in having found my life.”


  • Tom Hardy believes everyone has a cauldron of psychosis to unravel as they grow older and find their place in the world. He said, “We’re all flawed human beings, and we all have a cauldron of psychosis which we have to unravel as we grow older and find the way we fit in to live our lives as best as possible.”


  • John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who had schizophrenia, once thought of the voices he heard as something different from aliens. He said, “I thought of them more like angels…. It’s my subconscious talking. It was really that… I know that now.”


  • Carrie Fisher who had bipolar disorder, believed that the condition was not her overriding identity but something she had. She said, “I don’t want to be caught… ashamed of anything. And because generally, someone who has bipolar doesn’t have just bipolar, they have bipolar, and they have a life and a job and a kid and a hat and parents, so it’s not your overriding identity, it’s just something that you have, but not the only thing – even if it’s quite a big thing.” Additionally, Fisher believed medication was essential for her to function worldwide. She said, “Without medication, I would not be able to function in this world. Medication has made me a good mother, a good friend, a good daughter.”


Remember, seeking help is the first step toward recovery. With early intervention and effective treatment, people with psychosis can lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Need Support, or More Information?

Connect with your providers to see what options you have in your area.

You may also contact the Felton Early Psychosis programs (re)MIND®, BEAM, and BEAM UP® at or reach out to a site location directly via the contact information listed below. Someone will promptly get back to you within one business day.

This contact information is not for emergency requests.

If you need immediate help, please see the Crisis Resources section on our AlamedaMarinMontereySan Francisco, or San Mateo Program Location Pages.

(re)MIND® Alameda County

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM

1005 Atlantic Avenue,
Alameda, CA 94501
Phone:  (510) 318-6100

(re)MIND® Monterey County

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM

30 E. San Joaquin St. Suite 102,
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831) 424-5033

(re)MIND® San Francisco County

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM

6221 Geary Blvd., 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: (415) 386-6600

(re)MIND® Marin County

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM

361 Third Street, Suite B
San Rafael, CA 94901
Phone: (415) 747-8178

(re)MIND® San Mateo County

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM

1108 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94402
Phone: (650) 458-0026