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Letter: Illness and prejudice

Sir, David Usborne's article "The two faces of Michael "(Review, 23 June) represents a further alarmist media portrayal of schizophrenia.

Whilst there is no doubt that the murder of Michael Laudor's fiancee is a tragedy, how many more violent crimes occur each hour perpetrated by individuals without any diagnosed mental illness? The whole premise of the article is based on an inaccurate popularist understanding of what schizophrenia is. People who suffer from schizophrenia are not "two-faced" split personalities.

Many theories exist regarding the aetiology and nature of schizophrenia. However there are very few followers of the demonic-possession model this article appears to adopt. The use of such powerful biblical language as "battling with demons", etc, fuels the preconceptions and prejudices of which Usborne is critical.

However, any step which improves patient care whilst simultaneously demystifying this illness may help arrest this flow of startling media portrayals of a group of society who commit no more violent crimes than any other.


mental health nursing student,

The Nightingale Institute,

King's College, London