July 15, 2021

By now, you’ve heard the usual defense mechanism arguments, like “We’re talking about someone who’s mentally ill,” “The media is sensationalizing this,” “It’s a very dangerous time,” and “There’s a danger that this person will hurt themselves or others.” 

Well, that’s actually not what the people who actually know what’s going on in this case are saying. 

“This is not a case of someone who has schizophrenia,” Dr. Richard Davidson, an expert in psychiatry and behavioral psychology, told us.

“This is a case where someone has not yet developed a psychotic condition. 

He has a history of mental illness that does not warrant a diagnosis of schizophrenia.”

Davidson is the director of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) National Institute on Mental Health and one of the authors of the DSM-5, which created the criteria for schizophrenia. 

So, it is, in fact, not a “case of someone with schizophrenia,” Davidson said. 

The key is that the person with schizophrenia is not “completely psychotic,” Davidson explained. 

Instead, it’s a person with a limited capacity for thinking about mental health. 

This person has a limited ability to process and respond to stressors. 

It’s also a person who can’t recognize a mental health diagnosis or a problem and doesn’t feel like there’s something wrong with him. 

There are two possible scenarios for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia to be labeled as a psychotic person: “mental illness,” Davidson wrote in his book, A Neuropsychiatric History of Psychiatry, or “psychotic illness,” which is the standard classification for people who suffer from severe mental illnesses. 

But the person is not completely psychotic, so he can be labeled a psychotic if his thoughts and behaviors can be described as “causing significant distress” or “inconsistent with normal functioning.” 

Davidson said he found that in most cases of schizophrenia, a person can still be labeled “psychosis” if there are other signs of schizophrenia that make the diagnosis difficult. 

That includes a person’s inability to concentrate, talk or think clearly, a lack of social interaction, or the person’s difficulty in maintaining normal sleep patterns. 

In Davidson’s study, about half of the people diagnosed with psychosis were diagnosed as having anorexia nervosa.

The other half had anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

In the case of the two individuals who were labeled as schizophrenic, the diagnosis was made after all the signs were clearly seen.

“I would describe it as a case that is making it difficult to make a diagnosis,” Davidson told us, “because if someone is not totally psychotic, and there’s no reason to think that the symptoms are a problem, then they’re a schizophrenic. 

They’re not totally insane.” 

According to Davidson, the definition of schizophrenia is based on the criteria set forth by the DSM, which was created by the American Psychiatric Association in 1972. 

Davidton said the DSM defines schizophrenia in three main ways:1.

The person has been diagnosed as a person experiencing severe emotional distress. 


The individual has been identified as suffering from psychosis, which is an illness that causes severe distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 


The individuals functioning is impaired. 

For example, people diagnosed as “schizophrenic” may exhibit signs of paranoia, paranoia and/or a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition in which the person experiences feelings of intense anxiety, dread, and/ or a sense of being unable to feel or think freely. 

What does Davidson say about the diagnosis?

“This person is a totally psychotic person,” Davidson stated. 

To the degree that the individual is not psychotic, it means that they do not have a severe mental illness. 

And yet, there is a “distinct possibility” that the man is schizophrenic because the person can’t remember the day the diagnosis came. 

When you can’t get away with not knowing what’s happening in this situation, you have to “think critically” about what’s being reported, Davidson added. 

According the DSM guidelines, there are three types of “distinguishing features” to be considered:1) The person appears to be psychotic, in the sense that the individuals mental health condition has not improved over the course of the last six months. 

A diagnosis of psychosis should be based on “a clear change in symptoms that is consistent with psychosis.”2) The individual is “unusually delusional,” which means the individual appears to have delusions. 

People with delusions are people who appear to be having “a delusional belief in their own reality.”3) The individuals “disseminate a distorted, highly exaggerated, or distorted impression of reality.”

The third category of “disqualification” is the person does not seem to be suffering from any of the