What is a designer personality?
Classification as a designer personality requires the individual’s personality be modified or altered through chemical means. There is a great deal of controversy regarding treatment of psychiatric disorders solely with medicines, without the benefit of behavioral or cognitive therapies. One typical example, frequently portrayed on television, is the person with schizophrenia who stops taking their medication. Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder affecting over two million persons worldwide. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized behaviors. Other symptoms include lack of empathy, feeling out of touch, and/or experiencing mismatched feelings to situations. Treatment typically includes medication, but counseling and support programs are also important.
A popular television series this year is Perception starring Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a schizophrenic neuroscientist/ professor/consultant to the FBI. Dr. Pierce experiences hallucinations and supposedly uses them to his advantage in solving detective type puzzles. A positive of the series is that it does suggest positive behavioral modification strategies to aid a person with schizophrenia in leading a typical life, i.e., being cared about and having a meaningful career. Treatment includes a daily routine, healthy eating habits, and family and/or social support. However, the downside of the series is that Dr. Pierce knowingly discontinued medication treatment in favor of continued hallucination episodes that ultimately resulted in a positive outcome. To a person with schizophrenia disinclined to seek treatment, this positive outcome may give them a falsely optimistic viewpoint that they can “handle” schizophrenia on their own. The belief that treatment or intervention is unnecessary is especially likely because one of the symptoms of schizophrenia is delusions.
Although it is admirable that the television is putting schizophrenia center stage allowing that it is not an end of the world diagnosis; however, the writers could be more careful in their portrayals of the condition, treatments, and consequences of both.