Schizophrenia and “Perception”: Will it be Accurate?

Tonight TNT unveils a new series called “Perception” , in which Eric McCormack plays a brilliant neuroscientist with a full-blown case of schizophrenia.

According to the NY Times, here is the premise:

Colorful characters that only Pierce can see pop up to help him solve murder cases he consults on for his spunky F.B.I. buddy, played by Rachael Leigh Cook. These apparitions badger Pierce with what appear to be non sequiturs and useless information until the last 10 minutes of an episode, when the light bulb goes on, and the murderer is identified.

“Perception” and Mental Illness Stigma

Eric McCormack plays a neuroscientist in “Perception” on TNT. - JanThijs/TNT

The review goes on to say that this is “TV-Fantasy schizophrenia” – so what does that mean? The hallucinations are useful? Cute? Just a manageable feature of a slightly-eccentric personality?

Will the fictional Daniel Pierce take meds? Will he have had any hospitalizations in his past? Does his family stick with him? Does he have friends? Is he stigmatized at all by his illness?

Will this show help spread misconceptions about schizophrenia as a cute illness, handy for solving crimes, rather than an acute illness?

We will have to wait and see. I’m taping it tonight. I’ve suggested to Ben that he watch it too, but I can see that the idea made him uncomfortable. So that, too, will have to wait.

6 thoughts on “Schizophrenia and “Perception”: Will it be Accurate?

  1. This sounds like a disaster in the making. Schizophrenia is more fun than you think, seems to be what they’re saying.If that’s so, I hope the show dies a death and is dropped.

  2. thanks for your comment, Gabi – I haven’t seen the show yet, but stigmabusters are on alert! who knows, maybe it will be as respectful as Beautiful Mind…that would be nice

  3. A Beautiful Mind was not respectful of John Nash, or his experience recovering from schizophrenia…It was a fictional account, which was grossly inaccurate in the manner it portrayed him relying on neuroleptic drugs long term. He has said in interviews that this is not the case, and that he felt betrayed by this inaccurate portrayal of him. He did not take the so-called ‘Second Generation’ neuroleptics at all; as the movie claimed.

    1. Hi Becky – Thanks for writing/ I have recently heard this as well, but as the mother of someone most definitely would not be functioning right now without his meds, I support the idea that each recovery story is different. According to what I have learned about prognosis, about 25% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia do recover completely with age, especially (for some) once in the 50’s and 60’s – and others (35%) show great improvement, with relative independence.

      I for one am thrilled to know that there are those who recover enough to no longer need medication. Right now my son is not in that category, but if he someday gets there I will be cheering him on. As it stands now, his entire life falls apart when he stops taking meds. What I meant by “respectful” was that an attempt was made by Ron Howard to show the beauty in Nash’s mind, and his strengths outside of his schizophrenia.

  4. I’ve watched a couple episodes now, and here are my main thoughts:
    1. Eric McCormack is hot. Esp in a sweater. And non-clean-shaven.
    2. I like that they show scenes where he’s clearly outside him comfort zone – one scene emphasized the fact that too much noise/activity overwhelms him — rang true of my daughter’s experiences.
    3. I’m still concerned that people who have this illness (and therefore an issue with staying in reality) will see this and think, “hey, my hallucinations can solve crimes, too!” and stop their meds.

    I’ll keep watching, and while it makes me nervous, at least it’s some public exposure of someone with SCZA who hasn’t just shot up a movie theater.

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