Copyright ©The Author(s) 2017. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatr. Mar 22, 2017; 7(1): 1-7
Published online Mar 22, 2017. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v7.i1.1
Identity and schizophrenia: Who do I want to be?
Mary V Seeman
Mary V Seeman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5P 3L6, Canada
Author contributions: Seeman MV contributed to the manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The author declares no conflict of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Mary V Seeman, MD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, 260 Heath St W. Toronto, ON M5P 3L6, Canada.
Telephone: +1-416-4863456
Received: October 27, 2016
Peer-review started: October 31, 2016
First decision: December 1, 2016
Revised: December 7, 2016
Accepted: January 2, 2017
Article in press: January 3, 2017
Published online: March 22, 2017

Many individuals with schizophrenia have occasional difficulty defining both to themselves and to others who they truly are. Perhaps for this reason they make attempts to change core aspects of themselves. These attempts may be delusional, but are too often unjustly dismissed as delusional before the potential value of the change is considered. Instead of facilitation, obstacles are placed in the way of hoped-for body modifications or changes of name or of religious faith. This paper discusses the various changes of identity sometimes undertaken by individuals with schizophrenia who may or may not be deluded. Ethical and clinical ramifications are discussed. The recommendation is made that, when clinicians respond to requests for help with identity change, safety needs to be the main consideration.

Keywords: Schizophrenia, Identity, Body modification, Religious conversion, Name change

Core tip: Everyone tries at times to change aspects of their identity. When people with schizophrenia do it, it should not necessarily be interpreted as delusional, but safety issues need always to be kept in the foreground.