This portmanteau term is used to describe a mental illness that unfortunately has been riddled with misconceptions and fallacies throughout history, giving it an extremely and perhaps undeservingly negative connotation. The origin of the word schizophrenia lends itself to the compilation of two Greek words. The first word, schizo, means "splitting". The second word, phrenia, means "of the mind". Hence, a literal interpretation of the word schizophrenia would render a definition of "splitting of the mind". The misuse of this word, perhaps in part due to the aforementioned literal rendering, is twofold. .
Its primary misuse tends to be attributed to the news media and the general public. This mistake refers to the equating of the mind with the personality. Hence, the typical view of a schizophrenic is that of an individual with split personalities. This is inaccurate in that a schizophrenic has only one definite, although sometimes incomprehensible, personality. The term for the typical multiple personality disorder that is generally referred to as schizophrenia is Dissociative Identity Disorder. Schizophrenia itself is defined as being "a psychotic disorder usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances", and therefore is entirely unrelated to the somewhat common misconception of a split personality.
The second misuse of the term is committed, unfortunately but primarily, by the clinicians and psychiatrists themselves. Some of these individuals use the term "schizophrenia" to describe any sort of "nervous breakdown", which is in and of itself an ambiguous term. It was once also used to describe a wide variety of mental derangements, depression, delusion, or personality disorders. Fortunately, this fallacy in logic is almost nonexistent in most developed countries, thus the image and comprehension of schizophrenia is increasing in one respect.