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For almost 30 years, the diagnosis of schizophrenia has been subject to an extensive critique of its validity as an object of scientific research. It has also been identified with negative social consequences in its own right. This raises the question of why the label retains so much professional and social currency. Authors who have addressed this issue attribute schizophrenia's success to the material interests of the profession of psychiatry, but it is here argued that this account is insufficient. I draw on what I call the reference account to explain why schizophrenia persists. Despite its problems, I suggest that the label continues to exist because, in certain usage contexts, it successfully refers to some aspects of reality. Schizophrenia will likely be decomposed and replaced by more precise diagnostic terms, but for the time being a coherent and unanimously agreed upon alternative is missing.