A long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. The cause of schizophrenia is still unclear. Some theories about the cause of this disease include: genetics (heredity), biology (abnormalities in the brain’s chemistry or structure); and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders. A medical or mental health professional may use the following terms when discussing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is often described in terms of positive and negative (or deficit) symptoms. Positive symptoms are those that most individuals do not normally experience, but are present in people with schizophrenia. They can include delusions, disordered thoughts and speech, and tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory and gustatory hallucinations, typically regarded as manifestations of psychosis. Hallucinations are also typically related to the content of the delusional theme. Positive symptoms generally respond well to medication.
Negative symptoms are deficits of normal emotional responses or of other thought processes, and are less responsive to medication. They commonly include flat expressions or little emotion, poverty of speech, inability to experience pleasure, lack of desire to form relationships, and lack of motivation. Negative symptoms appear to contribute more to poor quality of life, functional ability, and the burden on others than positive symptoms do. People with greater negative symptoms often have a history of poor adjustment before the onset of illness, and response to medication is often limited.
The validity of the positive and negative construct has been challenged by factor analysis studies observing a three dimension grouping of symptoms. While different terminology is used, a dimension for hallucinations, a dimension for disorganization, and a dimension for negative symptoms are usually described.
Positive Schizophrenia Symptoms
- HALLUCINATION: Hearing and seeing things that aren’t there. “I can hear Ram’s voice and it talks about harming me”.
- THOUGHTS PROBLEM: Disorganized thinking, illogical speech, inappropriate emotion to speech.
- DELUSIONS: Strange and unshakable beliefs. “My neighbors are always against me"
- ALTERED SENSE OF SELF: altered and unrealistic sense of who the person is in relation to the other world.
- MEMORY PROBLEM
Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms
- LACK OF MOTIVATION:Lack of energy or interest in life, doing even basic things like taking shower or shaving or talking to people.
- BLUNTED FEELINGS: Inability to express emotions/feelings appropriate while able to feel the same.
- Strange and unshakable beliefs. “My neighbors are always against me and want"
- SOCIAL WITHDRAWL: Limited or no interaction with family, friends and well wishers.
- UNUSAL POSTURES OR MANNERISM
Do you Know ?Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
While no cure for schizophrenia exists, many people with this illness can lead productive and fulfilling lives with proper treatment. Recovery is possible through a variety of services, including medication and rehabilitation programs. Rehabilitation can help a person recover the confidence and skills needed to live a productive and independent life in the community. Currently, schizophrenia is diagnosed by the presence of symptoms or their precursors for a period of six months. Two or more symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, must be significant and last for at least one month. Only one symptom is required for diagnosis if delusions are bizarre enough or if hallucinations consist either of a voice constantly commenting on the person’s behavior/thoughts, or two or more voices “conversing.” Social or occupational problems can also be part of the diagnosis during the six-month period.
Famous People and Schizophrenia
There are relatively few famous people with schizophrenia because schizophrenia is a brain disorder that typically strikes people when they are quite young - age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous, they are just starting out their professional lives after completing high school or college. A recent Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Forbes Nash Jr., has a lifetime history of Schizophrenia but is now doing very well, as has been well documented in the book "A Beautiful Mind" and the academy award-winning movie of the same name.
Many "historical diagnoses" are frequently not entirely certain -- a "good guess" for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Above figure represents a list of famous people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of suffering (or who had suffered) from schizophrenia.
- 90% of person with Schizophrenia experience delusions at some stage.
- What people with Schizophrenia see / hear seems absolutely real to them no matter how unbelievable or unrealistic others may find it.
- Treatment for Schizophrenia is most effective if it is begun as early as soon as possible after symptoms appear.