Schizophrenia1 Term Paper

This essay has a total of 2302 words and 12 pages.


Schizophrenia1





Schizophrenia: A Life Destroyer

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious psychiatric illnesses. It affects one
percent of the general population. This is a socially and financially devastating disease
that robs people of their most productive years of life. Schizophrenia still continues to
be one of the most complex, puzzling and disabling of the major mental illnesses.

Most symptoms develop in men around the age of sixteen and twenty-five years old, and
around twenty-five to thirty years old in women. Schizophrenia rarely develops in
children and most schizophrenics appear to have a normal childhood.

A delusion, which is a false belief that defies logic and common sense, is a common
symptom of schizophrenia. The person thinks someone is watching them constantly or they
think people can read their mind. Hallucinations, hearing, seeing or sensing something
that isn’t there, are another common symptom of schizophrenia. Some people
experience heightened senses, which is hypersensitivity of sense that leads to visual
distortions. Others experience auditory hallucinations. They sometimes carry on
conversations or are told to do things by one or may voices that are not there. Very
rarely, but still as devastating, some experience visual hallucinations or smell odd
smells coming from themselves. (Young, 67-68) More that 300,000 adults in this country
are unable to distinguish their imaginations from reality (Cookson).

In the 1700’s and the 1800’s, before much was known about mental diseases,
schizophrenia was thought of as witchcraft (Nichols). Anyone who displayed signs of this

disease was thought to have been possessed. The Puritans believed "distraction", as they
called it, was either possession by the devil, or punishment for sins. Yet, the strange
behavior of those afflicted was looked upon with tolerance. Through much of the
1700’s, family or friends were expected to take care of the mentally ill. Dorothea
Dix was a school teacher who took up the cause of the mentally ill in the mid
1800’s, found disturbed individuals living in sordid conditions, "confined in cages,
closets, cellars, stalls and pens: chained, naked, beaten with rods and lashed into
obedience." She worked to help these people live a more normal life. (Goode)

A dismal outlook for schizophrenia was dramatically changed in the 1950’s with the
development of the first antipsychotic drug, Chlorpromazine (Thorazine). Since then, more
that a dozen other similar-acting antipsychotic medications have been developed. These
drugs work by blocking binding sites of dopamine, which is a main factor in schizophrenia.
Chlorpromazine was first used as an antihistamine. Then, it was found to calm
hyperactive schizophrenic patients out of withdrawal and reduced major symptoms of the
disease. A lot of false medication was used before the discovery of chlorpromazine. An
insulin coma, as one example, was used to relieve most symptoms by overloading the
patient’s body with insulin. This helped some patients, because it calmed them
down, but killed most of them. Electroconvulsive therapy, where brief pulses of
electronegativity are passed through the brain, was also used. It was thought that using
this type of treatment, symptoms could be reduced or eliminated, but it did neither. This
only helped the severely depressed and only calmed them for a little while. Doctors also
attempted a frontal lobotomy, which was a surgical removal of the front parts of the
brain. A frontal

lobotomy was done because it was thought that the front part of the brain was responsible
for schizophrenia. This did nothing but make a quieter patient. These practices were
commonly used to try to suppress the main symptoms of schizophrenia. Mainly, these
practices did nothing but torture the patient and make him or her suffer extremely.
(Young 67-68)

Many schizophrenics will carry on conversations with voices or people who are not really
there. The voices may tell them what to do and how to harm themselves or others. This
puts the patient at a huge risk for committing suicide. The medication that is prescribed
to them attempts to stop the voices or other symptoms. In turn, most schizophrenics would
experience severely painful side effects. These side effects included constipation,
drowsiness, dry mouth and blurred vision, which would most like diminish after a few
weeks. Other side effects that is less likely to diminish included restlessness, slurred
speech, trembling of hands and feet, muscle rigidity in the neck and head. Most patients
experienced a tremendous amount of weight gain and could not lose the extra pounds, while
some also experienced sun sensitivity and fainting.

The next story is one case of schizophrenia. It shows what a typical schizophrenic would
go through in life. The ending is like most schizophrenics, where the stress becomes too
much and the patient attempts to escape it by killing themselves. Eighteen to fifty-five
percent of people living with schizophrenia attempt suicide, with more than ten percent of
a success rate (Bathen). Many schizophrenics cannot cope with the stresses of everyday
life and feel that the only way to escape would be to kill themselves. Environmental
factors can affect the person too. If the person is constantly treated as a

nuisance, is abused about how the act or is not shown love and understanding, he or she
may be lonely and turn to other things to help them deal with it. In turn, some talk to
the voices in their heads and actually think that the situation is really that bad and may
listen to what they are being told. It can be quite frightening for the patient.

Janet was 15 in the late 1960’s. Her parents assumed she was rebelling like the
rest of the kids were during that time. They took Janet to an adolescent specialist and
were told there was no need to worry. In 1972, after changing schools for the third time,
she lived at home and became a born-again Christian. She would lie on her bedroom floor
and would scream, "I’m damned to hell and my family is damned to hell." She would
slam her sister against the wall. She tells them "You’re not my family." She left
home and moved in with a cult leader in downtown Boston, collecting donations on the
street and ate from open carts in the North End. At nineteen, she asked her parents to
meet her outside a counseling center. She runs to the car, screaming, and she hit her
father on the shoulder. She was taken to the emergency room where she was put on the
psychiatric ward. This was Janet’s first hospitalization. (Goode)

Janet was shuffled to and from private and city hospitals. Some doctors told her parents
its best if she was at home, yet others told them not to take her home. She was
prescribed numerous drugs, alone and in combination. They make her muscles stiff and her
hands tremble. They do nothing to help her. Sometimes, she would escape the hospitals
and disappears for months. Sometimes, she was discharged and her parents were not told.
One night, she was picked up for hitchhiking. Another time, she was arrested for
shoplifting. She stayed in halfway houses or at home. In her last years, she lived in a

halfway house for two and a half years. She occasionally broke the rules, but she
otherwise was on her best behavior. On August 25, 1986, the painful news arrives to
Janet’s parents. She has killed herself by drinking several bottles of nail polish
remover and jumping from a second story window. (Goode)

This story, although sad and painful, is what many schizophrenics go through. Anyone who
has seen up close the disintegration of a mind by schizophrenia can understand the pain of
this horrible disease. Many schizophrenics experience far worse than what Janet has went
through. Some lose total touch with reality and do not know what is real and what
isn’t. They experience things in a much different frame of mind than others. Many
schizophrenics end up like Janet, taking their own life to escape the torment of this
living hell.

Dealing with a schizophrenic is very hard work. It is made even harder when the person is
in your family and is someone you love. To try to calm a schizophrenic during a temper
tantrum is near impossible due to their lost connection of reality. Also, attempting to
make the person realize their hallucination or delusion is not real is also very hard and
painful. All one can do is to watch the patient to make sure he or she does not hurt
themselves and that they are ok. It is a very painful process for both the caretaker and
the patient.

Schizophrenia is in part caused by an inability to cope with the psychological stresses of
human existence. Stress is a pressure that a person finds difficult to cope with.
Overwhelming stress can cause schizophrenic like symptoms to appear. Schizophrenia is
also caused by a chemical overload in the person’s brain. This causes the brain to
be off
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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