Schizophrenia6

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Schizophrenia6







SCHIZOPHRENIA


Schizophrenia, an often-misunderstood disease, is usually interpreted by those not
familiar with it as a Multiple Personality

Disorder. But this is not true. While a person who is afflicted with schizophrenia, may
also suffer from multiple personality disorder, it is not the rule of thumb.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of support from family or friends, many schizophrenics go
without proper treatment and may wind up homeless.


There is nothing that can be measured to diagnose schizophrenia. Other diseases share
many of its symptoms. What schizophrenia is or is not, cannot be decided on. However,
German psychiatrist, Kurt Schneider, developed a list of symptoms, which occur very rarely
in diseases other than schizophrenia. These symptoms include auditory hallucinations in
which voices speak the schizophrenic’s thoughts aloud. There are also two other
forms of auditory hallucinations, in one the victim will hear two voices arguing, and the
other a voice will be heard commenting the actions of the person. “Schizophrenics
may also suffer from the felling that an external force, or the dilution that certain
commonplace remarks have a secret meaning for themselves is controlling their
actions”, (Torrey, 1983).


“From these symptoms, schizophrenia is divided into four sub-types determined by
which symptoms are most prevalent”, Strauss, 1987). The four sub-types are
paranoid, hebephrenic, catatonic, and finally simple. Paranoid schizophrenics often
suffer from either delusions, hallucinations, or both of a persecutory content.
Hebephrenic schizophrenia is characterized by inappropriate emotions, disorganized
thinking, and extreme social impairment. Catatonic schizophrenics often suffer from
rigidity, stupor, and hallucinations or delusions. It is however accompanied by an
overwhelming loss of interest and initiative. “The sufferer of simple schizophrenia
will also usually suffer from withdrawal and will blunt their emotions” (Torrey,
1983).




The part of the brain is thought to be affected by schizophrenia is the limbic system. It
was realized that the limbic system might be the source of the malfunction when it was
discovered that all the information and incoming stimuli must pass through the limbic
system before being sorted out. Previously thee limbic system was disregarded, and
considered simply a remnant of our primitive past.” At that time the outer areas,
the gray matter of the brain, was studied”(Torrey, 1983).


Occasionally schizophrenia runs in the family, although it is not well understood how.
“It is known that close relatives (parents, siblings) of those with schizophrenia,
have a 10 % chance of developing symptoms, compared to the 1% chance of the general
population” (Torrey, 1983).

Not much is known about what exactly causes schizophrenia, or which parts of the brain are
affected. One guess to the cause of schizophrenia is that neurotransmitter dopamine is
involved. “Some of the supporting evidence behind this theory is the fact that
amphetamines, when given in large doses, causes the brain’s dopamine levels to rise,
this can cause the subject to show schizophrenia like symptoms” (Torrey, 1983).
There are three different fields of thought as to how something is affecting the dopamine
and causing schizophrenia. One is that there is excess of the neurotransmitter in the
brain. The final thought is that

The dopamine is somehow being turned into a poison (Torrey, 1983).
A chemical imbalance of dopamine could very well be the cause of schizophrenia. If the
levels are too high, there could be excess dopamine left in the synaptic gap. If the
levels of were too low, signals needing dopamine to be transferred would not be received.

Even though the causes of schizophrenia are not confirmed, it is important to properly
diagnose it so proper medical treatment can be sought. When diagnosing schizophrenia
doctors first rely on symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.” Because these
symptoms may be generated by another disease, doctors are often reluctant to diagnose a
patient with schizophrenia unless the symptoms have been present for at least six
months” (Torrey, 1983).

However, with MRI it may be possible to get a clue to as to if the person might be
suffering from schizophrenia. This might be feasible because research has shown that some
specific brain structures, the hippocampus regions especially, have been diminished. Also
it has been found that there are some functional abnormalities between the normal brain
and that of schizophrenic. One such abnormality is reduced blood to the frontal cerebrum.
It also has been found through post mortem studies of schizophrenics that they have an
abnormal amount of brain cells as well as unusual neural organization, especially in the
temporal lobe (Gershon and Reider, 1992).
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