Schizophrenia

This essay has a total of 1142 words and 5 pages.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious, chronic mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with
reality and disturbances of thought, mood, and perception. Schizophrenia is the most
common and the most potentially sever and disabling of the psychosis, a term encompassing
several severe mental disorders that result in the loss of contact with reality along with
major personality derangements. Schizophrenia patients experience delusions,
hallucinations and often lose thought process. Schizophrenia affects an estimated one
percent of the population in every country of the world. Victims share a range of symptoms
that can be devastating to themselves as well as to families and friends. They may have
trouble dealing with the most minor everyday stresses and insignificant changes in their
surroundings. They may avoid social contact, ignore personal hygiene and behave oddly
(Kass, 194). Many people outside the mental health profession believe that schizophrenia
refers to a "split personality". The word "schizophrenia" comes from the Greek schizo,
meaning split and phrenia refers to the diaphragm once thought to be the location of a
person's mind and soul. When the word "schizophrenia" was established by European
psychiatrists, they meant to describe a shattering, or breakdown, of basic psychological
functions. Eugene Bleuler is one of the most influential psychiatrists of his time. He is
best known today for his introduction of the term "schizophrenia" to describe the disorder
previously known as dementia praecox and for his studies of schizophrenics. The illness
can best be described as a collection of particular symptoms that usually fall into four
basic categories: formal thought disorder, perception disorder, feeling/emotional
disturbance, and behavior disorders (Young, 23). People with schizophrenia describe
strange of unrealistic thoughts. Their speech is sometimes hard to follow because of
disordered thinking. Phrases seem disconnected, and ideas move from topic to topic with no
logical pattern in what is being said. In some cases, individuals with schizophrenia say
that they have no idea at all or that their heads seem "empty". Many schizophrenic
patients think they possess extraordinary powers such as x-ray vision or super strength.
They may believe that their thoughts are being controlled by others or that everyone knows
what they are thinking. These beliefs are caused by delusions. Most specialists agree that
symptoms are provoked by chemical disturbances of the brain, but no exact mechanism is
known (Mueser, 102). Those with schizophrenia regularly report unusual sensory
experiences, especially when the illness is in an acute stage. Often these experiences are
in the form of hearing voices. Persons may hear one or two voices making comments on their
behavior. They may not know the voice, or they may believe it is the voice of God, the
Devil, or a friend. When the voice issues orders to behave in a particular way, the
experience is known as a command hallucination. These hallucinations can be very dangerous
to the sufferer and others. When the voice commands the person to do something, the
schizophrenic person will perform that task as instructed (Kass, 188). Particular,
repetitive movements sometimes are seen in schizophrenics. Victims might swing one leg
back and forth all day, or constantly shake their heads. Catatonic behavior is another
symptom; a victim might keep the same position for hours, unable to talk or eat. Catatonic
schizophrenia is marked by striking motor behavior. Some victims may be overly intrusive,
constantly prying into the affairs of those around them (Gingerich, 64). When compared to
other people in general, those with schizophrenia are less likely to marry or remain
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