Schizophrenia





Background and characteristics
Joan Becker looks like a “normal” person. At times, she acts like a “normal” person and there are even times when she talks like a “normal” person. But, in getting to know Joan you realize she is far from “normal.” Joan suffers from schizophrenia. She has little to no friends. The friends she does make usually don’t stay her friend for very long. Joan shies away from social situations and even pushes the people she loves away. A characteristic that contradicts her tendency to withdraw is her craving for attention. If Joan doesn’t get enough attention she will through tantrums or even hurt herself. One day in elementary school Joan was being ignored by her teacher. So the teacher would pay attention to her, Joan got out of her seat and walked over to the art station where she then took a pair of scissors. Joan then shrieked and started cutting her arms, legs and face. Another time, shortly after Joan’s brother was born, she took a bottle of her father’s heart pills. She then walked up to her parents and poured the pills into her mouth and swallowed about half of the pills. It is apparent that Joan had no real intention of actually killing herself either time.
Joan was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a rare age. Most cases are not recognized until late adolescence or early twenties. Joan was diagnosed when she was thirteen years old. It is believed that there is a genetic link to Joan’s diagnosis. In a genealogical study of her paternal family, Joan’s great-grandmother was believed to suffer from schizophrenia as well. An aunt on Joan’s maternal side has also been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
When Joan was nine years old her parents divorced. Less than six months later her favorite cousin was killed in a drunk driving accident. It was around this time when her symptoms began to heighten drastically. Joan started to believe that “little green aliens” were following her around. She insisted that these “aliens” believed her to be their “queen.” Joan also believed that the “aliens” were going to take her “home” when she was ready. She claimed she was never told when she would be “ready”, but that she would just be gone the moment it happened.
Looking back, Joan’s parents thought of unusual behaviors almost from birth. Joan didn’t like to be held or cuddled. She often would stay in her room all day except to eat. Joan also had difficulties in school. At age 7 she was tested for learning disabilities. Joan was then diagnosed with comprehensive and reading difficulties.

Assessment and Consequences
Joan was taken to see a psychologist at the referral of a school counselor shortly after her tenth birthday. She had started to become more of a problem at school and at home. She was insistent that the aliens were coming for her at any time. The psychologist’s initial reaction was drug or alcohol abuse. Joan passed all blood and urine tests. After many other tests the psychologist recommended institutionalizing Joan. Her parents refused and took Joan to see a highly recommended psychiatrist.
At age twelve Joan was in the fifth grade and doing horribly academically and socially. Her peers were constantly teasing her about her “little green friends.” Joan’s parents pulled her out of school and her mother started to home school her. The home school attempt lasted about six months until Joan’s mother just gave up on her learning. At this time Joan started going into comatose-like trances. At this point her psychiatrist began watching for schizophrenia. Joan began to stop talking about the aliens and the doctors and her parents had hope for a full recovery. Three months after the “aliens” stopped talking to Joan she started to hear new “voices.” These “voices” were more violent in nature. They told her to hurt herself and others. Many times these commands were followed through. Joan tried to suffocate her little brother with pillows and plastic bags. She also attacked a girl walking down the street in front of Joan’s house. Another time Joan wrapped an extension cord around her neck and started pulling on the cord in an attempt to kill herself. At