Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness characterized by a variety of symptoms, including loss of contact with reality, bizarre behavior, disorganized thinking and speech, decreased emotional expressiveness, and social withdrawal. Usually only some of these symptoms occur in any one person. The term schizophrenia comes from Greek words meaning “split mind.” However, contrary to common belief, schizophrenia does not refer to a person with a split personality or multiple personality.To observers, schizophrenia may seem like madness or insanity. Perhaps more than any other mental illness, schizophrenia has a debilitating effect on the lives of the people who suffer from it. A person with schizophrenia may have difficulty telling the difference between real and unreal experiences, logical and illogical thoughts, or appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Schizophrenia seriously impairs a person’s ability to work, go to school, enjoy relationships with others, or take care of oneself.

In addition, people with schizophrenia frequently require hospitalization because they pose a danger to themselves. About 10 percent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide, and many others attempt suicide. Once people develop schizophrenia, they usually suffer from the illness for the rest of their lives. Although there is no cure, treatment can help many people with schizophrenia lead productive lives. Schizophrenia also carries an enormous cost to society. People with schizophrenia occupy about one-third of all beds in psychiatric hospitals in the United States.

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In addition, people with schizophrenia account for at least 10 percent of the homeless population in the United States (see Homelessness). The National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that schizophrenia costs the United States tens of billions of dollars each year in direct treatment, social services, and lost productivity. Prevalence Approximately 1 percent of people develop schizophrenia at some time during their lives. Experts estimate that about 1.8 million people in the United States have schizophrenia. The prevalence of schizophrenia is the same regardless of gender, race, and culture. Although women are just as likely as men to develop schizophrenia, women tend to experience the illness less severely, with fewer hospitalizations and better social functioning in the community.

Symptoms Schizophrenia usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, between the ages of 15 and 30. Much less commonly, schizophrenia develops later in life. The illness may begin abruptly, but it usually develops slowly over months or years. Mental health professionals diagnose schizophrenia based on an interview with the patient in which they determine whether the person has experienced specific symptoms of the illness. Symptoms and functioning in people with schizophrenia tend to vary over time, sometimes worsening and other times improving.

For many patients the symptoms gradually become less severe as they grow older. About 25 percent of people with schizophrenia become symptom-free later in their lives. A variety of symptoms characterize schizophrenia. The most prominent include symptoms of psychosis-such as delusions and hallucinations-as well as bizarre behavior, strange movements, and disorganized thinking and speech. Many people with schizophrenia do not recognize that their mental functioning is disturbed.


SCHIZOPHRENIA Schizophrenia, from the Greek word meaning “split mind”, is a mental disorder that causes complete fragmentation in the processes of the mind. Contrary to common belief, schizophrenia does not refer to a person with a split personality or multiple personalities, but rather to a condition which affects the person’s movement, language, and thinking skills. The question of whether schizophrenia is a disease or collection of socially learned actions is still a question in people’ mind. People who are suffering from schizophrenia think and act in their own the world and put themselves in a way that is totally different from the rest of society. In other words, they have lost in touch with the reality. Most schizophrenics accept the fact that they have this disorder and are willing to receive necessary treatment and listen to, if not follow, professional advice. However there are cases where patients have lost insight and do not acknowledge the fact that they suffer from a mental disorder. As a result, these people do not have the treatment normally patients with schizophrenia do. To observers, schizophrenia may seem like a disease or madness because people who have this disorder behave differently to the people that are considered “normal.” It impairs a person from doing work, going to school, taking care of his/herself or having a social relationship with others. Yet, by looking at some of the symptoms, it is sometimes hard to classify schizophrenia as a disease because it enables those inflicted with it to develop new ways of communication intellectually and creatively, as well as enhancing artistic abilities. A disease is usually some kind of sickness that will lead to death or under heavy medication. However, this is not the case. For now, there is no cure but only treatment to help people with schizophrenia to live more productive lives. Generally, schizophrenia carries enormous threats to the society. About one percent of the people in United States develop schizophrenia and the probability of developing this disorder is independent of the patient’s gender, race or culture. Women are as likely to develop schizophrenia as men but women tend to have less severe symptoms with fewer hospitalizations and are generally able to cope better in the community. About ten percent of the people who have schizophrenia commit suicide and many others attempt suicide. In the United States, schizophrenics occupy one third of the beds in psychiatric hospitals and make up ten percent of the homeless population. The government has spent tens of billions of dollars each year in the direct treatment of, social services for, and lost productivity due to such patients. Usually schizophrenia develops during late adolescence or early adulthood between the age of fifteen and thirty. Earlier symptoms may develop rapidly in the beginning but slows down over months or years. There are two areas, positive and negative, in which schizophrenic symptoms are classified. Positive symptoms can be seen as those which cause the patient to actively do things, and these include delusions, hallucinations, mood changes such as excitement or depression, and acute thought disorder. Negative symptoms are those that come on insidiously and are characterized by what the patient fails to do, e.g. lack of volition, emotional flattening, and withdrawal from society so that there is inability to communicate or socialize. These symptoms are going to be discussed in detail on the next paragraph. Firstly, delusions are false beliefs that clearly appear untrue to other people, and are divided into three kinds: paranoid, grandiose and depressive. In paranoid delusions, the patients believe they are being watched or spied on by some group of people such as the police or FBI. They may also believe that aliens from outer space are controlling their mind. In grandiose delusions, patients believe that they are some special person, often with great powers such as the queen or king of England. In depressive delusions, the patients believe that they are guilty of some terrible crime or it is their fault for the tragic world events. Next, hallucinations are false sensory perceptions meaning that the person who experiences them may see, hear, smell, feel or taste tings that are not really there. Auditory hallucinations such as hearing voices when no one is around are very common to schizophrenics. Patients may hear a single voice or two voices having conversations with each other. Sometimes, they may hear voices commanding them to do something such as to kill someone or to help someone. Tactile hallucinations cause the patient to believe that they are being sexually interfered with, or that their prosecutors are putting electricity through them. Taste and smell hallucinations cause paranoid patients to think that what they are eating has been poisoned. In this case, they may not eat for days which can lead to life-threatening situations. Visual hallucinations are very rare in schizophrenics but it is possible for patients to think they have seen the ghost of their deceased relatives in their room. Hallucinations often cause aggression, stress, anxiety, and fear in the patients. In addition, bizarre behaviors are also very common to people with schizophrenia. They tend to do things those not suffering from schizophrenia typically would not do. This is why mostly people think schizophrenia is a disease. However to the schizophrenics themselves, they do not think that what they are doing is very bizarre. For example, they may talk to themselves, walk backwards, suddenly make loud laughs and funny faces, or even masturbate in public. Sometimes, schizophrenics may perform an action randomly and respectively for hours. In rare cases, they may freeze on a bizarre pose for long periods of time. Another symptom is the disorganized thinking and speech. Schizophrenics may think illogically or expressing their thoughts with consecutive unrelated ideas being linked together. In conversation, they may jump topics or link together long phrases of bizarre words somehow meaningful to them but not to the “normal” people. Their creative language skills make it hard to believe schizophrenia is a disease. Schizophrenics are too intelligent to consider them as an illness. For example, one asked for an explanation of Too many cooks spoil the broth’, for example, one may get replies such as It’s all to do with the kitchen’, There are too many people there’, Interference ruins a good dinner’. By linking and rearranging the phrases, that patient really answered the question. In addition, schizophrenics often create new inventive words called a neologism such as blanketyboo’ for being sad or growlinger’ for feeling angry. Finally, another characteristic of schizophrenia is social withdrawal. Schizophrenics may avoid contact with the public as if society does not exist at all. Moreover, the patient may have lack of expressions such as talking in a low, monotonous voice, showing no facial expressions or avoiding eye contact. They may also lose interest in participating in activies due to lack of pleasure. Other symptoms of schizophrenia include memory loss, planning ahead, and abstract thinking. Most of the patients become alcoholics and drug abusers and this, in turn, often worsens their symptoms. Now that the symptoms of schizophrenia are explained, it is hardly acceptable that schizophrenia is a kind of disease. Schizophrenics are merely acting in ways that “normal” people may not do and as such, should not be coined as abnormal, crazy, or diseased. In order to further understand if schizophrenia is a disease or not, the causes of how schizophrenia appears is very important to consider. Most scientists think that schizophrenia appears from a variety of factors. Research reveals that schizophrenia can be passed from one person to another genetically or by the prenatal environment. There is about forty-six percent chance that a child will develop schizophrenia if both parents already have the illness. Another factor is the chemical imbalance and the structural abnormalities of the brain. Some studies show that schizophrenia occurs when neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) are imbalanced, changing the way by which the neurons to communicate with each other. The excess activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine or an abnormal sensitivity to dopamine in certain parts of the brain can also cause this illness. In addition, researchers discover that schizophrenics usually have enlarged brain ventricles and smaller volume of brain tissue. The frontal lobe of the brain that governs abstract thought, planning and judgment is hardly used. Defects in other parts of the brain such as temporal lobes, hippocampus, thalamus, basal ganglia and superior temporal gyrus are also some factors contributing to the development of schizophrenia. Besides looking at the biological causes, a person might also develop schizophrenia due to the environment he/she is living in. A stressful environment such as living in an overcrowded city, or a stressful experience such as death of a loved one, a change in job or relationships are some examples of factors which make increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Being able to handle stress efficiently decreases the chances in suspecting the negative effects of the illness. By looking at the different causes, it is clear that schizophrenia cannot be categorized as a disease since it is not a virus contains in the human body. A disease is usually some sort of virus that enters into the human body and destroys human organs and tissues. There is not cure for the disease and the patient is soon going to die. Now that schizophrenia cannot be considered as a disease, it is still some kind of disorder because schizophrenics behave differently from the rest of the society. As a result, those who are considered “normal” think of ways to bring people with schizophrenia back to reality. These treatments cannot cure schizophrenia but instead, it can improve the long-term course of the illness. Various treatments used by psychiatrists includes: drug treatment with neuroleptics, biological treatments other than drugs such as notable electro convulsive therapy (ECT), psychological treatments, including psychotherapy, family therapy, behaviour therapy and self-control (cognitive therapy), and social treatments, including occupational therapy while in hospital and recommendations for a change in living style when outside hospital. Antipsychotic medications can prevent symptoms from returning but it cannot treat other symptoms such as social withdrawal and apathy. Also, there are some side effects to these medications, including dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, muscle spasms or cramps, and tremors. One of the major side affects is tardive dyskinesia, a permanent condition when the lips, mouth, and tongue move without any control. Besides medications and therapies, family intervention programs exist which focus on the families of the schizophrenics instead of the patients themselves. This is particularly useful since family members can learn and understand how to cope with the patient and provide for them a low-stress environment and aiding them as much as possible. By looking at all the aspects of schizophrenia, it is very hard to believe schizophrenia is a type of disease. Different from AIDS or cancer that may lead to death, schizophrenia alone will not kill the patient. In contrast, schizophrenics become more gifted and inventive in their way of thinking. The inability of the “normal” people to understand the patients’ styles of presentation does not mean those patients are abnormal or have a disease. When viewing from their world, schizophrenics may think that the “normal” people are the ones who display bizarre behaviour. Schizophrenia can be called a disorder, a collection of socially learn actions, an illness but never called a disease.


Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a mental illness, characterized by a range of symptoms. Most common symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. Additional symptoms of schizophrenia found in humans include: bizarre behavior, loss of contact with reality, disorganized thinking and speaking, decreased emotional expressiveness, social withdrawal and memory loss. When a person smiles at another person, the usual response is to smile back. When a schizophrenic person sees one`s smile, he/she wonders, Why are they laughing at me? Schizophrenics think that everyone is against them, causing everything to be rarely funny. Unlike other mental illnesses, schizophrenia has a fading effect on the person`s life. They soon lose the ability to distinguish the difference between real and unreal experiences, also called delusions.

Lori recalling how she killed her dog, beating it to death, is an example of delusion. It actually happened in her head, and only in her head. The illness takes over and shuts them down until they cannot operate, causing a both a high number of suicides and attempted suicides. People with schizophrenia usually exhibit short attention spans and abstract thinking. Also, they are more likely to abuse and/or become dependent on drugs and alcohol.

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To describe the suffers of schizophrenia, common terms like mad and insane are used by the outside world Erikson formulated many different, but sequential stages in human development. The first is the trust versus mistrust stage. This occurs in the first year of child`s life, with the infant gaining a sense of trust. Responsive and sensitive caregivers meet their basic needs. Lori was treated well by her parents as an infant.

She also developed within the following stages successfully. Stage two is autonomy versus shame & doubt, which occurs in the second year of infancy. Infants start to find that they can complete small without the caregiver`s assistance. This stage takes place during early childhood between the ages of three and five. Infants are likely to gain a sense of shame and doubt, resulting from encounters with the social world and new responsibilities. Stage four, is the industry versus inferiority.

Children go through this stage between the ages of six years old until reaching puberty. The child is enthusiastic during this time, and focuses their energy towards learning, but problems can happen. Some children can feel incompetent and non-productive. Lori developed through this stage successfully by participating in activities and even being the class clown. Stage five is called ?identity versus identity confusion¦.

Starting at adolescence (ages 10 to 20), everyone is faced with finding the ?true self¦ and direction for the future. This is where Lori begins to feel different. Lori began to hear voices and felt different from other people. She kept it hidden for a long time. She went to college and tried to push aside the voices in her head.

This brings us to the sixth stage, ?intimacy versus isolation¦, occurring in early adulthood. We are faced with intimate relationships with others. Lori-s voices affected her ability during this stage of her life. She often dated, but had to stop because of her schizophrenic outbreaks. Driving Lori to attempt suicide, and driving her roommate to fear Lori.

Lori-s problems began to snowball. The seventh and is ?generatively versus stagnation¦, occurring between the ages of 40 and 50, the average age when raising children. This final stage is where we find Lori in today. 3. Doctors used a number of different treatments in an attempt to treat Lori. The doctors used medication, shock therapy treatment, cold-wet-packing, and the quiet room to try to help Lori and her illness. Medication was used both in the beginning and end of her treatment. The drugs used, are called anti-psychotic drugs, and they include: haloperidol, risperidone, olanzapine, and thioridazine.

Anti-psychotic drugs are used to control the hallucinations and delusions. Lori-s doctors believed drugs were the right choice, but her mom did not agree with it, because of the side affects that the drugs have. When Lori went to the hospital, she received drugs and spent her time walking around in a daze. Specific effects include: dry mouth, blurred vision, dizziness and drowsiness. ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) can often relieve severe depression in people who fail to respond to antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.

A low-voltage electric current is passed through the brain for one or two second to produce a controlled seizure. Six to ten ECT treatments are given to patients over several weeks. ECT remains controversial because it can cause disorientation and memory loss. Nevertheless, research has found it highly effective in alleviating ever depression. Lori did not like the shock treatment because it took her memories away and killed brain cells.

Lori described the experience, ?It was awful. They had taken away big chunks or my life¦ (94). She did not find this to be an effective method in her treatment. Next, doctors tried a method called cold-wet-packing (CWP for reference) on Lori. The CWP concept is that the body uses do much energy to keep warm, that the patient would calm down and relax towards sleep. Lori was injected with sodium amytal to calm her, wrapped her securely in sheets that had been soaking in ice water.

She was wrapped tight like a mummy, covering her whole body minus her feet, neck and head. She was left like this for 2 hours. This was one of the more effective treatments that Lori went through. Lastly, Lori was kept in the quiet room. This was a totally empty room except for a bed. The quiet room and CWP were used to calm her down and relax, and medication was used to control her schizophrenia.

These drugs help to reduce symptoms in 80 to 90 percent of schizophrenics, but have a potentially fatal side effect. This drug, named clozapine, can cause a fatal blood disease, requiring users to have blood tests taken weekly. This drug has been effective with controlling Lori-s schizophrenia. In the treatment of mental illnesses, I believe that medications, while should not be only option, can be used if it is the best option. Also, the pros and cons of the drug must be observed.

Are there side effects to the drugs? As long as a drug is effective, and does not inhibit the mental well being of the patient, I support the use of medication. If at all possible, conventional, non-medicinal treatments should be tried first (cold-wet-packing, etc-). If a majority of the population is worried about side effects, the solution is not to stop using the drugs, thus taking it away from patients who excel with it. Rather, newer drugs should be researched and put into use for old, harmful ones. 4. I really did not understand, or appreciate mental illness and the hard life such people must face.

In high school they were known as the sub-losers, and the freaks. I have a relative Mike who is a schizophrenic, and obviously when I was little, I could not understand his actions. He was convinced he was under the surveillance of the FBI, and displayed erratic behavior. Mike lived across from my father-s hardware store, and he would buy massive amounts of random items. He once ordered 20 sheets of glass, and they just sat in his front lawn for years.

I can remember making many jokes at his expense. But they have no control over the illness, so should they be made fun of? This book also makes you think about taking things for granted. Lori had everything in her life until the day the illness started to set in. This could happen to anyone at anytime. I feel that his book has made me open minded, and has enabled me to understand more people.

6. At first, Lori-s family as in denial of her illness. Even a psychologist father let it slip. Understanding how the perfect girl, who went so very bad, was impossible. She was the All American girl, who was living an active, happy life.

Her father felt ashamed that his child was sick, and demanded his wife tell no one could find out about her condition. This illness seemed to challenge his ability to raise a child. Another part of his concern was how the illness would effect her maturation into an adult. He attempted to protect her future, by hiding the problems from the public. Lori-s mom unwillingly agreed with her husband-s decision.

The lives of her two brothers were also affected. Steve was scared to bring people to the house, and the younger brother was jealous of all the attention she got from her parents. Everyone in this family had to deal with it in some way, because the problems were not going away. 7. Today, Lori is living well. Although she had worries at first, she is taking the medication called clozapine.

She really had no choice, as it was her last hope. In New York, she lives in an apartment that she calls, a beautiful place. Gone are the white walls of the quiet room. Lori furnishes her place with whatever she likes. Getting her life back in order, Lori has lost all the weight she gained and is back down to 118 pounds. Although taking 26 pills a day seems ridiculous, the voices in her head have retreated. Only once in a while, she hears the voices, but takes trips on the New York subway to relax. Reconnecting with the outside world, and finding a new network of friends is a goal she is striving to reach. Meeting with Dr.

Dollar only twice a week now, Lori has come to terms with herself. She has accepted who she is.


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