An Introduction To Schizophrenia Essay Research Paper

An Introduction To Schizophrenia Essay, Research Paper

Schizophrenia or Sz is one of the most destructive illnesses known to man,

although not that much has actually been known about it since recent progressive

research. It usually hits at the most crucial point in a persons life, soon after high

school, when a person is beginning to become independant and forming a life for

themselves. Sz has many different forms and faces, but also has very predictable

symptoms and progression and although the illness is very destructive, it is on

average very treatable when diagnosed. In the past, there has been very many

?stigmas? or rumors about this illness and it has been widely misunderstood and

because of that, it has been very hard for people suffering from scizophrenia.

The word ?schizophrenia? has a greek origin, ?schizo? meaning splitting and

?phrenia? meaning of the mind. This term can be misinterpreted and confused with

the idea of split-personality disorders, so even its name could be partially blamed

for the stigmas surrouding the illness. Sz was first described in 1896 in a study by

German psychiatrist, Dr. Emil Kraepelin. The term he coined was ?dementia

praecox? or precocious mental deterioration.

It is still very unclear what causes Sz, although there are many theories as to

how this illness develops. The first theory is that it is a hereditary or genetic

disease. It has been noted that Sz seems to run in families and it is possible that you

inherit a tendancy to develop this illness. Similarily to other genetic illnesses, Sz

surfaces when the body is undergoing major physical and hormonal changes like

during puberty, and in the young adult years. Another theory is that schizophrenia is

caused by a chemical imbalance. People with Sz either produce too much or have a

high sensitivity to the chemical, dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that allows

nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other. An imbalance of this

chemical interferes with the way that the brain interprets certain stimuli and that

causes the person to be overwhelmed by sensory information. This problem of

processing sounds, tastes, smells, sights and feelings can also lead to hallucinations

or delusions. Another less common theory is that scizophrenia is caused by

problems during pregnancy or viral infections. Some researchers insist that poor

nutrition and care during pregnacy can be a major cause of Sz.

When Sz first begins to develop, the person might start to feel antisocial or

depressed. Observers might think that the person is becoming lazier and more

apathetic than usual and this could be interpreted as just rude behavior instead of an

illness. Symptoms of the illness are referred to as ?positive? and ?negative?. Positive

symptoms are characteristics that are not experienced by the average person like

delusions, disorganized thinking, agitation and hallucinations while negative

symptoms are characteristics that the average person has but are lacked by the ill

person. Lack of motivation and drive, social withdrawl, depression, lack of emotion

and expression are just to name a few.

The positive symptoms are what people tend to associate with schizophrenia

and the most widely known symptom is the experiencing of hallucinations. These

hallucinations can come in many forms. The most common form of hallucinations

are those of auditory nature. The person might hear odd noises or voices that

comment on the actions and behaviors of the individual. These voices might tell the

person to do things and therefore could be very potentially dangerous, seeing that

these voices are virtually impossible to ignore or resist. Another form of

hallucination are those of the visual nature. These can greatly attribute to delusional

behavior and seriously confuse or scare the individual. Other hallucinations include

smell or afactory hallucinations, sematic hallucinations or pains, and taste or

gustatory hallucinations.

Another very common symptom associated with Sz is the experience of

delusions. These are fantasies that cannot be dispelled no matter how little

evidence there is to support them. Many people become paranoid that others are

talking about them or that others can read their thoughts. Thought broadcasting or

telepathy is another common delusion as well as the person believing that they are

rich and famous.

Other common symptoms that friends and family should be aware of are

eccentric dressing, decreased lack of intrest in personal hygiene, intense obsession

with religion or philosphy and noticable increase or decrease in the sensitivity to

other people, although these symptoms can just seem like the regular behavior of an

average teenager.

Negative symptoms basically revolve around the idea of emotional or social

blunting or flattening. It also involves the inability to express emotions mentally or

physically. There is little to no initiation in conversation. This has to do with what

some people call, ?poverty of content of speech? or speech characteristics. Some

individuals suffer from ?blocking? or when a person starts talking, stops and then

starts again after irregular intervals. Avolition is another negative symptom. This

means that the person is ?apathetic? in a technical sense, when they have a lack of

will to act at all. Another negative symptom, commonly referred to as anhedonia, is

when the person is unable to experience pleasure to a normal degree and doesn?t

partake in regular activities that the individual used to find pleasurable.

There are different stages and types of schizophrenia as well. Two of the

most common types or stages are acute Sz and chronic Sz. Chronic Sz is when the

person is suffering more from the negative symptoms and these periods usually last

serveral months. The person can find themselves agitated, depressed and

unmotivated as well as incapable of performing even the smallest task or errand. It is

usually very hard for the person to even get up in the morning let alone go to work

or school. After a build-up of chronic symptoms, the person might go into a form of

acute Sz which is when the positive symptoms usually occur. These periods can last

anywhere from weeks to months, and then they tend to die down and enter the

chronic stage again.

There are also many sub-types of Sz. The most common sub-type is paranoid

schizophrenia. This is when the person suffers from major delusions and

experiences a combination of suspicion, paranoia, and a feeling of persecution or the

grandoise. Another sub-type of Sz is cataonic scizophrenia which resembles

somewhat of a waking coma. Another sub-type which can be confused with catatonic

Sz is hebephrenic schizophrenia. This type of Sz causes the emotions of the

individual to become distorted. It can resemble catatonic Sz because the emotions

might be very hard to express but it can also cause great outbursts of emotions such

as anger or ?fits? as well as innappropriate laughter or giddiness.

Treatment has come along way in the last few decades. On average, a person

suffering from schizophrenia can lead a very normal life and could undergo a

complete remission ten years from diagnosis. There are many medications that treat

the symptoms of Sz and with proper care as well as the support of friends, family

and theriputic treatment, it is very highly possible that the individual can live a

normal life.

The statistics of diagnosed schizophrenics are as follows: (very rough average)

Ten years after diagnosis –

25% go on to live normal lives

25% live normally, but still need further assistance from therapy

25% need to be hospitalized

15% are imprisoned or homeless

10% commit suicide

The main reason that treatment is not successful is that the patient does not recieve

sufficient support from friends or family as well as the individual feels isolated by

society and cannot get past the depression that comes with Sz. Although our society

has become a lot more accepting or sympathetic towards mental illness and

schizophrenia, some of the stigmas still run rampant throughout our everyday lives.


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