Causes And Treatments Of Schizophrenia Essay, Research Paper
Does one ever think they hear voices fighting for control of their mind or telling them what to do? Does one hallucinate constantly or feel that people are following them and trying to kill them? If an individual matches this description, they might be a prime candidate for schizophrenic treatment. Schizophrenia, a devastating brain disease, has torn apart the lives of many with its unrevealed causes leaving few known treatments and no cures.
Schizophrenia is a major mental disorder typically characterized by a separation between the thought processes and the emotions (Hawkins). Nonetheless, trying to define schizophrenia is like trying to hit a moving target. New research is discovered constantly supplying new methods for treating and understanding this mental disorder a bit better. This disorder can distort reality and provide delusions as well as hallucinations. Schizophrenia is a brain disease, meaning that there should be a way to cure it, however, that cure has not been found yet (Winerip 28).
Schizophrenia affects one percent of the adult population and signs of it usually emerge in the late teens to the middle twenties (Winerip 28). It is uncommon to obtain schizophrenia after the age of thirty, but it is even more rare to acquire schizophrenia after the age of forty. Since it is so unusual to obtain schizophrenia in the later years, it is believed that schizophrenia in older individuals is a different disease all together. The age of onset for men with this disorder is earlier than that of women. This evidence would provide that there are more males as opposed to females with schizophrenia (Torrey 63).
Schizophrenia often causes its victims to hear voices and to hallucinate which is usually the final factor in making schizophrenics go insane in the end (Bowler 208). The chief symptom of schizophrenia is the delusions, or what is called by the medical term “negative syndrome” (Schizophrenia). The earliest stages of schizophrenia are hard to spot due to people believing that these symptoms are just the natural over exaggerations of teenagers. Then these early symptoms lead into the overacuteness of the senses. However, this symptom is also quite hard to see. Other major symptoms of schizophrenia include the following: moodiness, withdrawal, apathy, loss of interest in one’s personal appearance, perplexity, the belief that people are watching one, preoccupation with one’s body, and vagueness in thoughts (Torrey 64). Nevertheless, these are all characteristic of teenagers at certain periods of their life.
Schizophrenia is treated with medications controlling excess brain chemicals which are called neurotransmitters. These medications are used since scientists and psychologists have found that schizophrenia is a mental disorder affecting the brain (Winerip 28). Schizophrenia has four major subdivisions providing a variety of medications and treatments. The four major subdivisions of schizophrenia are as follows: simple or undifferentiated, hebephrenic or disorganized, catatonic, and paranoid. Little is truly conclusive about schizophrenia, but research for this disease is an ongoing process (Schizophrenia).
There are many theories on how schizophrenia can develop, but few are conclusive. One conclusive cause of schizophrenia is the early life situation. This condition can develop at any time in the early years of a human. Scientists say that schizophrenia can develop as early as while a fetus is still growing in the uterus. A statistic shows that most schizophrenics born in the Northern Hemisphere, are born in the late winter and early spring. Scientists and psychologists believe that there must be a recurring factor in the conception, pregnancy, or birth of the child in order for them to be a schizophrenic at an early age. Still, there is no tangible evidence to support this theory. The parents of the early schizophrenics usually were shy, introverted, and unable to relate to other people when they were young which lead the children to not have a normal childhood; most schizophrenics have antecedents of their disease in their early childhood. Persons with early schizophrenia have an excessive number of unusual fingerprints which happens when infants catch infectious diseases like rubella and cytomegalovirus. During the birth of early schizophrenics, the infants seem to have many more complications, as well as usually being at an inferior weight when compared to their siblings (Torrey 81).
A prime example of an early schizophrenic is Rhoda Torrey, sister of the father of schizophrenic research E. Fuller Torrey. E. Fuller Torrey came home one day to find his sister acting quite delusional. E. Fuller Torrey says, “She was lying out in the front yard yelling, ‘The British are coming.’ Actually, what was coming was schizophrenia.” (Winerip 28). E. Fuller Torrey believes that the sudden death of their father at a young age caused his sister to go into mental shock. After all, she was, before this tragic event, an attractive high school senior with decent grades. It seemed to everybody that knew her, that she just flipped from normal to schizophrenic overnight (Winerip 28).
Another conclusive cause for schizophrenia is the genetic situation. This case offers the fact that schizophrenia runs in the family. If schizophrenia did not run in the family, there would be a one percent chance of anybody obtaining this mental disorder. However, it is proven that one is more apt to obtain schizophrenia if there is a member in their family tree that has had this disease already leaving those who do not have a family member with schizophrenia to be very unlikely to acquire it. If a specific virus runs in the family of a schizophrenic, then anybody in that family receiving this virus might acquire schizophrenia. As an example, if the schizophrenia-catching virus is the measles, than anybody in that particular family receiving the measles has a chance of catching schizophrenia. Nonetheless, this is just a theory that is very inconclusive. It is also thought by scientists as well as psychologists that schizophrenia is inherited genetically, but the schizophrenic gene, if one might call it that, has not been discovered yet. Another way of acquiring schizophrenia in the inherited sense is through a dietary factor. This would mean that a certain food would trigger schizophrenia in a household leaving schizophrenia present in the member of the family that eats that food (Torrey 80).
An exemplary example of the family cause is a girl by the name of Dorothy. Her mother was hospitalized for schizophrenia for two years during her early childhood and her brother was in an institution for the mentally retarded. Dorothy was a straight “A” student until the age of fifteen when she became sidetracked eventually dropping out of school by the age of sixteen. She then went to work as a domestic, married, and eventually had three children. Dorothy was doing fine until she started to hear airplanes constantly passing over her head. She also repetitively heard voices and thought people were trying to kill her. Due to her delusions, Dorothy neglected her children starting the schizophrenic process over through them. Dorothy has still not recovered from schizophrenia and is allowed home for brief periods at a time to visit with her children (Torrey 71).
Various treatments are used in handling schizophrenia. One such treatment, considered by numerous people as the best treatment, is the use of drugs and medications. “Drugs do not ‘cure,’ but rather ‘control,’ the symptoms of schizophrenia – as they do those of diabetes.” (Torrey 111). The drugs used in treating schizophrenics are called antipsychotics. In the controlling aspect of schizophrenia, the drugs try to reduce the symptoms of the mental disorder. They also shorten the stay in hospitals by a considerable amount giving the schizophrenic a good feeling about them. An individual taking the drugs has a sixty percent chance of not being rehospitalized, while an individual not taking the drugs has only a twenty percent chance of not being rehospitalized. The injectable form of drugs are much more efficient due to the schizophrenic being forced to take the drugs as opposed to the schizophrenic having a choice when swallowing a pill or a liquid (Torrey 111).
Another treatment that has been used is group psychotherapy. This treatment has been used to no avail though seeing as how it is not too effective in the traditional state. There are two types of group psychotherapy that are used: interpersonal and intrapersonal. The interpersonal groups focus on what the schizophrenic is doing at the present time. An example of this might be if one asked the question, “Why did you ignore me?” The intrapersonal groups focus on what the schizophrenic is like in association to other schizophrenics in the group. An example of this might be if one asked the question, “Why do you have low self-esteem?” (Torrey 127).
Long term group psychotherapy may be detrimental to the schizophrenic. This is due to talking about how the individuals became schizophrenic. When the schizophrenics talk about what happened to them they have a chance to relapse back to when they became schizophrenic. However, groups with educational or social focuses have proven to be beneficial. The social support provides friendships which in turn present the fact that these people may trust somebody beyond themselves. The educational state of a group provides the illusion that what the schizophrenic is in is not really a group at all, but really a learning center (Torrey 127).
In conclusion, one can see that schizophrenia is a brain disease that does not have any cures, yet has many treatments. One can see that the schizophrenic is a human being just like everyone else on this planet. They should be treated the same and accepted into society helping them to overcome their mental illness. If one is ever faced with a schizophrenic, do not shun them away, but rather see that they are well taken care of. After all, the human race must do unto others as they would have done unto them if they are to progress at all.
Bowler, Ann E., Irving I. Gottesman, Edward H. Taylor, and E. Fuller Torrey. Schizophrenia and Manic-Depressive Disorder. New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1994.
Hawkins, Marta. Personal Interview. 22 February 1998.
Schizophrenia. Department of Psychiatry, University of Groningen: Schizophrenia. Online. AOL. 22 February 1998.
Torrey, E. Fuller. Surviving Schizophrenia. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1983.
Winerip, Michael. “Schizophrenia’s Most Zealous Foe.” The New York Times Magazine. 22 February 1998: 26.