Schizophrenia Essay, Research Paper
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 this time it was recommended that Joan be put into a facility that could give her 24-hour supervision. At their wits end, Joan’s parents did it. At age thirteen Joan had a fifth grade education and was admitted into a mental hospital. She was in the hospital for three months when her final diagnosis, schizophrenia, was made.
Joan was in and out of hospitals for the rest of her teenage years. She was resistant to counseling and was often violent towards her doctors. At age nineteen, Joan made a huge breakthrough. She stated that she was tired of fighting the voices and wanted to get better. After this she became active in her treatment and made an effort to get better. Although this was a wonderful event in Joan’s life, it was still an uphill battle to get well.
Joan was surrounded by people who loved her and wanted her to get well. She was put on a medication called sertindole or Serlect. This medication seemed to be working very well. A few weeks after Joan started this medication she developed an arrhythmia. Her doctor’s were concerned because her father had a heart condition. Immediately Joan was taken off this medication. After many failed attempts to find a medication regime that worked as well as Serlect, Joan’s doctors almost gave up. Then they came across a drug that became Joan’s “wonder drug.” This medication was olanzapine or Zyprexa. There are a few side affects such as drowsiness, but Joan seems to be doing wonderful with it. Joan is also seeing a psychologist once a week. Soon she will be going once every two weeks. Barring any major setbacks, Joan seems to be on the road to recovery.
Joan Becker is now a 23-year-old woman. She is very lucky to be doing as well as she is with her illness at her age. Joan is now living in a house with two other women. Joan is doing very well in this environment. She has beaten the odds of her disease. She no longer has voices except what she calls “good voices.” Her friends and family say these voices are just her conscience. Her psychologist agrees. Joan also has found a job as a receptionist at a mental health center. She says it helps her to be able to help others “even if it is to just do their paperwork.” Joan will always be classified as having schizophrenia, but she will not always be sick.
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