Schizophrenia Essay Research Paper SchizophreniaWHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA

Schizophrenia Essay, Research Paper


WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA? What does the term schizophrenia mean? In its

most elementary sense, we might say that schizophrenia is a disease, invented

by Eugene Bleeder. Eugene Bleeder was one of the most influential psychiatrists

of his time. He is best known today for his introduction of the term

schizophrenia, previously known as dementia praecox. In actuality, schizophrenia

is often used generically and inappropriately as it is often applied to almost

any kind of unusual behavior of which the speaker disapproves. Schizophrenia is

almost universally viewed as the “classic example of madness” . It is a

startling and sometimes frightening experience to unexpectedly come across a

person who proclaims himself Jesus Christ, rants gibberish, or sits with his

body unmoving as if frozen in time and place. For some people, such an

experience is too shocking, too fearsome, too repulsive. They hurry away, trying

to dismiss the image of the deranged individual from their minds.

No other illness is as disabling and baffling as schizophrenia. Today,

in spite of the drugs that have allowed many schizophrenics to live at home or

in the community, a significant number of people admitted to mental hospitals

are victims of the disease. According to the Encyclopedia Of Health,

schizophrenics account for nearly 40% of admissions to state mental hospitals,

30% of psychiatric admissions to Veterans Administration hospitals, and about

20% of admissions to private psychiatric hospitals. Schizophrenia is incurable.

Its cause or causes are yet unknown, and it is impossible to predict what course

the disease will take. There are many theories about the causes of schizophrenia,

its progression, and its eventual outcome. They are currently being explored by

researchers around the world.

Schizophrenia’s most dramatic symptoms are severe and perpetual

delusions and hallucinations. A delusion is a false belief or idea that logic

and reason show to be “crazy”. A hallucination is seeing, hearing , or sensing

something that is not there. Both symptoms occur in other mental illnesses, but

the content of the schizophrenic delusions is often distinct enough that the

experienced psychiatrist or clinical psychologist can readily identify the


Another common characteristic of this disabling disease is the

disjointed conversation of its victims. Their discourse often consists of a

series of vague statements strung together in an incoherent manner. Listeners

are left puzzled by what they have heard and this can be attributed to the

unevenness of the schizophrenic’s speaking patterns. To one degree or another,

schizophrenics display a certain indifference or nonchalance regarding what is

happening around them. Their whole emotional outlook is deadened, and they show

little or no warmth toward others. They suffer from a mental paralysis.

Prolonged immobility and jerky, robot like movements are other common symptoms

of the disorder. Typically, schizophrenics withdraw emotionally and even

physically from the world and the people around them. They exclude reality and

focus on their hallucinations, and the other thoughts locked within them.

The bizarre thoughts and behavior of schizophrenics usually begin in

late adolescence or early adulthood. The syndrome begins with a gradual

deterioration of behavior that may be more noticeable to the patient’s friends

than to parents, especially in a high-school-aged person. Schizophrenia occurs

in equal numbers in males and females, but women, on average, seem to develop

the disease four or five years later than men do. Rarely does schizophrenia

first appear in either sex after age 40, and almost never after 50. Symptoms may

occur suddenly and dramatically, but more often they begin slowly, almost

imperceptibly. They grow more prolonged, more obvious, and more disturbing ,

almost inevitably ending in at least one hospitalization.

Five long term studies involving more than 1300 patients have concluded

that half or more of the schizophrenics had recovered or showed significant

improvement in their illness after two to four decades. No one can predict which

patients will suffer an unremitting illness, whose schizophrenia will be

episodic, or who will eventually go on to recovery. Yet the findings that some

schizophrenics do eventually recover have inspired new hopes. A diagnosis of

schizophrenia remains serious and frightening, but at least the schizophrenic’s

outlook may not be as grim and gloomy as was long believed.