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Schizophrenia

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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

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