Causes And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia Essay

2163 words - 9 pages

When a person's thinking, feeling, and behavior are so far from normal as to interfere with his or her ability to function in everyday life, and he or she experiences delusions or hallucinations, he or she is afflicted with a mental illness called schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental illnesses because it causes its victims to lose touch with reality and makes him or her unable to perform in society (Smith 23).The word schizophrenia literally means "a splitting of the mind." (Torrey 176) The disease is also called paranoia and schizophrenia reaction, but it s official term is "schizophrenic disorder." "Today we think of schizophrenia as a complex psychobiological ...view middle of the document...

(Mendel 802)Schizophrenia has specific symptoms and features which distinguish it from other psychoses. Some of these are delusions (false beliefs that usually involve a misinterpretation of perceptions or experiences) and hallucinations, especially of the auditory variety. Victims may also exhibit disturbed emotions and thinking; poor or no function in work, social relations, or self-care; and decreased functioning continuing for at least six months. There is no known cause, and it is especially difficult to trace physical causes like drugs or brain tumors. Other associated features can be abnormal physical activity, such as pacing and rocking; abnormal speech and communication, such as silly talk and repetition; and inappropriate manners, illogical ideas, and bizarre behavior (Smith 23).The American Psychiatric Association names the most severe types of schizophrenia as disorganized, or hebephrenic, schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, and paranoid-type schizophrenia. Hallucinations, absurd delusions, highly inappropriate laughing and crying, silliness, incoherent speech, and infantile or odd behavior characterize disorganized schizophrenia (Columbia Encyclopedia).Catatonic schizophrenia resembles suspended animation--a loss of voluntary motion. The patient's limbs may hold any position in which they are placed. Also, they may stand or sit endlessly in what is called a catatonic "stupor"--a marked decrease in reactivity to the environment. At times, it is difficult to move a catatonic person, but at others, he or she may "flail around for no apparent reason." However, the catatonic condition is far less common today, due in part to the use of newer, more advanced medications (Smith 24).Paranoid-type schizophrenia is slightly different from the disorganized and catatonic varieties because a paranoid individual does not show many of the "typical" features of schizophrenia. For example, someone suffering from paranoid-type schizophrenia is not incoherent, does not, in general, behave inappropriately, or exhibit catatonic or grossly disorganized behavior. While he or she still hallucinates, the paranoid person's delusions are based on a single idea or theme. Unlike the disorganized behavior of other people suffering from schizophrenia, paranoid people have a "highly organized imaginary world in which they live." They are frequently "anxious and frightened that someone is 'out to get them.' They often build fantastic and complex fantasy schemes about imaginary enemies." (Smith 26)Physicians do not know the cause of schizophrenia. Genetic factors may be partly responsible for some cases. Abnormal brain chemistry also plays a role. Certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, which allow nerve cells to communicate with each other, have been found to be at abnormal levels in some people with schizophrenia. (Torrey 176)"Biochemical research suggests that high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine...may be at the root of schizophrenia." (Butcher...

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