Nathaniel Ayes' "The Soloist" And The History Of Schizophrenia

1902 words - 8 pages

Schizophrenia is one of the most well known and surprisingly frequent psychological disorders today. Patients who have this disorder have problems separating reality from fantasy or delusion. Typically, the person with schizophrenia starts off with a small paranoia about something or someone and continues to get more and more problematic until he/she has trouble functioning in the real world because of emotional, physical, mental, or financial reasons. Because of this, most people who end up homeless have Schizophrenia because they are unable to keep a job, Nathaniel Ayes in the book The Soloist. Nathaniel was a cello player attending the Julliard school of music, one of the world’s most prestigious performing art schools, until he developed schizophrenia and was unable to continue. This book shows how much a disorder such as schizophrenia can turn a person’s life upside down in the course of as little as a few weeks.
Even though the word schizophrenia is only around a 100 years old, there are written document containing “diseases” that are very similar to cases of Schizophrenia dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. Studies have looked into ancient Greek and Roman literature and have shown that it is very likely that the general population most likely had some awareness of psychotic disorders, however, they did not have any ways to diagnose or treat these disorders. In most points in history anyone who was considered “abnormal”, whether because of physical, mental, or emotional issues, was treated the same. Most early doctors believed that mental disorders were caused by demon spirits or evil that had possessed the body. So, in order to treat these “possessed” people, doctors used various techniques to exorcise the demons, trying everything from having the patient listen to calming music to drilling holes in the patient’s skull.
Dr. Emile Krapelin, a German physician, was one of the first to separate mental disorders into different categories. “Dementia praecox” was the term Krapelin used for those patients who had some of the same symptoms that we now use to describe schizophrenia. Many people had described the basic concept of “madness” for hundreds, even thousands of years, however, Krapelin was the first to distinguish Schizophrenia as a distinguished mental disorder in the year 1887. He also was the first to distinguish between mental disorders such as Schizophrenia and depression. “Dementia praecox” was believed to be a “disease of the brain” meaning literally “early dementia.”
The actual term “Schizophrenia” was coined by a Swiss psychiatrist name Eugen Bleuler in around 1911. Bleuler believed that Krapelin’s name for the disease was inaccurate because Schizophrenia did not always lead to a mental deterioration of the brain and it could occur at almost any time in a person’s life. The word Schizophrenia come from two Greek roots Schizo (meaning split) and Phrene (meaning mind) because people who develop this...

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