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Understanding Schizophrenia Essay

2784 words - 11 pages

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, although affecting only one percent of the population, has a direct affect on society today. This disease, if left untreated, poses threat to health care professionals (including psychiatrists), law enforcement personnel, and family members responsible for the care and support of the schizophrenia patient. This paper addresses the causes of schizophrenia and the myths surrounding this complicated ailment, the affect of untreated or misunderstood aspects of schizophrenia has on society and important crisis intervention strategies for those in close contact to victims of schizophrenia.
The definition of schizophrenia is a group of psychotic disorders characterized by disturbances in thought, perception, affect, behavior and communication that endures longer than six months. Psychotic symptoms could include delusions (beliefs that are false in light of direct evidence of truth), hallucinations, incoherence (confused logic), catatonic behavior (bizarre physical movement) or flat affect (showing no emotion). (Lehman 15)
Three types of schizophrenia exist; these are catatonic, paranoid, and disorganized. The catatonic schizophrenic is often negative, easily excitable, usually cannot take care of personal needs, little sensitivity to painful stimulus. The paranoid type has delusional thoughts that are frightening (usually of persecution), anxiety, anger, violent tendencies, and argumentative. The disorganized type is incoherent, displays flat affect, delusional, hallucinates, laughs at inappropriate times and lives life as a hermit. (Lehman 15)
The causes of schizophrenia remain unknown, but several theories exist explaining possible causes of the debilitating disease. Genetics may play a significant role because close relatives of a person with schizophrenia are more likely to develop the disorder. The risk is even greater for those relatives who are genetically similar to the schizophrenic. This theory poses important debates however. If schizophrenia is caused by simple genetics, identical twins should both be affected by schizophrenia if one twin has been diagnosed. It is rare to find a majority of identical twins affected. Studies have found there to be a weak genetic link to schizophrenia. A recent study of high-risk children found there to be little proof of a genetic link.

The contrast between offspring of ill parents and offspring of normal parents was significant only for gross motor skills, but the direct affect of an ill parent on development of schizophrenia-related psychoses was not significant, which indicated a weak genetic model. (Erlenmeyer-Kimling, 28)

Erlenmeyer-Kimling also noted that environment and early developmental damage could play a role in the onset on schizophrenia. This disease may have a series of triggers that could bring on the onset of the disease. These triggers could include complications during pregnancy and/or labor, prenatal...

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