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What is Schizophrenia?
The most widely studied psychotic disorder, Schizophrenia is a neurological brain
disorder, which affects approximately 1.1 percent of the entire US population (Jablensky,
1997). An alarming 40% of the affected people with the condition are left untreated.
Schizophrenia can be defined as a break from reality, where it becomes gnarled and
perplexed. With further research, it has been recognized to affect a wide range of different
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
There are several different symptoms and signs of schizophrenia, usually
classified as positive symptoms (psychotic behaviors not often seen in healthy people)
and negative symptoms (disruptions to normal emotion and behavior). Of those
positive symptoms, at the top of the list is hallucinations. People with the disease are
known to have a disruption in perception including touching, seeing, even smelling things
that arent actually there. About 65% of those with the disease reported hearing voices,
(Frith & Fletcher, 1995). These voices are often unpleasant and demanding of the
individual, sometimes suggesting grotesque actions. Schizophrenics are known to be
delusional, and paranoid, they may think they are Moses, or that the Police are out to get
them. People with schizophrenia have almost no understanding of their own thought
processes (Karow et al., 2007), making it easier to give into these delusional beliefs.
Another symptom can include muddled speech, because those with the disease often have
trouble processing thoughts and focusing their attention. For example, when you ask a
schizophrenic a question such as Where are you going? They may answer with
something along the lines of I had toast for breakfast this morning. I used to work for the
FBI when I was younger. I need to go to sleep now. Which is completely irrelevant to

the question that was asked. They are also well known for having behavior that would be
crude or improper for the situation at hand. Examples of this would include sexual
behavior such as masturbating in public, screaming, and awkward movements. Of those
that are being treated for their disease, the medication can increase catatonic behavior due
to a side effect of the drugs, meaning a reduction of all movement or excessive, highstrung movement. Those included in negative symptoms are emotional and social
disengagement, and a vacancy of what would be considered normal behavior and
emotions. The hardest symptoms to notice with a schizophrenic are the cognitive
symptoms, the ones that can affect decision making, memory, and attention span. They
are hard to notice because less crazy and public than the other symptoms. The cognitive
symptoms are the ones that play the largest part in affecting ones ability to preserve a
valued job or friendship (Green et al., 2000).
Diagnosing Schizophrenia
Even though there are many irregularities in the brain of an individual with
schizophrenia, there is nothing that can be tested to produce an answer. The only way to
properly diagnose schizophrenia is by its symptoms. This can be very difficult because a
doctor needs to be able to rule out other causes that may imitate the same symptoms but
be caused by other factors such as a side effect to a certain drug, or even a manic episode.
Although there is no single symptom that is found only in schizophrenia, there are
several that are found uncommonly in diseases other than schizophrenia, Dr. Torrey
writes in Surviving Schizophrenia, now an authoritative book on the subject. When they
are present, they should elevate the index of suspicion considerably

Causes of Schizophrenia
The causes of schizophrenia can be categorized into 4 different factors. The most

common is the genetic factor that comes into play. Although schizophrenia only occurs in
a small amount of the population, if your family has a history of psychosis, the risk of
developing schizophrenia is greater. Since twins share genes, if a twin is diagnosed the
second twin has a 50% chance of also developing the disorder. Since genetics can help
with how the brain reacts to certain chemicals, when the brain has a disproportion with
certain neurotransmitters, it can cause a problem in processing information and can help
attribute to delusions, and hallucinations. A factor that is also considered is environment.
In recent studies, it has shown that a lack of nutrition or even a risk to a virus before
birth, it can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. A big cause is substance abuse.
Taking drugs that affect your state of mind, such as meth, LSD, etc. highly increases your
risk because of the effect drugs have on your brain. The more frequent the use, the more
risk you are adding, especially during the teen years and when entering adulthood.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
There is no known cure for schizophrenia, however it is treatable. The treatment
for this disease is comparable to the success rate of the treatment of heart disease,
according to the National Advisory Mental Health Council. Treatment can include being
hospitalized to treat certain symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts, severe delusions, and
hallucinations, etc. Antipsychotic medications can be a big help in maintaining balance as
a schizophrenic, these are usually taken daily and because of the side effects that certain
medications can cause, it is important for patients to work with doctors and find the right
combination of medication. Another option for treatment is psychosocial treatments,
where patients can learn different skills in order to function like a normal member of
society. Those that continue treatment are more likely to stay out of hospitals. The most
effective form of treatment would be coordinated specialty care (CSC) where both
medication is taken and psychosocial treatment is continued, in addition to that, the
family of the one affected is also involved and employment, and education services are

also involved in overall helping the affected individual live as normal of a life as
From the perspective of a daughter of a schizophrenic individual, seeing someone
you love not be able to go forward with their day to day lives, can be one of the hardest
things in the world. From hearing your father talk to himself in the other room, to having
to witness multiple episodes of suicidal breakdowns, a surge of emotion overcomes you.
From shame, to anger, to sadness, and even fear. Knowing this disease is genetic, fear
that you yourself might fall victim to the same thing. The one thing that has helped this
person have a positive outlook on a disease like schizophrenia, is education. By learning
as much as she can about causes, symptoms, treatments, etc. She knows what to do to
help and guide her father into taking the necessary precautions and steps. Making the
outbursts, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, as minimal as possible.
Schizophrenia can be a difficult disease to deal with, whether you are the one
affected by it, or someone you know is. Schizophrenic individuals arent always in the
right state of mind, and will have delusions, hallucinations, act out inappropriately, etc.
making it very difficult for them to assimilate into a normal life. There are different
kinds of treatment although there is no cure. It is important to remember that when
someone suffering from the disease continues their treatment, they are less likely to
relapse and be able to help relieve the positive symptoms of the disease. The goal in the
treatment of schizophrenia is to help them maintain a life-style where they can have jobs,
relationships, and be a functioning member of society. After everything I learned, I still
cant help but wonder why so many people with schizophrenia go throughout life left
untreated. This was a really interesting topic for me, especially since I had almost no

knowledge of schizophrenia before, I find it really interesting that the disease doesnt
develop until later in life. I feel really empathetic towards the people that are suffering
from this and even more so the people who are watching loved ones go through it. I cant
imagine how hard it is to see someone you care about lose their mind.

Schacter, Daniel, L. Gilbert, Daniel, T. (January 2,2014). Book. New York, NY: Worth
The National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, January). Schizophrenia. Retrieved
February 10,
2016, from
Mental Health America. (n.d.). Schizophrenia. Retrieved February 09, 2016, from
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2016). Schizophrenia. Retrieved February 10, 2016,
Treatment Advocacy Center. (2015). Schizophrenia - Fact Sheet - Treatment Advocacy

Center. Retrieved February 13, 2016, from
Torrey, E. Fuller. (2013). Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual (sixth edition). New
York: Harper Perennial.