Although schizophrenia is a well-known word, very few people understand the meaning of this term. Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder related to the disintegration of the thought processes and emotional reactions. The most common characteristic features of schizophrenia are auditory hallucinations, paranoid or fantastic delusions, disintegration of speech and thought on the background of the significant social dysfunction and failure of performance. When one falls ill with schizophrenia, he is informally excluded from the society whereas he cannot function in it effectively. This disorder affects family life, performance at the workplace and other social processes.
The problem of schizophrenia is very disputable whereas many psychologists have different opinions about it. Some scholars say that schizophrenia is a single disorder while others claim that it is a complex of syndromes. This uncertainty is reflected in the name of the disorder. For instance, Eugen Bleuler treated schizophrenia as a complex of syndromes and called the disorder ‘schizophrenias’. It is natural that it is difficult to identify psychological disorders accurately. The majority of the disorders have similar symptoms; therefore, psychologists had problems with the identification of schizophrenia. For example, some scholars confuse schizophrenia with the multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder. The overall risk of disease is quite low – 0,6%. Both men and women are at the risk of falling ill with schizophrenia. In fact, women suffer from it in the older age.
Let us pay attention to the history of schizophrenia. First descriptions of the symptoms related to schizophrenia appeared in the 17th century. However, centuries ago, it was practically impossible to identify psychological disorders. It was first identified as a separate disorder only in 1893. Many psychologists began researching schizophrenia and conducting experiments. In the first part of the 20th century, schizophrenia was treated like a strictly hereditary defect. Thousands of people who suffered from schizophrenia were sterilized in Nazi Germany, the USA and Scandinavian countries. Nevertheless, genetic factor is very solid. There are also environmental factors that can cause schizophrenia. The most well-known ones are personal culture and lifestyle. The disorder can be caused by the intensive cannabis abuse or poor-quality nutrition during the period of pregnancy.
It is considerable to know the symptoms of schizophrenia. The major ones are delusions, hallucinations, apathy, lack of will and thought disorders. A schizophrenic can suffer from the disorganization of speech and thought. He has auditory hallucinations and delusional ideas. Because of numerous objective reasons, patients are isolated from the society. Their delusional ideas and hallucinations can cause different models of behavior. Sometimes, they can stay motionless, silent and calm. Then, they become aimlessly anxious. In fact, it is impossible to detect schizophrenia looking at the definite symptom. This disorder has numerous symptoms that can be found in the descriptions of other psychological disorders. What is more, the symptoms should be observed at least for a month.
It should be admitted that the symptoms of schizophrenia are first observed at the late adolescent age or early maturity. No wonder, young people feel isolated because they are not accepted by their schoolmates or peers. The most typical symptom of schizophrenia is hallucination. Hallucinations are frequent and long-lasting. They can last for more than several years. It is possible to distinguish positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms are: delusions, auditory hallucinations and thought disorder. Their presence means that the patient suffers from psychosis. Negative symptoms cause the loss or reduction of the regular traits of character. The patient loses his personality and his behavior is altered. Such symptoms are reduction of emotionality, reduction of affect, alogia, anhedonia and loss of motivation.
Depression and anxiety disorders are typical for schizophrenics; therefore, they try to improve their emotional condition with the help of alcohol and drugs. Thus, about 40% of patients suffer from alcohol and drug abuse. The most typical social problems are constant unemployment, poverty and homelessness. Furthermore, many schizophrenics commit suicides. Schizophrenia is one of the main factors that cause disability.
The main method of treatment is drug therapy. If one wants to cure schizophrenia, he should apply a complex approach. Patients have to take antipsychotics and survive various therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, etc.) in order to improve their condition. In fact, it is difficult to name the most useful and effective method of treatment. Most often, patients require personal approach because everyone has his own expressed syndromes. The treatment is based on the individual cure of the chosen syndromes.
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