Schizophrenia General Facts

by Alex

-What is Schizophrenia?

According to our textbook, Schizophrenia is the “profound disruption of basic psychological processes; a distorted perception of reality; altered or blunted emotion;, and disturbances in thought, motivation, and behavior.”  Perhaps more simply, schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder characterized by a loss of touch with reality, where people are unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy.

-What are the symptoms to Schizophrenia?

There are several symptoms to Schizophrenia.  The most common symptoms are: Hallucinations (usually hearing voices), delusions (especially extremely bizarre things), and disorganized thinking and speech.  Other symptoms include: illogical thinking, decreased emotional expressions, inconsistent thoughts and actions, depression,  and dangerous behaviors and feelings of invincibility.

-Who gets Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia usually arises during late adolescence or early adulthood.  About 1% of the adult population in the US (about 2 million) has Schizophrenia.

-What are the causes to Schizophrenia?

Currently, there does not seem to be an definite answer to this question. There have been many studies that have shown several trends or commonalities between schizophrenics.

The main cause seems to genetic as most studies seem to agree that people are more likely to develop schizophrenia if they are related to a person with schizophrenia.  However, the interesting thing is that there are cases in identical twins where one twin develops schizophrenia and the other twin does not, which points to the fact that genetics may not be the only cause.

There has also been evidence that prenatal (pre-birth) and perinatal (time period surrounding birth) factors also may increase the chances of developing schizophrenia.  For instance, children born during the late winter or early spring have are more likely to become schizophrenics than children born the other times in the year.  During prenatal development, if the mother is exposed to infections or toxins, the child is more likely to  have schizophrenia later in life.

Other factors the seem to increase the chance of development of schizophrenia include growing up in social disadvantageous situations (poverty, racial discrimination, dysfunctional family, etc.), substance abuse, and excessive dopamine activity.  However, most of these hypotheses have pretty weak correlations, and further studies have generally ended in a dead end.

-How is Schizophrenia treated?

Luckily, there are ways of treating schizophrenia and many patients have been known to recover, but there is still no cure.  The main line of defense is antipsychotic medication, which mainly reduces the symptoms like delusion and hallucinations by correcting the chemical imbalance in the brain.  However these medications do not often alleviate some of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia like depression.  These medications do have negative physical side-effects like weight-gain and increased chance of getting diabetes.

Medication plus social interaction tends to have the best results in relieving the symptoms of schizophrenia.  Usually having family members who are prepared, leads to positive developments, and some studies have shown the positive effects of psychotherapy, the personal counseling by a trained psychiatrist.


Psychology – Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner


~ by psychology2 on March 23, 2010.

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