Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by a variety of symptoms and the disorganization of feeling and thought. It is an incurable disease whose causes are unknown, yet whose effects are mind and body crippling. (Young, 1988, p.13-14) This topic was chosen because it is interesting to study a disorder that worldwide, is viewed as a classic example of madness and insanity. Another reason of interest is because unlike many illnesses, schizophrenia doesn’t have a noticeable pattern and its difficulty to be diagnosed as a disease makes the collection of statistics difficult. It is important to learn more about schizophrenia because a significant numbr of people are affected everyday by it. In the United States alone, schizophrenic patients occupy more hospital beds than any other type of patient. Schizophrenics also account for nearly 40% of admissions to state and county hospitals. (Smith, 1992, p.32) In the research of schizophrenia, perhaps the best way to begin its study is to look at its past and history.
Although it is just to assume that today’s definitions of schizophrenia may differ from the past’s, it is logical to aslo include the fact that it existed as far as history can go. Many people during the 1800’s were often dubbed as insane because of the dizorganization of thought and feeling that existed. (Smith, 1992, p.28) Later in the 1800’s, more stories grew about the “insanity”, and in the beginning of the 1900’s, doctors began to name this illness dementia praecox, meaning “mad” or “out of one’s mind.” In 1896, schizophrenia was recognized as a mental illness by a German psychiatrist named Email Kraeplin. His recognition of the disease was made after a careful study conducted on people hospitalized for mental disturbances. Then, in 1911,a German physicist named Eugen Blueler renamed it schizophrenia because of the disorganization of the thought process that existed. (Szasz,1982, p.4, p.29) In 1900, the term schizophrenia, now used worldwide, was used to describe the condition that one out of every hundred people had. This statistic remains the same today. Through research and years of study, the world has a better understanding of schizophrenia, its forms, characteristics, symptoms, types, possible causes, and treatments, if any. ( Pierce, 1990. p.263 )
Schizophrenia has no actual definition, but it describes a series of events and actions that a person ususally experiences. Schizophrenia is a psychosis. ( Smith, 1992, p.23-25 ) Psychosis describes a disorder where a group of mental disturbances happen. Schizophrenia is described to be a psychosis because it causes the victim to lose the ability to be in touch with society and its functions. For example, a person may begin to “see” animals that are not there, or may begin to characterize themselves as a famous person from the past such as Queen Elizabeth or King Edward. ( Kvarnes, Parloff, 1983, p.220-223)
There are many aspects that characterize schizophrenia. Schizophrenics usually behave in a strange or abnormal manner where the mind is separated from reality and the difference between what is real and not is unknown. A schizophrenic therefore has distorted ideas about who they are and about life. Feelings of withdrawal, worthlessness and emptiness also appear to exist. Once a schizophrenic’s thoughts and feelings become distorted, the most observed series of symptoms ususally follow and occur: Delusions, hallucinations, and chaotic speech. ( Young, 1988, p.37-38 )
Delusions and hallucinations are two symptoms that are commonly associated with schizophrenia, eventhough it should be taken into account that some schizophrenics may never experience a delusion or hallucination. A delusion is an untrue belief that isn’t logical and has no common sense. It is also almost impossible for a person who suffers from a delusion to be “talked out of it” , for a person who suffers a delusion believes that it is truly real. (Smith, 1992, p.53 ) Although appearing humorous to society, delusions such as this can create emotional confusion and phsycial pain in the brain for the victim. Many delusions also involve belief to the schizophrenic that it is possible to control the minds of others, or that other people have the ability to their mind and innermost thoughts. This belief may explain a schizophrenic’s feelings of fear and seclusion among strangers. ( Young, 1988, p.25 )
The other most common symptom among schizophrenics are