The word schizophrenia literally translates to “to split (schizein) the mind (phren)”. It is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception of expression of reality. There are several signs and symptoms, which makes diagnosis of this disorder easier. Firstly, a schizophrenic usually will suffer from delusions and hallucinations. The central feature of schizophrenia is distortions of cognitions that put the individual ‘out of touch with reality’. Secondly, schizophrenics often think in disorganised and fragmented ways. Their emotions and behaviour are similarly disorganised and illogical at times. For example, if a schizophrenic is told sad news he may laugh instead of showing appropriate emotions. Moreover, they may experience ‘thought blocking’ whereby they suddenly just stop talking in the middle of a thought. Thirdly, schizophrenics suffer from disturbances of their emotions. Both their positive and negative emotions lack normal intensity. For example, if told that a relative has passed away they may be indifferent to the news. Or if asked a simple question that seems harmless they may become agitated and violent. Fourthly, they have psychomotor disturbances whereby they can remain in an unusual position for hours (this is known as ‘catatonia’). Lastly, they may have lack motivation and interest in life.
Psychologists have attempted to explain schizophrenia via a number of theories. Supporters of the medical model believe that schizophrenia could be caused by genetic influences. It is common knowledge that schizophrenia tends to run in families. The illness occurs in 1% of the general population but occurs more often in people with schizophrenic relatives. For example, about 10% of people with first-degree relatives with schizophrenia develop the disorder. Identical twins have the highest chance in developing the disorder at 40%, if one twin has it. Identical twins separated at birth have also...
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