WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?
The modern definition of schizophrenia describes it as a long-lasting psychotic disorder (involving a severe break with reality), in which there is an inability to distinguish what is real from fantasy as well as disturbances in thinking, emotions, behavior, and perception (Cicarelli, p. 557). SYMPTOMS
Schizophrenia includes several symptoms. One common symptom is delusions, which are false beliefs that the person holds and that tend to remain fixed and unshakable even in the face of evidence that disproves the delusions (Cicarelli, p. 557). Other common symptoms include speech disturbances, in which people with schizophrenia make up words, repeat words or sentences persistently, string words together on the basis of sounds, and experience sudden interruptions in speech or thought. The thought patterns of those with schizophrenia are also significantly disturbed, as they have difficulty linking their thoughts together in logical ways (Cicarelli, p. 557). Individuals with schizophrenia may also experience hallucinations, in which they hear voices or see things or people who are not really there. Hearing voices and emotional disturbances are key symptoms in making a diagnosis of schizophrenia. An emotional disturbance known as flat effect is a condition in which the person shows little or no emotion. For example, emotions can be excessive and/or inappropriate - a person might laugh when it would be more appropriate to cry (Cicarelli, p. 557). A person with schizophrenia might also exhibit disorganized and extremely odd behavior. For example, some forms of schizophrenia are accompanied by periods of complete immobility, whereas others may involve weird facial grimaces and odd gesturing. Attention is also a problem for many sufferers of schizophrenia, as they seem to have difficulty “screening out” irrelevant information and stimuli, rendering them unable to focus on information that is relevant (Cicarelli, p. 557). TYPES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
There are five subtypes of schizophrenia, which include: disorganized, catatonic, paranoid, positive and negative symptoms (Cicarelli, p. 558). Disorganized schizophrenia involves confused speech, vivid and frequent hallucinations, and extremely inappropriate emotions. Those who suffer from disorganized schizophrenia are socially impaired and unable to engage in normal social rituals of daily life (Cicarelli, p. 558). Catatonic schizophrenia is less common and involves very disturbed motor behavior. The individual either doesn’t move at all or moves about wildly in severe agitation (Cicarelli, p. 558). Paranoid schizophrenia is a condition in which a person suffers from delusions of persecution, grandeur, and jealousy, along with hallucinations (Cicarelli, p. 558). Positive symptoms involve excesses of behavior or occur in addition to normal behavior; hallucinations, delusions, and distorted thinking (Cicarelli, p. 558). Negative symptoms involve less than normal behavior or absence of normal behavior; poor attention, flat affect, and poor speech production (Cicarelli, p. 558). CAUSES
The cause or causes of schizophrenia can best be explained through the use of the biological model, which points to genetic origins, inflammation in the brain, chemical influences, and brain structural defects. Further support comes from studies of the incidence of the disorder across different cultures (Cicarelli, p. 559). If environmental factors were the main cause for schizophrenia, then one would expect that the rates of schizophrenia would vary from culture to culture, when in fact about 7 to 8 individuals out of 1,000 will develop schizophrenia in their lifetime, regardless of culture, as stated by Cicarelli (p. 559). If identical twins, who share 100 percent of their DNA, have a relative with the disorder they have a 50 percent chance of developing schizophrenia, while fraternal twins, who only share about 50 percent of their DNA, have a 17 percent chance of...
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