What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disease that drastically affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Schizophrenic people often seem disconnected with reality, with a long list of symptoms that truly change the lives of those it affects. Throughout history, society has held resentment for the mentally ill and discriminated them in horrible fashions. Following the classification of Schizophrenia, the disease became exceptionally misunderstood by the people. Society harshly stigmatized schizophrenic people because of the extensive list of punishing symptoms.

Schizophrenia symptoms generally fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive. Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors that are generally not seem in healthy individuals, and are responsible for the dissociation with reality. Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, dysfunctional thought, and movement disorders. Hallucinations are sensory perceptions that develop without causations, and are experienced through your senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch). Auditory hallucinations are the most common, and come in the form of voices. Schizophrenic patients describe these voices as commentary to their behavior and intentions, or as an imposing presence directing their actions. More likely than not, the voices are negative and critical of the patient. Unlike hallucinations, which deceive your senses, delusions are fixed fictitious beliefs that lead one to misinterpret their experiences and relationships. There are a handful of delusions that hold a common theme, including persecutory, referential, somatic, religious, erotomanic, or grandiose delusions.

Persecutory delusions occur when the patient believes a person, group, or organization is mistreating or harming them despite contradictory evidence. Referential delusions are derived from the thought that public communications contain special messages solely for the schizophrenic; however, when the person shows insight that their referential delusions may not be true, these ideas are called ideas of reference. Somatic delusions involve the patient’s concern for their physical health as they self-diagnose themselves with medical conditions. Religious delusions involve the patient’s belief that they hold a special relationship with god comparable to religious figures in the bible. Erotomanic delusions consist of false beliefs and feelings about relationships that likely don’t exist. And lastly, the grandiose delusion is the patient’s belief they acquire a significant, powerful position in the world. Not all delusions are defined by these categories, and many times the delusions are a combination of two or more.

On the other hand, negative symptoms come from absence of normal behavior and have an extensive list of possibilities. The National Institute of Mental Health Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia consensus panel, “”has recently defined five negative symptoms: blunted affect (diminished facial and emotional expression), alogia (decrease in verbal output or verbal expressiveness), asociality (lack of involvement in social relationships of various kinds), avolition (a subjective reduction in interests, desires, and goals and a behavioral reduction of self-initiated and purposeful acts), and anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure from positive stimuli)”” (Mitra 9). The most recent version of the DSM-5 depicts the negative symptoms as restricted emotional expression and avolition; meaning their motivation to engage in purposeful self-directed activities are decreased. And while the negative symptoms are seemingly insignificant in comparison, they are the main reason why Schizophrenic people find it difficult to live normal lives.

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