To a certain degree, most of us can feel a connection with people who suffer from psychological disorders. We can picture ourselves being depressed, fearful and even anxious; we can even imagine being obsessed or having a compulsion. However, one cannot say the same about schizophrenia. Being so far removed from our common, it is practically impossible for us to relate to a schizophrenic. (Wood, Wood, Boyd, Wood, & Desmarais, 2011, p.419)
Above all, schizophrenia is the most severe psychological disorder. Affecting one in every hundred people, this disorder usually commences in adolescence or in early adulthood. "Schizophrenia is probably the most devastating of all psychological disorders because of the social disruption and misery it brings to those who suffer from it and to their families." (Wood et al, 2011, p.419)
The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia: Many And Varied
It is worth noting that although any given individual with schizophrenia may have one or more of the major symptoms, there is not one single brain abnormality or symptom that is shared by all schizophrenics (Andreason, 1999, cited in Wood et al, 2011). The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into two categories: positive and negative.
When referring to positive symptoms, the term 'positive' pertains not to desirable symptoms, but rather to ones that are present in most cases. They include, hallucinations, delusions, disturbances in the form of thought or speech, grossly disorganized behavior, and inappropriate affect.
Hallucinations, or imaginary sensations, are one of the clearest symptoms that suggest schizophrenia; this may include the patients hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling strange things without any stimulus in the environment. "Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination...Most often the voices are unpleasant, accusing or cursing the patient or engaging in a running commentary in his or her behavior." (Wood et al, 2011, p.419)
Schizophrenics suffering from delusions, or false beliefs that are not generally shared by others in the culture, cannot be easily persuaded that their beliefs are false (even in the face of strong evidence. These delusions may come in different varieties: delusions of grandeur and delusions of persecution. Schizophrenics suffering from the first type may believe that they are actually a famous or powerful/important person who has immense knowledge, ability, and/or power. Patients with the second type of delusion will most likely have the false notion that a person or an agency is attempting to cheat, harass, conspire against, spy on, kill, injure or harm them in any way whatsoever. (Wood et al, 2011, p.420)
The most common type of thought disturbance involves a loosening of associations, this meaning that the patient doesn't follow one line of thought to completion. Rather, the schizophrenic shifts from one subject to a on the basis of vague connections. As well, understanding one suffering from this disorder is very difficult as their speech is nearly impossible to disciple. (Wood et al, 2011, p.420)
Schizophrenics with this symptom might have childhood silliness, inappropriate sexual behavior, disheveled appearance, and peculiar dress. Others might have unpredictable agitation and unusual/inappropriate motor behavior (e.g. strange gestures, facial expressions, postures, etc.). (Wood et al, 2011, p.420)
Schizophrenics suffer from what’s called grossly inappropriate affect. This stipulates that the expressions, tone of voice, and gestures of schizophrenics may not reflect the expected emotions under certain circumstances. (Wood et al, 2011, p.420)
Schizophrenics may suffer from negative symptoms such as loss or deficiency in thoughts and behaviors that are characteristic in normal functioning. Other symptoms may include apathy, social withdrawal, loss of motivation, lack of goal-directed activity, very limited speech, slow movements,