Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia causes a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior. It leads to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feeling, and a withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy, delusion and a sense of mental fragmentation. Approximately one percent of Americans have schizophrenia and it generally starts in the late teens to the mid- thirties.
Schizophrenia affects three parts of the brain—the forebrain, the hindbrain, and the limbic system. The forebrain is the top most portion of the brain and includes the cerebral hemispheres that divide into four different lobes, the limbic system, the thalamus, the hypothalamus and the corpus callosum. This part of the brain controls the process of thinking, knowing, learning and judging, sensory and motor function, temperature regulation, reproduction, hunger, sleep cycle and emotional expression—this part of the brain is where all the organization occurs. This part of the brain contributes to Schizophrenia because it over stimulates dopamine and which decreases glutamate and neural activity thus creating hallucinations and delusions. The hindbrain includes pons, the medulla and the cerebrum and serves to manage motor activity, posture, balance and the circulation of blood. The abnormality in the hindbrain causes schizophrenic people to have rigid posture, aimless motor activity and decreased reaction to environmental cues. The limbic system is a collection of brain systems including the hippocampus and the amygdala. It serves to regulate emotions, memories, learning and sexual behavior, but because of the abnormality in this part of a schizophrenic’s brain, the limbic system actually causes disorganized behaviors and prevents normal social connecting. Dr. Emile Kraepelin first discovered schizophrenia in 1887 and considered it a “discrete” mental illness and associated it with dementia. Then in 1911, Swiss psychiatrist, Eugene Bleuler, coined the term schizophrenia and expanded on the illness. Schizophrenia is the ancient Greek for “split mind”.
Some common symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions, false beliefs that are no based on reality, hallucinations, seeing hearing things that don’t exist, disorganized thinking/ speech, impairs communication and often includes the putting together of meaningless words that cannot be understood—also known as a “word salad”, extremely disorganized/ abnormal motor behavior, which ranges from childlike silliness to extreme and unpredictable agitation, and negative symptoms, which is the reduced or lack of ability to function normally, i.e. Acting not