Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split personality. Schizophrenia is a psychosis, a type of mental illness in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. At times, people with psychotic disorders lose touch with reality. The world may seem like a jumble of confusing thoughts, images, and sounds. The behaviour of people with schizophrenia may be very strange and even shocking. A sudden change in personality and behaviour, which occurs when schizophrenia sufferers lose touch with reality, is called a psychotic episode.
Schizophrenia varies in severity from person to person. Some people have only one psychotic episode while others have many episodes during their life but lead relatively normal lives between episodes. Still other individuals with this disorder may experience a decline in their functioning over time, with little improvement between full blown psychotic episodes.
Schizophrenia is a term given to a complex group of mental disorders. However, different types of schizophrenia may have some of the same symptoms. There are several types of schizophrenia based on symptoms:
Paranoid schizophrenia: People with this type are preoccupied with false beliefs (delusions) about being persecuted or being punished by someone. Their thinking, speech and emotions, however, remain fairly normal.
Disorganized schizophrenia: People with this type often are confused and incoherent, and have jumbled speech. Their outward behaviour may be emotionless or flat or inappropriate, even silly or childlike. Often they have disorganized behaviour that may disrupt their ability to perform normal daily activities such as showering or preparing meals.
Catatonic schizophrenia: The most striking symptoms of this type are physical. People with catatonic schizophrenia are generally immobile and unresponsive to the world around them. They often become very rigid and stiff, and unwilling to move. Occasionally, these people have peculiar movements like grimacing or assume bizarre postures. Or, they might repeat a word or phrase just spoken by another person. People with catatonic schizophrenia are at increased risk of malnutrition, exhaustion, or self-inflicted injury.
Undifferentiated schizophrenia: This subtype is diagnosed when the person's symptoms do not clearly represent one of the other three subtypes.
Residual Schizophrenia: In this type of schizophrenia, the severity of schizophrenia symptoms has decreased. Hallucinations, delusions, or other symptoms may still be present but are considerably less than when the schizophrenia was originally diagnosed.
Symptoms for schizophrenia fall into three broad categories:
Positive symptoms: psychotic behaviours not seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms often lose touch with reality; these symptoms can come and go, and can include: hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders and movement disorders.
Negative symptoms: disruptions to normal emotions and behaviours. They are harder to recognise as part of this disorder and can be mistaken for depression or other conditions, symptoms include: lack of feeling fulfilled in everyday life, lack of ability to begin and sustain planned activities, don’t speak much, even when forced to interact and many more
Cognitive symptoms: these symptoms are very subtle and difficult to recognise as part of this illness. They are often only detected when other tests are performed. Some of the symptoms include: lack of ability to