Schizophrenia has been said to be the most devastating of all mental illness. It is a chronic and incurable brain disorder that affects the way a person thinks, feels, acts and perceives everyone and everything around them. The clinical definition for this disorder as stated by Butcher, Mineka & Hooley (2010) is, “A disorder characterized by hallucinations delusions, disorganized speech and behavior, as well as problems in self care and general functioning” (p.458). It is estimated that Schizophrenia affects over 24 million people worldwide and its effects can be emotionally and financially draining on families and society (Parks, 2011). Although Schizophrenia is a chronic illness with no known cure, research has shown that it can be adequately treated with antipsychotic medication, in conjunction with various forms of psychosocial treatments. This paper aims to do the following in terms of the disorder: describe the nature of the disorder, how it is diagnosed, cultural influences in the diagnostic process, and highlight perspectives on current treatments being utilized.
The term Schizophrenia, has received notable stigmas over the years and prior to medical advances in the 1950’s, the prognosis for the disorder was bleak, as sufferers were typically written off as “insane” and “untreatable”. According to the text book Abnormal Psychology (2010), “Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and behavior, as well as problems in self care and self functioning” (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010, p 458). Of all mental illnesses, schizophrenia is often called the most debilitating and devastating. It is a disorder that affects over 24 million people worldwide, which includes about 1.2% of Americans (World Health Association, 2013). The emotional, psychological and financial affects it has on the sufferer and their families can be extremely cumbersome. Although it is a chronic illness with high rates of disability, non-recovery and relapse, it can be adequately treated with antipsychotic medication in conjunction with various forms of psychosocial treatments. This paper aims to do the following in terms of the disorder: describe the nature of the disorder, how it is diagnosed, cultural influences in the diagnostic process, and highlight perspectives on current treatments being utilized.
The Nature of the Disorder: Who is at Risk The World Health Association (2013) estimates that Schizophrenia affects over 24 million people worldwide, which includes about 1.2% of the American population. According to Dr. Devin Vicknair, schizophrenia is a disorder that usually begins in adolescence and early adulthood, occurring between the ages of 15 and 35, and is statistically shown to develop earlier in men than in women. Most men develop symptoms between the ages of 15 and 25 with the average age of onset at about18 years old. By contrast, most women exhibit initial symptoms of the disorder between the ages of 24 and 35, with the average age onset of about 25 years old (D. Vicknair, personal communication, December 5, 2013). While Schizophrenia is a disorder that appears to affect both men and women with equal frequency, the symptoms in men tend to be more severe. Because of this fact, there have been several cases of misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in women, which turned out to actually be Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010). It is also a disorder that does not discriminate based on culture or socioeconomic status, as it occurs in all societies, regardless of class, race or religion (Langwith, 2011).
According to the World Health Association (2013), here are some additional facts on the disorder:…