Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is categorized as a physhotic illness. I became interesting in Schizophrenia because of a non-fiction movie called “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard. In this story, John Nash starts see three people who are not real during the time when he entered graduate school. He believed the visions that he sees were real, until his wife and doctor of psychology told him that it is not. John also believed that he is working for a U.S. mysterious conspiracy project in secret, and that made him to be persecuted and he was not able to have an ordinary life. Even though after treatment, he still sees non-real visions that never disappeared from his life. However, this movie expressed that Schizophrenia is a brain damaged disorder and some researchers were against this idea. Is schizophrenia really not brain disorder? Then how does it happened? In John’s case, his non-real visions did not disappeared even though he took medical treatment. Is there any other treatment for schizophrenia, or is not treatable?
People who have schizophrenia cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is just an imagination. This happens to 1% of the population and usually starts in early adulthood around 15 to 25 years of age, and usually happens after having a particular stressful time.
Some common symptoms are the following:
• Strange beliefs or thoughts with little no basis in reality (called delusions). For example, you may think that you have special powers. Or you may think someone from the house next door is trying to control your thoughts or feelings (called paranoid delusions).
• Hearing, seeing, feeling, or even smelling things that are not there (called hallucinations). For example you may hear voices talking about you.
• Thoughts ‘jumping between completely unrelated topics (called disordered thinking). This can make conversations difficult.
• Inappropriate behavior, for example taking your clothes off in public.
• Lack of awareness of other people’s feelings. Or you may not show your own feelings or emotions, possibly having a blank facial expression.
• Lack of pleasure or interest in activities. This could be social occasions you used to enjoy, like seeing friends, or going to the pub.
• Difficulty in concentrating, making decisions or planning.
• Feeling depressed or anxious.
Schizophrenia patients usually have these symptoms after they are having a terrible emotional or psychological pain, and feel withdrawn from society. Some patients are usually interested in cults, and isolate themselves from society, such as being secluded in their room with minimum contact with people. Although the possibilities are only a small percentage, genetics plays a role in schizophrenia in their family or their close relatives. As I noted earlier that schizophrenia onset in early adulthood, but they often shows “soft-sign” in their childhood. Dr.B Green Hon, at University of Liver pool UK describes some symptoms that is shown in children around the age of 4 to 6 who associated with later schizophrenia is that late walk, speech problems, and preferring to play alone. Again, psychiatrists, biologists, and many other researchers say that schizophrenia is not a brain disease because only about 12% of patients, who had brain tests, showed some abnormalities, and results showed that more than 80% were within normal ranges. (Weilert&Weinberger,1998) Dr B Green says that “patients with schizophrenia were normal people driven insane by an insane world”. (#1) However, he also said that it is possible that some schizophrenia patients have “neurochemical imbalances, neurodevelopmental problems, genetic defects, viral infections, or perinatal damage amongst other cases”. There are other discoveries about schizophrenia that is noted by Adam Marcus, he says that the patients’ sensory switch boards, at their very earliest time of the disease, is too small and tells why they have such troubles in their life dealing with the situations around them. And also the thalamus is shrunken, thus neurogical hub have to help vast network of signals, and probably causes the patients’ “confusion and overload that characterizes the disorder”, said Marcus. (#2) Other than these discovery is that a study team from the Johns Hopkins school of Medicine in Baltimore that they found “ an “unexpectedly” high level of the retroviral traces in cerebrospinal fluid taken from the schizophrenics, compared to very little in the other study subjects”. (#3) However, again, they say that this is not the complete answer to the genesis of schizophrenia. Scientists and psychiatrists have been focusing on and studied specifically on the thalamus, neuron, or genetic and other brain causation to schizophrenia, but still the cause of schizophrenia has not been found.
Some major treatments for schizophrenia are medications called “antipsychotics”, and they are usually taken with therapy. The main target of medication is to reduce dopamine because there are too much of dopamine activity inside of the patients’ brain. Antipsychotics are a major treatment that is used for most patients, but it may not treat all the symptoms of schizophrenia. Delusions and hallucinations are often reduced, but difficulty of making decision and remembering tend to remain. There is another medication called Atypical antipsychotics which act in different ways for older patients. However the medications work in many ways and it works very differently for each person and usually has some unpleasant side-effects. To develop the medication without side-effects are encouraged in the future. Besides the medication, one very important treatment is the support of family and friends. Since the common symptoms of schizophrenia are that patient’s feeling of withdraw or isolation from society, better family communication skills are needed. Family needs to be educated to be aware of the patient’s symptoms. Also, training for socialize skills and positive thought are helpful for patients to engage society.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one that has been successfully for patients to recover from symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, or depressions. CBT for schizophrenia is the training of patients for “understanding, challenging, and testing negative thought patterns and delusions”. (#4) Like I noted earlier, the completed answer for the causation of schizophrenia is unknown, but most of the patients with schizophrenia have shown significant improvement, though usually takes long-term treatments during their whole life.
However, some patients still attempt suicides. As one of symptoms shows that it has hallucinations and delusions, the voice tells patient to kill themselves or order them to do a criminal act. That is the fear side of the schizophrenia affect. There are some criminal incidents by people shows these symptoms or typically cult group. An example of cult group called “Aum” in Japan, 1996. They strongly believed that they have voice from God and given a special powers to protect themselves from people who are causing to destroy this world. I really don’t know if Shoko Asahara, who was the founder of Aum cult group, was having schizophrenia, or he was simply just one of those cruel murderers. In fact, nobody mentioned about any serious mental disorder about him. But I heard that some believers in Aum said that they received special powers from God through their training under Asahara’s teachings, and they became able to catch the voice from God. Probably they were minded controlled at first, but as they belief become stronger, they will begin to be not able to tell the difference between what is real and what is just imagination. Many of those believers were typically well on some academic study knowledge when they were at school, but they had wither no friends or had poor relationships with their family, and are usually isolated from society since they were young. This applies to most of the common symptoms of schizophrenia. Mass suicide of cult group is a typical action for people who believe in cults.
Another example is told by Dr B Green’s case history of Shakil. Shakil, at the age of 32, was founded by his brother after several years since Shakil was missing from his family home.
When shakil’s brother found him, he was eating an uncooked pigeon in a room with no furniture. Shakil believed that he is protecting God, call Abu-Lafram, from the evils of western civilization that is coming through the wall by tin foil to line the walls of flats. Shakil was hearing voices that a third person can’t hear, and he was living in an abnormal condition. When his brother told Shakil about their mother’s death, which happened while Shakil was missing, he even lighted and said that his mother was “a white cloud in a darkening and prejudiced sky”. He didn’t even show sympathy for his mother’s death.
People who has schizophrenia may turn violent to somebody else, or become harmful to themselves. The best thing is if their family or friends are able to find out the symptoms of the patients in their early stages, and early treatment is more effective for recovery in the short-term. However, at the present studies, nobody can tell who develop the schizophrenia or why, and its also difficult to tell what kind of treatment is the best for each person. In order to help patients who suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia significantly, much more studies into each case of schizophrenia is needed. Also the courage for patients to talk their problems to people and their participation in therapy is necessary, also being more educate about schizophrenia would be helpful.
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