“What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”
When, Philip K. Dick questioned about the reality we live , didn’t it remind you of Francesca Zappia the author of Made You Up quoting ,
“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.”
And then there are people who have no luxury to take reality for granted because their reality may not really be real .
It may be hallucinations or delusions or just random voices in the head or all of them together which is notably entitled as
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder .
Schizophrenia has its origin from Greek word :- skhizein ‘to split’ + phrēn ‘mind’.
Due to its origin ,Schizophrenia is among the most misunderstood of mental health disorders.
The etymology of the word schizophrenia has led many to confuse it with multiple personality disorder ( Dissociative Identity Disorder).
The term “schizophrenia” was first used in 1911 by a Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler. He used this term to emphasize the mental confusion and random thinking characteristic of people with a disorder . But people confused the actual meaning with split or multiple personality confusion which has become an ingrained myth regarding schizophrenia that continues to this day.
So what is really Schizophrenia ?
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder . People with schizophrenia may be said to have lost touch with reality leading to unsound perceptions and actions , fantasies and delusions .
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects how a person acts, thinks, and feels. It can keep one from seeing the world in a normal way , making their own reality different from us .
People with schizophrenia have difficulty in distinguishing reality from fantasies .
Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. Schizophrenia can occur at any age , the most common age to be diagnosed with schizophrenia is late teen to early 20s for men and late 20s to early 30s for women .
Some people with schizophrenia are dishevelled and disorganized n
That doesn’t mean a person with schizophrenia can’t live a normal life .
“I have schizophrenia. I am not schizophrenic. I am not my mental ill. My illness is a part of me.”
– Jonathan Harnisch, (Novelist, artist, filmmaker )
There are people who have actually lived with schizophrenia and have managed to lead highly productive and satisfying lives.
People like :-
John Nash Jr. ,
one of the world’s most brilliant mathematicians. The Nobel Prize winner Economics suffered from paranoia, delusions, and other symptoms of schizophrenia.
Eduard Einstein ,
The youngest child of Albert Einstein was studying medicine when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 20.
Vincent van Gogh,
the Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art, suffered from several
common symptom of schizophrenia like
Hallucinations, including hearing voices .
Contrary to other people’s opinion , people with schizophrenia have no split or multiple personalities and most pose no danger to others .
It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.
People diagnosed with schizophrenia are characterized by episodes in which the person is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences.
The symptoms fall in three categories :-
1: Positive symptoms: these symptoms are those that are abnormally present . They can be mild or severe depending on its nature.
• Hallucinations ( hearing different multiple voices which may be critical and threatening ,
hallucinations can affect all the senses like for instance, for example, a person may also see, feel, taste, or smell things that are not really there.)
•Delusions ( experiencing delusions may believe that something is true when there is no strong evidence for it to be unrealistic , paranoid , confused thoughts , false beliefs )
• Thought disorder ( dysfunctional thoughts making it difficult to put cohesive thoughts together or make sense of speech )
• Movement disorder ( clumsiness , unusual mannerisms , repetitive actions , motionless rigidity )
2: Negative symptoms: These symptoms are those that are abnormally absent in most of the patients . These symptoms disrupt a person’s normal ability .
These includes :-
• A loss or a decrease in the ability to initiate plans
• Finding no pleasure in living .
• Disorganized symptoms.
• lack of facial expression
• lack of emotional expression
• lack of motivation
• difficulty concentrating
• Neglecting everyday activities, including self-care.
• Withdrawal from social life ( possibly through fear that somebody is going to harm them.)
3: Cognition symptoms :-. These symptoms are another area of functioning that is affected in schizophrenia leading to problems with attention, concentration and memory, and to declining educational performance.
Patients with cognitive symptoms find it hard to lead a normal life .
These includes :-
• Anosognosia ( a lack of ability to perceive the realities of one’s own condition. It’s a person’s inability to accept that they have a condition that matches up with their symptoms or a formal diagnosis)
• Trouble in paying attention or focusing .
• Problem with working memory ( difficulty understanding and using information.)
Severe psychotic symptoms often decreases as the person becomes older
Like any illness, the severity, duration and frequency of symptoms vary from person not person however, in persons with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, but treatment can help manage the symptoms.
Types of schizophrenia
There are several types of schizophrenia.
Paranoid schizophrenia :-
This is the most common type of schizophrenia. Symptoms include hallucinations and/or delusions, but your speech and emotions may not be affected.
Hebephrenic schizophrenia :-
Also known as ‘disorganised schizophrenia’, Symptoms include disorganised behaviours and thoughts, alongside short-lasting delusions and hallucinations.
Catatonic schizophrenia :-
This is the rarest schizophrenia diagnosis, characterised by unusual, limited and sudden movements. The patient may often switch between being very active or very still. They may not talk much, and you may mimic others’ speech and movement.
Undifferentiated schizophrenia :-
This type of schizophrenia may have some signs of paranoid, hebephrenic or catatonic schizophrenia, but it doesn’t obviously fit into one of these types alone.
Residual schizophrenia :-
You may be diagnosed with residual schizophrenia if you have a history of psychosis, but only experience the negative symptoms (such as slow movement, poor memory, lack of concentration and poor hygiene).
Simple schizophrenia :-
This includes both positive and negative symptoms .
Symptoms such as slow movement, poor memory, lack of concentration and poor hygiene are most prominent early and worsen, while positive symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thinking are rarely experienced.
Cenesthopathic schizophrenia :-
People with cenesthopathic schizophrenia experience unusual bodily sensations.
“ There’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life… We who struggle with these disorders can lead full, happy, productive lives, if we have the right resources.”
– Elyn R. Saks
As the cause of schizophrenia is unknown there is no cure . So a doctor’s treatment includes medications that can ease symptoms and prevent them from coming back.
Such treatments include :-
These medications tame Psychosis ( delusions , hallucinations , etc.)
The medications doctors prescribe most often for schizophrenia are called antipsychotics.
This medication is taken as pills or liquid form . Some antipsychotics included injections given once or twice a month .
These drugs work on chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin.
Schizophrenia patients are most likely to have to take schizophrenia medication their entire life .
Psychosocial Treatment :-
The term psychosocial refers to an individual’s psychological development in and interaction with their social environment. Psychosocial treatments (interventions) include structured counseling, motivational enhancement, case management, care-coordination, psychotherapy and relapse prevention.
Coordinate Speciality care :-
“There are a number of things that family and friends can do to help a person with schizophrenia. One of the simplest and most effective is to create a positive environment around the person.”
– Milt Greek (Mental health advocate and author of Schizophrenia: A Blueprint for Recovery)
Creating a positive environment and showing support can make schizophrenia patients believe in the reality we live in rather than the reality they think is real .
Coordinate Speciality care includes model integrated medications and psychotherapist , family support , education and employment support etc.
Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) project.
The goal of RAISE was, and is, to help decrease the likelihood of future episodes of psychosis, reduce long-term disability, and help people to get their lives back on track so they can pursue their goals.
Schizophrenia can make it hard to stick to a medication plan. One needs a strong support system to continue the medication.
Medication for schizophrenia can improve symptoms and sometimes help keep them from coming back.
Therapy can help people living with schizophrenia learn to recognize signs of an episode and explore strategies to manage symptoms and the distress they cause.
One must support in positive, supportive ways without making the patient feel criticized or helpless.
Schizophrenia is NOT A Character Flaw
Just like any other mental disorder schizophrenia is not a choice nor it is a character flaw , it’s a disease which needs to be treated .
People with schizophrenia have no luxury of taking reality for granted .
But that doesn’t stop them from living in a reality which is different from ours .
Their multiple voices doesn’t make them psycho or split personalities , those voices are voices of the subconscious that’s much more superficial than others .
“I thought of the voices as… something a little different from aliens. I thought of them more like angels … It’s really my subconscious talking, it was really that… I know that now.”
– John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Nobel Prize winning mathematician )
The stigmatisation that often accompanies mental illness can be cruelest .
This stigma unfairly causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control and prevents many from seeking the help they need.
This stigmatization is due to the misconceptions or myth that mental illnesses are usually the cause of laziness or personal behaviour , a weakness that can be controlled on its own .
In reality a mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness that has nothing to do with being weak or lacking willpower.
Seeking appropriate help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Mental illness should not be treated as a problem rather it should be accepted as part of self that needs little more care and self love .
Since there’s no cure of schizophrenia ,it seems a lot more scary .
But as Elyn R. Saks said ,
” My good fortune is not that I’ve recovered from mental illness. I have not, nor will I ever. My good fortune lies in having found my life.”
A person with schizophrenia is not schizophrenic. He is not his mental illness rather it is a part of him . They are not different than us they just think differently .
Mental illness is not contagious . Hence being kind towards people diagnosis from any kind mental illness can’t hurt us . Support and spread awareness . Make them feel their worth which is much more than their illness .