Astrid Anna Pinheiro | OCTOBER 12, 2021, 11:31 PM IST

The word Schizophrenia is derived from the Greek word Schizo meaning broken, and Phrenia which means a soul or mind.

In reality, schizophrenia is much more serious than it is diagnosed to be. For a brief introduction, we will deal with different kinds of the disorder.

1. Undifferentiated: These display a vast array of symptoms including hallucinations and delusions. 

2. Hebephrenic: Here the patient pays no attention at all to his personal hygiene. He does not comb his hair nor bathe, and neglect oral hygiene.

3. Catatonic: Here the person sits or stands in one position without moving. His arms, hands and feet become blue and swollen. He refuses to eat and sometimes has to be forced-fed.

4. Paranoia: This schizophrenia has no particular symptoms of the disorder except that he has extreme fear called delusions, particularly delusions of persecution.      

Symptoms of schizophrenia 

These can be classified as positive symptoms, negative symptoms and thought disorders.

Positive symptoms: The patient here is overactive. The symptoms include hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are perceptions in the absence of any stimulus.   

The hallucinations 

1. Visual hallucinations: Connected with eyes or eyesight in the absence of any stimulus. Example: Seeing an eagle on the door.

2. Audial hallucinations: Hearing unreal voices or sounds that seem real to the patient.

3. Tactile hallucinations: Here the patient may feel being touched without any stimulus.

4. Gustatory hallucinations: This refers to taste, it is imagined taste but real to the patient. 

5. Somatic hallucinations: The person feels that something is wrong with his body. Example: snakes crawling in the stomach.

There are two types of delusions namely: 

1. Delusion of grandeur: Feeling of extreme false pride. 

2. Delusion of persecution: Feeling of being persecuted. 

Negative symptoms 

These involve thought and emotional disorders mainly flat effect, blunt effect and thought disorders. 

Flat effect: He or she shows absolutely no emotion nor do they react to emotions.

Blunt effect: Shows improvement compared to flat effect though still, the effects are considerable.

Language disorders: Alogia or absence of speech or very little speech. Echolalia is another speech disorder; it is the reputation of words and sentences.

Thought disorders: Here thought is irrational, illogical and inconsistent. 

Inappropriate behaviour: Here the behaviour is not appropriate to the situation, for example laughing at funerals and crying at weddings.   

Schizophrenia was misunderstood in the past, and various myths had risen around it, like demon possession, but with the advent of modern medicine, most of the myths have considerably declined.

Coping with schizophrenia: If you are a patient or caretaker then you to comply with the following advice.

1. Choose a therapist with whom you have a good rapport.

2. Read about symptoms and discuss them in group therapy.

3. Read about schizophrenia in general.

4. If you feel a relapse coming on, consult the therapist immediately. 

5. Don’t feel backward, analyse and share details.

If you like this article, I recommend this book to you “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” by Ken Kesey. 

Research strategies

Several researchers work to find management and perhaps a cure for the disorder. To name a few, Charcot, Sigmund Freud, Emil Kraepelin. A breakthrough in the treatment of schizophrenia came with the discovery of the dopamine neurotransmitter. This led to the invention of the medicine Chlorpromazine and other allied medicine. With this, the patients could now leave the hospital within weeks, not like before, where the patient had to spend most of his life in mental institutions. Other causes include hereditary, which means that identical twins have more chances of contracting the disorder. Besides, there are chromosome defects and problems in the prenatal stage. Postnatal factors involve extreme malnutrition and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

(The author has taught English and Psychology in higher secondary school)

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