Most people are mentally
healthy. They have no severe trouble being able to deal with normal life
issues such as relationships, jobs, family and friends. However, there are
those who simply cannot deal with these common matters on a day-to-day basis
without the need to have assistances in the form of therapy or medication.
These people are considered to be suffering from some type of mental illness
and are not mentally healthy. Mental illnesses are diagnosable disorders of
the brain. (Myers, 2002) They may stem from many different things such as
problems with family members, or the guilt and shame over something from
their past. (Austrian, 1995)
Mental illnesses are diagnosed by administering
a clinical assessment. It is used to evaluate a person's biological, mental
and social well being.(Potnik, 1999) Once a mental illness has been
established it is treated by psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are doctors who are trained
to treat people with mental illnesses. Social workers also provide care for
the mentally ill. They work in hospitals and schools.
One of the most terrible mental illnesses that many suffer from today is
schizophrenia. People suffering from schizophrenia occupy about one-third of
all beds in psychiatric hospitals in the United
States.(http://www.encarta.com) The National Institute of Mental Health has
estimated that schizophrenia costs the United States tens of billons of
dollars each year in direct treatment, social services and lost
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder. It was first identified by German
psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin in the 19th century. At the time, Kraepelin
labeled it Dementia Praecox. (Schumaker, Ward 2001) It is estimated that
schizophrenia affects about 1.8 million people in the United States. It is characterized by an array of symptoms including; delusions,
hallucinations, disorganized speech, bizarre behavior and decreased emotional
expressiveness and social withdrawal. (Harvey, Keefe, 1994)
The symptoms are put into two categories: negative and positive symptoms.
Positive symptoms include teh occurrence of irregular experiences such as
hallucinations or delusional beliefs. Positive symptoms also involve thought
instability and distortions of words. Negative symptoms refer to the lack of
generally expected behavior such as, social withdrawal and lack of proper
speech. Hallucinations and delusions are the two most serious symptoms. Hallucinations
are false perceptions. Delusions are false beliefs. (Harvey, Keefe,1994) They
are constant and unusual. People who have delusions deny facts that go
against their delusions even though thier beliefs are often untrue and
impossible. The diagnosis of schizophrenia requires that continous symptoms
of the disorder be present for at least six months. (Crow, 1980)
Schizophrenia is a crippling disorder. It can cause a person to have trouble
separating real from false experiences. It also impairs their ability to have
a job, go to school, be in a relationship or even take care of themselves.
About ten percent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide.(
http://www.encarta.com) Once a person develops this disease they usually
suffer from it for the rest of their lives. This disorder has not bias it can
happen to anyone of any sex or race. It usually begins during the last stages
of adolescence or early childhood. It can develop over months or years.
Schizophrenia is not just caused by one factor. Many scientist believe its
caused by brain structural adnormalities, an imbalance of chemicals in the
brain, genetics and the prenatal environment. People diagnosised with this
illness have shown a number of biological abnormalites. They have abnormally
proportioned brain matter and abnormal brain chemistry.( Harvey, Keefe,
1994.) Another factor is chemical imbalance in the brain. Some scientists
believe the source is the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine influences
movement,learning and attention. ( Myers,2002) They believe that
schizophrenia may result from excess activity of dopamine. Evidence in
support of this comes from antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic drugs reduce or
emilinate psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delustions. They block
the brain receptors for dopamine. However, for the most part while many
doctors think this is a diffinite factor, they do not believe that an excess
of dopamine alone causes schizophrenia. (http://www.encarta.com)
We must not forget another crucial factor of schizophrenia, genetics! There
is research that suggests genetics is by far the most influenced factor for
developing this disorder. There are three major approaches to the study of
heritability for schizophrenia; the corcordance, adoptive, and high-risk
approach. The corcordance approach compares the rate of schizophrenia across
groups that differ in terms or their biological relatedness( Hollandsworth,
1990) This approach helps us to understand that the risk of schizophrenia is
higher for children with a schizophrenic parent. Its 46% higher when both
parents have the disorder(Hollandsworth, 1990) The adoptive approach
conlcudes that adoptive children who develop schizophrenia had biological
relatives with the disorder.(Hollandsworth, 1990) The high-risk approach involves
indentitifying individuals at high risk( such as children of schizophrenic
parents) and following them for a number of years. They found that in most
cases the children had indeed developed the full symptoms of schizophrenia.
An additional factor in developing schizophrenia is events that occur during
the prenatal period. For instance, pregnant wowen who have been exposed to
influenza or have poor nutrition can slightly increase the risk of thier
child developing schizophrenia later in life.
Now its been established what schizophrenia is and what the risks are for
developing the disorder.
There are five types of schizophrenia. Each type is based on its prognosis
and its response to treatment. The five types are catatonic, disorganized,
paraniod, unidifferentiated and residual.
Catatonic has symptoms of psyomotor disturbance that can involve stupor,
rigidity, excitement or posturing. It is less common today than a few years
Disorganized is characterized by incoherence and grossly disorganized
behavior. Delusions are common but lack a coherent theme.
(Hollandsworth,1990) Paranoid involves preoccupation with one or more
systematized delustions or auditory hallucinations related to a single theme.
( Hollandsworth, 1990) The most common type is undifferentiated. It s a
frequent diagnosis for long-term residents in mental hostpitals. The main
feature for undifferentiated is the presence of psychotic symptoms like
delustions or incohernce that cannot be classified as one of the other three.
Residual is diagnosised when there has been at least one epitsode of
schizophrenic symptoms but no prmienent psychotic features even though signs
of the disorder persist. (Hollandsworth, 1990)
Now although there are different types of schizophrenia there are but few