What is Schizophrenia?

  • Schizophrenia is the definitive term given to the group of psychotic disorders.
  • Personal, social and occupational functioning deteriorates as a result of disturbed thought processes, strange perceptions, unusual emotional states, and motor abnormalities.
  • Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychological disorder.
  • The social and psychological costs of Schizophrenia are colossal both to the patients, their families and soceity and to the doctors as well.
 

Symptoms of Scizophrenia

The symptoms of schizophrenia are grouped under 3 main categories-

  • Positive symptoms-Excesses of thought, emotions and behaviors
  • Negative symptoms-Deficits of thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
  • Psychomotor symptoms.
 

Positive Symptoms

  1. These can be termed as pathological excesses or bizarre additions to an individual’s behavior.
  2. The symptoms which are exhibited most often are delusions, disorganized thinking and speech patterns, heightened perceptions, hallucinations and inappropriate affect.
  • DELUSIONS:

It is a false belief which is held rigidly on inappropriate grounds. It cannot be affected by rational and meaningful arguments and it has no basis and existence in reality.

  1. Delusion of Persecution– This symptom is exhibited most often in schizophrenia. Individuals with this delusion have a firm belief that they are being plotted against, spied on, slandered, threatened, attacked and purposefully victimized.
  2. Delusion of Reference– In this symptom, the people attach very special and personal meanings to other people’s actions, to other objects and events.
  3. Delusion of Grandeur– In this symptom, the individuals start believing themselves to be specially empowered people who have super powers and who can solve any issue or problem with their powers.
  4. Delusion of Control– In this symptom, the people have a firm belief that their lives, feelings, thoughts, emotions and actions are controlled by others.
  • FORMAL THOUGHT PROCESSES:

People suffering from schizophrenia lose the ability to think logically and they speak in a peculiar manner. Hence, making it extremely difficult to communicate.

  1. Loosening of Associations and Derailment– It includes rapidly shifting from one topic to another and as a result the normal structure of thinking is all haphazard, illogical and unclear.
  2. Neologism– In this symptom, the individual keeps on inventing new words and phrases which has no existence in reality.
  3. Perseveration– In this symptom, the individual experiences the persistent and inappropriate repetition of the same thoughts.
  • HALLUCINATIONS:

Hallucinations are perceptions which occur in the absence of external stimuli. These are frequently experienced by schizophrenics.

  1. Auditory Hallucinations– The individual hears strange sounds and voices that speak out words, phrases and sentences directly to the person (second-person hallucination) or speak to each other referring to the person as he/she (third-person hallucination).
  2. Tactile Hallucinations– The person experiences feelings of burning, tingling, freezing etc. Although there is no such external stimuli which might justify the person’s hallucinations.
  3. Somatic Hallucinations– The person experiences feelings of something happening inside his/her body like a snake crawling in his/her stomach or a bug crawling under his/her skin etc.
  4. Visual Hallucinations– The person distinctly visualizes people or objects in the absence of that specific person or object. The patient also has vague percetions of colours.
  5. Gustatory Hallucinations– In this hallucination, the individual feels that the food or drink, which he/she is having, has strange tastes, although that is not the case.
  6. Olfactory Hallucinations– In this symptom, the person frequently experiences smells of poison and smoke, but that is not the case.
  • INAPPROPRIATE AFFECT:

These include exhibition of emotions which are unsuitable according to the situation. For instance, in the funeral of a family member, a schizophrenic who is a family friend, is invited. Suddenly in the middle of the funeral, the person starts laughing loudly and in a wild manner. This is exhibition of the wrong emotion at the wrong situation and time. Hence, it is an example of inappropriate affect.     

Negative Symptoms

  1. These symptoms can be termed as pathological deficits in an individual’s behavior.
  2.  It includes poverty of speech, blunted effect, flat effect, social withdrawal and loss of the ability of decision-making.
  • ALOGIA:

Alogia or poverty of speech refers to a drastic reduction in speech and content of speech.

  • BLUNTED EFFECT:

Individuals suffering from schizophrenia exhibit less anger, sadness, joy and a host of other feelings and emotions than other people. This is known as blunted effect.

  • FLAT EFFECT:

People with schizophrenia may experience a condition in which they exhibit no emotions at all. This state is known as flat effect.

  • AVOLITION:

People suffering from schizophrenia experience an apathy and an inability to start or complete a course of action. They always feel discouraged and de-motivated. The people withdraw themselves from the soceity and become busy with their own ideas and fantasies.

 

Psychomotor Symptoms

  1. People with schizophrenia move in a less spontaneous manner and make strange and odd grimaces and gestures.
  2. These symptoms sometimes take extreme forms which is known as Catatonia.
  • CATATONIC STUPOR:

People with this symptom, remain motionless and silent for long durations of time.

  • CATATONIC RIGIDITY:

People with this symptom, maintain a rigid and upright posture for hours altogether.

  • CATATONIC POSTURING:

People with this symptom, assume awkward, bizarre and peculiar positions for long stretches of time.

 

Sub-types of Scizophrenia

  • Paranoid type- People falling in this category, have preoccupations with delusions and auditory hallucinations. However, they don’t show disorganized speech or behavior or inappropriate affect.
  • Disorganized type- People falling in this category, show disorganized speech and behavior and also exhibit inappropriate and flat affect. But, they don’t show catatonic symptoms.
  • Catatonic type- People falling in this category, show extreme motor immobility, extreme motor inactivity and negativism i.e. resistance to instructions and showing stubborn behavior. These people also show mutism or the refusal to speak.
  • Undifferentiated type- People falling in this category, do not fit in any of the sub categories but, however, they meet the symptom criteria.
  • Residual type- People falling in this category, have experienced at least one instance of schizophrenia. They only exhibit negative symptoms and no positive symptoms are shown.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although, schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.