Self Help - Schizophrenia Awareness
17th Mar, 2020
This blog intends to create more awareness more about Schizophrenia, its causes, and treatments. The American Psychiatric Association defines Schizophrenia as "a group of disorders manifested by characteristic disturbances of thinking, mood, and behavior."
The disturbances in thinking lead to misinterpretation of reality, which appears frequently. There is a definite split in one's thinking and feeling part, which creates a faulty perception of reality.
Schizophrenic people usually have delusions or hallucinations, which affects them in getting a sense of reality. They do not exhibit appropriate emotional responses and have no empathy with others.
Their behavior shows they are withdrawn and bizarre. In this article, let us have some awareness and understanding of Schizophrenia. This mental illness is something which usually not characterized properly unless observed by an expert.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
- Thought disturbances occur. The series of logical knots that connects one thought with the another loosens up. So, the thinking is bizarre, illogical, and results in chaotic patterns.
- The mind is preoccupied with derivations from fantasies, dreams, hallucinations, and delusions. As a result, the relationship with reality needs testing.
- Schizophrenic patients exhibit contradictions. They show love, affection, and hatred towards the same person, object, and situation.
- Hallucinations occur in the primary sensory modality on Auditory, Visual, Olfactory, Gustatory, or Kinaesthetic. It builds hallucinations such as hearing someone speaking inside their head, someone following them, smelling bad odors, tasting bad, seeing ghosts, dead people, or angels. The primary modality of the person decides the type of hallucination. It said as per the studies, the auditory is more to a schizophrenic patient.
- A delusion is a false belief inappropriate to the patient's educational or social background and not influenced by logical contradictory evidence.
- They believe that someone's gesture or conversation is always about them. Wondering if someone is following them. Misinterpretation of actual information with something they are afraid of.
- Perceiving information is wrong most of the time because they believe that it's not them who are performing actions. They also feel that their personality or originality is getting diluted and disappearing.
- They repeat other's speech, movements, and gestures unexpectedly. They believe that they are controlled by someone else outside of them.
- A feeling of strangeness, a vague sense of impending disaster, searching for roots, and a preoccupation with abstract religious and philosophical ideas that formally held little interest are familiar during initial stages.
- Physical symptoms include disturbances in sleep, appetite, and sexual desires (libido) are common.
Causes of Schizophrenia
There is no definiteness when it comes to identifying the causes of Schizophrenia. Every psychological or psychosocial factor identified earlier were considered as an etiology of Schizophrenia.
- Organic Factors: In this grouping, some of the factors include genetic, biochemical, metabolism, endocrine, toxic, and neurological. There were studies and findings on genetic and biochemical, but zeroing in on them is quite tricky. The anti-insulin factor is found in the blood and urine of Schizophrenic patients. In childhood schizophrenia, there will be a lag in the development of the child. One of the factors identified for it could be the oxygen deprivation during childbirth.
- Psychosocial Factors: The Schizophrenic's profound defects in mental functioning make it impossible for them to meditate successfully between the conflicting demands of instinctual impulses, conscience, and external reality. They suffer from disappointment, frustration, and loss of self-esteem in their attempt to deal with other people and the outside world. The patient tries to deal with their unbearable (guilt or a voice of conscience accusation) internal state by mentally constructing an unreal world. In other cases, the mother-infant relationship is marked, but in which the infant encounters difficulty separating themselves from the mother and achieving individuation. In families where parents derogate and undercut each other, the child cannot use one parent as a model for identification as a love object without offending the other parent. A transmission of irrationality from parents to children causes extreme difficulty in them, establishing a satisfactory sense of their own identity. The child then gets preoccupied with "fitting together" at the expense of individuation.
Signs and Symptoms
Schizophrenic symptoms in adult patients often seem to be correlated with childhood experiences of rejection, abandonment, loss of love, seductiveness on the parts of parents, and other forms of psychic trauma. They usually are emotionally cold, withdrawn, sensitive, and eccentric since childhood. They may do well academically, but their social adjustment is impoverished, and they prefer solitary hobbies to the exclusion of interests, which would require interaction with their fellows. Their paranoia is suspicious, mistrustful, and envious of others.
- Hallucinations: Sensory perception occurs in response to external stimuli. Hallucinations could be hearing a voice that commands to do some actions; seeing images that don't exist and interpreting them as Gods, angels or ghosts; always sensing danger with fear of people around; someone constantly telling that others are plotting against; bad smells like something is rotten or unpleasant; irritable tastes in the mouth.
- Delusions: Someone is following, people stalking me on the internet, someone is tapping my phone calls, someone is poisoning my food, someone is watching me or monitoring me, etc. They feel that their thoughts are erased or hijacked by an external force.
- Illusion: Misinterpretation of sensory perception. It includes seeing smoke as ghosts in the dark, every small shiny object on walls as cameras, people who look at one is considered as staring, etc.
- Ideas of Reference: When others speak something, Schizophrenics usually think that they are the ones others are referring to in the conversation.
- Depersonalization: Considering oneself as a split and believing that one more person is dwelling inside the body. Also, assuming that someone else is taking over their life both in mind and body. Its a feeling of being alienated from one's personality.
- Negativism: Schizophrenics do precisely opposite of what is being told. They do not have differentiation of right and left. When asked to do something with their left hand, they do that with the right.
- Automatism: Actions do happen without the knowledge of the patients. They feel that they are not in control, and they did not do the actions.
- Repetition: Repetition of the speech of another person, movements, gestures & expressions, and mindless performing of actions.
- Impulsiveness: Actions that are performed unexpectedly without sufficient reflection and consideration of the whole personality.
- Storm Personality: People with this personality shift between extreme aggressiveness and extreme submissiveness.
With proper treatment, symptoms will subside from the very beginning. In other cases, several months may be required for significant remission of symptoms. In some instances, the patient may not respond to treatment at all. Some of the procedures that prevent manifesting Schizophrenia are therapeutic community approach, group therapy, drug treatment, and encouragement & reinforcement of the non-psychotic part of the patient's personality.
- Medication: Drug prescriptions usually are antipsychotic or antischizophrenic. They are majorly classified as tranquilizers. The selection of drugs involves not just science but also in observing and identifying the nature of patients.
- Shock Therapy: It is controversial to use shock therapy as treatment. This use of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) or Shock treatment started declining from the 1980s. It is usually sending shock directly in the brain to trigger a seizure. Shock Therapy is still used as a last resort when it comes to treating psychotic patients.
- Other medications: Vitamins, Steroids, Protein synthesis, and other forms of drugs also used in treatments.
- Psychotherapy: The patient cannot mediate nor differentiate the unconscious instinctual impulses, and psychotherapy helps in strengthening their defenses. It helps patients deal with their relationship with reality. Psychotherapists are called "Ambassadors of the reality." There is no thumb rule on how to establish trust with the patients when it comes to psychotherapy. Some guidelines to follow as psychotherapists are 1) Do not exploit patients for self-gratification 2) Do not socialize with patients that lead to seductive behavior 3) Therapy takes time and does not be an attorney to rush things. 4) Don't derail the patient and run away. 5) Do not use therapy to espouse private views. 6) Please do not run away from the topic as you are afraid of it. 7) Do not make more in-depth interpretations of instinctual impulses early. 8) Do not give what the patients want, too soon. They need a therapist who can set limits.
While choosing a hospital, ensure that it is a therapeutic community. A therapeutic community has all the aspects of activities program including, recreation, vocation rehabilitation, patient government, patient-staff, and intra-staff interactions, which promotes patient's recovery.