Essay/Term paper: Schizophrenia
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By: Abe Jacobs
Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder. It is a disease that makes it difficult
for a person to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to
think logically, to have normal emotional responses to other, and to behave
normally in social situations. People with schizophrenia may also have
difficulty in remembering, talking, and behaving appropriately. Schizophrenia
is one of the most common mental illnesses. About 1% of the world
population has schizophrenia. In the United States, there are about 2.5 million
people with the disease. Schizophrenia is the cause of more hospitalizations
than almost any other illness. Schizophrenia most commonly begins between
the ages of 15 and 25. Although it strikes men and women equally, the
symptoms may appear later in women than in men. Very rarely, the
symptoms of schizophrenia can appear before the age of 12. Childhood
schizophrenia has a more chronic disease course and involves poor early
language development. People with schizophrenia can have a variety of
symptoms. Sometimes, these symptoms come on suddenly. Usually, though,
the illness develops slowly over months or even years. At first, the symptoms
may not be noticed or may be confused with those of other conditions. For
example, people with schizophrenia may feel tense, be unable to concentrate,
or have trouble sleeping. They often become increasingly isolated and
withdrawn as their grip on reality loosens. They do not make or keep friends.
They may stop caring about the way they look. Dropping out of school or
doing badly at work are other early signs of schizophrenia. As the illness
progresses, symptoms of psychosis develop. The person starts to act
strangely and talk nonsensically. People with schizophrenia may develop
paranoid delusions. Examples of this would be that they might see, feel, smell,
or hear things that are not really there. They may have physical symptoms,
like frowning or unusual movements, and may stand or sit in strange positions.
Some people become almost motionless. Others move around constantly.
The severity of symptoms will vary from one person to another. The
symptoms also tend to worsen and improve. When the symptoms are
improved, the person may appear to behave relatively normally, but usually
there will be repeated episodes of the illness that will cause symptoms to
reappear. Schizophrenia is a complex and puzzling illness. Even the experts
are not sure exactly what causes it. Some doctors think that the brain may not
be able to process information correctly. People without schizophrenia
usually can filter out unneeded information: for example, the sound of a train
whistle in the background or a dog barking next door. People with
schizophrenia, however, cannot always filter out this extra information. One
possible cause of schizophrenia may be heredity, or genetics. Experts think
that some people inherit a tendency to schizophrenia. In fact, the disorder
tends to "run" in families, but only among blood relatives. People who have
family members with schizophrenia may be more likely to get the disease
themselves. If both biologic parents have schizophrenia, there is nearly a 40%
chance that their child will get it, too. This happens even if the child is
adopted and raised by mentally healthy adults. In people who have an
identical twin with schizophrenia, the chance of schizophrenia developing is
almost 50%. In contrast, children whose biological parents are mentally
healthy â“ even if their adoptive parents have schizophrenia â“ have about a
1% chance of getting the disease. That is about the same risk as for the
general population of the United States. Some researchers believe that events
in a person"s environment trigger schizophrenia. Some studies have shown
that influenza infection or improper nutrition during pregnancy and
complications during birth may increase the risk that the baby will develop
schizophrenia later in life. Many believe that schizophrenia is likely caused by
a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain people
are born with a tendency to develop the disease. But the disease only
appears if these people are exposed to unusual stresses or traumas.
Schizophrenia is usually treated with antipsychotic medication. Some people
with schizophrenia also benefit from counseling and rehabilitation. They may
need to go to the hospital during an acute attack. The goal of treatment is to
reduce symptoms during acute attacks and to help prevent relapses. At this
time, there is no cure for schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications are very
effective in controlling the symptoms of schizophrenia. These medications first
became available in the mid-1950"s. They have greatly improved the lives of
thousands of people. Before that time, people with schizophrenia spent most
of their lives in crowded hospitals. With antipsychotic medication, however,
many people with schizophrenia are able to live in the outside world. Because
each person with schizophrenia has a unique mix of symptoms, no single
medication works best for all people. The ideal medication for one person
may not be the best choice for another. Although antipsychotic medications
do not cure the disease, they can reduce hallucinations and delusions and help
people with schizophrenia regain their grip on reality. Medication also
reduces the risk of they symptoms returning. If the person does have a
relapse of symptoms, medications may make the symptoms less severe.
People with schizophrenia can have a hard time communicating with other
people and carrying out ordinary tasks. Counseling and rehabilitation can help
people with schizophrenia build the skills they need to function outside the
sheltered setting of a hospital. However, these treatments are not very helpful
during acute attacks. Rehabilitation programs may help people with
schizophrenia develop skills such as money management, cooking, and
personal grooming, for example, needed for ordinary life. They may also
prepare the person to go or return to work. Individual psychotherapy may
help person with schizophrenia learn to sort out the real from the unreal.
Group therapy may help them learn to get along with others. Self-help groups
may help persons with schizophrenia feel that others share their problems.
The best way to prevent relapses is to continue to take the prescribed
medication. People with schizophrenia may stop taking their medications for
several reasons. Side effects are one of the most important reasons that
people with schizophrenia stop taking their medication. It is hard for people
to put up with unpleasant side effects for months or years. It is especially hard
when the person feels well. It is very important to find the medication that
controls symptoms without causing side effects. Convenience is also
important. Some medications need to be taken two, three, or even four times
a day. Others may be taken just once a day. People are more likely to
remember to take a medication once a day than several times a day. Some
people profer to get injections every month of long-lasting medication. Taking
medications regularly is the best way to prevent repeated illness and
Word Count: 1135
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Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is categorized as a physhotic illness. I became interesting in Schizophrenia because of a non-fiction movie called “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard. In this story, John Nash starts see three people who are not real during the time when he entered graduate school. He believed the visions that he sees were real, until his wife and doctor of psychology told him that it is not. John also believed that he is working for a U.S. mysterious conspiracy project in secret, and that made him to be persecuted and he was not able to have an ordinary life. Even though after treatment, he still sees non-real visions that never disappeared from his life. However, this movie expressed that Schizophrenia is a brain damaged disorder and some researchers were against this idea. Is schizophrenia really not brain disorder? Then how does it happened? In John’s case, his non-real visions did not disappeared even though he took medical treatment. Is there any other treatment for schizophrenia, or is not treatable?
People who have schizophrenia cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is just an imagination. This happens to 1% of the population and usually starts in early adulthood around 15 to 25 years of age, and usually happens after having a particular stressful time.
Some common symptoms are the following:
• Strange beliefs or thoughts with little no basis in reality (called delusions). For example, you may think that you have special powers. Or you may think someone from the house next door is trying to control your thoughts or feelings (called paranoid delusions).
• Hearing, seeing, feeling, or even smelling things that are not there (called hallucinations). For example you may hear voices talking about you.
• Thoughts ‘jumping between completely unrelated topics (called disordered thinking). This can make conversations difficult.
• Inappropriate behavior, for example taking your clothes off in public.
• Lack of awareness of other people’s feelings. Or you may not show your own feelings or emotions, possibly having a blank facial expression.
• Lack of pleasure or interest in activities. This could be social occasions you used to enjoy, like seeing friends, or going to the pub.
• Difficulty in concentrating, making decisions or planning.
• Feeling depressed or anxious.
Schizophrenia patients usually have these symptoms after they are having a terrible emotional or psychological pain, and feel withdrawn from society. Some patients are usually interested in cults, and isolate themselves from society, such as being secluded in their room with minimum contact with people. Although the possibilities are only a small percentage, genetics plays a role in schizophrenia in their family or their close relatives. As I noted earlier that schizophrenia onset in early adulthood, but they often shows “soft-sign” in their childhood. Dr.B Green Hon, at University of Liver pool UK describes some symptoms that is shown in children around the age of 4 to 6 who associated with later schizophrenia is that late walk, speech problems, and preferring to play alone. Again, psychiatrists, biologists, and many other researchers say that schizophrenia is not a brain disease because only about 12% of patients, who had brain tests, showed some abnormalities, and results showed that more than 80% were within normal ranges. (Weilert&Weinberger,1998) Dr B Green says that “patients with schizophrenia were normal people driven insane by an insane world”. (#1) However, he also said that it is possible that some schizophrenia patients have “neurochemical imbalances, neurodevelopmental problems, genetic defects, viral infections, or perinatal damage amongst other cases”. There are other discoveries about schizophrenia that is noted by Adam Marcus, he says that the patients’ sensory switch boards, at their very earliest time of the disease, is too small and tells why they have such troubles in their life dealing with the situations around them. And also the thalamus is shrunken, thus neurogical hub have to help vast network of signals, and probably causes the patients’ “confusion and overload that characterizes the disorder”, said Marcus. (#2) Other than these discovery is that a study team from the Johns Hopkins school of Medicine in Baltimore that they found “ an “unexpectedly” high level of the retroviral traces in cerebrospinal fluid taken from the schizophrenics, compared to very little in the other study subjects”. (#3) However, again, they say that this is not the complete answer to the genesis of schizophrenia. Scientists and psychiatrists have been focusing on and studied specifically on the thalamus, neuron, or genetic and other brain causation to schizophrenia, but still the cause of schizophrenia has not been found.
Some major treatments for schizophrenia are medications called “antipsychotics”, and they are usually taken with therapy. The main target of medication is to reduce dopamine because there are too much of dopamine activity inside of the patients’ brain. Antipsychotics are a major treatment that is used for most patients, but it may not treat all the symptoms of schizophrenia. Delusions and hallucinations are often reduced, but difficulty of making decision and remembering tend to remain. There is another medication called Atypical antipsychotics which act in different ways for older patients. However the medications work in many ways and it works very differently for each person and usually has some unpleasant side-effects. To develop the medication without side-effects are encouraged in the future. Besides the medication, one very important treatment is the support of family and friends. Since the common symptoms of schizophrenia are that patient’s feeling of withdraw or isolation from society, better family communication skills are needed. Family needs to be educated to be aware of the patient’s symptoms. Also, training for socialize skills and positive thought are helpful for patients to engage society.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one that has been successfully for patients to recover from symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, or depressions. CBT for schizophrenia is the training of patients for “understanding, challenging, and testing negative thought patterns and delusions”. (#4) Like I noted earlier, the completed answer for the causation of schizophrenia is unknown, but most of the patients with schizophrenia have shown significant improvement, though usually takes long-term treatments during their whole life.
However, some patients still attempt suicides. As one of symptoms shows that it has hallucinations and delusions, the voice tells patient to kill themselves or order them to do a criminal act. That is the fear side of the schizophrenia affect. There are some criminal incidents by people shows these symptoms or typically cult group. An example of cult group called “Aum” in Japan, 1996. They strongly believed that they have voice from God and given a special powers to protect themselves from people who are causing to destroy this world. I really don’t know if Shoko Asahara, who was the founder of Aum cult group, was having schizophrenia, or he was simply just one of those cruel murderers. In fact, nobody mentioned about any serious mental disorder about him. But I heard that some believers in Aum said that they received special powers from God through their training under Asahara’s teachings, and they became able to catch the voice from God. Probably they were minded controlled at first, but as they belief become stronger, they will begin to be not able to tell the difference between what is real and what is just imagination. Many of those believers were typically well on some academic study knowledge when they were at school, but they had wither no friends or had poor relationships with their family, and are usually isolated from society since they were young. This applies to most of the common symptoms of schizophrenia. Mass suicide of cult group is a typical action for people who believe in cults.
Another example is told by Dr B Green’s case history of Shakil. Shakil, at the age of 32, was founded by his brother after several years since Shakil was missing from his family home.
When shakil’s brother found him, he was eating an uncooked pigeon in a room with no furniture. Shakil believed that he is protecting God, call Abu-Lafram, from the evils of western civilization that is coming through the wall by tin foil to line the walls of flats. Shakil was hearing voices that a third person can’t hear, and he was living in an abnormal condition. When his brother told Shakil about their mother’s death, which happened while Shakil was missing, he even lighted and said that his mother was “a white cloud in a darkening and prejudiced sky”. He didn’t even show sympathy for his mother’s death.
People who has schizophrenia may turn violent to somebody else, or become harmful to themselves. The best thing is if their family or friends are able to find out the symptoms of the patients in their early stages, and early treatment is more effective for recovery in the short-term. However, at the present studies, nobody can tell who develop the schizophrenia or why, and its also difficult to tell what kind of treatment is the best for each person. In order to help patients who suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia significantly, much more studies into each case of schizophrenia is needed. Also the courage for patients to talk their problems to people and their participation in therapy is necessary, also being more educate about schizophrenia would be helpful.
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