During my days of volunteering in the Psychiatric & Mental Health Department at my hometown, I found that the number of patients diagnosed with Schizophrenia tends to be the highest in the statistics chart. Schizophrenia (“思觉失调症”，previously known as “精神分裂症”) is one of the popular and mostly discussed mental disorders in the field of Psychology and Psychiatry but many of us are not exposed to the truth behind the mask of this mental disorder. I believe that many of us are very curious and willing to know more about this mental illness to the extent of understanding how it can impact people in daily life. (I hope you want to know about it too, hehe) With this, I would like to take this opportunity to share some basic information about Schizophrenia.
From the origin of Greek, Schizrophrenia can be divided into two parts: Skhizein, means “to split” while phrēn means “mind”. But bear in mind that, this doesn’t imply that patients with Schizophrenia has “split-mind” or “separated minds”, it actually means “split off from the reality” (reality detachment)
Schizophrenia, like other Psychotic disorders usually come with the following key features:
Delusions are the false beliefs that are strongly maintained but not based on reality. Despite being exposed to inconsistent or contradicting information, the beliefs are more likely to be resistant to change. For example: Persecutory delusions (when an individual believes that someone is going to kill him), Grandiose delusions (when an individual believes that he is very powerful and exceptional abilities, eg: they will claim themselves as the god savier). I remembered during the consultation with medical officers, there were some patients sharing that they felt that the reporter inside the TV was talking about them – Referential delusions.
The experience of seeing things (visual hallucinations) or hearing voices (auditory hallucinations) that are not real. Yet, the experience to the patients with Schizophrenia or other Psychotics disorders is vivid and clear, it can be as similar as real experience like what we have in everyday life. From my personal experience with patients having auditory hallucinations, they said that they could recognize some of the voices in their heads and the voices would even say something bad about them, for eg: call them ‘stupid’ or ask them to commit suicide.
Disorganized thinking / speech
When talking, individuals might keep switching one topic to another topic and their speech is incoherent. To answer some questions, you might notice that their answers are completely related to what was just asked. Up to now, I haven’t experienced any patient showing this feature yet.
Grossly disorganized / abnormal motor behaviour (including catatonia)
This may show in various ways, from childlike siliness to agitation. It leads individuals hard to perform goal-orientated behaviour or tasks in everyday lives. It also includes resistance to instruction, lack of response to cues, repeated stereotyped movement and others. I haven’t seen any patients showing these as well.
The two prominent negative symptoms founded in Schizophrenia are diminished emotional expression and avolition. Diminished emotional expression refers to the inability to express emotion, lack of eye contact and intonation of speech. Avolition is defined as the decrease of motivation to initiative purposeful activities. Eg: individuals might sleep or sit for a very long period of time and show little interest in joining group activities. Other negative symptoms are Alogia (less speech output), Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure), Asociality (lack of interest to interact with others). I was told by one medical officers that it’s easy to notice that patients who suffered from chronic Schizophrenia usually lack of showing facial expressions and they look very tired / unmotivated most of the time.
I hope this short article gives you a brief introduction about Schizophrenia. If you have friends showing these symptoms, kindly ask them to seek for Psychological support from Professionals. You can also click here to look for more Psychological Services.
People with Schizophrenia is like having their mind floating in the air, there are things that are beyond their control and they need our support to help them land on the ground of reality…so that they can function well in life.
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