About schizophrenia in an Australian contect.

Essay by NurseyUniversity, Master'sA+, July 2003

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Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It interferes with a person's ability to think, feel and act. The illness alters the senses, making it very difficult for a person with schizophrenia to tell what is real from what is not real.

The term "schizophrenia" was introduced in 1911 by a Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler. The word comes from the Greek word schizo meaning "split" and phrenia meaning "mind." Bleuler wanted to convey the split between what is perceived, what is believed, and what is objectively real. He did not mean that the person with schizophrenia is split into two personalities, but that there is a splitting of the personality away from reality. The concept of "split," however, has led to schizophrenia being confused with multiple personality, a less common and very different psychiatric disorder. (Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW)


No single cause has been identified, but a number of different factors are believed to contribute to the onset of schizophrenia in some people.

Possible Contributing Factors include:

2.1.Neuro-developmental Factors

The research in this area investigates the possibility that individuals who develop schizophrenia in early adult life have suffered some from of cerebral maldevelopment in uterus. That is, they experience a disorder in the development of their brain while in the womb.

2.2.Biochemical Factors

Certain biochemical imbalances in the brain are believed to be involved in this condition, especially a neurotransmitter called dopamine.

2.3.Drug Use

Drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs) themselves do not cause schizophrenia. However, certain drugs can make symptoms worse or trigger a psychotic episode if a person already has schizophrenia. Drugs can also create schizophrenia-like symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals.


Possible environmental factors include obstetric complications...