Symptoms of Schizophrenia: Five Areas of Disturbance

Essay by nikitalolUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2004

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Schizophrenia is defined as a group of psychotic disorders involving major disturbances in perception, language, thought, emotion, and behavior; the individual withdraws from people and reality, often into a fantasy life of delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia means 'split mind,' but the name really refers to the fragmenting of thought processes and emotions found in schizophrenic disorders. Schizophrenia is characterized by psychological disturbances in five areas; perception, language, thought, affect (emotions), and behavior.

Perceptual symptoms can vary from patient to patient. This is because the senses of people with schizophrenia may be either enhanced or blunted. The filtering and selection processes that allow most people to concentrate on whatever he or she chooses are impaired, and sensory stimulation is distorted. People with schizophrenia also experience hallucinations. Hallucinations are sensory perceptions that occur without an external stimulus. They can occur in any of the senses, but auditory hallucinations (hearing voices and sounds) are the most common among schizophrenic patients.

People with schizophrenia often hear voices speaking their thoughts aloud, commenting on their behavior, or telling them what to do. Voices tend to come from inside their own heads or from an external source such as an animal, telephone wires, or a TV set. Rarely, people with schizophrenia will hurt others in response to their distorted internal experiences or the voices they hear. Unfortunately, these cases receive undue media attention and create exaggerated fears of 'mental patients.' a person with schizophrenia most likely self-destructive and at greater risk of suicide than of violence toward others.

Language and thought disturbances are linked together. To schizophrenics, words can seem to lose all meaning. When thought disturbances are mild, an individual with schizophrenia will tend to jump from topic to topic. Individuals with severe disturbances usually jumble their words together, and he or she creates artificial...