The Schizoid Man: Understanding Schizophrenia

by Matt Shamblin

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations.

Schizophrenics may have a variety of symptoms. Usually the illness develops slowly over months or even years. At first, the symptoms may not be noticeable. For example, you may feel tense, or have trouble sleeping or concentrating. You can become isolated and withdrawn, and have trouble making or keeping friends.

As the illness continues, psychotic symptoms develop:

An appearance or mood that shows no emotion (flat affect)
Bizarre motor behavior in which there is less reaction to the environment (catatonic behavior)
False beliefs or thoughts that have nothing to do with reality (delusions)
Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)
Thoughts “jump” between unrelated topics (disordered thinking)

Symptoms can be different depending on the type of schizophrenia.

Catatonic type:

Decreased sensitivity to pain
Inability to take care of personal needs
Negative feelings
Motor disturbances
Rigid muscles

Paranoid type:

Delusions of persecution or grandeur

Disorganized type:

Child-like (regressive) behavior
Flat affect
Inappropriate laughter
Not understandable (incoherence)
Repetitive behaviors
Social withdrawal

Undifferentiated type may include symptoms of more than one type of schizophrenia.

Residual type — symptoms of the illness have gone away, but some features, such as hallucinations and flat affect, may remain.

During an episode of schizophrenia, you may need to stay in the hospital for safety reasons, and to provide for basic needs such as food, rest, and hygiene.

Antipsychotic or neuroleptic medications change the balance of chemicals in the brain and can help control the symptoms of the illness. These medications are effective, but they can have side effects. However, many of these side effects can be addressed, and should not prevent people from seeking treatment for this serious condition.

Common side effects from antipsychotics may include:

Sleepiness (sedation)
Weight gain
Other side effects include:
Feelings of restlessness or “jitters”
Problems of movement and gait
Muscle contractions

Long-term risks include a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia, in which people move without meaning to.

Newer drugs known as atypical antipsychotics appear to have fewer side effects. They also appear to help people who have not improved with the older medications. Treatment with medications is usually needed to prevent symptoms from coming back.

Supportive and problem-focused forms of therapy may be helpful for many people. Behavioral techniques, such as social skills training, can be used during therapy, or at home to improve function socially and at work.

Family treatments that combine support and education about schizophrenia (psychoeducation) appear to help families cope and reduce the odds of symptoms returning. Programs that emphasize outreach and community support services can help people who lack family and social support.

Schizophrenia is a complex illness. Even experts in the field are not sure what causes it. Some doctors think that the brain may not be able to process information correctly.

Genetic factors appear to play a role. People who have family members with schizophrenia may be more likely to get the disease themselves.

Some researchers believe that events in a person’s environment may trigger schizophrenia. For example, problems (infection) during development in the mother’s womb and at birth may increase the risk for developing schizophrenia later in life.

Psychological and social factors may also affect its development. However, the level of social and family support appears to affect the course of illness and may protect against the condition returning.

There are 5 types of schizophrenia:

Catatonic Disorganized Paranoid Residual Undifferentiated
Schizophrenia usually begins before the age of 45, symptoms last for 6 months or more, and people start to lose their ability to socialize and work.

Schizophrenia is thought to affect about 1% of people worldwide.

Schizophrenia appears to occur in equal rates among men and women, but in women it begins later. For this reason, males tend to account for more than half of patients in services with high numbers of young adults. Although schizophrenia usually begins in young adulthood, there are cases in which the disorder begins later (over 45 years).

Childhood-onset schizophrenia begins after the age of 5 and, in most cases, after normal development. Childhood schizophrenia is rare and can be difficult to tell apart from other developmental disorders of childhood, such as autism.

Because other diseases can cause symptoms of psychosis, psychiatrists should make the final diagnosis. The diagnosis is made based on a thorough interview of the person and family members.

No medical tests for schizophrenia exist. The following factors may suggest a schizophrenia diagnosis, but do not confirm it:

Course of illness and how long symptoms have lasted
Changes from level of function before illness
Developmental background
Genetic and family history
Response to medication

CT scans of the head and other imaging techniques may find some changes that occur with schizophrenia and may rule out other disorders.

I realize that many of these symptoms have been documented in demonic possession cases. I’m not implying that all of them were schizophrenic. I do believe that some cases were indeed demonic and of course there could be some that have been misdiagnosed as schizophrenic that were actually possessed.  It’s really a tricky line to define. Especially without direct involvement in a case and/or knowing the persons history.

I also understand that we do have people out there that are mentally ill. But out of 100 people diagnosed as mentally ill; what if 10 were just becomeing sensitive, and 1 has come under demonic possession?

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2 Responses to “The Schizoid Man: Understanding Schizophrenia”

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