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What is schizophrenia disorder?

Updated on September 30, 2011
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects the individual's thoughts, emotions and actions.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects the individual's thoughts, emotions and actions. | Source

Many centuries before the advancement in the field of psychiatry, all mental conditions were similarly misunderstood, misrepresented and harshly dealt with. Those afflicted with it were considered insane or even demon-possessed.

Today, instead of being feared, exiled, or imprisoned, schizophrenics can now lead normal lives. That is only possible because psychiatry provided answers to the question, “What is schizophrenia?”

What is schizophrenia disorder?

Schizophrenia has several similar definitions that underscore the main points. It is a long-term mental health condition that manifests itself through various psychological disorders. These disorders affect the way schizophrenics act, think and feel. In other words, the condition is an amalgam of thought disorders, affective disorders and behavioral disorders.

Often, psychiatrists view schizophrenia as a psycho-social disorder because it leads to problems with managing emotions and socializing. Psychosis is a major symptom of schizophrenia that helps to define it. Schizophrenics are unable to distinguish between reality and fiction; in other words, they lose contact with reality.

What is schizophrenia? Debunking the myths

The first major misconception about what is schizophrenia disorder is that it involves a split or dual personality. The genesis of this myth is the word “schizophrenia” itself. It is derived from the Greek roots schizo (split) and phrene (mind).

The reality is that a schizophrenic does not have a split personality or mind, but a brain that is occasionally susceptible to dysfunction. That sometimes gives the appearance of a split personality as an otherwise rational person could suddenly become irrational and paranoid.

Books on schizophrenia

The second falsehood is that schizophrenics are inherently dangerous and violent. While studies have established a clear link between instances of violence and schizophrenia, this usually happens without treatment and is typically exaggerated, particularly by the media.

The condition manifests itself in non-violent ways as well, such as paranoia, irrational beliefs, hallucinations, inability to concentrate and inappropriate emotional responses.

The other falsehoods about what is schizophrenia are that it is rare, and untreatable. Those are actually half-truths. Schizophrenia disorder is the most frequently diagnosed mental health condition in psychiatric hospitals, making it more common that depression.

In addition, it can be properly managed by a combination of medication and psychosocial support therapies on a continual basis. With early diagnosis and proper long-term treatment, schizophrenics can lead well-adjusted and successful lives.

Onset of schizophrenia

Young persons are more prone to schizophrenia disorder, with the majority of those afflicted being in their late teens or early adulthood. The condition affects men earlier and more severely than it affects women on average. In isolated cases, it develops at the extremes of the life span – either in childhood or middle-age.

Scientists are exploring the schizophrenia’s genetic link, and observing the brain structure of affected persons, to increase the understanding of what is schizophrenia with a view to improving the treatment of it. Schizophrenia disorder has certainly come a long way from being considered a form of madness or demonic possession.


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  • SpiffyD profile image

    SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for reading and commenting on the hub cynamans. Stereotypes apply to many things - even mental conditions. Unfortunately, the image of the schizophrenic as a violent, depraved individual endures in the minds of many. I look forward to reading your hubs.

  • cynamans profile image

    cynamans 5 years ago from Washington DC

    Spiffy D,

    Thanks so much for writing this imformative hub.Your imformation is correct. Most schizophrenics are not violent. My sister is the sweetest person in the world and she has schizophrenia. She developed the disorder in her teens and has since become completely disabled. My hope is that one day there will be a cure for this terrible illness. your hub is voted up and interesting.

    Thanks again for sharing,

    best Cynthia

  • SpiffyD profile image

    SpiffyD 6 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the comments WD Curry and Cresentmoon. Curry: The information regarding to the legality of diagnosis in your region is very interesting indeed. Thabks again.

  • Cresentmoon2007 profile image

    Cresentmoon2007 6 years ago from Caledonia, MI

    Voted up. I always am grateful for those who share information on mental illnesses, even when they are ones that I do not have. Well written and I appreciate it. Thank you.

  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

    I workd at an adolescent menal health facility for 10 years as a vocational instructor. As a layaman it was difficult to understand some of the concepts and terminology of the "priestly caste" of the field. What a good job you did of breaking this down - concise, too.

    I worked with many young skitzophrenics (although under 18 it is unlawful to diagnose as such. Give me ten of them on their best day and I will take over the world!