Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder. Following the DSM-IV criteria, psychotic disorders can be classified into 8 groups. One is Schizophrenia, another is the Schizophreniform disorder. In this article I will discuss the characteristics of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a severe disease that can vary widely in it’s clinical picture as well as in the way symptoms evolve. It typically starts in early adulthood, the adolescent develops and functions as expected till there is a sudden salient point in the development. However, this point of onset is often recognized retrospectively. This is because the symptoms develop gradually. Patients start to retreat and they start to neglect both themselves, in terms of personal care, as their friends. Retrospectively patients tends to be quite introvert and anxious as a child, however, these are very nonspecific symptoms and it is not possible to detect schizophrenia is such an early state.Sometimes patients begin to have strange experiences or thoughts after a traumatic incident or after they get into philosophical, religious or spiritual subjects.
Characteristics of schizophrenia can be subdivided into two groups, positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include disturbed ideas of reality like delusions and hallucinations which are also known as psychosis. A delusion is a highly individual conception where the patient will stick to, even if there is evidence for the contrary. The themes of the delusions can differ, but for patients they can be very threatened. Some people have the feeling for example that everybody is conspiring. They will think that normal news facts on television is specially mend for them. And they will see evidence for their conspiring theory everywhere. Another form of delusion is the thought that everybody can see what you think, and patient can be convinced of the fact that they can send their thought into other peoples head.
Hallucinations are sensorial experiences that seem to be real, but have no extern source or stimulus. There are auditory hallucinations, visual hallucination and olfactory hallucination for example. The most frequently seen hallucination by patients with schizophrenia are auditory hallucinations, patients hear voices which can be both positive as negative. They can give orders, for some patients it is possible to ignore them, others have to follow the orders. Furthermore there is cognitive disorganization that is seen as unusual associations and incoherence.
Negative symptoms are called negative, because it’s a loss of normal ability’s. Like the absence of emotional reactions, apathy and social retreat. Negative symptoms are often the start of schizophrenic disorder.
To meet the criteria for schizophrenic disorder there have to be characteristics of schizophrenia as I mentioned above, they have to cause serious disability in daily functioning and they have to be present for at least six months. The diagnosis schizophreniform disorder includes the same criteria. however, the period in which the symptoms are present is between 1 and 6 months