Perceptions of Reality
|People with schizophrenia
may have perceptions of reality that are strikingly different
from the reality seen and shared by others around them. Because
of the unusual realities these people experience, they may have
various behavior patterns. They may go from being distant and
detached to becoming perfectly still to not being able to sit
still. The hallucinations they experience may leave them feeling
frightened, anxious or confused.
and illusions are disturbances of perception that are common
in people suffering from schizophrenia. Hallucinations are perceptions
that occur without connection to an appropriate source. Although
hallucinations can occur in any sensory formauditory (sound),
visual (sight), tactile (touch), gustatory (taste), and olfactory
(smell)hearing voices that other people do not hear is
the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Voices
may describe the patients activities, carry on a conversation,
warn of impending dangers, or even issue orders to the individual.
Illusions, on the other hand, occur when a sensory stimulus
is present but is incorrectly interpreted by the individual.
false personal beliefs that are not subject to reason or contradictory
evidence and are not explained by a person's usual cultural
concepts. Delusions can take on different themes. For example,
patients with paranoid-type symptoms- approximately one-third
of the schizophrenic population-often have delusions of persecution,
or irrational beliefs that they are being cheated, hassled,
poisoned, or plotted against. These patients sometimes believe
that they, or someone close to them, are the focus of this negative
attention. In addition, delusions of grandeur, in which a person
may believe he or she is a famous or important figure, may occur
in schizophrenia. Sometimes the delusions experienced by people
with schizophrenia are quite bizarre; for instance, believing
that a neighbor is controlling their behavior with magnetic
waves; that people on television are directing special messages
to them; or that their thoughts are being broadcast aloud to
often affects a person's ability to think clearly. Thoughts
may come and go rapidly; the person may not be able to concentrate
on one thought for very long and may be easily distracted, unable
to focus attention.
People with schizophrenia may not be able to sort out what is
relevant and what is not relevant to a situation. The person
may be unable to connect thoughts into logical sequences, with
thoughts becoming disorganized and fragmented. This lack of
thought clarity, termed "thought disorder," can make
conversation very difficult and may help contribute to social
isolation. If people cannot make sense of what an individual
is saying, they are likely to become uncomfortable and will
probably leave that person alone.
|People with schizophrenia
often "flat" affect or inability to use normal emotional
expressiveness that most individuals naturally possess. This
can range from speaking in a monotonous voice to having diminished
facial expressions. Social withdrawal may be included in the
list of behaviors and when forced to interact the individual
may have nothing to say. Interest in or enjoyment of life can
be greatly diminished. In some severe cases, a person can spend
entire days totally immobile, even neglecting basic hygiene.
These problems with emotional expression and motivation, which
may be extremely troubling to family members and friends, are
symptoms of schizophrenia-not character flaws or personal weaknesses.
|At times, normal
individuals may feel, think, or act in ways that resemble schizophrenia.
Normal people may sometimes be unable to "think straight."
They may become extremely anxious, for example, when speaking
in front of groups and may feel confused, be unable to pull
their thoughts together, and forget what they had intended to
say. This is not schizophrenia. At the same time, people with
schizophrenia do not always act abnormally. Indeed, some people
with the illness can appear completely normal and be perfectly
responsible, even while they experience hallucinations or delusions.
An individual's behavior may change over time, becoming bizarre
if medication is stopped and returning closer to normal when
receiving appropriate treatment.
News and entertainment media tend to link mental illness and
criminal violence; however, studies indicate that except for
those persons with a record of criminal violence before becoming
ill, and those with substance abuse or alcohol problems, people
with schizophrenia are not especially prone to violence.