I keep getting spam in the comments section, and it is all for make-up, cosmetic surgery and weight loss products (what are you insinuating spam-bots? If you relied on my search history, you’d find me stuff/products that gets dog-vomit out of carpets and books on how to learn all the rules of Norwegian grammar (preferably “in 15 minutes or less”). That’d be useful, but instead I’m bombarded with ‘hey fatty, you’re kinda hideous‘- type spam. Sigh.
A very cool thing though, is that my subscriber-list has almost doubled, I now have 22 subscribers! (myself and Sufi included, but still, that 20 people want to read my blog is incredibly flattering (I <3 you subscribers)).
Over to the schizophrenia-thing. One of the most interesting jobs I have had (besides the one I have now)was in schizophrenia research. Schizophrenia is not (as many believe) ‘multiple personality disorder’ (or ‘dissociative identity disorder’; a diagnosis that many, myself included, have serious doubts about). It is a disorder characterized by delusions (beliefs that are not true and who are at times outlandish; think Aliens/CIA/FBI/CSIS/PST monitoring thoughts through microchips implanted in the patients brain (paranoid delusions); the belief that one has killed someone without having done so; the belief that one is Really special (called ‘delusions of grandeur’; think historical figures like Jesus Christ or likewise). There are also hallucinations (you see, hear, feel, taste, smell or otherwise perceive sensations that are not present). And finally, general disorganization (you’re not able to distinguish/sort impressions).
We split symptoms into groups. There are positive symptoms (hallucinations, delusions etc); negative symptoms (flat affect/withdrawal/immobility (catatonia)), and disorganized symptoms (difficulties in organizing thoughts/speech/etc).
I’ll probably write several posts on schizophrenia, so I won’t go too in-depth here. If you’re particularly interested in the disorder, please buy my former honours thesis-professor and boss’s book, “In Search of Madness; Schizophrenia & Neuroscience”.
Just some quick facts about schizophrenia:
- It is found in about 1% of the population (estimates range from 0.9-1.1%
- Age of onset is usually past puberty (frequently in the early twenties).
- Genes are involved: if you have a parent with schizophrenia, you have about a 13% likelihood of developing the disorder. If you have an identical twin (geneticists and psychologists loooove identical twins, particularly those who are raised apart) you’ll have a 48% likelihood of developing schizophrenia.
- The prognosis may (possibly) be better for those who live in developing nations (sans medication) compared to those who live in Western countries (frequently heavily medicated). If it is the case, this is quite surprising, no? (please don’t ask why it may be so, I can’t give you a sufficient/good answer.)
- Auditory hallucinations can be seen through neuroimaging (fMRI). The areas that ‘lights up’ (as it were) are Broca’s area; this area is part of our speech-production center; this means that when the patient ‘hears voices’ it is his or her own voice that is mislabeled as someone else’s/coming from the external environment. You’ve also got Wernicke’s area, the area responsible for speech-processing.
- You’re slightly more likely to develop schizophrenia if you were born in winter (phew! My birthday is July 1st.); if your mother wasn’t eating right while pregnant (that is, maternal malnutrition); if your birth was difficult; if you were born in a city (eek!!) and if you are male.
Anyway, the reason I am posting this is because I came across this video on facebook. It is a heartwarming story of a woman who lives with a schizophrenia diagnosis. It is not representative though. Many, if not most patients do not have insight into their own condition (“I’m not crazy!”) and many suffer a great deal. Patients with schizophrenia frequently end up homeless, incarcerated, and though they might be violent (in rare cases. Besides, we can all be violent, it is part of our nature) they are much more frequently victims of violence than perpetrators. Anyway, this This video is more representative of how schizophrenia may look.
This is one of those posts I can’t come up with a clever conclusion for. I guess I could say that there is very little reason to be afraid of patients with schizophrenia? In encounters with people suffering from schizophrenia, displaying compassion and respect usually works very well- I have yet to be attacked anyway, and I have been around schizophrenia-patients for quite some time.