A Life Destroyer Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious psychiatric illnesses.
It affects one percent of the general population. This is a socially and financially devastating
disease that robs people of their most productive years of life. Schizophrenia still continues to be
one of the most complex, puzzling and disabling of the major mental illnesses. Most symptoms
develop in men around the age of sixteen and twenty-five years old, and around twenty-five to
thirty years old in women.
Schizophrenia rarely develops in children and most schizophrenics
appear to have a normal childhood. A delusion, which is a false belief that defies logic and
common sense, is a common symptom of schizophrenia. The person thinks someone is watching
them constantly or they think people can read their mind. Hallucinations, hearing, seeing or
sensing something that isnt there, are another common symptom of schizophrenia. Some people
experience heightened senses, which is hypersensitivity of sense that leads to visual distortions.
Others experience auditory hallucinations.
They sometimes carry on conversations or are told to
do things by one or may voices that are not there. Very rarely, but still as devastating, some
experience visual hallucinations or smell odd smells coming from themselves. (Young, 67-68)
More that 300,000 adults in this country are unable to distinguish their imaginations from reality
In the 1700s and the 1800s, before much was known about mental diseases,
schizophrenia was thought of as witchcraft (Nichols pg. 1). Anyone who displayed signs of this
disease was thought to have been possessed. The Puritans believed “distraction”, as they called
it, was either possession by the devil, or punishment for sins.
Yet, the strange behavior of those
afflicted was looked upon with tolerance. Through much of the 1700s, family or friends were
expected to take care of the mentally ill. Dorothea Dix was a school teacher who took up the
cause of the mentally ill in the mid 1800s, found disturbed individuals living in sordid
conditions, “confined in cages, closets, cellars, stalls and pens: chained, naked, beaten with rods
and lashed into obedience.” She worked to help these people live a more normal life. (Goode
A dismal outlook for schizophrenia was dramatically changed in the 1950s with the
development of the first antipsychotic drug, Chlorpromazine. Since then, more that a dozen other
similar-acting antipsychotic medications have been developed.
These drugs work by
blocking binding sites of dopamine, which is a main factor in schizophrenia. Chlorpromazine
was first used as an antihistamine. Then, it was found to calm hyperactive schizophrenic patients
out of withdrawal and reduced major symptoms of the disease. A lot of false medication was
used before the discovery of chlorpromazine. An insulin coma, as one example, was used to
relieve most symptoms by overloading the patients body with insulin. This helped some
patients, because it calmed them down, but killed most of them.
Electroconvulsive therapy, where brief pulses of electronegativity are passed through the
brain, was also used. It was thought that using this type of treatment, symptoms could be reduced
or eliminated, but it did neither. This only helped the severely depressed and only calmed them
for a little while. Doctors also attempted a frontal lobotomy, which was a surgical removal of the
front parts of the brain. A frontal lobotomy was done because it was thought that the front part of
the brain was responsible for schizophrenia. This did nothing but make a quieter patient.
practices were commonly used to try to suppress the main symptoms of schizophrenia. Mainly,
these practices did nothing but torture the patient and make him or her suffer extremely. (Young
67-68) Many schizophrenics will carry on conversations with voices or people who are not really
there. The voices may tell them what to do and how to harm themselves or others. This puts the
patient at a huge risk for committing suicide. The medication that is prescribed to them attempts
to stop the voices or other symptoms.
In turn, most schizophrenics would experience severely
painful side effects. These side effects included constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth and blurred
vision, which would most like diminish after a few weeks. Other side effects that is less likely to
diminish included restlessness, slurred speech, trembling .