Schizophrenia is often portrayed as a dangerous mental illness whose sufferers pose a threat to the people around them. Many people also view the condition as being tied to split personalities but, in reality, none of this information is accurate.
Schizophrenia is a mental condition which affects approximately 1% of people and usually begins during early adulthood. The main characteristics centre on distorted experiences and perceptions of the world which are far different to those without the illness.
Much of the confusion is likely caused by Schizophrenia’s literal translation to “split mind”. People who suffer do not have two separate personalities, although many experience delusions and hallucinations as part of a range of associated symptoms.
Below are some detailed explanations of the most common symptoms:
A delusion is a false interpretation on the meaning of particular events which a person experiences. The key difference from regular misinterpretations is, with delusions, the individual will not consider possible alternatives and are entirely certain their belief is true, even without sound reasoning.
Common characteristics include:
- Certainty: they are 100% certain in the belief they hold
- Unchangeable: even if they are provided with clearly explained, logical evidence which proves their belief wrong, they will not change their views
- Implausible: delusions are often extremely implausible with many even being categorized as “bizarre” due to their content
Examples of delusions include: the idea of people being able to hear and understand your thoughts (Delusion of Control) or a family member has been replaced by someone with an identical appearance (Capgras Delusion).
Hallucinatory episodes are altogether different from delusions in that they directly affect the body’s senses, causing a person to see, hear or touch things which are not tangible or real.
One example of a hallucination is when people hear voices which others can’t. These voices are often extremely realistic and can be surreal for those who experience them. It is therefore important for hallucinations to be accepted as part of the illness and not as a result of external factors.
Difficulty with Thinking and Speaking
People living with Schizophrenia can sometimes find it challenging to think and speak in a calm and methodical way. They may speak substantially faster than others, conversational topics can switch rapidly and speech may be hard for others to fully understand.
Changes in thought patterns may cause people to deviate from the current conversation based on their associations of certain words, sounds or topics. Particular words, phrases or intonations of voice may be avoided entirely due to the individual’s perception of them.
Lack of Motivation and Concentration
The symptoms of Schizophrenia can often be exhausting and frustrating to deal with. As a result, sufferers can often find it hard to concentrate on work, relationships, hobbies and other day-to-day activities.
This is by no means an extensive list of all the symptoms associated with Schizophrenia, however, these are considered to be among the most common. People may experience some or all of the above in varying forms and severity.
Although Schizophrenia can be a difficult illness to live with, there are many who still live completely normal lives both with and without support services. Thirty percent of people who are diagnosed are likely to have a long-term recovery and 20% will experience improvement in the quality of their life.
Encompass Dorset work with many people suffering from Schizophrenia and provide support for other mental illnesses and learning difficulties.
If you would like to find out how we can help you or a loved one, click here.