Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Essay, Research Paper
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by a variety of symptoms and the disorganization of feeling and thought. It is an incurable disease whose causes are unknown, yet whose effects are mind and body crippling. (Young, 1988, p.13-14) This topic was chosen because it is interesting to study a disorder that worldwide, is viewed as a classic example of madness and insanity. Another reason of interest is because unlike many illnesses, schizophrenia doesn’t have a noticeable pattern and its difficulty to be diagnosed as a disease makes the collection of statistics difficult. It is important to learn more about schizophrenia because a significant numbr of people are affected everyday by it. In the United States alone, schizophrenic patients occupy more hospital beds than any other type of patient. Schizophrenics also account for nearly 40% of admissions to state and county hospitals. (Smith, 1992, p.32) In the research of schizophrenia, perhaps the best way to begin its study is to look at its past and history.
Although it is just to assume that today’s definitions of schizophrenia may differ from the past’s, it is logical to aslo include the fact that it existed as far as history can go. Many people during the 1800’s were often dubbed as insane because of the dizorganization of thought and feeling that existed. (Smith, 1992, p.28) Later in the 1800’s, more stories grew about the “insanity”, and in the beginning of the 1900’s, doctors began to name this illness dementia praecox, meaning “mad” or “out of one’s mind.” In 1896, schizophrenia was recognized as a mental illness by a German psychiatrist named Email Kraeplin. His recognition of the disease was made after a careful study conducted on people hospitalized for mental disturbances. Then, in 1911,a German physicist named Eugen Blueler renamed it schizophrenia because of the disorganization of the thought process that existed. (Szasz,1982, p.4, p.29) In 1900, the term schizophrenia, now used worldwide, was used to describe the condition that one out of every hundred people had. This statistic remains the same today. Through research and years of study, the world has a better understanding of schizophrenia, its forms, characteristics, symptoms, types, possible causes, and treatments, if any. ( Pierce, 1990. p.263 )
Schizophrenia has no actual definition, but it describes a series of events and actions that a person ususally experiences. Schizophrenia is a psychosis. ( Smith, 1992, p.23-25 ) Psychosis describes a disorder where a group of mental disturbances happen. Schizophrenia is described to be a psychosis because it causes the victim to lose the ability to be in touch with society and its functions. For example, a person may begin to “see” animals that are not there, or may begin to characterize themselves as a famous person from the past such as Queen Elizabeth or King Edward. ( Kvarnes, Parloff, 1983, p.220-223)
There are many aspects that characterize schizophrenia. Schizophrenics usually behave in a strange or abnormal manner where the mind is separated from reality and the difference between what is real and not is unknown. A schizophrenic therefore has distorted ideas about who they are and about life. Feelings of withdrawal, worthlessness and emptiness also appear to exist. Once a schizophrenic’s thoughts and feelings become distorted, the most observed series of symptoms ususally follow and occur: Delusions, hallucinations, and chaotic speech. ( Young, 1988, p.37-38 )
Delusions and hallucinations are two symptoms that are commonly associated with schizophrenia, eventhough it should be taken into account that some schizophrenics may never experience a delusion or hallucination. A delusion is an untrue belief that isn’t logical and has no common sense. It is also almost impossible for a person who suffers from a delusion to be “talked out of it” , for a person who suffers a delusion believes that it is truly real. (Smith, 1992, p.53 ) Although appearing humorous to society, delusions such as this can create emotional confusion and phsycial pain in the brain for the victim. Many delusions also involve belief to the schizophrenic that it is possible to control the minds of others, or that other people have the ability to their mind and innermost thoughts. This belief may explain a schizophrenic’s feelings of fear and seclusion among strangers. ( Young, 1988, p.25 )
The other most common symptom among schizophrenics are hallucinations. Hallucinations are hearing, seeing, or sensing something that in reality doesn’t exist. There are two main types of hallucinations: Auditory hallucinations and visual hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations involve the hearing of nonexistent voices and can occur occassionally or occur often. Visual hallucinations involve distortions of the senses. A schizophrenic, for example, may taste or smell something that in reality, doesn’t exist. ( Szasz, 1982, p.19 ) Another symptom of schizophrenia is chaotic speech. Chaotic speech is a term used to describe the disordered and disorganized thoughts and speech patterns that a schizophrenic may have. Conversations and statements are often disconnected, irrelevant, and may make no sense to the listener. ( Smith, 1992, p.24 )
Among the most common symptoms already discussed are other existing evidence that may help determine if a person is a schizophrenic or not. This existing evidence include an array of symptoms that include deep apathy, indifferent and uncaring attitudes towards others, a lack of curiousity, no emotions, and a loss of interest in social interractions. A schizophrenic in result, will often completely cut himself / herself off emotionally and physically from the world. Even interactions with loved ones would cease to exist. ( Kvarnes, Parloff, 1983, p.190-193 )
Not all schizophrenics suffer the same illness. There are three main types of schizophrenia that have been found. The first type of schizophrenia is catatonic schizophrenia. This condition describes a person who may remain in a frozen position for a long period of time. The victim remains and appears to be expressionless and oblivious to their surroundings, as if the brain has stopped all function. This happens because tension in the voluntary muscles take place and the schizophrenic as a result may lose the ability to act at their own will. However, the catatonic schizophrenic is fully aware of their his / her surroundings. Catatonics may also refuse to eat and go to the bathroom. Another form of catatonic schizophrenia are rapid and excited motions such as violent screaming and laughing. Many people, as a result of this display, have died from exhaustion or heart failure. ( Smith, 1992, p.56 )
The second main type of schizophrenia is disorganized schizophrenia, or hebephrenia. In this type of schizophrenia, the victim acts unthoughtfully and in inappropriate manners. Much of the hebephrenic’s thoughts and emotions are disorganized, scattered, and random. As a result, many have withdrawn from human contact. A series of hallucinations or delusions also may often occur. ( Pierce, 1990, p.59 )
The third main type of schizophrenia is paranoid-type schizophrenia. Paranoid-type schizophrenics are deeply involved in a delusion or hallucination and may often appear to play a role of a historic figure such as Julius Caesar or Cleopatra. Wild fits of anger or violence often take place. However, paranoid-type schizophrenics have a tendency to be older and smarter. ( Smith, 1992, p.26 )
The causes of schizophrenia are still unknown. Eventhough science has seemed to advance in its knowledge of schizophrenia, years of study and experiments have created two or three threories on what may cause schizophrenia. The first theory, the Genetic Theory , suggests that schizophrenia is passed down genetically. ( Smith, 1992, p. 44 ) Infact, a statistic states that if one parent has schizophrenia, his or her child has a ten percent chance of becoming schizophrenic. This statistic suggests that this illness is inherited, eventhough it doesn’t prove it because of environmental factors that may be shared. Examples are the pressures of living in the world or with family members, which represents the second cause theory, the Intrapersonal, (or Environmental Theory. (Smith, 1992, p. 43) ( Young, 1988, p. 45 ) However, idnetical twin studies have indicated that genes do affect the acquisition of schizophrenia and that it is heritable.
Studies of identical twins reveal that if one twin develops schizophrenia, his or her twin has a 40% chance of developing the illness. This is so because identical twins have identical genes. Although researchers have taken the consideration of the roles of genetics, it was also possible that similarity in the physical makeup of blood relatives may explain the occurence of schizophrenia. Because most cases of schizophrenia show a pattern of inheritance, geneticists suggest that that schizophrenia is caused by the acquisition of a particular gene. It is also suggested that schizophrenia is not a single illness, but many separate diseases that appear to be similar. ( Pierce, 1990, p.265 )
A third theory is the Biochemical Model, which reveals a series of abnormalities in the schizophrenic’s brain. One abnormality is that a schizophrenic, comapred to a nonschizophrenic, has high amounts of dopamine,a brain chemical responsible for the transport of nerve messages. It was shown that even slight increases of this chemical caused delusions and hallucinations. ( Smith, 1992, p.47 ) Another abnormality was that the total number of chemical reactions of a schizophrenic were lower than that of a nonschizophrenic. Another abnormality was the low brain weight schizophrenic because of the smaller brain tissue, despite the consistent finding among schizophrenics is that a cavitiy in the brain that transmits fluids are apparently larger than normal.
Schizophrenia is an illness which like many other illnesses, can be treated. However, it cannot be cured. There are many types of professionals though that are involved in the treatment of schizophrenia like psychologists, psychiatrists, nutrionists, and nurses. Psychologists and psychiatrists aid in the study of mental behavior and in the treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists often administer drugs to help ease the schizophrenic. Nurses and nutritionists have special knowledge in the proper lifestyle, rehabilitation, and diet that a schizophrenic needs. In treatment, the most successful treatment is medication known as antipsychotic medication. These type of drugs help sort out the distorted thinking that occurs and are known to change brain chemicals in ways so that the brain is closer to a more normal and calm function. Another form of treatment is psychotherapy, which is a form of hypnosis which alters the brain’s thinking. It is most effective when used with antipsychotic medication. ( Smith , 1992, p. 54-57 )
Schizophrenia is truly tragic. It strikes 1.5 to 2 million people. ( Pierce, 1990, p.264) It is a disorder where a person is unable to mentally and physically function properly. The many forms of schizophrenia often dispute the several theories to its causes. Twin studies have supported the fact that schizophrenia may be hereditary, although there are several other possible causes such as brain disorder. There is no cure to schizophrenia, but there are many treatments involving psychiatry and medicine that may eventually lead to one.