By Elissa Schmiel, Hour 7

Schizophrenia: Frightening Disease of the Mind

Schizophrenia directly affects about 1% of the American population. Symptoms typically begin between the ages of 16 and 30. It rarely occurs in children. There are many misconceptions of schizophrenia due to the influence of the media.


Media Influence

Schizophrenia is commonly portrayed in TV shows, books, and movies.

For example, in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", the main character, Norman Bates, has a multiple personality disorder, as well as schizophrenia. He hears who he thinks is his mother speaking to him, but it is really just his mind tricking him. In this work, people with schizophrenia are (falsely) portrayed to be crazy, murderous beings.

Another example of schizophrenia in media is in the short story "Diary of a Madman", by Nikolai Gogol. Gogol more realistically interprets the symptoms of schizophrenia through his character, Axenty Ivanovich Poprishchin. The character, in this case, falls into madness through excessive grandeur. Although the cause of the character's descent into madness is unrealistic, the symptoms of schizophrenia (such as voices speaking to the afflicted) were accurately portrayed.

Interpersonal Communication

People seeking advice about schizophrenia can speak with their medical professionals or psychiatrists. People that believe they may be schizophrenic should see a doctor right away. While there, they can discuss treatment options and cost.

Those who feel they may be schizophrenic should also speak with their family (if possible). It is imperative that those closest to the afflicted are aware and educated about schizophrenia and the treatment process it entails. Patients should also discuss living arrangements (particularly if a specific type of housing is needed, such as a group home).

Short-Term Effects of Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia have difficulties paying attention, remembering things, and focusing. They also hear voices in their heads that no one else can, and think that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to hurt them. Humans affected smell odors that other do not and feel like they are being touched when they are not.

Long-Term Effects of Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia are also more likely to have problems with alcohol or substance abuse. Those affected are also more likely to commit suicide, despite treatment (although it helps fight depression). Though this disease may not aid in banishing suicidal thoughts, it is usually not the cause of the suicide, itself (there are typically many more factors that lead to it).


Schizophrenia is a long-term disease, and continual treatment is needed through medication.

The medication clozaphine is used to control the positive symptoms while improving the negative symptoms. It was first introduced in 1990, and is taken orally in a tablet form. A prescription is needed and, if a dose is missed, take it as soon as possible. It is very important not to take more than one dose to make up for the missed medication.

Zyprexa is another medication used to treat schizophrenia. It has many less symptoms than clozapine, and is more tolerable to a wider number of people. It is also used to treat bipolar disorder. Those taking it must be at least 13 years of age. It may be used with other medications, and works to alter chemicals in the brain. It is taken orally.






5. Mohit Chaunan, M.D.

1000 First Drive, NW

Austin, MN 55912

Phone: 507-433-8758

No specific contact person: call the desk of the Psychiatry & Psychology Department using the previously stated phone number.