What is schizophrenia and how does it affect people?


Schizophrenia was first discovered/identified by Dr. Emile Kraepelin in 1887. Eugen Bleuler, however, was the first person to use the word "schizophrenic", which means "split mind". Written documents from Pharoic Egypt even show hints of ancient Egyptians having schizophrenia.

What is it?

Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder in which individuals interpret reality abnormally. Some of the symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking/speech, and catatonia. There are three types of schizophrenia:

disorganized: have a lack of emotion and disorganized speech

catatonic: have "waxy" flexibility, reduced movement, and rigid posture

paranoid: have strong delusions and/or hallucinations

Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenics do not have multiple personalities. They often have visual and auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that are not really there.

How does schizophrenia impact the brain?

In tests on twins, schizophrenics typically have a reduced size of the hippocampus, an increased size in the basal ganglia and lateral ventricles, and abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex.

How does schizophrenia impact the central nervous system?

With some forms of schizophrenia, catatonic, individuals experience immobility and "waxy flexibility", which is where you become fixed in a single position for long periods of time.

How does schizophrenia impact the endocrine system?

In one case, a schizophrenic showed deterioration and loss of function in the thyroid gland and hypophysis.

How does heredity/genetics play a role in schizophrenia?

Heredity does prove to play a big role in developing schizophrenia, but it is not a 100% cause, as studies on twins show that sometimes only one twin develops the illness.

Percentage of population affected

1 in 100 people are diagnosed with schizophrenia (which is 1% of the population).

Fun Facts

  • Schizophrenia costs around $32.5 billion per year in the United States.
  • Schizophrenia means "split-mind", but people with the disorder do not have split personalities; the term refers to an individuals split off of reality.