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Tuesday, 21 February 2012 13:09

Understanding The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

“Split personality” is the term that generally denotes schizophrenia. However, it is a misconception to think of schizophrenia as a multiple personality or split personality disorder. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by the breakdown of balanced thinking and emotions.

The causes of schizophrenia may be due to the chemical disturbances in the brain including the neurotransmitters, glutamate, and dopamine. The differences to the central nervous system and the structure of the brain, is evident in the neuro imaging studies of people with schizophrenia.


The tests are carried out to rule out disorders of the metabolism, thyroid, seizures, and brain tumour, where the symptoms are similar to that of schizophrenia. Apart from this, the medical practitioner considers economic, cultural, environmental, psychological and genetic factors to diagnose schizophrenia.

Understanding The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

It is extremely difficult to ascertain the symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms are broadly classified into three categories, namely positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive Symptoms

The positive symptoms reflect a distortion of normal behaviour and functions.


Delusions are the most common symptom of schizophrenic disorder. It is an unrealistic belief of something nonexistent, a belief that arises due to misinterpretations, misconceptions, or experiences. It is an illusion of being watched or followed and a feeling of being controlled by an external force.


The common hallucinations in schizophrenic disorders are hearing voices, tasting, smelling, feeling, and seeing things that do not exist. A belief that the persons thought process is transmitted to other people, due to which they hear imaginary voices holding a dialogue with them and commenting on their actions and behaviours.

Disorganised Thought Process

Disorganised speech and thought process often resulting in meaningless words. Sometimes stopping midway through a conversation by being incoherent is what is described as word salad.

Disorganised Behaviour

Disorganised behaviour reflected in numerous ways ranging from being sloppy to childlike silliness with a sudden onset of restlessness, anxiety, and erratic behaviour or lack of social inhibitions, often appearing to be rather bizarre to the spectator. Their delusionary beliefs determine this kind of unusual behaviour.

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms may appear with or without positive symptoms. There may be a dearth of normal functions in people suffering from schizophrenia with a loss of interest in daily routine activities.

Affective Flattening

Affective flattening is a marked reduction in the emotional intensity, facial expressions, body language, eye contact, and voice intonation in the person diagnosed with this disorder.


Alogia is the reduction in speech productivity or fluency often manifesting itself in short replies to questions.


Avolition is an inability to plan or accomplish activities or assigned tasks, often misunderstood for obvious disinterest. These are manifest in social withdrawal, lack of motivation or enthusiasm for past activities of interest, spending hours within the confines of the house doing absolutely nothing.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms manifest themselves only through neuropsychological tests. Difficulties with memory and concentration, very subtle in nature are one of the major symptoms.

Occupational Social Dysfunction

These cognitive symptoms are of prime importance, as they have a direct relation to work, social consequence and independent living.

Problem Solving

Poor executive functioning is the inability to pay attention, process information, or details and make decisions based on them or follow directions.

Poor Concentration

The person may have trouble concentrating, getting easily distracted, with one particular task, and often forgetting things.

Poor Memory

People with schizophrenia have trouble with working memory. This being an inability to remember recently received or learned information similarly to short-term memory loss.

Over/Lack of Reaction

People with this disorder Overreact to trivial things and show absolutely no reaction to serious matters and circumstances. Hence, cognitive impairment, along with emotional distress, often interferes with work and their ability to lead a normal life.

Another major symptom is suicidal tendencies, therefore if you know someone going through this kind of trauma, please seek the help of the mental health care provider immediately.


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