A popular but erroneous myth about schizophrenia is that it means a “split personality,” as in the movie The Three Faces of Eve. Instead, schizophrenia is an illness that affects a variety of mental functions as well as a person’s ability to think clearly and feel intensely. The word itself stresses how the functions of the mind are fragmented: schizo means “fragmented,” and phren means “mind.” Schizophrenic symptoms include changes in the entire gamut of human mental activities.
Symptoms of schizophrenia are typically divided into positive and negative categories. In the case of positive symptoms, a person’s mental functions are exaggerated or distorted; in the case of negative symptoms, they are diminished or absent. The table on page 391 summarizes each group and the mental functions that are impaired. For doctors to diagnose schizophrenia, the symptoms must be causing a person significant impairment at work, at school, or in personal relationships.
The natural course of schizophrenia can vary, but it typically starts with a person becoming somewhat more apathetic and withdrawn. During this phase of the illness the patient may be misdiagnosed as suffering from depression or a “personality disorder.” At some point clear symptoms of schizophrenia appear, and doctors recognize the condition.
Nancy C. Andreasen
The Dana Guide to Brain Health
A Practical Family Reference from Medical Experts
Submitted by Anna