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What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is an acute psychotic disorder affecting approximately 1% of the population. It is characterised by impairments in perception, cognition, affect, social interactions and psychomotor activity, and is considered an incredibly debilitating mental illness. People with schizophrenia are often unaware of the severity of their psychiatric disorder as their concept of reality is significantly impaired by the illness. This can also result in sufferers withdrawing from the outside world due to fear. There are two different types of schizophrenia that are differentiated by the symptoms experienced (Crow, 1980). Type 1 is defined by the addition of something to a person’s personality, also known as positive symptoms e.g. experiencing auditory/visual hallucinations. Type 2 is defined by the removal of something from an individual’s personality, also known as negative symptoms e.g. lack of emotion, movement or speech.

There also a number of different subtypes of schizophrenia that have been identified in diagnostic manuals (DSM-V, ICD-10). These include; paranoid schizophrenia, where patients display symptoms of delusions or auditory hallucinations; catatonic schizophrenia, where sufferers may have an extreme inhibition of motor functioning or too much motor activity; and undifferentiated schizophrenia, which encompasses individuals who display some symptoms of schizophrenia but do not fulfil the criteria for diagnosis of a particular subtype.

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