Hallucinations, which are a positive symptom, can affect all five senses; although auditory hallucinations are the most common. Schizophrenics who experience auditory hallucinations may hear voices that criticize their behavior and warn them against danger.
Schizophrenics also experience delusions, which are another kind of positive symptom. These false beliefs that schizophrenics have are especially bizarre and can pertain to a number of things. One prevalent type of delusion is a delusion of reference. In this type of delusion, a schizophrenic individual may incorrectly interpret the occurrence of certain events as having some sort of personal significance for them. Another kind of delusion that schizophrenics experience are delusions of grandeur. The schizophrenic person who has this type of delusion may falsely believe that he or she is someone who is very important or famous. Schizophrenics may also have delusions that they're being persecuted. Individuals who have these kinds of delusions may falsely believe that others are deliberately trying to harm them.
Another positive symptom in schizophrenia is the disorder of thought. A person with a thought disorder might exhibit symptoms such as disorganization of thought which interferes with the person's ability to organize thoughts or link thoughts together logically. Alternatively, a person may show signs of thought blocking where he or she suddenly stops speaking in the middle of a sentence and fails to complete his or her thought; it is as if the thought is removed entirely from the person's brain. One more manifestation of thought disorder involves the creation of neologisms which make no sense.
In schizophrenia, a person's movements may be disordered as well. For instance, schizophrenic individuals may repeat certain movements over and over. Or, they might exhibit catatonia by staying in a fixed position for a long period of time without moving. In general, schizophrenic individuals have a tendency to make movements that demonstrate a lack of understanding of the situation that they are in.
One symptom that is commonly exhibited by schizophrenics is known as "flat affect" in which emotions are blunted. Schizophrenic individuals may exhibit symptoms of flat affect by showing no facial expressions and by talking in a markedly monotonous tone of voice. Individuals exhibiting negative symptoms of schizophrenia may also: participate in conversation minimally, be unable to initiate activities to participate in, have poor hygiene, and more generally, appear to lack interest in participating in life.
Another aspect of schizophrenia is its cognitive symptoms. These cognitive symptoms involve problems with paying attention, working memory, and making decisions based on available information. Cognitive symptoms such as these ones make it very difficult for the schizophrenic to make a living. So in this respect, cognitive symptoms may represent the most debilitating aspect of schizophrenia.
The treatment of schizophrenia usually involves antipsychotics as well as rehabilitation. Antipsychotics may be especially helpful for treating positive symptoms; however, they are not as helpful in treating negative symptoms. For the treatment of negative and cognitive symptoms, rehabilitation and individualized counseling are more effective. Rehabilitation programs often involve training patients for certain jobs and helping them develop communication skills. Individualized counseling may involve Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which addresses the irrational thought processes of the schizophrenic. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, patients learn to disregard the voices that they hear and learn to identify irrational thoughts.
A diagnosis of schizophrenia is a dire one; however, there are more treatment options available today than ever before. Today, there are many antipsychotics to choose from and there are options available such as rehabilitation programs that can offer help on many levels of the afflicted person's life.
Positive Symptoms. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders.
Negative Symptoms. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders.
Schizophrenia. (2014, January 24). Mayo Clinic.
Schizophrenia. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health.