This paper will provide a variety of definitions regarding paranoid schizophrenia, an overall history of the disease, its causes, symptoms, treatment options, myths and facts. Paranoid schizophrenia has been redefined, evaluated, studied and researched for decades. It is a mental illness that is categorized as a psychotic illness with many controversial beliefs. A recent definition comes from Ong, M. (2009) where he defines schizophrenia as “a disorder that causes significant distortions in thinking, perception, speech and behavior”. According to an article written by Lilienfeld, S. and Arkowitz, H. (2010), both psychology professors, back in the early 1900’s, schizophrenia was believed to be an “apparent hopelessness of disease”. To understand paranoid schizophrenia further, we need to look at the overall history of the disease, causes, symptoms, treatment option, myths and facts.
Historically, according to Temes, R. (2002), a German psychiatrist named Emil Kraipelin used the Latin name for schizophrenia “dementia praecox” which meant “premature losses of brain function”. Temes also discusses early treatments of schizophrenia which included spending decades in mental hospitals, isolated from the world; or “shocking the ill person back to normalcy”, by methods such as “snake pits”, which involved placing a person into a hole filled with snakes, hoping that the fear of the snakes would “scare” a person back to normal. Additional treatments Temes discusses include giving patients typhoid injections to produce high fevers, or injections of horse blood with the thought that the body could be shocked into health. Lobotomy, where part of the brain was removed, placing patients into insulin comas or inducing a patient into an unconscious state were other treatment options she discusses in her book. These options claimed they would let the brain “rest” or “cure”, so when the patient was awakened they would somehow be cured.
Merrill, D. (2010) suggests genetics play a crucial part as to whether a person develops schizophrenia or not. Those with a family history are more likely to acquire the illness; some researchers feel the environment also plays a role in these people. His article further indicates experts are not sure what causes schizophrenia. Torrey, E. (2006) writes that other causes of this serious mental illness, as well as the genetic factor, may include theories such as, neurochemical, developmental, infectious, immune, nutritional, and endocrine theories. In neurochemical theories, it is alleged that chemicals, such as dopamine, could cause schizophrenia-like symptoms. Developmental theories are based on the thought that problems occur during the period the brain is developing. Infectious and immune theories direct focus toward schizophrenia being caused by viruses, like rabies or herpes zoster which attack the central nervous system. Nutritional theory claim vitamin deficiency is linked to the cause of schizophrenia. Endocrine theories include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and hyperfunction of the adrenal gland which could produce symptoms comparable to those of paranoid schizophrenia.
According to Seiden, R. (2002), there are multiple symptoms of schizophrenia. In spite of this, each patient may experience a variety of symptoms. Patients may not encounter the same indicators, therefore, causing some difficulty when trying to distinguish whether someone actually has schizophrenia. One of the symptom Seiden, R. (2002) talks about in her book, consist of patients segregating themselves because they fear what others will think of them. Another symptom is hearing voices which cannot be blocked out making it a challenge for patients to decide what is real and what is not real. For example, patients think that they have special powers, or feel someone is trying to control their thoughts, which are called paranoid delusions. Patients feel there is complete turmoil inside their heads because they cannot think clearly or make sense of what others are saying or doing. These patients may struggle communicating with others due to disordered thinking, for example, a patient has thoughts jumping between completely unrelated topics. This makes it difficult for patients to understand situations around them. Daily life can become a struggle due to feeling exhausted and unable to finish tasks. Some patients feel as though they are living a “secret life”. Further symptoms include decrease interests in activities and inappropriate behavior, for example taking clothes off in public. Paranoia and hallucinations are additional symptoms that one might expect when diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. People with paranoid schizophrenia cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagination.
It is important to eliminate the diagnosis of other medical conditions for numerous reasons. If a patient is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia that are related to other medical conditions, the patient’s physical health may go untreated. Secondly, a patient that is misdiagnosed may not receive the proper treatment if in fact they do suffer from schizophrenia. Additional testing may be required to rule out medical conditions that could be a factor resulting in schizophrenia-like symptoms. Merrill, D. (2010) references some of these additional testing measures to include a detailed interview of the patient and family along with possible CT scans of the head to rule out physical causes. Ong, M. (2009) adds a few more testing options which include MRI’s, EEG, chest x-ray, laboratory blood work. The blood work is done to check chemical profiles, blood counts, sedimentation rate, toxicology levels, and is used primarily to rule out other medical conditions.
Treatment options have changed considerably over the years. Merrill, D. (2010) provides numerous treatment options for the schizophrenic patient. He discusses “antipsychotic” medications, which are predominantly useful in decreasing dopamine production because of an overabundance of the chemical in the patient’s brain. These types of medications usually lessen the incidence of delusions and hallucinations but can also increase difficulty for the patient to make decisions or remember things. Temes, R. (2002), discusses certain antipsychotic medications used for treating paranoid schizophrenia. The chief target of antipsychotic medication is to decrease dopamine due to an overload of dopamine activity inside the patients’ brain. Clozaril, a first atypical antipsychotic medication, used mostly in the 1990’s, is no longer a first choice medication because it has been associated to a small percentage of serious blood disorder problems. Risperdal, a second atypical medication, first used in 1994, is a good quality medication used to lessen symptoms and has very few side effects. Zyprexa, introduced in 1996, works wonderfully according to its maker, Eli Lilly and Company, but many patients complain of weight gain when taking it. Although, Zyprexa works so well in taking away symptoms, most patients continue taking it regardless of the weight gain. Seroquel, provides substantial relief of symptoms, but may cause vision problems. Patients are urged to have their eyes checked regularly when taking Seroquel. Geodone was approved in 2001 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has been noted to work very well on paranoid schizophrenia symptoms with very few side effects. Psychotherapy is also a very important part of treating schizophrenic patients according to Temmes, R. (2002). Merrill, D. (2010), stresses the importance of family support and communication, and the significance of four essential skills for those with schizophrenia to be taught. First, these skills include learning about their medications and the value of taking them correctly, including the possible side effects of the medications and how to handle those side effects. Secondly, it is imperative for patients to have the ability to recognize signs and symptoms of a relapse and how to cope when they occur. Third, patients should become skilled at coping with the symptoms that are present even while taking medications. Lastly, to educate patients on life skills, like job training, money management, use of public transportation, relationship building and good communication skills. Psychotherapy is used in combination with medications to teach patients coping strategies and problem solving techniques. It also allows patients to talk about their illness openly, to rebuild their lives and to overcome day-to-day struggles, one day at a time. Other treatment, according to Lilienfed, S. and Arkowitz, H. (2010), includes cognitive-behavior therapy, or CBT. This type of therapy is used to ease the paranoid ideas or thoughts by helping patients challenge symptoms like delusions and hallucinations.
Lilienfield, S. and Arkowitz, H. (2010) discuss research which clarifies myths and facts of paranoid schizophrenia. One myth is that people with paranoid schizophrenia have multiple personalities. In fact, people with paranoid schizophrenia have only one personality, but that personality has been traumatized with critical impairments in thoughts, feeling and drive. Another disproved myth is that those tormented with paranoid schizophrenia are all the same. In truth, these patients may each have a variety of symptoms that other patients may never encounter. A further myth is that paranoid schizophrenia is caused by family attitudes and actions. Research has failed to tie parenting to the start of paranoid schizophrenia, even though many investigations imply that intense familial criticism might speed up its setback.
In summary, paranoid schizophrenia has been recognized for decades. The belief that paranoid schizophrenia was an “apparent hopelessness of disease” has been regulated to history. Genetics appear to play a major role in the likelihood that someone will develop paranoid schizophrenia; therefore there is no proven method to prevent this mental illness. Time has proven that locking people up in mental institutions is not an effective treatment and does not restore the mental health of these patients. We have also learned that there is no cure for paranoid schizophrenia. Research and studies have effectively produced treatment options that can assist patients diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia to maintain and live healthy and happy lives. Medications play a very important role in the recovery process as well as different types of therapies. In addition, family support is important in the treatment of the paranoid schizophrenic patient. Finally, the myths and facts of paranoid schizophrenia are significant so that all patients are treated individually, rather than grouped into one category. Hopefully, a cure will be found one day to eliminate paranoid schizophrenia. Until then, we must rely on accurate diagnosis and treatment methods that we have available currently. Above all, we have to remember that every patient is different and must receive individualized care for the symptoms that they experience.