Reader Response Exercise

Directions: Read the following text carefully. You will then answer four questions, which ask you to respond to various aspects of the essay.

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ESSAY TOPIC: Describe the mental disorder schizophrenia. Discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of schizophrenia. Be sure to talk about the biological bases of the disorder.

When we  hear about  Schizophrenia, most of  us think that the person with  schizophrenia  has more than one personality. The truth is the victim with  Schizophrenia  has   a mental disease characterized by unpredictable disturbances in   thinking, emotion, perception, and behavior. The word Schizophrenia  is divided into two components, which are schizo  and phrenia. Schizo means  "split  ",   which  refers to personality   and also focus  when people are losing touch with  reality. Phrenia means “ mind”  and  refers   to a split  mind . There are many  different  factors  that cause Schizophrenia.  Furthermore,  the  symptoms may be  positive or negative.  We can reduce these  symptoms with treatments that  can  be useful to patients  with this mental disorder. Unfortunately , although  it can be treated , schizophrenia is not curable.

The exact  cause  of  schizophrenia is unknown, but many  factors are involved  in this disease. These factors  include changes in the chemistry of  the brain, changes in the structure of the brain, excessive levels of dopamine, and genetic factors.  Also there are other factors, which are environmental, genetic and biochemical. 

There are several environmental factors.  Differential  diagnosis  is one environmental factor . This factor occurs  when psychiatrists  are concerned about identifying  wealthy  people as schizophrenics , so they  diagnose more poor people  as having a  greater  chance to get  Schizophrenia.  The second environmental factor is called downward drift. This factor occurs when people cannot stand their job and education and as a result of  this they may become of low class. The third environmental factor  happens when people live in poor places with  high crime rates, and as a result of  this,  they  get stress and at  the same time they get schizophrenia. 

Another  cause of  this disease is genetic factors. People who have  relatives with schizophrenia have a 10%  greater chance of developing it. Researchers have  found that identical twins stand a 50% to 85% chance of sharing the disease.

Another cause  of schizophrenia is biochemical factors. People with schizophrenia have a chemical imbalance in their   brains. The brains of schizophrenics produce  too  much of  the neurotransmitter,  dopamine . Neurotransmitters  allow  nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other  to  make   the brain  function normally. The brains  of schizophrenics  have too much of the brain chemical called dopamine.   Dopamine affects brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and the ability to experience enjoyment.

There are four major subtypes of schizophrenia and  each subtype  has different symptoms. Also there are positive  and negative symptoms. The difference between these symptoms is that a positive symptom shows clearly the attendance of  not normal  behavior and also  may be controlled . On the other hand ,   negative symptoms , show  the absence of normal behavior. The first  subtype is simple schizophrenia. Simple schizophrenia  has positive symptoms  such as, hallucinations or  delusions .   In  hallucinations  , people may  see, hear, touch smell  objects   that  do not  exist.  Also, they may  hear voices  and  they  are the only one who can hear them.  In  delusions the  schizophrenic may believe in something that is not  true. The second subtype of schizophrenia is  paranoid and its symptom  is delusions of   persecution. The person may believe that  he or she  is  being persecuted or harassed. Also,   they  do not  trust  anyone.  The third subtype is hebephrenic schizophrenia. Here people may have a disorganized behavior, disorganized speech, unusual mannerisms and facial expressions. The fourth subtype  is  catatonic  schizophrenia,  where  symptoms are  motoric immobility  and waxy flexibility. Also  the  people with this subtype may have strange facial expressions, may mimic the behavior of others, and may repeat words that others say.

There is no cure for  schizophrenia. Therefore, a schizophrenic needs lots  of   treatment  to reduce his or her  symptoms. The first  treatment is hospitalization and the purpose  of  this treatment  is to evaluate and diagnose the patient,  to stabilize the dangerous behavior and to familiarize the patients   with treatment. There are also drugs   that help  schizophrenics to reduce some symptoms;  these drugs  are called antipsychotic drugs. Drugs   are  useful for  reducing  hallucinations and delusions. Unfortunately drugs  do not  reduce other symptoms .           

Schizophrenia  affects  10% of the population. This disease  affects the way people think, their speech, emotions, and behavior. The victims with this disorder lose touch with  reality.  Environmental factors, genetic factors and biochemical factors are some  causes of schizophrenia.  While  scientists have not  found the cure for this disease, they  have discovered treatments to reduce the symptoms  of  schizophrenia.

My Response

It was very interesting for me to learn about schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by unpredictable disturbances in thinking, emotion, perception, and behavior. However, poor people are more affected with this mental disorder because they have a lot of stress. Furthermore, the symptoms of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thought, disorganized behavior and difficulty expressing emotion. Also there are different subtypes of schizophrenia and these are simple schizophrenia , paranoid schizophrenia, hebephrenic schizophrenia and catatonic schizophrenia.

When I was in High School, I remember that an old man in the bus was always talking to himself and crying too. In those days I just wondered, what was wrong with him. He was always putting a bag next to him. I thought that he was mean and crazy. I think that he was just trying to be isolated from the people. Therefore, thanks to my research about schizophrenia, I have realized that this old man probably had the third subtype schizophrenia , hebephrenia, because when he was talking he had a strange facial expression and had very incoherent speech. For example, One day somebody asked him a question and he started talking like a person who did not know how to talk by saying words that were not understandable.

Learning about schizophrenia has been very helpful for me. Moreover, doing research about schizophrenia has helped to become more educated. When I was I in High School I did not learn and know about any mental disorders. As a result of this, it brought me negative thoughts about people who were schizophrenics and I did not know that they were schizophrenics. Nowadays, I feel proud of myself because I have a knowledge about schizophrenia.

Doris Alarcon
ESL 91
Fall, 2001

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