ESL 91 SPRING, 2001
FOCUS DISCIPLINE ESSAYS
PSYCHOLOGY

This page is part of the ESL 91 ON THE WEB site
All materials © 2001


Mei Jan
Po
Po 2


Mei Jan Wong
ESL 91
Spring, 2001

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.

What exactly is schizophrenia?What kind of a disease is schizophrenia? There are lots of questions jumping out of your mind if you are a person who has never see this word before.However, if you look carefully you will discover that it has two parts.Since the label (schizo) means split, and (phrenia) means mind, it tells us schizophrenia means something related to a split mind.If something is related to a mind, that is split, it actually tells us that is not a good thing.In fact, schizophrenia is one of our most important public health problems.It is a common, tragic, and devastating mental illness that typically strikes young people just when they are maturing into adulthood.Schizophrenia involves disturbances of thought, perception, behavior, communication, language, and emotion.However, schizophrenia is not a multiple or "split"® personality.Schizophrenia is a medical illness.It has biological basic like cancer and diabetes.Many different factors cause the disease, and the symptoms are very wide.There is no cure for schizophrenia; however, there are medications that may help to reduce many symptoms of the disease.

Every illness has its own causes.Schizophrenia is an illness that is caused by many factors, including changes in the chemistry of brain, changes in the structure of the brain, and genetic factors.Moreover, environmental is factors can cause schizophrenia.The first environmental factor, called differential diagnosis, happens because most psychiatrists are not willing to diagnosis rich and powerful people as schizophrenic.They usually diagnose poor people as schizophrenic.So, it seems like only the poor become schizophrenic.The second environmental factor is called downward drift.It means people who have schizophrenia canít completely handle their job and education.So, they start to become part of the lower class.The third factor happens in people who struggle with poverty.†† Since they live in a high crime rate area, they have increased stress that the environment causes.So, they have more chance to get the disease.Also, Genetic factors make it more probably to get schizophrenia.Although a hereditary gene for schizophrenia has not yet been identified, the disease does appear more regularly in some families.Moreover, some evidence shows that if one monozygotic (MZ or identical twin) has schizophrenia, there is 35-58% higher chance for the other to develop the disorder. Biochemical factors also play an important role in causing schizophrenia.People with schizophrenia appear to have a neurochemical imbalance.They are not producing enough of certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters.The function of neurotransmitters is to regulate functions in the brain and body.The brains of schizophrenic contain an overabundance of the chemical dopamine; this produces problems in the brain that causes the disease-schizophrenia.Moreover, a lack of protein in the brain can also cause schizophrenia.The function of protein is to filter out sensory information; however, if the brain doesnít have enough protein to filter out the sensory information, the brain can be overwhelmed by the sensory information leading to schizophrenic symptoms. The symptoms and signs of schizophrenia are very diverse, and they encompass the entire range of human mental activity.There are four major subtypes of schizophrenia.Each of the subtypes has different symptoms.The symptoms of hallucinations (people may hear, see, smell, taste or feel something that does not exist), delusions (people truly believe something that does not make sense to others around them), and general incoherence are diagnosed as simple schizophrenia.††† Paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by delusional thoughts of a persecution or grandiose nature.The Paranoid schizophrenic may feel anxious and angry most of the time.Also, they may become violent.†† Hebephrenic (disorganized) schizophrenia describes people who totally lose contact with the society.People who have that symptom may have regressive behavior and difficulty organizing and processing their thoughts in a way that makes it possible for them to communicate clearly with other people.Catatonic schizophrenia is characterized by unusual motor disturbance symptoms, such as rigidity and wild excitement.Individuals with schizophrenia may be unable to take care of personal needs, and have decreased sensitivity to a painful stimulus.They may feel widely varying and rapidly changing emotions. Another symptom is °ßwaxy flexibility°® in which people may mold some gesture, and keep that gesture for hours, days, or weeks. The most effective manner to deal with schizophrenia is medication because of biochemical causes.There are antipsychotic drugs (also called neuroleptics) available for schizophrenics.Since antipsychotic drugs control the production and release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, they can dramatically improve the function of people with schizophrenia.By the way, although the medication is very helpful for schizophrenics, it can have serious side effects known as extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS).These may cause the schizophrenic to have uncontrollable restlessness, muscle stiffness, tremors, and involuntary movements.Besides medication, psychosocial therapy and social support are important for individuals living with schizophrenia.These help to provide them with encouragement, friendship and good practical advice on how to manage their day.Teaching of life skills, the management of medication, keeping appointments, learning to socialize again, and getting a job are all parts of the rehabilitation process.Families also play an important role with schizophrenia.Family members have to understand and manage problems associated with the disease.

From this research I learned that schizophrenia is a severe disease.There are 1% of the population who suffer from that disease.From my point of view, the most important key words for the disease are acceptance and getting help.People who are directly or indirectly affected do not like to talk about schizophrenia; they donít want to face it.How can people deal with the problem if they donít face it? Also, I learned that the only way to reduce the chance of the disease is to learn as much as possible about the disease, the causes, the symptoms, and the treatments. Thus, if the disease comes to you or your family members, you will know how to deal with it.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that makes it difficult for people to cope with their emotions, to think clearly, and to function in the community.The only way to avoid it is to take care of yourself and pay attention to yourself.I hope the disease will be cured in the future. Works Cited Kasper Loretta F. (1998). Interdisciplinary English (2nd. ed) New York: McGraw-Hill.

Georgiou-Karistianis, Nellie. (16:35 13th July 2000). Summary 5: Schizophrenia. [Online] http://www.sci.monash.edu.au/psych/subject/psy1022/abnormal/summary5.html Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 9, 2001.

AMI/FAMI (n.d.) An Introduction to Schizophrenia [Online]. http://www.schizophrenia.com/family/schizintro.html Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 9, 2001.

Return to Top of Page


Po Chhan
ESL 91
Spring, 2001

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.

INTRODUCTION

From May 26, 1978 to April 24,1995, numerous mail bombs were sent by Theodore J. Kaczynski, now 56 years old. The mail bombs were targeted at college universities, airlines, business companies, and houses. Three people were killed and 23 people were injured by the mail bombs. On April 3, 1996 Kaczynski was arrested and on January 21, 1998 he was sent to prison for life. He was a reclusive loner who deeply mistrusted other people and modern technology. As a young adult, Kaczynski was a brilliant mathematician. He graduated from Harvard University and got his masters and doctorate in math from the University of Michigan. He also was a former math professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

What made Theodore J. Kaczynski send mail bombs? He had everything going so well for him in life. He was smart and had a good job. He must have been suffering from a disease or disorder that affected his mental ability. But from what kind of mental disability did Kaczynski suffer? If it were a schizophrenia disorder, which kind of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental and emotional disorder. Schizophrenia makes a person out of touch with reality; it interferes with how a person behaves, speaks, and thinks. Research has not pinpointed the cause of schizophrenia. However, many studies believe that a combination of environmental, genetic, and biochemical factors contribute to the disorder. A person with schizophrenia often suffers from hallucinations and delusions. Also, he may talk nonsense and he can express violent or aggressive behavior. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but there are treatments.

CAUSES

There are many things that can lead to schizophrenia. One of the things that can contribute to schizophrenia is the environment. The environmental factors have so many parts that can lead to this disorder. The risk can begin at birth. If a women is exposed to the influenza virus during the middle of pregnancy, the baby is more likely to become schizophrenic. The risk can occur during early childhood, if the child was exposed to sexual abuse, death, violence, separation, or divorce. Another risk of developing schizophrenia is a disturbed family environment. When a family does not get along with each other, stressful, negative emotions, and communication patterns prevail. Also, deviant communications are risks that can contribute to schizophrenia. These are patterns of communication that cause guilt, confusion, anger, anxiety, and emotional turmoil.

People may also get schizophrenia from heredity. Evidences have show that genetic factors play an important role developing schizophrenia. Research has shows that if one identical twin has schizophrenia, there is a 48 percent likelihood that the other identical twin will become schizophrenic. In fraternal twins, if one has schizophrenia, there is a 17 percent chance that the other twin will become schizophrenic. Also, if both parents have schizophrenia, the chance is 46 percent that their offspring will become schizophrenic. On the other hand, if one parent has schizophrenia, there is only 17 percent chance their offspring will become schizophrenic. The closes relative you are, the greater the chance of becoming schizophrenic.

The third group of factors that contribute to schizophrenia is biochemical factors. Research has found that the biological disorder of the brain is a result of abnormalities, which arise early in life when the brain does not develop normally. So the brain structure of schizophrenia is different from a healthy brain. Therefore a schizophrenic brain handles the neurotransmitters differently than a healthy brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send messages to the brain. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important part in schizophrenia. When a person has too much dopamine in the brain, behavior and emotion will run wild.

SUBTYPES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA

There are four major subtypes of schizophrenia. Simple schizophrenia is a disorder that suffers from hallucinations, delusion, and general incoherence. A person may lack emotion or interest, and be withdrawn from others. Hebephrenic schizophrenia is also called disorganized schizophrenia. A hebephrenic emotions and behaviors run wild and are disorganized. For example, in a classroom that person may cry for no reason, then starts to laugh, then become angry and then sad. In catatonic schizophrenia, disturbed motor behavior is prominent. The person may be in a stupor, in which he can put his arms and legs in an uncomfortable position and maintain it for days or weeks. Also their motor behavior can be manic, where they may become excessively excited, talking and shouting continuously. In paranoid schizophrenia, a person suffers from bizarre delusions. This is the schizophrenia that Theodore J. Kaczynski is suffering from. He mistrusts other people and modern technology. Out of the four subtypes of schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia is the most dangerous. Its bizarre delusion could turn to violent behavior, just like Kaczynski. SYMPTOMS There are many symptoms that show a person has schizophrenia. Schizophrenics suffer from symptoms like hallucinations, or false perceptions. They may hear see, taste, touch, and smell what others do not. Often schizophrenic patients are likely to hear voices that no one else can hear. It is so real that the person cannot dismiss it as imagination. Another symptom of schizophrenia is delusions, or false beliefs. When a person suffers from delusions, that person may believe he is someone else and may mistrust other people. For example, a person may think he is Napoleon. He behaves like Napoleon and mistrusts other people. He believes that people know he is Napoleon and that they are after him and are going to kill him. As a result of the delusion, the person becomes dangerous. He may try to kill other people before they get to him.

When a person is in the active phase of his illness and begins talking nonsense, it is a sign of schizophrenia. When that person says something to the people around him, they would not understand him. The sentences he says are unconnected to each other, or there is no point to the stories he tells, or the topics seem to switch with frequency. Also, for schizophrenic patients a word may take a different meaning because they pay attention to individual sounds rather than the whole word. For example, the word "psychiatry" may sound to them like "sign kaya tree." So they may switch from a discussion about psychiatry to one about a mystical tree. Violent or aggressive behaviors are not really a symptom of schizophrenia. But with the combinations of hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thoughts these behaviors may be brought over. Violence against other people occurs as a result of misinterpretation of their feelings and purpose. The schizophrenic person may see ridicule in what is meant as jest, and get angry or mad easily.

TREATMENTS

Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder and there is no cure yet. But there are treatments. Antipsychotic drugs have been available since the mid-1950s. Antipsychotic drugs allow the patient to function move effectively and appropriately, and reduce the psychotic symptoms. Also, these drugs help to balance and control the product and release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine. When schizophrenic patients are on medication, it is very important for them to work with their doctor and family members and to adhere to their treatment plan. By taking the medication at the correct dose and at the proper time every day, going to clinic appointments, and carefully following other treatment procedures will help schizophrenia patients treatment go faster. MY RESPONE No one in this world would want to become schizophrenic; it is a terrible disorder. It affects almost everything a person does. It can change a personís life. Look at Theodore J. Kaczynski. He had every thing going his way, until he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Kaczynski was a brilliant man, went to Harvard, and had a job as a college math professor. Now he in prison for life because of schizophrenia. If someone you love becomes schizophrenic, I know it is hard to deal with. Try to help your loved one as much as possible with their medication and treatment, so he/she could get better. Right now there is no cure for schizophrenia. I believe that in the near future there will be a cure for schizophrenia. If not, there will be better drugs to help control emotion and behaviors. For now, letís do our best to prevent schizophrenia.

CONCLUSION

Schizophrenia is a disorder that makes a person out of touch with reality. It interferes with how a person behaves, speaks, and thinks. There are many things that can contribute to schizophrenia. We have to know what can contribute, and eliminate the possibility. In addition, we have to recognize the symptoms of schizophrenia so we can help them get better, before they get worse. There is no cure yet, but with treatment like antipsychotic drugs and the help of a doctor schizophrenic patients can get better. Hopefully in the future there will be a cure for this mental and emotional disorder, schizophrenia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cable News Network, Inc.: (1998), [Online] http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1997/unabomb/. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 16, 2001.

Coon, Dennis. (2000). Essentials of Psychology: Exploration and Application (Eighth Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kasper, Loretta F. Interdisciplinary English. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Morris, Charles G., and Albert A. Maisto. Understanding Psychology (Fifth Edition). Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.

The Sacramento Bee: (1998), [Online] http://www.unabombertrial.com/. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 25, 2001.

The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Center: (N/A), [Online] http://hcpc.uth.tmc.edu/schizophrenia.htm. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 16, 2001.

Return to the Top of this Page


Po Chhan
ESL 91
Spring, 2001

Essay Topic: Research the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Explain how this neurotransmitter works and what its function is in the body and the brain. Be sure to concentrate on how dopamine affects behavior. What happens when something goes wrong in the system; for example, when there is too much or too little dopamine? What treatments are there?

INTRODUCTION

One of the most important neurotransmitters is dopamine. Dopamine affects the brain processes that control movement and emotions, including pleasure and pain. If the chemical messages are unbalanced. The brain will have a problem and it will not function properly. The imbalance of dopamine can cause a person to have schizophrenia or Parkinsonís. These disorders or diseases cannot be cured yet, but there are treatments.

NEURON

In every part of the human body there are billions and billions of neurons. Each neuron has dendrites and an axon. Dendrites are many short fibers that branch out from the cell body; they pick up incoming messages. An axon is a single long fiber extending from the cell body; it carries outgoing messages. When an axon releases a chemical message through the synapse space, the dendrites will pick up that chemical message. After that neuron receives the chemical message it releases it, so the next neuron will pick it up. This continues until the messages reach the brain. The brain will respond to the chemical messages, depending on the neurotransmitters. The neurons are like dominoes that are lined up next to each other. When one domino is knocked down, it will knock the next domino down and the next, until all the dominoes are knocked down.

DOPAMINE

One of the neurotransmitters is called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that affects a personís behavior and emotions. The body needs to have a certain amount of dopamine in order to function properly. The body needs to balance out the chemicals. When the brain receives an imbalanced amount of dopamine it causes problems. A person will not function properly, physically and mentally. This can lead to schizophrenia or Parkinsonís.

SCHIZOPHRENIA

Schizophrenia is a mental and emotional disorder that makes a person out of touch with reality, and interferes with how a person behaves, speaks, and thinks. Research has not pinpointed the cause of schizophrenia. However, research believes that biochemical factors like dopamine play an important part in schizophrenia. When the brain receives too much dopamine, it cannot control the personís behavior and emotions. Behaviors and emotions will run wild. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but there are treatments. Antipsychotic drugs help to balance and control the production and release of dopamine.

PARKINSONíS DISEASE Parkinsonís disease is a disorder of the brain that affects muscle movement. Most commonly a person who gets this disease is elderly, over the age of 50. Parkinsonís disease is caused by the lack of dopamine in the brain. Without dopamine, the nerve cells cannot transmit messages properly, and this results in the lost of muscle function and damages the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. A person with Parkinsonís disease might shake and have difficulty with walking, movements, and coordination. Like schizophrenia, there is no cure yet, only treatment. Medications control the imbalance between the neurotransmitters. A person with Parkinsonís disease might start with deprenyl medication, then later take amantadine and/ or anticholinergic medications, after that levodopa medication, and then Carbidopa. The type and the dose of the medication changes because of the symptoms and time between doses.

MY RESPONE Dopamine is one of those chemicals that controls certain parts of our body, and the way we move, speak, and feel. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that every person uses everyday in his or her body. Chemical messengers are very helpful when they function correctly, but they are harmful when they do not functions correctly. Thus, the chemical messenger cannot be imbalanced when it is released to the brain. It needs to be just right. No person controls the release of dopamine in his or her body. They cannot just say, "Stop, or release more dopamine," like turning the water on and off from the sink. I wish I could control my release of dopamine, so I would not be affected by schizophrenia, or Parkinsonís. These two horrible disorders or diseases cannot be cured. Their treatments are medications, and I do not want to be on medication. I would have to take doses everyday for an extend amount of time and the diseases could reappear in the future. Maybe in the future there will be a drug that can help a person balance their dopamine level for good.

CONCLUSION

Dopamine is a very important chemical messages that affects the brain processes that control movement and emotional response, including pleasure and pain. Like all neurotransmitters the chemical message needs to balance out when it is released to the brain. There cannot too much or too little. It needs to be the right amount to make the brain function properly. Itís like making lemonade: you need to have the right amount of lemon juice, sugar, and water in order to taste good. If one of the ingredients is off, it will not be tasty. When too much dopamine is released a person can have schizophrenia. But when too little dopamine is released a person can have Parkinsonís disease. These two disorders or diseases cannot be cured yet. But treatment with medication can help a person get better. Hopefully in the future there will be vaccines, or better drugs that help a person control the release of dopamine.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Addiction Science Research and Education Center, The University of Texas: (N/A), [Online] http://www.utexas.edu/research/asrec/dopamine.html. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 23, 2001.

Department of Psychology, California State University: (1/8/2000), [Online] http://www.csuchico.edu/psy/BioPsych/neurotransmission.html. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 23, 2001.

Coon, Dennis. Essentials of Psychology: Exploration and Application (Eighth Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2000.

Morris, Charles G., and Albert A. Maisto. Understanding Psychology (Fifth Edition). Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.

Return to the Top of this Page


Page last updated on May 29, 2001