Schizophrenia or Split Personality Disorder

Schizophrenia or split personality disorder is a debilitating, chronic and severe mental illness that makes it difficult for the sufferer to think logically, experience normal emotional response, and tell the disparity between real and unreal events, and act normally in social institutions (Torrey, 2006). It is asserted that this condition affects   almost 1 percent of America’s population, which corresponds to over 2 million Americans (Gattaz & Bussato, 2009). Although this condition affects both sexes equally, other studies have revealed that Schizophrenia affects men one and a half times more than it affects women. The onset of this condition usually commences in young adulthood or teenage years, but may occur later in life.

The symptoms of this condition usually develop gradually over months or even years. Patients may show very few symptoms, but may also have many symptoms at other times. Sufferers usually find it difficult to keep friend or work. They may also experience depression, anxiety and have suicidal ideations and behaviors (Green, 2003). At the onset, a patient may have the following symptoms;

  • Poor concentration
  • Tense or irritable feeling
  • Difficulty in sleeping

As the condition progresses, patients may experience various problems with their emotions, thinking and behavioral problems such as hallucinations, delusions, social isolation, and problems paying attention.

Considering its complexity, health experts are yet to discover the real cause of this mental illness. Nevertheless, healthy experts hold that environmental and genetics factors seem to play a leading role in the development of the condition. Genetically, a person with a first degree relative who suffers from this condition is at greater risk for developing it. On the other hand, environmental factors that are associated with the development of this condition include prenatal stressors, drug use and the living environment. Other environmental factors that may lead to the development of Schizophrenia include social isolation, family dysfunction, poor housing conditions, unemployment, and racial discrimination.

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There are several treatment options that persons with this condition can pursue. During or after an episode of Schizophrenia, the sufferer should stay in the hospital because of safety reasons (Gattaz & Bussato, 2009). During this time, the patient can use on of the most effective medication for this condition called antipsychotic medication. This medication helps to control the symptoms of this condition by changing the balance of chemicals in the sufferer’s brain. While this medication is very helpful, they can also cause some side effects. However, these side effects should not prevent victims from seeking treatment because they can be improved. Common side effects of this medication include sedation, weight gain, dizziness, tremor, and slowed movements. When this medication fails, Clozapine can be used though it has severe side effects than antipsychotics. Other treatment options include therapies and support programs. Family members have the responsibility of ensuring that patients stick to their treatment.

To have a clear understanding of this mental illness, patients, families, health professionals, medical students and the general public should watch the movie “A Beautiful Mind.”  Directed by Ron Howard, this movie chronicles the life of John Nash, an American mathematician who suffered Schizophrenia. The movie introduces the viewer to a youthful prodigy named John Nash. As the movie begins, the viewer meets the protagonist, a young genius named John Nash. Early in the movie, the protagonist begins to develop some signs of paranoid Schizophrenia. He also experiences some delusional episodes while seeing how his condition was becoming a burden and a loss to his wife and colleagues. This movie accurately and vividly portrays this disorder through John Nash.

The viewer can vividly see the symptoms of this condition in the protagonist. For example, Nash can be seen hallucinating during several occasions. We can see him trying to protect his wife after his hallucinatory employer threatens to kill her (Howard, 2001). In the end, he ends up hitting her. Fearing for her life and that of her son, the wife flees the house. His hallucination can also be seen through Marcee, who is a niece to his university friend called Charles. Although Nash has met Marcee several times, he always sees her as being eight years old.

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Through her wife, the viewer sees how family member and friends are supposed to care for persons suffering from this condition. The viewer can see Nash’s wife admit his husband involuntarily to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, Nash refuses hospital treatment, terming it as torture, and that the medications made hi “foggy” (Howard, 2001).  Nonetheless, Nash can be seen taking medication to control his symptoms.

As the movie proceeds, Nash becomes socially isolated and delusional. For example, he says goodbye to his delusional pals, Marcee, Parcher and Charles. After this incident, Nash simply refuses to acknowledge their presence whenever they show up. We can see him taking his lunch outside to eat in seclusion rather than interacting with his family and friends.  The movie ends while Nash and his wife are in Stockholm, where he is receiving his Nobel Price. S they leave the auditorium, Nash sees Marcee, Charles, and Parcher standing there. His wife asks him what was wrong but he answers “Nothing at all.”

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