“Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder marked by severely impaired thinking, emotions, and behaviors” (qtd. in Gulli and Rosick 1). Many people are confused or misinformed on this mental illness. 85 percent of Americans are aware of Schizophrenia, however, only 24 percent actually understand what this disorder is (Tartakovsky 1). Awareness and knowledge on Schizophrenia can help lead to public acceptance. While this disorder is currently incurable, an increase in national funding can help researchers to find more effective treatment methods for those diagnosed.
It will always be difficult for those who are mentally well to even remotely understand what it is like to live with Schizophrenia (Frith and Jonestone 2). Schizophrenics may hear false voices, believe others are reading their minds, controlling their actions, or are plotting to harm them (“What is Schizophrenia? ” 2). Rebecca Stancil, age nine, suffers from Paranoid Schizophrenia. Her experiences with the disorder are as follows: She] has been haunted by images of wolves, men with monster faces, and shadows and shapes that scamper around a darkened room at night since she was three years old. Her hallucinations have driven her to act violently toward her mother, Cinnamon Stancil. She’s pulled knives on her before, hit her with whatever random things she can get, grabbed the lid off the back of the toilet seat and come after her with that… One of Rebecca’s recurring hallucinations is “the man,” a six foot vision that can be a friend or a foe.
He follows her everywhere… But sometimes he does more than watch Rebecca. She sees him, and he’s putting a gun to her head telling her she has to run away… In November 2008, to quell voices in her head, Rebecca tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists with a hairclip… Stancil took Rebecca to a private doctor, who suggested trying a new psychotic drug, Saphris. Since she began taking the new medication, Rebecca’s hallucinations and disposition have improved (Schadler, Weinraub, and Stohler).
This mental disorder does not discriminate by race, culture, social status, or gender. Approximately one person out of every one hundred people worldwide suffers from Schizophrenia (Smith and Segal 3). While the exact cause is unknown, researchers have concluded that a combination of biological and environmental factors trigger the disorder. People with Schizophrenia are more likely to have family members with Schizophrenia than those who are not mentally ill.
For those who are not diagnosed with this mental disorder, the likelihood that they will have a family member with Schizophrenia is less than one percent, while there is about a ten percent chance that relatives of those with Schizophrenia have also been diagnosed with the disorder (Veague 42). Schizophrenia, like heart disease and diabetes, is not curable. However, it can be managed and the symptoms can be reduced with the correct treatment (Tartakovsky 2). Brain disorders are legitimate medical illnesses. They can be treated with certain medications (Veague 94).
Antipsychotic medication decreases psychological symptoms. Although medication affects people differently, most patients can see improvement anywhere from a few days to months after beginning their dosage (Smith and Segal 3). Taking medication is not the only answer to improve a person’s life with Schizophrenia. Rehabilitation can improve social skills and teach those who are diagnosed important job skills to help them build a better future. It can also improve communication and cognitive thinking skills (“What is Schizophrenia” 10).
Along with taking medication and going to a rehabilitation center, a healthy and active lifestyle can aid in improvement. Those diagnosed with Schizophrenia should manage their stress, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs, and get plenty of exercise to help reduce negative symptoms. Supportive therapy is another great method to help patients fight delusional beliefs, ignore voices in their heads, and motivate them to live a normal life (Smith and Segal 4). Schizophrenics can live a successful live by getting the help they need.
Schizophrenia affects a lot of people and causes great suffering. Treatment is very costly to the state and those diagnosed. The cause is still unknown and a completely effective treatment method has not been developed (Frith and Jonestone 168-169). Further research in genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science will assist researchers to find the exact cause of Schizophrenia and how to prevent it (“What is Schizophrenia? ”).
Research can also help answer important questions such as: “what is the nature of reality? ” and “To what extent are we responsible for our own actions? These answers can help scientists to better understand mental illnesses (Frith and Jonestone 169). The budget of the National Institute of Mental Health has been raised from $230 million to $1. 4 billion. However, the economy and other areas of spending are causing cuts in federal funds. Also, only a small percentage of the National Institute of Mental Health’s budget is used directly for Schizophrenia research. The fraction of the budget used for Schizophrenia research is too small, given the importance, severity, and cost of Schizophrenic research needed.
Advocates could help by gathering attention of Congress (Haycock 1-2). Families and individuals affected by Schizophrenia are encouraged to participate in future research to find new and better treatment options. Being diagnosed with Schizophrenia does not mean that the person’s life is ruined. With new research, these people can lead a more normal, fulfilling life. All in all, Schizophrenia is a disorder that changes the life of someone affected by it forever. Whether it be the person diagnosed, or their close family and friends, everyone takes a toll.
The many misconceptions of the disorder have caused those who are diagnosed with Schizophrenia to become outcasts and to be looked upon as someone with a problem that they should be able to fix. While Schizophrenia is a very serious issue, it is not something that a person can just fix on their own. A person with a mental illness can be compared to someone with a physical disease, such as diabetes. A person with diabetes will live with the disorder their entire life and there is absolutely nothing that the person can do by simply wishing that they did not have the disorder.
Public knowledge on mental illness is very slim. With more funding from the national government, this confusion can be put to an end. By informing people on the disorder and helping them to understand what Schizophrenia actually is, those who have Schizophrenia will be better understood and more people will accept their behavior. Also, with more research, treatment will be improved and perfected to help Schizophrenics. With more funding, scientists can get closer to discovering the cause of the disorder and how to prevent it. Then, they can get closer to finding a cure.