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Medical Why is Schizophrenia considered a disease?

  1. Mar 4, 2012 #1
    I was wondering, if Schizophrenia has to do with more than average neural connection-things (I'm no neuroscience major) wouldn't it be more of a blessing instead of a curse? Everyone looks down on it like the people will try to kill them for no reason. If they're something other than the paranoid subtype, the people aren't much different besides intelligence. Do people hate schizophrenics because they're more intelligent? Do they shun them and hate them because they have a gift that others do not? I was wondering, shouldn't Schizophrenia be considered a gift, like "intellectual gifts"? It seems like everyone is just a little bit jealous-for lack of a better term- of schizophrenics. Also, would they be considered a sub-species, or a 'race' of humans? They have a major difference, so instead of being considered "crazy" shouldn't schizophrenics be treated equally just like if someone was black, or Asian, as opposed to being thrown in an insane asylum?
     
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  3. Mar 4, 2012 #2

    russ_watters

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    Welcome to PF!

    What you describe doesn't sound like schizophrenia to me. Specifically:
    That's not what the wiki on it says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia#Subtypes

    All of the subtypes listed are psychologically harmful. Do you have any mainstream references to the existence of a subtype that manifests as relatively normal other than a higher than average intelligence?
     
  4. Mar 5, 2012 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    A disease is defined as an abnormal condition that has a deleterious affect on health manifesting with specific symptoms. Schizophrenics fit this bill because they have disordered thought/behaviour, hallucinations, delusions etc. I've never heard of schizophrenics having higher than average intelligence, some might but that isn't related to their schizophrenia.

    Also we don't just throw schizophrenics in insane asylums as standard and especially not because they are different. There are a range of treatment options and for the worst cases then being in a monitored, controlled environment is necessary so that they do not harm themselves or others. This is different to a race issue as you are characterising it because we have evidence that being schizophrenic is dangerous for your health and possibly the health of others.
     
  5. Mar 9, 2012 #4
    There are lots of people around who are somewhat schizophrenic but not in hospitals and functioning in the world more or less. Like having delusions about the CIA having broken into your apartment; airplanes are watching you; hallucinations, scrambled thinking and talk.
    Like someone I knew a bit who was always saying "interesting" obscure things. I would ask him what they meant, and he would just come out with another "interesting" obscure thing. I doubt he actually had a meaning associated with these things, they just sounded like they might have a meaning.
    I went crazy as a teenager. Not after that, but I did have a mildly hallucinatory aspect to my vision, a lot of anxiety and depression. Eventually I found out that I was gluten intolerant and I had delayed food allergies to many foods, and without eating those foods, my vision and my emotional state got a lot more stable and normal.
    You bet the evaluation of schizophrenia as a disease has a cultural aspect. In some cultures, people inclined to visions and voices were regarded as shamans.
    I thought of myself as an artistic, creative person when I was had this mildly hallucinatory vision. So you can see how the way a culture regards such people, can vary.
    Being rational, being able to approach problems in your life rationally, is VERY important, though. I've found it extremely helpful for me. Humans waste a lot of their time on delusions - conspiracy theories, etc. People can be very creative and very rational at the same time, and artists need rationality too.
     
  6. Mar 9, 2012 #5
    Well, as someone who has recurring psychosis, which is an euphemism for schizophrenic, I can tell you that it has little to do with rationality. (In my case it was either developing or a side effect of medication.) I am fully rational but schizo, it's just a burden. Moreover, most people with that condition end up pretty damned dumb, and most don't live very long. Which is how I expect to end. It is an absolutely horrible disease where you suffer until you die.
     
  7. Mar 9, 2012 #6

    Evo

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    Please post the peer reviewed studies that back this up.
     
  8. Mar 9, 2012 #7
    I wasn't claiming that it did, rather the opposite. I half-agree with the original point of view. Yes, I can see this view; but also, we live in a SEA of irrationality, and I prize real, honest, rational thought. Weird conspiracy theories, alien abductions, bizarre "medical" interventions are all around.
    We need our somewhat-crazy artists and creative people. Van Gogh was quite crazy of course. I think it's likely he had celiac disease (gluten intolerance), there are many things that suggest it.
    Yes, it must be miserable to flip out over and over again. It happened to me once, it was a time when my buried self and huge buried feelings surfaced, and my visions and hallucinations were full of meaning. Doing this once was crucial, but making a career out of being a mental patient would have been horrible. I separated from my abusive family and managed to live independently and support myself, with help from a therapist. I think if I'd stayed around the abusers I could easily have ended up warehoused in a state mental hospital.
    The original person mentioned having a lot of neural connections as an aspect of schizophrenia. Gluten, dairy and perhaps a few other foods had very intense effects on me, that all could be interpreted as having an excess of connections. Probably it wouldn't be the neurons physically being connected a lot, but rather having a lot of some neurotransmitter that increases transmission between neurons. The effects I mean are things like irritability; my emotions being expressed in my vision in a mildly hallucinatory way; feeling like my internal reality was so intense it took up all my attention; sound-sensitivity; anxiety; my past memories of abuse were very "loud" and dominated my experience; I felt compelled to pay attention to graphic images I'd see; being "dreamy"; being very emotionally sensitive.
    I'm also very sensitive in the sense of having a lot of inhalant allergies. For years I was positive to pretty much the entire skin panels of allergists. And, I probably have a couple of autoimmune diseases: celiac disease and I know I have Hashimoto's, an autoimmune thyroid disease.
    Researchers have investigated somewhat the effects of gluten on schizophrenia, for example Novel Immune Response to Gluten in Individuals with Schizophrenia and immune system involvement in schizophrenia and autism. The immune system might be very important for some but not all people with schizophrenia.
    One author I like a lot who's a successful crazy, is Whitley Strieber. His alien abduction stuff is very "psychological" and nutty; but he also seems to be very sensitive, and his sensitivity has driven him to write some very vivid books about nuclear war, child abduction and other traumatic things.
     
  9. Mar 10, 2012 #8
    From Wikipedia:

    For the rest, it is often diagnosed as early onset of dementia. Or rather, that was the historical reference. And I think it is known that psychoses leads to brain damage, but I lost the link.
     
  10. Mar 10, 2012 #9
    Whitley Streiber has been diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and has complex partial seizures. During a complex partial seizure a person is in something like a sleep walking type state, and can easily be mistaken for psychotic. That being the case, they are often first taken to psychiatrists, and psychiatrists have been, historically, very ignorant about seizures. This is changing over time, but there is still a certain percentage of people who are diagnosed as schizophrenic but who actually are Epileptic.

    After a seizure a person can have an extended period of a hyper-emotional state, and their thinking can be on the "nutty" or "crazy" side. All kinds of trivial everyday things seem imbued with amazing significance, music is much more moving, and the stupidest of jokes can seem like a gem of the highest wit. Something like being very drunk without the loss of motor control. Strieber's "sensitivity" is probably this inter-ictal emotionality. I have heard him interviewed, and he goes on at length discussing things that sound pretty silly in grave, earnest tones.
     
  11. Mar 10, 2012 #10
    This doesn't address life expectancy, but does address intelligence:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1999.tb10907.x/pdf

    My own experience agrees with this and with Marco. People I've met with the diagnosis of schizophrenia are not very bright or creative at all. The ramblings of the average crazy homeless guy are representative of the ramblings of the well taken care of schizophrenic who has plenty to eat and a place to live.

    There is a certain percentage of bipolar people who become very creative on the upswing of a manic episode, and it could well be, in some of these cases, that they would score considerably higher on an IQ test at these times than at other times, but bipolar disorder is a different condition than schizophrenia. They can be confused due to the fact both might suffer periods of psychosis with delusions. (It is important to be aware that all bipolar people don't have these creative periods. Their manic episodes just consist of getting themselves into trouble: overspending, gambling, speeding, promiscuity, and the like.)

    The genius/madness meme may well have its roots in a problem that the modern world no longer faces: neurosyphilis. Apparently, in its tertiary stages, syphilis of the brain can lead to some remarkably creative-sounding use of language, and possibly, islands of brilliant thinking in a sea of cognitive chaos. Anthony Burgess did a stint in the Military earlier in his life as a night watchman over an army hospital ward of people suffering from what then was called General Paralysis of the Insane (tertiary neurosyphilis). As a linguist he was fascinated by the surreal and poetic sounding utterances of some of these patients. Nietsche, apparently, spouted some his of most amazing and brilliant insights, when he was hospitalized with neurosyphilis on his way to death.
     
  12. Mar 10, 2012 #11

    micromass

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    Wikipedia is still not considered a peer-reviewed source. Furthermore, where is the proof of your assertion that schizophrenics have lower intelligence??
     
  13. Mar 10, 2012 #12

    Evo

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    Interesting information on the positive outlook for schizophrenia patients.

    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/complete-index.shtml

    Also, schizophrenia usually starts with low IQ, not that it causes low IQ.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1601-5215.2002.140302.x/abstract
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  14. Mar 10, 2012 #13
    The references are in the Wikipedia article, I think they refer to the lancet. Which should be good enough for you. I am sorry, but Google it and you get about a hundred references for the second statement. I don't really feel like commenting on it anymore; it's not really a happy thing.

    Ah well, I Googled it for your.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  15. Mar 10, 2012 #14

    Evo

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    You said that schizophrenia made people dumber. I previously posted evidence to the contrary.

    From your link
     
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