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Chapter: Psychology: Psychopathology

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Schizophrenia

So far, we have considered two of the most common types of mental disorders, the anxiety disorders and the mood disorders.

SCHIZOPHRENIA

 

So far, we have considered two of the most common types of mental disorders, the anxiety disorders and the mood disorders. We now turn to schizophrenia, whose name was coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler from the Greek schizo, “split,” and phren, “mind,” to designate what he regarded as an abnormal disintegration of mentalfunctions (1911).*

 

The lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia is about 1% (roughly the same prevalence as epilepsy). This overall estimate may be misleading, however, because the rates of schizophrenia are especially high in some nations and in some regions—including, for example, Croatia and the western half of Ireland; conversely, the schizophrenia rate is quite low in Papua New Guinea. These geographic variations are not well understood.

*The Greek roots of this term are probably the source of the widespread confusion between schizophrenia and what used to be called a split personality (now called dissociative identity disorder). Schizophrenia does not involve “mul-tiple personalities.”

Schizophrenia is typically diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood and tends to begin earlier in men than in women (Jablensky & Cole, 1997). Men also seem to develop a more severe form of the disorder (Nopoulos, Flaum, & Andreasen, 1997).

 

Unfortunately, the prognosis (the prospect for recovery) for people with this disor-der is discouraging. One study tracked down 200 people in the United States who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia some 30 years previously. Of these patients, 20% were doing well at the time of the follow-up, while 45% were incapacitated. Two-thirds had never married, and 58% had never worked (Andreasen & Black, 1996; Cutting, 1986).

 

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