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Exploring Schizophrenia

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Exploring Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia which affects approximately 1 percent of the population, usually begins before age 25 and persists throughout life. The illness is a life long debilitating condition for about 40% of patients and is enormously costly in both social and economic terms. Despite the presence of delusions, hallucinations and cognitive impairment which characterize the illness, overall life expectancy is not altered (although there is a significantly increased risk-of suicide in the early years).

Schizophrenia is usually viewed as a functional psychosis, a label which implies that the symptoms arise from the disorderly activity of neurons without accompanying anatomical and pathological alterations of brain structure. This view is due to the failure of pathologists to find convincing pathological changes associated with the disease in the first seven decades of the century. Over the last ten years things have changed considerably. Recent CT and MRI scan, and also postmortem studies show that various brain areas of schizophrenic patients are altered.

HISTORY

The two key people in the history of Schizophrenia were Emil Kraepelin and Eugene Blealer. Kraepelin organized the seriously mentally ill patients by three diagnostic groups: dementia praecox, manic depressive psychosis, and paranoia. Kraeplin?s description of dementia praecox emphasize a chronic deteriorating course, in addition to including such clinical phenomena as hallucinations and delusions. Kraepelin reported that approximately 4% of his patients had complete recoveries and 13% had significant remissions. The term "manic depressive psychosis" identified patients who experienced episodes of illness separated by virtually complete remissio...

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