Schizophrenia: A Possible Etiology?

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Schizophrenia: A Possible Etiology?

As for me, you must know

I shouldn’t precisely have chosen madness

if there had been any choice.

What consoles me is that

I am beginning to consider madness

as an illness like any other,

and that I accept it as such.

-in a letter to his brother Theo

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20% of the US population may suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in any given six month period (1991). Obviously the issue of mental health warrants close scrutiny, as such illness can translate into lost work days and lost dollars. From a health care perspective, many of those suffering can be relieved of their symptoms and return to normal life, so to speak. Schizophrenia, however represents one of the more disabling illnesses whose prognosis for the patient looks poor.

Affecting nearly two million Americans, "schizophrenia" probably represents a grouping of many types of resembling illnesses (NIMH, 1991). Typically, the patient exhibits prodromal signs such as social isolation and withdrawal, role impairment, eccentric behavior, decreased affect, and disregard for personal hygiene. These then generally give way to intermittent psychotic episodes with intervening, sometimes long negative symptom periods. The so called positive symptoms of schizophrenia include disordered thinking and memory; the patient may display incoherent speech and rapid shifting to unrelated ideas. Delusions and false or bizarre beliefs, hallucinations, and perceptual difficulties also comprise the symptomology. Schizophrenic persons usually have an absence of feeling, a sense of remoteness and inappropriate reactions. Even more difficult to treat (Kandel) are the negative signs of poverty ...

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Kandel, Eric R. Disorders of Thought: Schizophrenia. pp. 854-868.

Krieckhaus, E. E., Donahoe, John W., Morgan, Maria A. Paranoid Schizophrenia May be Caused by Dopamine Hyperactivity of CA1 Hippocampus. Biological Psychiatry. Vol. 31, 1992: pp. 560--570.

Nasralleh, Henry A. Neurodevelopmental Pathogenesis of Schizophrenia. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. Vol. 16, no 2, June, 1993: pp. 271-279.

National Institute of Mental Health. Caring for People With Severe Mental Disorders: A National Plan of Research to Improve Services. DHHS Pub. No. (ADM)91-1762. Washington, D.C.: Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1991.

Wright, Padraig, Gill, Michael, Murray, Robin M. Schizophrenia: Genetics and the Maternal Immune Response to Viral Infection. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsvchiatric Genetics, Vol. 48, 1993: pp. 40-46.
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