Is Schizophrenia A Serious Mental Illness? Essay

Is Schizophrenia A Serious Mental Illness? Essay

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that generally, though not always, manifests itself sometime between the ages of 15 and 25, during a time when the brain 's frontal lobes are maturing (Wallis and Willerth). When it has fully taken hold, sufferers can experience serious symptoms such as withdrawal from family and friends, visual and auditory hallucinations, and full blown delusions (ibid). The types of these distorted perceptual experiences that most often come to mind are episodes of religious vision or delusions of grandeur. But is it schizophrenia itself that pushes the mind toward religion, or does a person 's personal religious belief, or lack of belief, drive the content of the delusions and hallucinations?
I believe that it is not that the schizophrenic mind bends toward religious experience, rather that it is the sum of experiences, life context, and personal belief that determine what types of distorted reality is experienced by schizophrenics. I will examine several sources following the evolution of the content of delusional experiences and show that over time, the subject matter of these breaks from reality has changed much alongside that of society.
Schizophrenia was first classified as a distinct disorder, though the actual term did not come about until 1908 (Haslam). The earliest cases in literature date back to 1809, but descriptions of symptoms that may suggest schizophrenia exist in some records as far back as Ancient Egypt (ibid). Without the much more extensive knowledge of both the physiology and psychology of the human brain that we possess today, there would be no real understanding of schizophrenia.
People of the past were generally more religious, or at least more prone to belief in supernatur...


... middle of paper ...


...as attributed to the supernatural by that particular society. As knowledge increased, it was recognized for the mental illness it was, and less likely to be considered divinely originated. As religiosity in general dropped, and the world found itself swimming in ever increasingly advanced technologies, the nature of schizophrenic delusion changed to reflect these things.
Those who were religious prior to developing symptoms are more likely to display psychosis in a religious context. Those less religious or non-religious are likely to have delusions or hallucinations unrelated to religion, and more suggestive of current world situations. The schizophrenic mind does not seek out religious experience, rather the subject of the psychosis is shaped and based on the sum of a person 's world experience, the society in which they live, and their own personal belief system.

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