Schizophrenia and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Schizophrenia and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Schizophrenia and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


The name schizophrenia is derived from "schizo", which means splitting of the mind (Tsuang 11), and "phrenia" which is derived from the phrenic area which is just above the kidneys where the diaphragm is located. It is a structure innervated by the phrenic nerve. The Greeks and others assumed that the phrenic area was the seat of thought or at least feelings (Berle 12).

Up to the 1600s, people with psychotic disorders were sent off in "ships of fools", locked in cages, "flogged into reason", or killed. The care for the insane at this time was the responsibility of nuns and monks (Noll, xviii).

In the 1700s, "mad doctors" or doctors specializing in the mentally ill. "They began to devise their own unique classification system for mental disorders. Many cases of what we would now call schizophrenia were probably classified under one or more of these early attempts to devise a more scientific method of understanding mental illness"(Noll, xix). Doctors at this time described the symptoms of schizophrenia somewhat differently (Berle, 14).

In 1809, the first clinical descriptions of schizophrenia were written by J. Haslam, however, later it was found that he described a disease called hebephrenia. Some symptoms he included were: loss of memory, more prevalent in females, sensibility blunted, onset at puberty, unconnected with heredity, cyclic, no affection towards parents, inactivity, apathetic, inattention to cleanliness, etc. (Berle 4,5).

There is still no unanimously accepted definition of schizophrenia, and appreciable differences exist between the narrowest and widest definition (Tsuang 13). It is a disease that includes a disturbance in cognition that renders the individual "out of touch with reality". Emotions are distorted in schizophrenia and they are typified by being socially withdrawn (Lahey 555).

The characteristic symptoms start between the age of 18 and 30. Symptoms include hallucinations and/or delusions. Hallucinations can have various modes. Auditory hallucinations are the most common. These may involve hearing a voice or voices talking to each other and/or to the patient. Visual hallucinations are less common and involve the patient believing they see an object that is not present. Tactile hallucinations are the least common and involve the patient thinking that someone or something is touching them (Nienhuis).

Delusions are false or irrational beliefs that are firmly held despite obvious evidence to the contrary. Most common are persecutory, grandiose, and religious delusions.

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Patients may feel that their thoughts are under control of someone else, or that thoughts are actually being put into or taken out of their heads (Nienhuis).

Heredity aspects are a factor in the cause of schizophrenia. Rearing styles and upbringing causes of schizophrenia has been entirely abandoned. Those afflicted by the disease are thought to have a congenital vulnerability under stressful situations (Nienhuis).

The person may appear disheveled or eccentrically groomed or dressed. Replies to questions may be brief, concrete, and unelaborated (Williams 190). Risk of suicide among schizophrenics is high (Tsuang 72).

Multiple Personality Disorder is sometimes confused with schizophrenia because of their common symptoms. The belief that one is possessed by another person or spirit may be a symptom of both of these disorders. Complaint of being possessed is the actual experience of a person with Multiple Personality Disorder, whereas the feeling that one is possessed may be a symptom of schizophrenia. Some schizophrenics have extreme perplexity about their own identity and the meaning of existence (Williams 271). It may be possible that Dr. Jekyll suffered form schizophrenia. Perhaps his "drink" was nothing more than water mixed with a few salts, but in his grandiose delusion, it became a potion that when imbibed, would allow him to become his evil side. The character of Mr. Hyde may be a result of Dr. Jekyll going through a cycle of schizophrenia. Suspicious, grouchy, sullen, brusque, cold, unscrupulous, withdrawn, unkind, unsociable, and seeks solitude, are all characteristics that may be used to describe Hyde. Many of the symptoms above plus: independent, quiet, never reveals his thoughts, and, absorbed in scientific pursuits, can be used to describe Jekyll. These characteristics are all used to describe people afflicted with schizophrenia (Berle 13).

WORKS CITED

Berle, Beatrice Bishop and Stewart Wolf, eds., The Biology of The Schizophrenic Process, vol. 19 of Advances in Behavioral Biology (New York: Plenum Press, 1975).

Lahey, Benjamin, B. Psychology an Introduction. Wisconsin: Brown & Benchmark, 1995. Nienhuis, Fokko. "Schizophrenia". www.psy.med.rug.nl/0013

Noll, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Schizophrenia and the Psychotic Disorders. New York: Facts on File, 1992.

Tsuang, Ming T. Schizophrenia The Facts. New York: Oxford, 1982.

Williams, Janet, ed. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1987.
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