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On one wonderful family gathering, I tried to let my cousin, Charlie,- he was about twenty-one years old- know that he had a booger sticking out his nose. The moment I told him, he stared at me as if he could not understand what I had said to him. I repeated myself, “Hey Charlie, you have a booger sticking out your nose.” I even wiped my nose to signal him what I was talking about. He bluntly told me “okay.” Right after my cousin twitched as if he was shock by electricity all of a sudden. Afterwards, it took him a minute to react to my statement and wiped the booger off his nose. I remember trying not to make a weird face, because I was not able to understand what was going on. It made me feel uncomfortable because I thought I was doing right in letting him know that he had a booger sticking out. The silent moment just felt so awkward. After a few seconds, my cousin started laughing as if it was a late reaction to what I had told him. That was my cue of walking away. I later then learned that Charlie was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe psychological disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Most people who develop Schizophrenia are around the age of sixteen through thirty years old. Schizophrenia can be developed from various of reason such as the imbalances from neurotransmitters, genetics, and environmental influences. There are about three different types of symptoms one can develop while having Schizophrenia disorder.
The first type of symptom is positive symptoms which are “psychotic behavior such as hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and movement disorder (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2016).” Hallucination is a perception that one believes that an illusion or an auditory is present when it is not. Thought disorder is the organization of thoughts. A person with schizophrenia does not engage appropriately in conversation due to their illogical thought. A movement disorder is when cannot control sudden movement for their body. For example, when I let Charlie know that he had a booger in his nose, he made the sudden movement, as if he was shocked by electricity. This is an indication of the movement disorder.
Moving on to the second possible symptom of Schizophrenia is negative symptoms that are disruption to normal emotions and behaviors, furthermore, including flat affect (monotonous voice and lack of emotion) and having trouble starting and enduring activities. Going back to my cousin Charlie’s scene the small indicator that shows negative symptoms is when he bluntly told me “okay”. He did not make any type of face, and he clearly just said “ okay,” as if it did not bother him to have a booger sticking out of his nose. Also in a normal reaction to behavior, one would be embarrassed to have booger sticking out of their nose or would automatically try to cover their nose, or even try to take out the booger immediately. Charlie just stood there staring at me as if he did not hear me. So much that I had to repeat myself so he was able to understand what I was trying to inform him.
The third symptom in Schizophrenia is Cognitive symptoms which consist of changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking. In other words, “poor functioning, trouble focusing, and problems with working memory.” Problems with working memory mean that one does not have the capacity to practice what they just previously learned. The moment when I first told Charlie about his booger, he stood there quietly, staring at me. I repeated myself twice and it took him a couple of minutes to react to what I was telling him. This is sign of his poor functioning because it took him a while to understand and acknowledge that he had a booger. After he acknowledged what I had told him, he then wiped the booger off. It took Charlie a longer moment to process the information I was giving him, due to his poor functioning.
Still until this day, researchers are still analyzing the causes for Schizophrenia. So far one of the causes that have been thought to cause schizophrenia is environmental influences, which includes “exposure to viruses, malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, and psychosocial factors.” During one’s conception, in the first six months the fetus can develop these problems due to variety of reasons including the mother’s high stress levels, depression, and hopelessness. The mother’s environmental influences affect the fetus’s health outcomes, which can produce brain structure abnormality. One theory I believe is that Charlie might have been exposed to high distress when being in his mother’s womb. His mother was sixteen years old when she was pregnant of Charlie as well was affiliated with drugs and gangs at the time. It can be believed that his mother was experiencing stress or hopelessness because of the situation she was in. She felt as if she had no help and her only way living was being in these situations.
Imbalances in neurotransmitter is a considerable cause for developing schizophrenia. Mental Health America (2018) states “imbalances of the brain chemicals or neurotransmitters: dopamine, glutamate, serotonin… the imbalance of these chemicals affect the way a person’s brain reacts to stimuli.” Each neurotransmitter has a different effect when one does not have the right balance. Having too little of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, can make a person sluggish, since they do not have enough of that rewarding sensation. Dopamine also affects the thought process to be dismal. This leads back to the negative symptoms that schizophrenia develops. The imbalance of dopamine undergoes to having disruptions in normal behaviors. A person cannot react on such excitatory behavior or respond normally because the low level of dopamine causes them to have flat affect behavior. Having too much dopamine in one’s system can lead to hallucinations and sudden movement. This leads to positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Access to, too much dopamine increases the rewarding sensation of a person. This is when one starts having illusions and unable to sit still because of glorious feeling that they intake. The neurotransmitter, glutamate, is liable in the brain section of learning and memory. Having too little of glutamate, affects the ability to understand and sustain the material being handed as well. Reasoning to schizophrenia develops the cognitive symptoms to having poor functioning and having trouble to focus. Due to the lack of glutamate in one’s body, the learning and memory process becomes difficult to sustain. The knowledge cannot be processed fast enough because of the lack of glutamate in the brain. The neurotransmitter serotonin helps regulate mood behavior, but the imbalances in serotonin can still affect mood, social behavior, memory and function. Serotonin plays an effective role in all three symptoms of schizophrenia. Having too little of serotonin one can cause tiresome, dull, and even have insomnia – which helps lead to hallucination. Serotonin can interrupt mood and social behavioral through the lack of being reactant withholding a person to perform normally.
Genetics is another cause in how Schizophrenia can be developed. According to National Organization For Rare Disorders (2018), findings in genetics “indicate that people with schizophrenia and similar psychotic disorders tend to have one missing section of DNA on chromosome 1… both groups also confirmed a previously identified missing section on chromosome 22.” The missing part in chromosome 1 proves the reason why one can develop hallucinations and thought disorder in positive symptoms because chromosome 1 is in charge of “psychiatric or behavioral problems (National Organization For Rare Disorders, 2018).” Hallucinations makes one think false perceptions causing one to hear things that are never said, whether a person is there or not. In the same way, it makes a person have delusions. A person with schizophrenia would see out of ordinary and believe that they saw a specific situation, act, or object and believe it really happened. Charlie, who I later learned that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia had a meltdown at my grandma’s house because he had thought my uncle was looking at him in a wrong way and was talking negatively about him. I being there to witness the whole situation, knew that Charlie had all this in his head because I was there the whole time and not even once did we even look at Charlie nor mention him at any moment. The missing part in chromosome 22 can portray lack of “verbal and nonverbal communication skills, extreme social withdrawal and a restricted range of interests and activities.” This is evidence to why negative symptoms are developed because the restricted range of interests makes a person to be lifeless. Another reason why a person with schizophrenia cannot encounter with social interaction because missing information in chromosome 22 prevents that from happening. After a while of observing Charlie’s behavior, I did notice that he had been distant from his people. Charlie was this sweet, talkative guy, to a self, quiet, sometimes aggressive person. Charlie soon lost the relationship and connection to his skateboarding crew due to his disorder. Not to mention, Charlie no longer found interest in skateboarding, when he had such a passion for skateboarding.
Unfortunately there is no cure yet to be found for schizophrenia, but there is certain treatment to minimize their behavior like symptoms. The number one treatment is expressing emotions. One should not accumulate emotions because it can agitate the three symptoms for schizophrenia. A person with schizophrenia should take Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as it helps develop cognitive thought, skill-training, and reality checks. This is a one and one session, where one can help themselve manage schizophrenia by learning behavioral techniques. Another form of treatment can be taking medication to balance the neurotransmitters that affect one’s schizophrenia. For example taking antipsychotic medication helps reduce psychotic symptoms. This helps reduce hallucinations and disorder thoughts. Taking the medication helps cooperate with CBT because their disorder thoughts are being brought down to a minimal which helps practice cognitive thoughts, social interactions, and being able to help manage themselves.
The reason why I chose schizophrenia is because I have at least three relatives who have been diagnosed with this psychological disorder. I feel like writing this essay benefited me to understand them more. Before I would distant myself from them because I never understood them, now I have more knowledge and I am more open to their disorder. I understand that they have no control of it. This essay was not so easy to write because I have not written an essay in quite a while. What made this even harder was the template. The template itself gave me a headache more than doing the research. I am just really glad that this is all over with.
Schizophrenia is a severe psychological disorder that affects the way one thinks, feels, and behave. There are three different types of symptoms that one can have: Positive symptoms includes psychotic behaviors such as hallucination and delusions. Negative symptoms which includes disruptions to normal behavior such as flat affect and having trouble starting or sustaining activities. Cognitive symptoms which includes a person’s thought and their memory function. Schizophrenia can be develop from various reasons such as the imbalances from neurotransmitters, genetics, and environmental influences. A few treatments like medication and cognitive behavioral therapy help reduce behavioral and psychotic interaction, acts, or thoughts. Despite the fact, that scientist are still trying to figure out other causes that lead to schizophrenia, there are other factors that can lead to schizophrenia such as distress in environment, immune activations, and taking other mind-altering medication. In the case of Charlie, I observe that Charlie had few symptoms from the three that were shown above. Charlie had sudden movement
that were shown in positive symptoms; Charlie’s flat affect shows symptoms of negative symptoms; The poor functioning in Charlie’s behavior shows characteristic of cognitive symptoms. Thanks to his therapy and medication, Charlie has had control of his behavioral and I now understand how to act around him when he starts to act differently.
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