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Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia

When I lived in Germany, I had a friend who played on my High School tennis team. On a sunny afternoon after our tennis lessons we decided to drink an ice tea and have a little snack at the tennis snack bar. We started talking about tennis strategies, but my friend, Thomas, was kind of depressed and sad. When I asked him what was really bothering him, he started tell me about his sick mother. He tried to explain her disease to me, but I could not understand it. He said, “ my mother is suffering from persecution mania and in addition, she sometimes talks about things that make no sense. Nevertheless, I saw Thomas again after the summer holidays and I asked him how his mother was doing now. He responded with a very sad voice and also had tears in his eyes because his mother committed suicide and the doctors told him that she had schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a mental disorder marked by the loss of contact with reality. When a person's thinking, feeling, and behavior is abnormal, it interferes with his or her ability to function in everyday life. Delusions, hallucinations, and irregular thinking and emotions are produced. If these signs are present, he or she may have the mental illness called schizophrenia. About one hundred years ago, schizophrenia was first recognized as a mental disorder and researchers have been searching for a cure ever since. The cause of schizophrenia is still unknown today and scientists have concluded that schizophrenia has more than one cause. Scientists have developed dozens of theories to explain what causes this disease, but researchers are focusing on four leading theories: the Genetic Theory, the Environmental Theory, the Biochemical Theory, and the Bio-Psycho-Social Theory. The Genetic Theory argues that schizophrenia is caused by traits in a person's genetic makeup. A normal person has twenty-three pairs of chromosomes. Each pair contains one chromosome from each parent. In corresponding locations called loci of each chromosome, the genes for specific traits are located. Some researchers believe that mutations with these genes can cause schizophrenia. We inherit our genes from our parents, but this does not mean that the parents of a schizophrenic are mentally ill. Problems in a person’s genetic make up could come from mutated chromosomes or recessive genes. In an attempt to prove this theory, scientists study identical twins. Due to the fact that identical twins have identical genetic make up, researchers are able to determine if heredity is the main cause of schizophrenia. However, evidence seems to disprove this theory. In some instances, both identical twins are schizophrenics and other times only one is affected. To defend this theory, it should be noted that this research is complicated. Identical twins are relatively rare, especially twins who are both diagnosed with schizophrenia. Studies have also shown that children with one parent diagnosed with schizophrenia have a ten percent chance of suffering from schizophrenia. When both parents are schizophrenic, their risk raises to approximately forty percent. Little is known about the Environmental Theory. The theory is built mainly on the effects of stress on human behavior. Most researchers agree that stress alone cannot be the main cause of schizophrenia. Most researchers agree that stress could possibly trigger or worsen the symptoms when the illness is already present. Other researchers focus on drug abuse. Like stress, certain drugs such as amphetamines can make psychotic symptoms worse if a person already has schizophrenia. Furthermore, these drugs can, in a sense, create schizophrenia. Other researchers that support the Environmental Theory believe that "slow viruses" may be to blame. Slow viruses are viral infections that go undetected for long periods of time. Signs and symptoms are delayed and may occur many years after the first infection. The Bio-Chemical Theory suggests that schizophrenia is caused by mixed up signals to the brain. When something acts upon one of our senses, electrical impulses are sent to the brain. These impulses allow us to feel, smell, taste, hear, see, and they also manage our thought processes. In our body we have a complex nervous system. For example, there is not simply a single nerve that travels from our feet to our brain. In order for information to be sent to the brain, the nerves must interact with each other, translating the messages from one nerve to the next. Because the system is so complex, it is possible for the signal to get mixed up. When this happens, our brain may misinterpret the signal or may not receive it at all. If the signal does get mixed up on the way to the brain, the make up of the impulse can undergo a chemical change, resulting in irregular thought processes and abnormal behavior. Scientists have undergone in-depth studies on a chemical in the brain called dopamine. They believe that schizophrenics have higher levels

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