What It’s Like to Experience Schizophrenia Video & Notes

Schizophrenia disorder caused by changes in the prefrontal cortex that are essential for language abstract thinking and social behavior

The literal translation is “split mind” which refers to
a split from reality& characterized by the following:
1.  Disorganized and delusional thinking.
2.  Disturbed perceptions (Hallucinations)
3.  Inappropriate emotions and actions.

Chronic and Acute Schizophrenia
When schizophrenia is slow to develop (chronic/process) recovery is doubtful.
When schizophrenia rapidly develops (acute/reactive) recovery is better

Now the symptoms of schizophrenia vary widely with the many different types.  But all the symptoms can be divided into 2 major categories:Positive and Negative symptoms (note that schizophrenics only display some of the symptoms).

Positive Symptom is not something good as the name implies.  Think of positive as “adding on”, not as “good”.  Positive symptoms are those that are in addition to normal experiences and that people without schizophrenia will rarely experience.  Basically, positive symptoms are things that you have, but really DO NOT WANT.  Examples are:

  • Delusions or false beliefs- there are delusions of grandeur (believe that you are greater than you are- the most common one is Jesus) and delusions of prosecution (belief that somebody is out to get you).

  • Hallucinations are perceptions in the absence of any sensory stimulation.  This could be anything from seeing aliens, hearing voices to feeling spiders crawl up your legs.

  • Inappropriate effect would be laughing or crying or just acting really unsuitably (laughing at the death of a loved one) .

Negative Symptom involves a loss of something that the a person without schizophrenia has.  Examples are:

  • Flat effect: showing no emotion whatsoever.  Like my man Spock from Star Trek (I am either showing my age or my geekiness here).

  • Catatonia:  showing no movements, or just odd movements along with motionless for periods of hours at a time.  Sometimes people with catatonia exhibit waxy flexibility– when you are moved into a strange position, you stay in that position for hours at a time.

There are essentially 4 types of schizophrenia, each taking from the symptoms above.

  • Paranoid Schizophrenia: the key symptom here is delusions of persecution.  The person thinks someone is out to get them.  Hallucinations are also popular with paranoid schizophrenics (Beautiful Mind).  So a Paranoid Schizophrenic exhibits mostly positive symptoms.

  • Disorganized Schizophrenia: the key symptom here if the inappropriate effect.  There is also an odd use of language.  they may make up words (neologisms) or string together a series of nonsense words that rhyme (clang associations or what I call rap music).  Once again mostly positive symptoms.

Disorganized schizophrenia is the most common type of schizophrenia found among the homeless.  The question still remains, did schizophrenia cause people to become homeless, or did the stress of being homeless bring out the genetic predisposition for schizophrenia.

  • Catatonic Schizophrenia: the key symptom here is both catatonia and the flat effect.  These people will remain motionless for hours and exhibit odd movements when they do move- like bobbing of the head.  Some exhibit waxy flexibility, or when they allow their body to be moved into any alternative shape and then will hold that new pose.  Others will repeat whatever is said to them which is called parrot behavior 




  • Catatonic Schizophrenia actually makes alot of sense considering the belief that schizophrenics cannot filter out information.  If every stimuli around you could not be blocked, the last thing you would want to do is move.  Perhaps standing still is a mechanism of reducing stimulation.
  • Undifferentiated Schizophrenia: “Waste Basket (Catch-All diagnosis) These schizophrenics exhibit disorganized thinking, but does not seem to fit in any of the other three types.

source AP Psychology Trippy Text website


About victoriaruss

I teach World History, Civics, AP Psychology, and AP Government at West Bladen High School.
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