No definition of schizophrenia can adequately describe all people with this illness. It is an extremely complex mental illness. Schizophrenia is a neurobiological illness, in the same medical cluster as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Huntington’s etc.
It is clear that schizophrenia is an illness that makes it difficult for the person directly affected to decide what is real and what is not real, which obviously affects every aspect of their life. It is also clear that this brain illness can affect normal, intelligent people in all walks of life.
Schizophrenia is characterized by a group of symptoms including
hallucinations, delusions, disturbances of thinking, emotion and behavior, and a deterioration of social functioning. Cognitive function is often severely affected.
…is a real illness (or group of illnesses).
…has concrete and specific symptoms.
…is different from other mental illnesses.
…is the result of flawed brain biochemistry.
…may be treated successfully by specific antipsychotic medication.
…often has a genetic connection.
…in some cases the illness remits.
…is NOT caused by childhood experiences.
…is NOT caused by poverty.
…is NOT caused by domineering or passive parents.
…is NOT caused by parental negligence.
…is NOT caused by guilt, failure, or misbehavior.
With adequate supports (family, medical, social) many people can learn how to deal with the illness and lead productive, comfortable lives with hope.