Schizophrenia research paper thesis statement

In the early to mids, American psychiatrists continued to use a broad definition of schizophrenia.

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The distinction between process and reactive schizophrenia was considered important, however, because it was assumed to distinguish between cases characterized by gradual deterioration process and cases that were precipitated by acute stress reactive. During this time, some clinicians and researchers viewed the specific diagnostic criteria for the major mental illnesses schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression as artificial and discretionary, and used instead flexible and inconsistent standards for diagnoses. Studies that compared the rates of disorder across nations revealed that schizophrenia was diagnosed at a much higher rate in the United States than in Great Britain and some other countries.

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This national difference resulted from the use of broader criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia in the United States. Many patients who were diagnosed as having depression or bipolar disorder in Britain were diagnosed with schizophrenia in the United States. Because subsequent revisions in the DSM have included more restrictive criteria for schizophrenia, U.

In addition to a more restrictive definition of schizophrenia, subsequent editions of the DSM have included additional diagnostic categories that contain similar symptoms.

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The diagnostic category of schizophreniform disorder was also added. This diagnosis is given when the patient shows the typical symptoms of schizophrenia, but does not meet the criterion of 6 months of continuous illness. Although there is evidence of cross-national differences in the rate of schizophrenia, the differences are not large i.

It is, in fact, striking that the rate of occurrence is so consistent across cultures. The modal age at onset of schizophrenia is in early adulthood, usually before 25 years of age. Thus most patients have not had the opportunity to marry or establish a stable work history before the onset of the illness.

As a result of this, and the often chronic nature of the illness, many patients never attain financial independence. It is relatively rare for preadolescent children to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Similarly, it is rare for individuals beyond the age of 40 to experience a first episode of the illness. Although it has traditionally been assumed that there is no sex difference in the rates of schizophrenia, some recent research findings indicate that a somewhat larger proportion of males than females meet the DSM-IV criteria for the disorder. Nonetheless, the overall rates do not differ dramatically for men and women.

It is well established, however, that women are more likely to have a later onset of illness, as well as a better prognosis. Women also show a higher level of interpersonal and occupational functioning during the period prior to illness onset. The reasons for this sex difference are not known, but it has been proposed by several theorists that the female sex hormone, estrogen, may function in attenuating the severity of the illness.

Compared with the general population averages, schizophrenia patients tend to have significantly lower incomes and educational levels. Poor urban inner city districts, inhabited by the lowest socioeconomic class, contain the largest proportion of schizophrenia patients.


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There is a sharp contrast between the rates of schizophrenia in the lowest socioeconomic class and all other levels, including the next higher level. Findings from various cultures suggest that rates of schizophrenia are almost two times higher in the lowest social class group compared with the next lowest. These social class differences appear to be a partial consequence of the debilitating nature of the illness. The social-drift theory suggests that during the development of schizophrenia, people drift into poverty.

When the incomes and educational levels of the parents of patients are compared with those of the general population, the differences are not as striking. There is, nonetheless, evidence that patients do come from families where the incomes and educational backgrounds of the parents are slightly below the average. These findings have led researchers to conclude that there may be a causal link between social class and risk for the illness.

The sociogenic hypothesis posits that situational factors associated with low social class, such as degrading treatment from society, low levels of education, and few opportunities for achievement and reward, produce stress that contributes to the risk for schizophrenia. Before the introduction of antipsychotic medications in , the majority of patients spent most of their lives in institutional settings.

There was little in the way of programs for rehabilitation.

But contemporary, multifaceted treatment approaches have made it possible for most patients to live in community settings. Of course, during active episodes of the illness, schizophrenia patients are usually seriously functionally impaired. They are typically unable to work or maintain a social network, and often require hospitalization. Even when in remission, some patients find it challenging to hold a job or to be self-sufficient.

This is partially due to residual symptoms, as well as to the interruptions in educational attainment and occupational progress that result from the illness. However, there are many patients who are able to lead productive lives, hold stable jobs, and raise families. With the development of greater community awareness of mental illness, some of the stigma that kept patients from pursuing work or an education has diminished. For about one third of patients, the illness is chronic and is characterized by episodes of severe symptoms with intermittent periods when the symptoms subside but do not disappear.

For others, there are multiple episodes with periods of substantial symptom remission. About one third of those who receive the diagnosis eventually show a partial or complete recovery after one or two episodes.


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Several factors have been linked with a more favorable prognosis for schizophrenia. Another indicator of better prognosis is a high level of occupational and interpersonal functioning in the premorbid period. Also, as noted earlier, women and patients who have a later onset of symptoms have a better long-term outcome.

Some of the difficulties experienced by individuals with schizophrenia can be observed before the onset of the clinical symptoms. Deficits in social skills, concentration, emotional expression, motivation, and occupational or academic performance often precede the first clinical symptoms.

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Creating A Thesis Statement For A Research Paper On Schizophrenia

This period of gradual decline in functioning before the first illness episode is referred to as the prodromal phase. However, there are often more subtle signs of dysfunction long before the onset of the prodromal period. Controlled studies using archival data sources, such as medical and school records or childhood home-movies, indicate that subtle differences are discernible as early as infancy in some patients.

Individuals who succumb to schizophrenia in adulthood sometimes have abnormal motor development and show deficits in emotional expression and interpersonal relationships in early childhood. Cognitive impairment and difficult temperament have also been observed. During middle childhood and adolescence, researchers have found evidence of neurological abnormality, poor emotional control, social immaturity, and academic performance deficits.

Premorbid behavioral problems often become marked through the adolescent years, and many exhibit behavioral disturbances and cognitive abnormalities that resemble the clinical symptoms of schizophrenia. The causes of schizophrenia are unknown, but it is now widely accepted by both researchers and clinicians that schizophrenia is biologically determined. This is in striking contrast to the early and mids, when many subscribed to the theory that faulty parenting, especially cold and rejecting mothers, caused schizophrenia in offspring.

There are several sources of evidence for the assumption that schizophrenia involves an abnormality in brain function. First, studies of schizophrenia patients have revealed a variety of behavioral signs of central nervous system impairment, including motor and cognitive dysfunctions. Second, when the brains of patients are examined with in vivo imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging MRI , many show abnormalities in brain structure.

Similarly, postmortem studies of brain tissue have revealed irregularities in nerve cell formation and interconnections. Laboratory studies of schizophrenia patients have revealed a variety of abnormalities, including irregularities in smooth pursuit eye movements, psychophysiological responses to sensory stimuli, and concentration. Research on the neuropsychological performance of schizophrenia patients was first conducted in the s and continues to the present time.

Individual neuropsychological tests are designed to measure functions subserved by specific regions or systems of the brain. An early finding in this area was that schizophrenia patients were the one psychiatric group whose performance on neuropsychological tests was indistinguishable from people with known brain damage.

The findings suggested a generalized cerebral dysfunction in schizophrenia. However, patients show the most consistent deficits on tests of attention and memory, indicating dysfunction of the frontal and temporal lobes and the hippocampus. Further evidence of dysfunction in these brain regions is derived from poor performance on tests of executive functions: the ability to formulate, maintain, and adapt appropriate responses to the environment.

Research Paper on Schizophrenia | Examples and Samples

Brain-imaging studies of schizophrenia have yielded results that mirror those obtained from neuropsychological research. Some relatively consistent findings are that the brains of schizophrenia patients have abnormal frontal lobes and enlarged ventricles. Enlarged ventricles suggest decreased brain mass, particularly in the limbic regions, which are intimately involved in emotional processing.

Furthermore, ventricular size correlates with negative symptoms, performance deficits on neuropsychological tests, poor response to medication, and poor premorbid adjustment. These associations between ventricular enlargement and both premorbid and postmorbid characteristics suggest that the brain abnormalities are long-standing, perhaps congenital. In addition to brain structure, investigators have examined biological indices of brain function in schizophrenia.

Functional brain-imaging studies, with procedures such as positron emission tomography PET and measurement of regional cerebral blood flow, reveal that schizophrenia patients have decreased levels of blood flow to the frontal lobes, especially while performing cognitive tasks. Researchers are now pursuing the question of what causes the brain abnormalities observed in schizophrenia.


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  5. Although as yet there are no definitive answers, investigators have made continuous progress in identifying factors that are associated with risk for the disorder. The structural brain abnormalities that have been observed in schizophrenia support the assumption that it is a disorder of the central nervous system. But it has also been shown that similar structural abnormalities i.

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    It is therefore assumed that specific abnormalities in brain biochemistry may play a role in schizophrenia. These chemicals or neurotransmitters have been the subject of intense investigation. Among the various neurotransmitters that have been implicated in the neuropathophysiology of schizophrenia is dopamine.

    Dopamine is viewed as a likely candidate for two main reasons: 1 drugs that act to enhance the release or activity of dopamine can produce psychotic symptoms, and 2 drugs that have been established to have antipsychotic properties i. Current theories of the role of dopamine in schizophrenia have focused on dopamine receptors. There is evidence that there may be an abnormality in the number or sensitivity of certain dopamine receptors in the brains of schizophrenia patients.