Schizophrenia is a psychological condition in which patients suffer from disabling chronic mental disorders that adversely affect the normal functioning of the brain. History has chronicled many instances of schizophrenia in the world.
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Estimates indicate that 1 percent of Americans suffer from this medical condition.
According to the Rush (1962, 180), people who suffer from this medical condition are likely to hear people or voices which other people do not hear, have a sense of feeling that they are mentally being controlled by other people, and perpetually fear that others are plotting to cause them harm.
At times, these conditions make schizophrenic patients withdrew and highly agitated. One may not easily detect a schizophrenic patient until he or she talks.
This disease affects both families and individuals. MedicineNet (2000, 1) argues that this condition can be treated, but research has shown that schizophrenic patients cope with the condition thought their lives.
Old and New Methods of Treating Schizophrenia
The most important milestone in the treatment of this psychological condition was the recognition that schizophrenia was a condition just like any other treatable illness. Kyziridis (2005, 1) has detailed that the condition has been and is present in all cultures of the world.
In the Stone Age and near past centuries, patients could be drilled in the head to create an exit for evil spirits that were thought to be residing somewhere in the head. One could imagine the intensity of pain a patient went through in the process.
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Summoning of supernatural powers and casting of spells and other rituals formed the basis of this method. It was commonly believed that witchcraft and demons were responsible for causing schizophrenic conditions in a patient.
This process, known as trepanning was the predominantly accepted theory for mental illnesses. Kyziridis (2005, 43) notes that in ancient times mental illnesses were thought to have either divine or physical origins.
It was thought that the imbalance between humor that constituted the body fluids was the possible cause of mental illness. It was theorized that this imbalance caused a disturbance and an imbalance between the environment and an individual.
Once diagnosed on that basis, a patient was supplied with a lot of heat and wetness to restore the balance and stabilize the mental condition (Kyziridis 2005, 43).
Other approaches included the use of music. The patient was housed in a lighted area, and a strong and close relationship between the patient and the physician could help restore a stable medical condition (Kyziridis 2005, 43).
Warm berths, a good diet, massaging, and shocks by electrical eels, flogging, starvation, and long periods of chaining the patient were some of the old methods for treating schizophrenia (Kyziridis 2005, 43).
However, as the treatment of schizophrenia evolved, other methods evolved too. According to Kyziridis (2005, 45), schizophrenic conditions could be classified into five categories depending on the symptoms that were prominent and prognoses.
Though some of these classification methods did not efficiently address the problem, later classifications were either in the negative or positive side. These classifications were important in determining the approach to treating schizophrenic patients.
Hearing, auditory hallucinations, patient withdrawal, somatic hallucinations, formed the basis of these classifications.
Crude measurement techniques, inconsistent medical findings, uncontrolled methodologies, and studies provided unreliable results thus hampering any progress in the field of finding an effective cure for schizophrenic patients.
One old approach in which the history of the patient was successfully treated with structures psychotherapy is chronicled.
The sequence of life of the patient was closely monitored, the patient was requested to identify those out to harm him, to record on a piece of paper their appearances, their general behavior, and their demeanor.
This method inspired confidence in the patient and led the patient to start dropping names from the list he had written about his perceived enemies. Gradually, the patient recovered from the hallucinations, a success attributed to the structured approach.
This method, cognitive behavior therapy has successfully been used to treat schizophrenic cases. This case led to more modern psychological methods of treating schizophrenic cases.
However, it was not until 1976 when computerized studies were incorporated in the search for the actual cause of the condition that led to the modern approaches for treating schizophrenia (Kyziridis 2005, 47).
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New methods for treating schizophrenia
In comparison, the modern perspective psychological treatments are proven effective in alleviating hallucinations in schizophrenic patients. According to Psychology Information online (1999-2004, 34), behavioral symptoms in such patients directly stem from social problems.
Many patients do find it difficult to communicate effectively, appear demotivated much of the time, poorly take care of themselves, and are less likely to establish and maintain any relationship. A further disadvantage is a critical time when such symptoms develop in an individual.
Most people show schizophrenic symptoms at their early ages, thus do not have time to train and acquire skills to secure employment, a further demerit in the part of the patient.
One of the modern methods includes cognitive behavior treatments.
The method includes developing a close relationship between the physician and the patient on the patient’s perspective, clarifying before the patient of alternative causes of the medical condition, alleviating the impact of both positive and negative effects of schizophrenic symptoms, and providing an alternative model for medications and adherence on the part of the patient.
A patient’s perspective should be respected irrespective of whether it is real or schizophrenic. A patient’s experience should be carefully identified in the process and incorporated in the treatment process.
According to Rush (1962, 187), the patient’s attitude and the cause for symptoms should be given alternative explanations while the patient’s perspective is respected in the process to mutually accept the new perspective as the actual cause.
In addition to that, a strong relationship to medical management should be developed since medicine and psychology are complimentary for treating schizophrenia.
Psychology Information online (1999-2004, 22) affirms that schizophrenia is a medical condition whose causes are not yet known. Clinical research and psychotherapy form the basis of modern treatment methods.
Combinations of these methods have been found to effectively reduce schizophrenic disorders and minimize the chances of these symptoms returning to the patients. These modern methods include the administration of medicine.
When antipsychotic drugs are administered on the patients, the chances of psychotic disorders recurring are drastically reduced.
Research has shown that a large number of people who have been subjected to this treatment method have experienced marked improvement despite a number not responding to antipsychotic drugs. However, it is difficult to predict the patient that may respond to these drugs.
Until 1990, newer drugs had been introduced into the market for treating this medical condition. Clozapine has been identified to be more effective for severe disorders through several side effects come with the administration of the drug.
It has been discovered that using the drug drastically reduces white blood cells in the patient that fight infections (Psychology Information online (1999-2004, 12). However, a patient under these drugs should be closely monitored for the levels of white blood cells in the process.
Modern approaches for treating schizophrenia are more humane compared with old methods that were at times very cruel.
Methods such as drilling a hole in the patient’s head were exclusively cruel but more modern approaches where a close relationship between the patient, the nurse, and family members are incorporated proved very effective and supportive (Rush 1962, 178).
Kyziridis, T.C. (2005) Notes on the History of Schizophrenia.
MedicineNet. (2010). Schizophrenia.
Psychology Information online. (1999-2004). Treatment of Schizophrenia.
Rush, B. (1962). Medical Inquiries and Observations upon The Diseases of the Mind (facsimile of the Philadelphia 1812 ed.). New York, Hafner Publishing Company, 174–213