Empirical studies, MRI scans, and other medical interventions can be used to test some of these theories. However, the exact causes of schizophrenia are likely to remain unknown until the connections between social and biological factors can be isolated. For this reason, schizophrenia is often seen as the key to understanding human nature, the human brain, and the link between nature and nurture in psychological functioning.
Directly related to its causes, the treatment of schizophrenia is a mixture of chemical and therapeutic treatment. Grohol (2006) lists psychotherapy, medications, and self-help as treatments for the afflicted schizophrenic. He contends that the method for causing a schizophrenic to be able to function in society is a lifelong, regimented, treatment of support, therapy, and medications. The medications are needed to control the psychotic episodes that are most likely the result of improper brain functioning, while therapy, support, and self-help are needed in order to teach the schizophrenic to function appropriately in social situations, such as school or work (para. 2). The PhD warns that if a person should stop medication and discontinue other forms of treatment, relapse is almost inevitable. However, with a steady course of treatment, Grohol (2006) writes that a schizophrenic can "lead a happy and successful life" (para. 2)" with treatment.
That treatment, however, can have drastic side effects. Most remember the effects of the medication on Crowe's life, and how he stopped taking it just because he felt like it was making it difficult for him to be himself. Grohol (2006) writes that this is a common occurrence. Because schizophrenia is treated with a combination of antidepressant drugs, antipsychotic medication, and antianxiety prescriptions, people often stop taking the medication after about a year because they dislike the side effects. Some may feel as if they have been cured, when it is a continual commitment to the medication that achieves these results. "Intolerable side effects" is one major reason that schizophrenics discontinue this medication, according to Grohol (2006, para. 9). The cocktail of drugs recommended for the schizophrenic is a result of the drugs' different functions. For instance, antipsychotic medications are needed to keep hallucinations to a minimum (Grohol, 2006). It is these drugs that have the worst side effects, which range in severity from dry mouth to muscle spasms (Grohol, 2006). Because these drugs are some of the most important, when patients stop taking them, it can be disastrous. Despite the side effects and the difficulty convincing patients to take the drugs, they are, indeed, affective. Kryzhanovskaya et al. (2008) found that Olanzapine was more effective in decreasing the psychosis in adolescents. However this drug, like others, has side effects, including weight increase, which might be problematic in schizophrenic teens tending toward depressing.
In addition to these drugs, another method of treatment for schizophrenics is psychotherapy. Although psychotherapy does not offer a cure of symptoms, like medication, it does offer help to a patient who is trying to live a normal life. Through therapy, schizophrenics can learn the importance of staying on medication, in addition to how to function in a society that may be alien to them. However, just as there are downsides to drugs, there are also downsides to therapy. Smith (2009) points out that therapy is a rather subjective process that does not always fit with the person who is receiving it. Because therapy deals with the subjective question of what is a good life, it often reflects what the therapist thinks is a good life, not necessarily what the schizophrenic or patient receiving treatment considers positive. In this way, it is easy for therapists to influence their patients, in addition to frustrating them, just because of a difference in viewpoints.
Thus, regardless of whether drugs or therapy is used, there is a downside to the treatment of schizophrenia. While treatment can help mask the symptoms of the disorder and help the sufferer live a "normal" life in society, or at least appear normal to others, the question can be asked -- Does it make the schizophrenic happy? Because happiness is, again, relative, the exact nature of this cannot be known. However, what can be gleaned from an understanding of this treatment process is the difficulty that schizophrenia poses for the individual, the person treating that individual, and the society.
Understanding the nature of schizophrenia can be either a downcast or hopeful experience. Delving into the minds and plights of schizophrenics can certainly make one downcast, as their situation is quite difficult, and one can certainly sympathize with feeling out of place. Schizophrenics must feel out of place nearly all of the time. However, a journey into the nature, causes, and treatment of schizophrenia can also be a hopeful experience based on the degree of scientific and social evidence that has been applied to the disorder. Although schizophrenics still receive a great deal of criticism and discrimination, a better understanding of schizophrenia has allowed scientists to develop treatments for the symptoms of the disease, and continued scholarship promises not only a better understanding of the disorder and relief for its sufferers, but also a deeper understanding of brain function, the relationship between nature and nurture (or biology and society), and a greater comprehension of the human element in humanity, of what makes humanity human. Thus, further research must be done on the subject of schizophrenia, but science's current achievements are to be lauded.
Grohol, J.M. (2006, April 10). Schizophrenia Treatment. Retrieved July 11, 2009, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx31t.htm
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