Saturday, June 1, 2013

Avatars Help Schizophrenics Gain Control of Voices In Their Heads

I've already read enough comments of people not knowing what or how schizophrenia is - it's not just voices (or always involving voices in general). The National Institute for Mental Health has this nice little bit to get you all up to a half-educated level:

- What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three broad categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.

- Positive symptoms
Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms often "lose touch" with reality. These symptoms can come and go. [...] They include the following:
Hallucinations are things a person sees, hears, smells, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, or feel. "Voices" are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Many people with the disorder hear voices. [...]

Delusions are false beliefs that are not part of the person's culture and do not change. The person believes delusions even after other people prove that the beliefs are not true or logical. People with schizophrenia can have delusions that seem bizarre, such as believing that neighbors can control their behavior with magnetic waves. [...]

Thought disorders are unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking. One form of thought disorder is called "disorganized thinking." This is when a person has trouble organizing his or her thoughts or connecting them logically. They may talk in a garbled way that is hard to understand. Another form is called "thought blocking. [...]

- Negative symptoms
Negative symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. These symptoms are harder to recognize as part of the disorder and can be mistaken for depression or other conditions.

These symptoms include the following:
- "Flat affect" (a person's face does not move or he or she talks in a dull or monotonous voice)
- Lack of pleasure in everyday life
- Lack of ability to begin and sustain planned activities
- Speaking little, even when forced to interact.

People with negative symptoms need help with everyday tasks. They often neglect basic personal hygiene. This may make them seem lazy or unwilling to help themselves, but the problems are symptoms caused by the schizophrenia.

- Cognitive symptoms
Cognitive symptoms are subtle. Like negative symptoms, cognitive symptoms may be difficult to recognize as part of the disorder. Often, they are detected only when other tests are performed. Cognitive symptoms include the following:
- Poor "executive functioning" (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
- Trouble focusing or paying attention
- Problems with "working memory" (the ability to use information immediately after learning it).

Edited down, for some brevity. Full text here []
Cognitive symptoms often make it hard to lead a normal life and earn a living. They can cause great emotional distress.


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