Schizophrenic patients are always a little odd in their reactions. Where the normal person may feel like weeping, the schizophrenic patient either giggles or shows no outward expression. On the other hand, he may cry when others laugh. One moment he may be full of affection, the next he shows anger and resentment. He may babble on about nothing, then suddenly withdraw from the world and speak to no one for weeks at a time.
Schizophrenia is mainly of four types. They are not sharply divided but tend to blend into one another.
Simple schizophrenia: These patients appear careless and apathetic and may lapse into juvenile delinquency. The patient has an odd appearance and his actions are peculiar. He has a silly smile on his face, lives in a world to himself, and tends to withdraw from normal associations with others.
Catatonic schizophrenia: It comes on later in life, usually in the middle thirties, and may follow some intense emotional experience or disappointment. The patient assumes a negative attitude and may refuse to carry out the normal activities of life, such as bathing, eating, and talking. He suffers from delusions and hallucinations, hears voices and sees people who are not present. At times he will offer no resistance, but if placed in a certain position will remain there for longer periods of time.
Paranoid schizophrenia: Here the patient has a well-functioning intellect. He sees and hears all that is going on around him, but unfortunately he has a strong feeling of jealousy. Any moment his resentments may come to the surface, and he will not hesitate to injure anyone if he thinks that person will harm him.
Hebephrenic patient: His illness generally begins at an early age and is characterized by fits of silly laughing. He often assumes a peculiar facial expression, and insists on wearing the strangest combinations of colors. All his ideas are absurd and he soon loses touch with real world around him.
Tranquillizing drugs are widely used for patients who are excited or disturbed. These and similar medicines help to reduce the emotional tensions and allow the patient to make a better adjustment to the world around him.
Electric shock therapy is the other treatment. The patient is placed on a treatment table and given an injection of some suitable short-acting anesthetic. As soon as he fall asleep, electrodes are applied to the sides of his head and a carefully controlled electric current is passed through his brain
Psychotherapy and group-therapy are also useful in treating these patients.
Any form of schizophrenia is serious, but most patients will benefit when given the proper care under the guidance of a qualified doctor. Schizophrenic patients cannot be cured, but they can be greatly helped through the worst stages of their disease.