Health Care Psychology

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Schizophrenia is a devastating mental illness, and one of a larger class of psychotic disorders defined by the presence of delusions (false beliefs) and/or hallucinations (sensory perceptions without external sensory input). Schizophrenia may also be characterized by disorganized speech and behavior and by negative symptoms such as social, cognitive, and emotional withdrawal. Sensationalized accounts of dangerous, violent, and criminal behavior committed by schizophrenic persons have proliferated through the popular media; and the assumption of schizophrenia has contributed to public fear, stigma, social rejection, and even the denial of services and programmatic funding to schizophrenic individuals (Raine, 2006).

Causes of Schizophrenia

Causes of this disease are the factors such as genetics, prenatal factors, social and drug use. It is thought that the disease is not due to a single factor, but rather a combination of several of them such as blending inheritance with environmental factors. As for genetics, there has been research suggesting that people who have close relatives with schizophrenia are more likely to have the disease. However, it is more likely to develop when other factors are present together (Douglas & Skeem, 2005). There have been studies, which showed that prenatal factors may be a cause of schizophrenia. It is found that most people with the disease would have been born in winter or spring, especially in the northern hemisphere. They can also affect some prenatal infections. You can consider social factors, such as increased likelihood of disease by living in an urban environment. Other factors include poverty, discrimination, family dysfunction, unemployment, poor living conditions, abuse and trauma in childhood, among others. As drug use has not been clearly demonstrated its relationship to schizophrenia, but it is interesting to note that more than half of sick people using illicit drugs (Link et al., 1998).

Psychological Factors: Schizophrenia Symptoms

Individual psychological symptoms may explain schizophrenic crime and violence, and research on delusions and hallucinations in the mentally ill (including schizophrenia but also mood and substance use disorder patients) have provided some evidence for this explanation.


Previous research indicates a general association between delusions and violence among mentally ill persons; and a substantial minority of violence committed by psychotic persons appears to be delusionally driven (Taylor, 2006). Specific delusions (i.e., persecutory) may contribute more to violence risk (Bjorkly, 2002a); and symptoms such as threat (i.e., perceptions of threat or harm from others) and control-override (i.e., mind control or thought insertion) have been shown to be separately associated with violent behaviors (Link et al., 1998). Additionally, several rare delusions of misidentification appear related to violence. These include Capgras syndrome (the belief that familiar persons have been replaced by physically identical imposters), subjective doubles or Doppleganger syndrome (the belief that oneself has a double or impersonator), Fregoli syndrome (the belief that another person has changed his or her physical identity while his or her psychological identity remains the same), and intermetamorphosis (the belief others have undergone radical physical and psychological changes to become persecutors (Malloy et al., 1992). Hostility and suspiciousness toward the misidentified person may lead to extreme ...
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