Different countries observe Schizophrenia Awareness Day on different dates. Many countries around the world, however, will observe the event this year exactly on May 24. The aim of Schizophrenia Awareness Day “is to make people more aware of what it means to be affected by schizophrenia, to encourage people to learn more and lessen the stigma felt by those diagnosed with it” – (the Virtual Medical Centre).
Called “dementia praecox” prior to 1908, schizophrenia is considered a very serious – in fact, the most serious – mental disorder. While recovery happens in some cases, many cases of schizophrenia become frequently recurrent and progressively disabling. Usually this mental disorder is chronic. It is said that about a fifth of initial admissions to public mental hospitals are for schizophrenia, while on the contrary more than half of all patients who remain on a continuing basis in these hospitals are victims of this mental disorder.
Apparent in a schizophrenia patient is his loss of ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not. His ability to think as well as his emotional responses become confused. It is believed that certain people, because of some hereditary predisposition, are susceptible to a breakdown of personality when subjected to difficult situations. A person who lives a normal life may possess traits of personality that resemble schizophrenia in mild degree. By reasonable assumption, this person would yield to this type of mental disorder when faced with a problem he cannot solve. It must likewise be pointed out that since some people respond more favorably than others to treatment, the hereditary predisposition is relatively more pronounced in some persons than in others.
Often beginning insidiously, schizophrenia may develop at any age, although it seldom appears in childhood or after age fifty. As the victim of this mental disorder begins to withdraw from reality, he appears to other people to be lost in thought. His conversations may take up a peculiar pattern, but he does not care. Strange mannerisms, delusions, and hallucinations develop as the mental disorder progresses.
Treatment for schizophrenia has been modified a great deal in recent years. The Schizophrenia Awareness Day is also a continuing reminder to workers in mental hospitals of the importance of exhibiting a friendly, understanding attitude toward schizophrenia patients for the success of the drug therapy. Although many schizophrenia patients do not recover completely, others respond well enough to treatment to be able to live relatively normal lives outside the hospital.
1. “Schizophrenia”, on the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (online) – http://www.world-schizophrenia.org/disorders/schizophrenia.html
2. “Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2009”, on the Virtual Medical Centre (online) – http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/events.asp?eventid=1757&title=Schizophrenia-Awareness-Week-2009
3. “Schizophrenia”, on NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health (online) – http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml
4. “Dementia Praecox”, on the General Practice Notebook (online) – http://www.gpnotebook.co.uk/simplepage.cfm?ID=x20080206063110225450