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Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, severe mental illness characterized by a variety of symptoms, including loss of contact with reality, bizarre behavior, disorganized thinking and speech, decreased emotional expressiveness, and social withdrawal. Usually only some of these symptoms occur in any one person. The term schizophrenia comes from Greek words meaning "split mind." However, contrary to common belief, schizophrenia does not refer to a person with a split personality or multiple personality. To observers, schizophrenia may seem like madness or insanity. Dana Mackenzie, a morphometrician, discovered "shape space," or a new way to look at the brain, it shows the differences between a normal and a schizophrenic brain, which may help cure schizophrenics some day.

Perhaps more than any other mental illness, schizophrenia has a debilitating effect on the lives of the people who suffer from it. A person with schizophrenia may have difficulty telling the difference between real and unreal experiences, logical and illogical thoughts, or appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Schizophrenia seriously impairs a person's ability to work, go to school, enjoy relationships with others, or take care of oneself. In addition, people with schizophrenia frequently require hospitalization because they pose a danger to

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themselves. About 10 percent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide, and many others attempt suicide. Once people develop schizophrenia, they usually suffer from the illness for the rest of their lives. Although there is no cure, treatment can help many people with schizophrenia lead productive lives. "And this new brain picture may diagnose people before they have their first psychotic break," Says Mackenzie.

Schizophrenia also carries an enormous cost to society. People with schizophrenia occupy about one-third of all beds in psychiatric hospitals in the United States. In addition, people with schizophrenia account for at least 10 percent of the homeless population in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that schizophrenia costs the United States tens of billions of dollars each year in direct treatment, social services, and lost productivity.

Approximately 1 percent of people develop schizophrenia at some time during their lives. Experts estimate that about 1.8 million people in the United States have schizophrenia. The prevalence of schizophrenia is the same regardless of sex, race, and culture. "Although women are just as likely as men to develop schizophrenia, women tend to experience the illness less severely,

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