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How does schizophrenia affect the mind?

A person with schizophrenia cannot think normally. Although there are many kinds of schizophrenia and many symptoms of the disorder, all people with the disease have difficulty thinking rationally. They may experience disorganized thoughts or experience hallucinations or delusions. Often, what a person with schizophrenia says will not make sense, as it will appear disconnected or unintelligible. Schizophrenia also affects the ability of the mind to feel emotions, as people with the disorder do not feel or express emotions normally.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that affects the way your brain works and how you think -- schizophrenics can’t always tell reality from fantasy. They might see and hear things that are not real, feel paranoid about a government plot against them, be extremely depressed and feel void of emotions, and/or act, speak, and move in odd ways (if at all). Needless to say, these symptoms can make it difficult to remember things well, organize your thoughts, and think clearly. Untreated, the illness can be debilitating. Thankfully, though, the illness responds well to treatments. Medications and therapy help people with schizophrenia recover from the illness. Unfortunately, people with schizophrenia often have trouble staying with treatment.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects the mind in several ways. It often causes a series of symptoms called psychotic symptoms. People with psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia have “breaks with reality” that can occur in many ways. Some people have hallucinations, which are experiences (sights, smells, sounds, or sensations) that are not real. For example, they may see a person who is not there or hear voices that are giving instructions or commentary.

Another effect schizophrenia has on the mind is to create delusions in the mind of the person who has schizophrenia. Delusions are false beliefs about something in the world. A common delusion in people with schizophrenia is that they are actually a historical figure or a famous person. Another delusion is the idea that neighbors, friends, or even strangers are out to get the person with schizophrenia, even though there is no reason to believe that this is true.

Thought disorders are yet another way the mind of a person with schizophrenia is affected by his illness. A person with disorganized thinking may talk in a way that is difficult or impossible to understand. His sentences may come out as a series of unconnected words (this is called a “word salad”). At other times, the person talking may stop suddenly, in the middle of a sentence. When he is asked why he stopped talking, he may reply that the thought was “taken” out of his head.

Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are those that impact memory, attention span, and ability to learn or use new or information.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.