Schizophrenia is one of the most confusing and disabling mental illnesses. Its symptoms fall into three broad categories, including positive symptoms (psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations), negative symptoms (such as apathy and social withdrawal), and cognitive symptoms (such as memory problems). People who have this condition often require medication to control the most troubling symptoms.
Contrary to the common misconception, schizophrenia does not mean "split personality" or "multiple personalities." And, although people with schizophrenia are often portrayed as violent on television and in movies, that is seldom the case. Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling and puzzling mental disorders in existence. Just as the term "cancer" refers to numerous related illnesses, many researchers now consider schizophrenia to be a group of mental disorders rather than a single illness.
Generally, schizophrenia begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. Research indicates a genetic link to the development of schizophrenia.
A child who has one parent with schizophrenia, for example, has about a 10 percent chance of developing the illness, compared to a 1 percent chance if neither parent has schizophrenia.
Current research suggests that schizophrenia is related to abnormalities in both the brain's structure and biochemical activities. Researchers also tend to agree that environmental influences may be involved in the onset of schizophrenia.