Symptoms of Schizophrenia
A hallucination is something a person sees, hears, smells, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, or feel. "Voices" are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Many people with the disorder hear voices that may comment on their behavior, order them to do things, warn them of impending danger, or talk to each other (usually about the patient). They may hear these voices for a long time before family and friends notice that something is wrong. Other types of hallucinations include:
- Seeing people or objects that are not there
- Smelling odors that no one else detects (although this can also be a symptom of certain brain tumors)
- Feeling things like invisible fingers touching their bodies when no one is close by.
Delusions are false personal beliefs that are not part of the person's culture and do not change, even when other people present proof that the beliefs are not true or logical. People with symptoms of schizophrenia can have delusions that are quite bizarre, such as believing that:
- Neighbors can control their behavior with magnetic waves
- People on television are directing special messages to them
- Radio stations are broadcasting their thoughts aloud to others.
They may also have delusions of grandeur and think they are a famous historical figure. People with paranoid schizophrenia can believe that others are deliberately cheating, harassing, poisoning, spying upon, or plotting against them or the people they care about. These beliefs are called delusions of persecution.
People with symptoms of schizophrenia often have unusual thought processes. One dramatic form is disorganized thinking; in this situation, the person may have difficulty organizing thoughts or connecting them logically. Speech may be garbled or hard to understand. Another form is "thought blocking," where the person stops abruptly in the middle of a thought. When asked, sometimes the person says it felt as if the thought had been taken out of his or her head. Finally, the individual might make up unintelligible words, or "neologisms."