Learning about schizophrenia
If you , or your friend, relative or partner has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, then this is the best section for you to start browsing. Here you will find a wealth of information on schizophrenia. Below you will find a short summary of what schizophrenia actually is and to the left of this page is a menu detailing the more specific elements of schizophrenia. Have a look at this first if you are new to schizophrenia.
If you are a carer: in addition to reading the material on schizophrenia produced in this section of the web site, you might also like to read information written specifically for carers and friends. If you have a mental illness, browse through this section on schizophrenia or have a look at other mental illnesses. You can also go directly to the consumer section that deals with treatment and recovery processes.
What is schizophrenia?
"For me, schizophrenia severely ruptured the relationship I had enjoyed with myself prior to the illness. My sense of being in the world, my thought processes and indeed the very way my senses perceived the world go through involuntary changes. I was plunged at times into a confusing and frightening world ruled by my own paranoias and delusions...Prior to developing schizophrenia the workings of my mind had been unquestioned. Suddenly I was being told by a psychiatrist that I could not always trust my own thoughts and senses. I felt that my own mind had betrayed me. How could I ever trust it? Self had become a traitor and was working against my own good" (Simon, a person who has experienced schizophrenia).
Schizophrenia is a condition characterised by disturbances in a person's thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviour. It affects approximately one in every 100 people worldwide and commonly begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Schizophrenia is probably not a single disease, rather a cluster of diseases, which have overlapping signs and symptoms. It is therefore important to acknowledge the unique experience of each person living with schizophrenia.
While schizophrenia can be a devastating illness for the people who experience it as well as for their families, it is important to recognise that there is hope. Treatments, both medical and psychosocial, are becoming more effective. Recently introduced early intervention programs are demonstrating encouraging outcomes for people with early psychosis and the concerns of consumers and their carers, such as those relating to empowerment and quality of life, are being increasingly recognised.
Schizophrenia is a complex disorder with few generalisations holding true for all people diagnosed. In practice, there appears to be as many forms of schizophrenia as there are individuals experiencing the illness.