Positive symptoms of Schizophrenia

 

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder causing the brain to become disorganized altering perception and ways of thinking and acting that manifest into abnormal ways of being. Schizophrenia symptoms are characterized into two main sections: positive symptoms and negative symptoms. This article will focus on describing the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

A positive symptom of schizophrenia refers to the overt behavior exhibited by people suffering from this debilitating illness. Often times, these are referred to as ‘psychotic’ manifestations. These include periods of hallucinations and or delusions along with disorganized patterns of thought and behavior. There are many medications, treatments, and therapies designed to help manage positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Being able to recognize the symptoms is an important step towards seeking treatment.

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Hallucinations, a positive symptom of schizophrenia

 

Hallucinations as they relate to positive symptoms of schizophrenia are false perceptions that have no perceivable or identifiable cause. They may affect any of the senses, including touch, taste, sound, sight and smell. Most often, however, hallucinations tend to be auditory or visual.

 

Auditory hallucinations: refers to hearing voices or other sounds that are not present in reality. This positive symptom of schizophrenia can be potentially dangerous if voices heard inflict thoughts of self harm or harming others. Frequently, those suffering from auditory hallucinations can be found conversing with their hallucination and or referring to them openly. Those who exhibit auditory hallucinations will require frequent assessment to determine the content of these hallucinations to ensure safety of both the individual and others.

Visual hallucinations: are those seen and believed to be present by the individual. The individual with this positive symptom of schizophrenia may see or experience bodies of light, figures or individuals, ghosts and or other objects that are otherwise perceivably false in reality.

Tactile hallucinations: also known as somatic hallucinations, is the perception of something happening to or within the body that is not actually present or perceivable. A common tactile/somatic hallucination is feeling something crawling on or underneath the skin. Feeling electrical pulses or intimate working of internal organs is also another common theme.

Gustatory hallucinations: stem from sensations of taste. Typically, these are unpleasant or persistent taste sensations that would otherwise not be present.

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Olfactory hallucinations: relate to false sensations or perceptions of scents that are not based in reality. This positive symptom of schizophrenia may also be referred to as phantosmia.

 

Delusions

 

Another common characteristic of positive symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions. Those suffering from delusions are absolutely convinced and certain in a belief that has no basis in reality, even if it has been proved to them otherwise. The extent of delusions can be quite vast, however, common delusions seen as part of the positive symptom spectrum often include delusions of persecution or paranoia, grandiosity, religion, and in reference to a relationship.

 

• Delusions of persecution and paranoia: individuals often believe that “others” are out to “get” them and fear being stalked, spied upon, or hunted down. Frequently, these delusions involve grand schemes and ideas such as being monitored by governmental organizations for example.

• Delusions of grandiosity: this is a common positive symptom of schizophrenia in which individuals have fixed belief that that are famous or somehow worldly important, powerful and influential.

• Delusions of religion: there is belief that individuals have a special connection and instruction from God. Commonly this is in reference to the bible and those suffering from this delusion may believe themselves to be the manifestation of God or Jesus. References to other spiritual leaders, or demonic possession also occur.

• Delusions of erotomania: typically, this delusion stems in strong unwavering belief that a particular person admires the individual, which can result in behaviors such as stalking.

 

Disorganized Thought & Behavior

 

The other aspect pertaining to positive symptoms of schizophrenia refers to the thoughts and behaviors, which become evident when talking with or observing someone with this mental illness.

 

Disorganized thought: one’s speech may appear to be jump around from topic to topic, without any relevant or significant connection. This is known as tangential thought processes. In the middle of a conversation, the individual may suddenly stop in the middle of a sentence, and not be able to continue on with that train of thought. This is otherwise known as thought blocking. Other characteristics of disorganized thoughts may include bouts of incomprehensible made up words that only make sense to the individual, mimicking the speech of another person, rhyming conversations and or repetitive speech.

Disorganized behavior: refers to the inability to meaningfully take care and due attention of everyday aspects of life. This includes basic grooming and hygiene practices, as well as acting in accordance to societal cultures and norms. Frequent inappropriate outbursts or odd behaviors such as heavily applied makeup, wearing a swimsuit outdoors during winter, are some examples of disorganized behavior that may exist as part of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

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