I Have Schizophrenia

The “True Life” episode I chose focused on schizophrenia. This is the topic I’m researching for the Weebly assignment and I thought it would give a nice overview of the experience individuals have when diagnosed with schizophrenia. The episode followed three individuals in their late teens/early 20’s and the day-to-day challenges they faced with schizophrenia. The three individuals took different approaches to their illness.

Josh chose to deal with his illness without the help of medical professionals. He suffered from extreme delusions and consistently heard voices in his head. He mainly self-medicated with illegal drugs. Josh did complete several rehab programs but refused psychiatric help and medication. Josh refused to admit to his illness and didn’t apply to the sick role. The second individual Ben suffered from extreme social anxiety affecting his ability to attend school, get a job, and his own place to live. Ben also suffered from depression, his grandfather and father were diagnosed with cancer and his illness hindered his ability to efficiently cope with discovery and led him into a deep depression. Ben’s sick role included seeking professional psychiatric help and he was able to control his illness to a degree with the following methods. He met with his psychiatrist regularly, he took medications to control his symptoms, and he attended monthly meetings or shared narratives with other individuals suffering form similar mental illnesses. Similar to alcoholics anonymous mentioned in the lecture 2 video, the meetings allow the individuals to cope with the social stigmas associated with their illness by talking with people experiencing the same symptoms, allowing a level of trust otherwise not seen (Lecture 2). Amber was the last individual followed in the episode, her main symptom with schizophrenia was social anxiety. She was a part time college student who sought psychiatric help regularly and took her prescribed medications. Amber was able to control her symptoms enough to continue taking college classes. Amber experienced all three stages of the sick role during the episode, she understood her illness, sought professional help, and understood when her illness was out of control and excused herself from some responsibilities.

The narrative used in this episode was the chaos narrative. All three individuals understood their diagnosis was a chronic condition. Also, social suffering or social anxiety was a symptom shared by all three. Schizophrenia and mental illness in general has a negative culture or stigma associated with it. Amber sought out help from a program in her area aimed to increase awareness for mental illness and improve the surrounding culture.



Lecture 2 Video. Accessed July 22. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-4-lecture-2/





This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Melinda Zielinski says:

    Schizophrenia is a mental illness that involves paranoia, delusions, hearing voices, and hallucinations. The cause of the illness is still unknown to medical professionals and it affects both men and women. The videos I watched on schizophrenia was an ABC 20-20 documentary on the illness.

    It followed multiple persons affected by the illness but I’ll talk about the story of Ken Steel. Ken was 14 years old when he started hearing voices coming from the radio. They were directly talking to him, commanding him to harm himself. Ken says they were predicting his death and told him how to kill himself via electrocution or burning by an explosion. According to Ken, the voices he heard got louder and louder everyday. Concerned, Ken’s parents took him to their family doctor where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. After diagnosis, Ken says he couldn’t do anything because he was so sedated. Today Ken is on a drug called Risperdal and has his life back. He is free of his visions and voices he used to hear. He writes about his experiences through his newspaper “New York City Voices”.

    Ken’s schizophrenia experience is different from the ones in the true-life episode yet have a lot of similarities. Each person experiences illness differently. Our environments and culture could cause this.
    Ken is similar to Josh in that they both heard voices and had delusions (not all schizophrenics have both). He is different than Josh in that he sought professional help and got his schizophrenia under control and that he admits he is ill.
    Ken is similar to Ben in that they both got professional help in order to get their lives on track. From the sounds of what you wrote, Ben like Ken has his life in control. Ken and Ben both shared their illness narratives with others as well to spread awareness and to get help.
    Ken is similar to Amber in that they both fully understood their sick role. They knew something was wrong with them and both got help to get their lives back on track.

    I think the factors that influence each person’s schizophrenic experience are the environment, which they are in, and possibly family. As for Ken, his voices he heard came out of nowhere listening to the radio. A lot of schizophrenics hear voices out of random objects, especially electronic objects, like a radio. This doesn’t mean that if you are by a radio you’re going to hear voices and or have schizophrenia but something inside Ken’s head associated his voices he heard to come out of the radio in his environment. Family can possibly influence a persons experience as well. As for Ken, his family believed him when he told them he was hearing voices to harm himself, so they got him help. Thankfully, now he is better because he got help. However, not all families will believe the person affected by the illness. This could cause frustration for the schizophrenic and possibly even worse schizophrenic attacks stemming from their frustration. It can be hard to believe someone who has this illness because its not really understood and because you don’t hear it yourself or see the things that they are seeing.

    ABC 20-20. “Schizophrenia ABC 20-20 Documentary Part 1”. YouTube video, 6:03. May 11, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74vTftboC_A&feature=youtu.be

    ABC 20-20. “Schizophrenia ABC 20-20 Documentary Part 2”. YouTube video, 6:16. May 11, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXimT5CHCDE

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