World Schizophrenia Day: Schizophrenia Is Beyond Hallucinations And Delusions. Know Its Unusual


Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder which causes psychosis, affects how a person thinks, feels, behaves, and expresses emotions, and makes them interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenics often lose touch with reality due to their disordered thinking, which disables them from performing normal activities. 

Schizophrenia is usually associated with hallucinations and delusions, but the mental disorder is beyond these symptoms. Hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or feeling things which do not exist in reality, while delusions are false beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. In simple words, a hallucination is a sensory perception while a delusion is a false belief. 

Unusual symptoms of schizophrenia

Hallucinations and delusions are believed to be the hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia, but there are some unusual, lesser known symptoms too. 

The unusual symptoms of schizophrenia include thought broadcasting, avolition, and cognitive difficulties, Dr Pradeep Khandavalli, MBBS, DNB General Medicine, DM & DNB Nephrology, told ABP Live. 

He explained that hallucinations and delusions are commonly associated with schizophrenia, but the lesser-known and unusual symptoms that can manifest in patients may not be readily diagnosed. However, they play a significant role in understanding and diagnosing schizophrenia.

“One unusual symptom of schizophrenia is known as ‘thought broadcasting’. This occurs when an individual believes that their thoughts are being transmitted and heard by others around them. They may feel that their thoughts are being broadcasted over the radio or through other means. This experience can be distressing and contribute to a sense of paranoia and social withdrawal,” Dr Khandavalli said.

He explained that avolition, which is another lesser-known symptom, refers to a severe lack of motivation and an inability to initiate and complete tasks or activities. “Individuals with avolition may struggle with basic daily tasks, such as personal hygiene or household chores. They may appear apathetic and uninterested in activities they once enjoyed.”

Dr Khandavalli said that the cognitive difficulties which schizophrenics suffer from include problems with memory, attention, and executive functioning. “These cognitive impairments can impact daily functioning and contribute to challenges in work, school, and social interactions.”

In some cases, schizophrenics do not know that they suffer from this mental disorder. They are said to have anosognosia, a neurological condition in which the patient is unaware of their psychiatric condition or deficit. 

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According to Psycom, a website focused on mental health and founded in 1996 by renowned American psychiatrist Ivan K Goldberg, schizophrenics may suffer from Capgras Syndrome, a delusion that their spouse or close relative has been replaced by an imposter. This is believed to occur due to a mismatch between the person’s perceptions of the external world and their internal capacity to judge those conditions, the website quoted Dr Russell Margolis, Clinical Director, Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center, as saying. 

A faulty brain circuitry may also cause Capgras Syndrome. When the right hemisphere of the brain, which controls beliefs, becomes damaged, the person may suffer from Capgras Syndrome. 

Citing studies, the website said that people with schizophrenia have a weakened sense of body ownership, because of which they may not be able to distinguish between their own body part and a fake part. For instance, if a schizophrenic’s hand is hidden out of their sight, they are shown a rubber hand, and both the real hand and rubber hand are stroked with a paintbrush, they will believe that the rubber hand is a part of them. 

This is associated with the high order cognitive function impairments in schizophrenia.

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Common symptoms of schizophrenia

The common symptoms of schizophrenia, apart from hallucinations and delusions, include thought disorder, wherein a person has illogical ways of thinking; movement disorder, wherein the patient shows abnormal body movements; negative symptoms, such as having very low energy, speaking in a dull voice, having trouble planning, and avoiding social interaction; and cognitive symptoms, such as having trouble using information immediately after learning it.

“Symptoms of schizophrenia may include disorganised speech and behaviour, social withdrawal or apathy, memory and concentration problems, difficulty expressing emotions, a lack of initiative or motivation, poor motor coordination, strange or repetitive movements, decreased self-care or personal hygiene, and cognitive impairments that affect problem-solving and decision-making,” Dr Ravindra Srivastava, Director, Neurosciences, Primus Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, told ABP Live.

He explained that it is crucial to keep in mind that symptoms can differ from person to person, and a proper diagnosis should only be made by a trained healthcare provider.

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According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), schizophrenia and dissociative personality disorder have some signs in common, but neither of them should be confused for the other. 

Schizophrenics often exhibit self-harm behaviour and violence, and hence, people who show similar symptoms must seek medical help at the earliest.

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