Schizophrenia is obviously a disorder treated by highly trained licensed counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists with specialty training in the disorder. Mere certified counselors may come across it and hence should have a basic understanding of it and when to call for help. The disorder itself distorts reality for many. Individuals have grandiose goals and ideals that are not connected to reality. They also are in and out of acute state of psychosis where they may feel they are in danger or being followed. Some behaviors are outwardly unacceptable due to action, while other behaviors are unacceptable due to inaction. Some may be deeper trapped within their own mind and unable to articulate thought completely.
If ever dealing with one, one never should confront a delusion, but merely ignore it, and not escalate the situation. No type of therapy can be conducted during acute psychosis.
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Program, as well as many of its other mental health certifications. AIHCP does not offer any type of education in schizophrenia itself, but again reiterates the importance of only licensed professionals with appropriate background in the disorder to deal with these types of individuals who sometimes can become quite dangerous if not medicated.
Many mental maladies deal with personality. Anti-Social Personalities deal with individuals whose consciences and sense of right or wrong are completely muddied and confused. Other personality disorders deal with emotional states and an inability to control anxiety or sadness. Perhaps the most crippling form of mental illness is Schizophrenia. In the case of Schizophrenia, individuals experience psychosis and an inability to decipher true reality and their own delusions. This type of disorder is classified as psychotic due to its irrational and distorted perceptions from reality (Myers and Dewall. 2019, p. 522).
Schizophrenia can be chronic and long term or acute. Acute is far easier to recover from while chronic is a life long struggle. Most chronic cases are usually genetic and tied to abnormal brain structure and development within the frontal lobes which aid individuals with reason, planning and problem solving skills (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 524). Brain waves and activity also are irregular within Schizophrenic individuals. When attempting to filter incoming sensory information, the Thalamus becomes ultra active, as well the Amygdala during emotional distress. In addition, experts have noticed thinning in the Cerebral Cortex as a sign of Schizophrenia (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 525). Hence irregular brain waves, less developed portions of the brain and fewer neural connections can all correspond with Schizophrenia. In addition, studies show Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is overactive in Schizophrenic individuals (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 524). This neurotransmitter can intensify brain signals that can lead to hallucinations and paranoia.
Those stricken with Schizophrenia display symptoms that are either positive or negative. In positive instances, inappropriate behaviors are present, while in negative instances, appropriate behaviors are lacking. Examples of inappropriate behaviors include disorganized speech, abrupt laughter, sadness or rage, while negative symptoms include absence of emotion and lack of expression (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 523).
One of the primary symptoms is delusion or the “false belief of persecution or grandeur” (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 523). Many individuals with Schizophrenia are paranoid and fearful. They believe they are being followed or threatened. Some may also hear voices or weird commands. There is also an overall disorganized thinking where selective attention that usually is filtered out by the brain is amplified. Tiny unrelated stimuli can distract one with Schizophrenia such as a tiny crack in the ground or something far down the road (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 523). Stemming from this can emerge disorganized speech. Disorganized speech can include multiple ideas smashed together into an odd word salad that makes no sense. The Schizophrenic will jump from idea to idea with no logical connection or coherence.
The distress of Schizophrenia also impairs emotional expressions. Some with Schizophrenia will exhibit motionless behavior, while others may exhibit continual movement or rubbing or rocking of the body. In addition, some may display no emotion, while others may laugh or become angry. Due to impaired theory of mind, they also have extreme difficulty reading facial expressions (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 523). With these immense issues, those with Schizophrenia are very unpredictable and from an untrained person, may become very scary. In fact, in the medieval ages, many were thought to be possessed.
Fortunately, only 1 in 100 are afflicted with Schizophrenia which totals roughly 21 millions people (Myers and Dewall, 2019, p. 524). Many are medicated, counseled or closely monitored. Most are not a threat to others but there can be cases when they can become a threat to society when violent voices tell them to do harmful things or when their own delusions lead them into unsafe situations.
Another type of psychotic disorder is Dissociative Identity Disorder. Formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. This disorder is also psychotic in nature and stems from the creation of a new identity. Most cases stem from a traumatic event that pushes the individual to forget the trauma by creating a new identity. There is still much research to be done in this field but it is separate and different than Schizophrenia.
Those who suffer from Schizophrenia cannot exist without medical and professional help. They are a threat primarily to their own safety without proper treatment and medication. For most, it is a life long cross of trying to distinguish reality from delusion. Obviously, only licensed therapists can treat and care for Schizophrenics and it falls far out of the levels of competence of mere pastoral counselors. If a pastoral counselor and one suspects Schizophrenia, it is important to help the person find the professional counseling and assistance the person’s needs.
As Pastoral Counselors, one can see the suffering such delusions can bring to a person. As Christian Counselors, one can see the steep price of sin and how disease both physical and mental are a result of that sin. These individuals while odd and offbeat nevertheless are children of God and deserve compassion and respect in treatment and care. They deserve patience and love. If a loved one is suffering from this, it can be very painful to witness. One needs to not argue with the delusions but patiently walk one through it. Staying connected with the person and not becoming agitated is key to keeping the person calm. If on the other side, one is experiencing these symptoms it is crucial to find the help that is needed and to avoid drugs and drinking that will only make the delusions worse.
While there is no cure, some treatments can alleviate the issue. Most treatment involves anti-psychotic medications and also Behavioral Cognitive Therapies. Some therapies also include Electroconvulsive Therapy which includes while sedated, electric impulse shocks to improve brain activity.
If you would like to learn more about counseling and helping others from a pastoral and Christian perspective, then please review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification. The program is designed for qualified professionals to help others from a Christian perspective. The program is also online and independent study and can be completed at one’s own timing and speed.
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