Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia: Thought, Interrupted

cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia 04 imgCognition refers to thinking. Thus, cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are those that are least visible to people around the schizophrenia patient because they are contained in the mind of the individual with schizophrenia. They also posit problems for the treatment of schizophrenia because it is easy to make suggestions to change symptoms that can be seen, as emotions and behaviour can, but thoughts must be communicated to the therapist or support person, and people with schizophrenia have trouble communicating. Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia provide the greatest challenge to clinicians, as well as the area for most potential improvement through the advancement of therapeutic techniques.

Definition of Schizophrenia and Cognition

Schizophrenia is defined as a condition characterized by psychosis – delusions, or beliefs that do not actually reflect reality, and visual or audio hallucinations – and a profound disturbance of one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. There are five subtypes of schizophrenia: paranoid, catatonic, disorganized, undifferentiated, and residual. Schizophrenia treatment is tailored to the particular type of schizophrenia one has, as they each present diverse qualities and challenges. Catatonic schizophrenia symptoms may involve more work on an individual’s ability to experience emotion, and learn what appropriate emotions are for particular situations. Paranoid schizophrenia treatment may be more focused on realizing delusions of persecution are not real, and a combination of medication and therapy are used to treat all forms of schizophrenia.

Cognition refers not only to thinking, but to our ability to process thoughts. Aspects of cognition include memory, concentration, ability to reason, and abstract thought. Schizophrenia history and the use of the term “schizophrenia” happened only 100 years ago, at a time when people with schizophrenia were confined to institutions, and there was little or no hope that they would ever lead normal lives. After the first antipsychotic, cholorpromazine or Thorazine, was synthesized in the 1950s, it became easier to understand the thought processes of people with schizophrenia, as they were better able to articulate them. Today, treatment resistant schizophrenia is relatively rare – up to 90% of patients that seek treatment respond to therapy and medication. This is largely because we are able to understand the cognitive patterns of individuals with schizophrenia, and apply therapeutic techniques that improve cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

The Four “A’s” of Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia experience particular difficulty with thought in the following four areas:

1. Attention
Due to rapidly shifting thoughts and ideas, it is very difficult for individuals with schizophrenia to pay attention for long enough periods of time to watch a television show or movie, or concentrate on learning things that take time and patience, like a different language.

2. Aphasia (“Word Salad”)
The same quality that affects concentration also makes conversation difficult – the thoughts of someone with schizophrenia move so quickly they express rapid and random thoughts rather than sticking to the topic at hand, which is called “aphasia” by clinicians, but colloquially referred to as “word salad”.

3. Awareness (Memory)
“Working memory” refers to the ability to hold information in one’s mind for a short time in order to learn and reason effectively. Individuals with schizophrenia have problems with their working memory, and they experience difficulty in school, as well as obtaining and keeping employment, because of this lack of awareness of what happened a few minutes ago.

4. Abstract Reasoning
The executive functions of thought are affected by schizophrenia. Executive functioning refers to the capacity to interpret information abstractly. Applied to day to day activity, this cognitive function allows individuals to discern the consequences of their behaviour and determine goals. When given tests, people with schizophrenia perform poorly in two areas of executive functioning: concept attainment and abstract thinking. For example, someone with schizophrenia may not be able to understand an idiom like “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”, and even after the logistics have been explained, it is unlikely that he or she would comprehend, or be able to repeat, such a statement.

This video discusses cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia may be very severe, while others experience mild symptoms of schizophrenia, and have difficulty with emotional expression and social interaction, but their cognitive functioning is not as impaired. A fifth “A” – creating awareness about the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, will allow the rest of society to be more patient with people with schizophrenia, and will allow people outside of scientific professions to come up with practical solutions to help people with schizophrenia.


Originally posted 2012-11-19 11:18:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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