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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

Disorganized Schizophrenia – What are the Symptoms?

Disorganized Schizophrenia – What are the Symptoms?

Throughout history, schizophrenia has been one of the most feared and misunderstood mental illnesses. It has been confused with multiple personality disorder, autism, dementia, and other conditions. Attempts to treat it have included inducing severe fevers, injecting sulphur or oil, lobotomies, immersion in ice water, being forcibly confined to bed, and long-term institutionalization. In recent years, scientists and doctors have come to understand much more about schizophrenia and disorganized schizophrenia in particular. 

Instead of fearing and stigmatizing it, we are working towards better treatment options and ways to help those with any mental health conditions to lead full lives. This article will help others to understand one subtype of schizophrenia, known as disorganized schizophrenia. Of the 3.2 million Americans who have schizophrenia, the majority of them do not have the disorganized type. However, it may be the most severe subtype. 


What Is Disorganized Schizophrenia? 

Disorganized Schizophrenia

Also known as hebephrenia, disorganized schizophrenia used to be considered one of five subtypes of schizophrenia. However, in the more recent versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the subtypes are not used. The American Psychiatric Association made this change in 2013 after deciding that having separate subtypes was not helpful in diagnosing patients.

Instead, schizophrenia is classified as a spectrum disorder that can include symptoms of any of the former five subtypes. Disorganized schizophrenia is still recognized in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. It often manifests for the first time when a person is between the ages of 15 and 25. People who begin to have symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia at an early age tend to be effected by it more severely than people who develop it in adulthood. Disorganized schizophrenia is a lifelong disorder. With treatment and time, symptoms may improve, but the disorder will always be there.

What Are the Causes? 

Disorganized Schizophrenia

Scientists are not completely sure what causes schizophrenia, but there do seem to be some links.



Brain Structure


Signs and Symptoms

Disorganized Schizophrenia

Disorganized schizophrenia is associated with several symptoms:

Disorganized Speech

Disorganized Behavior

Inappropriate Emotional Response

Delusions and Hallucinations

Additional Signs


Disorganized Schizophrenia

Disorganized schizophrenia can be difficult to treat. This type of schizophrenia is considered to be more treatment resistant than other types. However, there are treatments available. People have a better chance of success if they participate in several times of treatments concurrently.



Life Skills Training

Vocational Training

Electroconvulsive Therapy


While schizophrenia was once a mystery, we now know more about it than ever before. We are getting closer to knowing what causes it, and have reasons to believe that genetics, brain structure, and environment play a part in whether someone will get it. We are aware that the main symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia are disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, inappropriate emotional responses, and possible hallucinations and delusions.

While treatments for any kind of schizophrenic, and other mental health conditions, used to include treatments such as ice baths, lobotomies, injections, and being tied down to beds, we now have many other, more scientific, treatment options. Treatment options of today may include medication, psychotherapy, life skills training, and vocational training.

While disorganized schizophrenia was once considered a subtype of schizophrenia, the DSM-5 now classifies disorganized symptoms as part of the larger schizophrenia spectrum. Most importantly, we are now working towards ending the stigma related to mental health conditions such as disorganized schizophrenia, and instead hoping to find new ways to help people lead their lives as independently as possible.


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