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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

The Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The Symptoms of Schizophrenia

As we continue our discussions on the basics of schizophrenia, it has come time to address the specifics of the experiences of those progressing into or having been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia is a very complex diagnosis and shares similarities with other types of disorders.  Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is up to it’s 5th edition now and continually being refined, psychiatrists and psychologists can help narrow down specifically which syndrome is being experienced by the patient.  The symptoms we will discuss below all fall under the cluster of symptoms featured in a true schizophrenic diagnosis.

In general, this mental illness can be characterized as an interference in thinking and feeling.  This disruption affects every part of human cognition, resulting in difficulties in sensory perception, interpretation, cognition, emotion, and self-conception.  This cluster of symptoms is far reaching within the schizophrenic’s internal world and external world.  Internal stimuli can arise which result in the experience of hearing voices, seeing images, or other perceptions, which cannot be validated by any other person.  These are called hallucinations and are aberrations of sensory experience.  Internally, the experiencer can apply false meaning to these events, finding relation and interconnection between items where there is no true relation.  These delusions of reference can further confuse or inspire the schizophrenic to chase these beliefs, more deeply engraining the individual into their illness.

Positive Symptoms Versus Negative Symptoms

The symptoms of schizophrenia are generally regarded as one of two types: positive or negative.  Of course, there are specific parameters involved in giving a diagnosis of schizophrenia based on these symptoms, including the duration and number of symptoms present at any given time that are unrelated to other issues such as substance abuse.  We will not be dealing with these parameters, only on the symptoms themselves.  So what are the differences of positive and negative symptoms, then?

Positive schizophrenia symptoms are those that result in an outwardly excessive expression of normal functioning, whether simply an extreme range of expression or some form of distortion of expression.  These are oftentimes indicative of bizarre beliefs, delusions, or hallucinations that are arising internally.

Negative symptoms are essentially the opposite of positive, or the inverse, rather.  Rather than there being an excessive expression of some emotion or action, there is a diminished expression indicative of a loss of emotion or cognitive functioning.  It is difficult for another person to understand the negative symptoms of schizophrenia because the experience must be communicated to them, and by definition communication will be at a low.  Negative symptoms can persist in the absence of positive symptoms, making a person appear to be improving in their condition although they could be worsening.

A difficulty concerning positive versus negatives symptoms has to do with the medication prescribed to help alleviate positive symptoms.  These medications often feature a side effect that leaves the schizophrenic feeling emotionally blunted.  This flattened affect and loss of the need to push their will upon the outside world can appear like the manifestation of negative symptoms and may be indistinguishable altogether.  Among these are anhedonia, dysphoria, and concentration issues.  In less technical terms, these mean that the person loses interest in trying to derive pleasure from activities, and feels depressed, anxious, and hopeless.

Let’s take a look at some of these positive and negative symptoms separately so we can gain a deeper understanding of each.

Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The most outwardly obvious positive symptom of schizophrenia is that of hallucinations.  The schizophrenic may experience a distortion of existing perceptual stimuli or may generate entirely separate stimuli internally which can be confused with outward and “real” experiences.  These can include auditory hallucinations that resemble hearing an external voice or internal voice that is not coming from anyone actually there nor from the person’s own thoughts.  Other types of hallucinations include visual, gustatory, olfactory, and kinesthetic, which all resemble the auditory hallucination, but with other senses such as sight, smell, taste, and feeling.

Another very common positive symptom is that of the delusion.  The schizophrenic may develop strange beliefs that, while logically consistent, are simply bizarre and unlikely, such as finding hidden messages in all printed materials or that all of their loved ones have been replaced by cyborg clones.  The types of persecution and paranoid delusions are very common and lead to anxiety and fear.  A common feature is the delusion of reference, leaving the schizophrenic to interpret messages in the world that are interconnected and intertwined and left there for him or her in particular to find and untangle.

A type of symptom that involves a disordering of thinking and associations is called disorganized speech.  It is called “disorganized speech” because that is the outward, observable symptom, which arises from a disorganization of thought.  A common layman’s term for this symptom is called “word salad” or “diarrhea of the mouth” in which the schizophrenic spews forth a series of concepts and sentences that seem to jump from topic to topic and are not consistent as you would expect for a normal conversation.  Moving from tangent to tangent can impair the ability to communicate well and leave their expressions as incoherent to the listener.  This same type of symptom can be seen in the disorganized behavior, which is purposeless, unpredictable, and bizarre.  These behaviors feature no reason or inspiration behind them as those arising from delusions might have.

Another type of behavioral symptom that arises is called the catatonic behavior.  It is characterized by a delayed and decreased reaction to stimuli in the environment surrounding the ill person.  It can be as gross and exaggerated to the point where the person sits motionless, like someone in a catatonic state, and thus the name, or maintains some rigid posture or repeated motion that seems meaningless.

Some other symptoms of schizophrenia, but less prominent, include the following:

  • Reactions that are inappropriate to the situation or stimuli
  • Unusual and repetitive motor movements such as rocking or hand movements
  • Depersonalization and derealization and other extreme anxiety conditions such as panic disorder
  • Preoccupations with bodily processes or mental concepts

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The main types of negative symptoms related to schizophrenia are less than the positive, but are broad enough to cover a spectrum of experiences.  The first of these is the flattening of the affect, meaning that the expression of emotion is lessened greatly.  This reduction can include a diminished intensity or a tightening of the range of expression.  The schizophrenic experiencing this symptom may show very little through their facial expressions or body language, choosing to not make eye contact or react in anyways facially.

A similar symptom is that of alogia, which refers to a lack of vocalizations.  The psychologically ill person may speak less than usual or not at all.  When they do speak, their replies or phrases may be very short, concise, or simplistic.  This outward display is thought to reflect a difficulty in intellectualization.  The person’s thoughts are either slowed or blocked altogether.

Avoltion, which means an absence of volition or will-power, refers to the difficulty in sustaining goal-directed initiatives.  This behavior may cease immediately due to disinterest or lack of enthusiasm.  This is seen outwardly as a lessening of involvement of activity of any kind, including hobbies and socializing.

Cognitive Symptoms Related to Schizophrenia

This last class of symptoms involved in a schizophrenic diagnosis are as subtle as the negative symptoms and are not an “official” classification of symptoms yet, but are being considered.  Known as cognitive symptoms or disorganized symptoms, they reflect problems in the cognition of the schizophrenic.  Thinking becomes disturbed and leads to an increased difficulty in concentrating, decision-making, comprehension, and short term memory issues.  Problems with the working memory can lead to problems in everyday functioning, resulting in additional emotional and financial distress.

The Difficulty Surrounding the Lack of Insight into Your Own Sickness

The most-difficult part about “catching” the development of schizophrenia is that the person becomes increasingly isolated socially.  This means there is nobody able to observe the schizophrenic’s strange behavior, and the schizophrenic has a lack of awareness that anything is wrong.  This lack of insight into their own problem can be devastating, allowing these symptoms to progress to dangerous levels.  If you are witnessing any of your friends or loved ones behaviors changing and becoming more isolative, make an effort to keep in touch with them regularly so that you may help them if it is larger issue.



  1. There was a time when “something” happened to me. I guess I snapped, you could say. I was having very strange thoughts about reality and religion and new age stuff. I felt unreal and that life wasn’t real, and the anxiety that rose from that left me very tired. I wanted constant distraction, but even that was hard to pay attention to. So a lot of times I would literally lay on my bed for hours and not move or blink. If I found myself in the car, I’d just stare out the window and not speak. I’m better now, so I’m not sure if I just had an “episode” or what. But this post has given me some actual terminology to attach to my experiences. Thank you for this. Your site is giving me a framework to understand what happened to me. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the kind words, Catherine!

  3. When I was 14 I developed severe psychosis that led me to engage in very bizarre and dangerous behavior. Like the poster above said for herself, the world seemed changed. It felt like I was in a video game and that everyone else was just a non-player character (like an extra in a movie). I constantly pulled my delusional ideas from one video game I was playing.

    Because my behavior quickly became so shocking and bizarre, and because I refused to tell most of my thoughts, they weren’t sure if I was psychotic or not then, so they diagnosed me with schizotypal personality disorder.

    I have not had such a severe psychosis since, but there are times where the world seems changed, artificial, like something big’s going to happen, like a video game. One time I wouldn’t leave my house for a few hours because I was certain a virus had been released. Some other times, it appeared that the eyes of everyone in the room was on me whenever I came in, creating a sense of unreality. If I read the Bible, I’ll sometimes think I’m the beast spoken of in Daniel and in Revelations.

  4. I forgot to mention that it landed me in the hospital for 6 months.

Click Your State to View the Surrounding Schizophrenia Treatment Centers

To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

Who Else is Helping?

Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

Mental Health TalkHealthy DebateTechnorati
Wellness WordworksVisuallyexaminer

...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?

2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?

3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?

4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?

5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?

6. How can schizophrenia be treated?

7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?

8. What is the most common age of onset?

9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?

10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?


Show me the answers!


Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!


How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:


This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.


We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!


The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.


There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.


What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!


Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!


There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.


While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.


Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!


The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.


There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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