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WhenBenStrikes
October 1st, 2013, 11:16 PM
Hey guys,
just joined this, hopefully I can make some friends even if I'm old lol.
To cut to the chase, I need some help with a book I'm attempting to start work on with my partner. We have a general plot outline, and are now in the serious research phase. So, don't be expecting any book out for several years with the way we procrastinate lol.
The main turning point, big plot driver problem if you will, is that the main character is diagnosed with schizophrenia (given what happens later, and the nature of episodes we have planned, we're thinking paranoid schizophrenia may be the most appropriate diagnoses at this time). I've been doing a lot of research into how it develops and symptoms and precursors, etc. However, I do not have it, nor does my partner. We have not been able to talk with anyone who is actually going through this, or been a part of a family who has. I am hoping someone here will be willing to share stories so that we can write a believable account that will help bring awareness of mental illness in teens (having gone through several bouts of depression without recognition of what it was by adults, both my partner and I understand that there needs to be more recognition that teens and children can and do experience the same mental instabilities as adults).

SO, if anyone would be willing to share stories of what it's like having schizophrenia, or being a sibling to one (the book is written from the view point of his twin brother) I would be so incredibly grateful. Thanks so much. Ciao!

Syvelocin
October 2nd, 2013, 12:33 AM
I'm not going through it, but when I hit snags in novels like this, I always check out my RP community for a guide on how to write that character.

Why? A lot of people misunderstand schizophrenia, and what it actually is. I feel I can talk about this because I actually have schizophrenia - yes, people, schizophrenia is not automatically code for "fucking insane". I'm very sane, thank you very much. One speaks of schizophrenia when that line between reality and the imagination is blurred. The most common and well-known sign of schizophrenia is, of course, psychosis. They can occur as hallucinations (hearing voices in your head who talk to you, to each other, give you advice and in some instances, even call you names, yell at you, or give you dangerous orders), delusions (such as believing that you're the president of the united states, that the government is always hearing everything you say, or that something or someone is coming for you to try to kill you.)

Also a very popular and well-known symptom of schizophrenia is schizophasia, otherwise known as word salad. This is not a common symptom, and does not occur in every person that suffers from schizophrenia (I do not have schizophasia, thank you very much.) Schizophasia is inevitably tied to psychosis and - I'll have to admit - in my attempt to explain what was going on, I have sounded a bit out there ;"There's a man in the house, but I haven't seen him, though I know he's there, and his head's not on right. He has a knife, and if he finds me, he'll kill me. He can't go through walls, but he can pass through doors and he hovers, his feet aren't on the ground and he smiles a lot."

What most people don't know, or don't portray very well is the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The positive symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, etc. means that there are symptoms that most individuals do not normally experience but are present in the disorder. Negative symptoms, on the other hand, are symptoms that are not present or that are diminished in the affected persons but are normally found in healthy persons. Examples are social withdrawal, apathy, inability to experience pleasure and defects in attention control.

Apparently, in the RP world, schizophrenia only consists of the positive symptoms, because it gives players the chance to "go crazy" and "say weird shit about pink bunnies" or whatever. A person with schizophrenia is more likely to have little to no friends, not because they're so batshit insane, but because they just do not have the desire to have friends (asociality), and they're also less likely to "go out, drink and party it up", rather than have as little contact with people as possible (social isolation). Aside from that, people with schizophrenia have very neutral moods, and while they're not emotionless, it just takes quite a lot for them to be genuinely ecstatic about anything (anhedonia). On top of that, a person suffering from schizophrenia has minimum emotional reactivity, talking about issues that would make another person burst out into tears in a very detached manner, as though it happened to someone else, instead of them (blunted/flattened affect). Something that's also very apparent in schizophrenia patients is the fact that they have more trouble remembering to shower, eat, drink, sleep and all those things that seem like normal, every day things for most people, and even if they do have a goal, or a dream, their lack of motivation makes it harder for them to pursue them without actual help (avolition).

Schizophrenia is often a life-long illness. It's incurable, but certainly manageable, with psychotherapy, anti-psychotics, family therapy, etc. Just because your character has schizophrenia, doesn't mean they can't function in society - that goes for all the disorders from the schizophrenic spectrum such as schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder. In schizophrenia alone, there are multiple subtypes of it, and not just the one, see paranoid schizophrenia, foldermenia, catatonic schizophrenia, undifferentiated schizophrenia ( Psychotic symptoms are present but the criteria for paranoid, disorganized, or catatonic types have not been met.) and residual schizophrenia (Where positive symptoms are present at a low intensity only.)

I really hope that this clears up the ridiculous idea that if one gives their character schizophrenia, it's a good excuse for you to freak out people by making your character say all kinds of weird stuff, run around naked, screaming about how chocopuffs are attacking them. Most of the people who have schizophrenia, you wouldn't even guess they had it. Thank you.

Courtesy of Quelzalcoatl from Caution 2.0

aprilshowers
October 14th, 2013, 09:58 PM
First off, thank you so much for attempting to tackle such a complex topic, and for going to lengths to be realistic. Just please, please be respectful. I've never been to a pdoc and I don't know if I'm schizophrenic or if I just have an overactive imagination. But I'll tell you that I have good days and bad days. The worst days, though, are the onces where I don't have my delusions, but I miss them. I miss the certainty I had with them. I love sleeping, because I don't have to worry if what's happening is real or not. I mix up words that are similar allll the time like lunch and dinner, midterms and finals... words that are kind of associated or sound similar just get all mixed up in my brain. My friend sometimes have a hard time understanding me. Paranoia has always played a large part in my life. I hate mirrors, and just bathrooms in general. For many years, I was certain someone would come in my room and kill me as I was sleeping. I can barely go outside at night for fear of being killed by people hiding in the bushes.
So that's some of it. Not all, but some. And no, I'm not a raving lunatic. I can be very inarticulate, but I'm functional in society, I have friends, and I'm very involved in the school. I don't know that that's typical of schizophrenia, but I also don't know that I am schizophrenic, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

WhenBenStrikes
October 21st, 2013, 05:59 PM
aprilshowers:
Thank you so much. I can't say that I understand, but I am glad you are able to lead a normal life despite difficulties. My partner and I have been planning this book for several years now, and though we've just started the research phase, I think it is safe to assume we'll be working just research for several more. We both realize this is an extremely sensitive topic and I don't want to make our character, like you said, a raving lunatic. I've been reading a lot of material designed for parents (and I can say Aaron is sort of our kid :) ) of those diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Even that "some" is very helpful, talking to real people is always better than just reading a bunch of medical mumbo jumbo. If you don't mind my asking, do you have any of the negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia? A lot of what I've been reading talks about things like forgetting to brush teeth or to shower unless reminded, not just once in a while. Or having severe social anxiety. It's kinda hard for me to judge if the our character needs to have multiple negative an positive symptoms, one strong prevailing positive and several negative, or what. If you don't want to answer, that's of course perfectly fine. Thank you so much again.

aprilshowers
November 14th, 2013, 10:12 PM
I was in love with the voice in my head, which was the main reason I thought I was schizophrenic. Hygene and cleanliness have never been my forte, so I'm not really sure about those. I smile all the time, and my friends make fun of me for it. Happy, sad, angry, whatever, I'm smiling, so people find it hard to take me seriously. I've always been suuupeerrr big on superstition, and I've given up horror movies because they scare me for months to years. I always suspect that my friends are actually just tolerating me, and I'm always afraid that they are talking about me behind my back whenever I leave a conversation. I can safely say that telling my parents about it was the worst though. I couldn't stand the awkward silences, I swear, there was so much tension in car rides you could cut through it with a knife. Talk about an elephant in a room. Watch A Beautiful Mind, because it's fantastically done and I felt like I could relate a lot to the main character, plus it's based on a true story. Also, just look at posts of people asking if they are schizophrenic. I know I posted one about two miles long about a year ago, and it'll give you some real stories.