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Nature – Combating schizophrenia

Nature News

From Nature:

Combating schizophrenia

Research has revealed daunting complexities in the psychiatric condition, but also new routes towards diagnosis and treatment.

Some people hear voices that are the products only of processes in their brains. These hallucinations can lead to persistent delusions that someone is plotting against them or urging them to harm others. When a person acts on those delusions, headline-grabbing tragedy can ensue, usually involving someone close to the protagonist.

Violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia — only a tiny proportion of sufferers with the condition are homicidal. Yet these incidents dominate the media coverage of the disease. The reality of schizophrenia is much more complex. Hallucinations are one of several symptoms, others of which — cognitive dysfunction, loss of motivation and of social engagement — are much less amenable to medication, and are often more damaging to the ability of those with schizophrenia to function. In recent years it has been increasingly appreciated that this collection of symptoms, which typically first fully manifest in early adulthood, represents a late stage of the illness, and that the illness itself may perhaps turn out to be a collection of syndromes, rather than a single condition.

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