Choose any psychological disorder and write how it can be developed from the environment (experiences or biological) or genetics. If it is genetics, what may trigger the gene to synthesize? Then, choose a current media, where someone may be suffering from this disorder and give the main exhibited behaviors that may have led to the diagnoses.
I have chosen schizophrenia as the psychological disorder I am going to discuss. Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic condition that affects how an individual thinks, feels, or acts. The high prevalence of schizophrenia is one of the reasons made me passionate about it as I wanted to learn more about it especially how the patients manifest. For instance, statistics indicate that approximately 1% of the population is diagnosed with schizophrenia across the globe with about 1.2% of all Americans having the disorder (Schmitt et al., 2014). This means that approximately 100, 000 Americans are diagnosed with the disorder annually. Schizophrenia can affect an individual through their lifespan. However, diagnosis of the disease occurs mostly in early adulthood. Research by Schmitt et al., (2014) reported that it is quite rare for children and older adults to develop the disorder. Mostly, the rate of diagnosis of schizophrenia increase in the teen years attaining a vulnerability peak at ages 16 to 25 yrs. Men and women manifest varying patterns of vulnerability for schizophrenia development. It has been illustrated that males are highly vulnerable between 18 to 25 years whereas female have double vulnerability peaks; first between ages 25 and 30 and then around age 40.
Although an individual’s genetic factors are important in the development of schizophrenia, the environment in which the genes find expression contribute significantly to the etiology of the disorder. Take the case of John Nash whose intellect mother forced him, at a tender age, to read up to 4am, skip a grade learn Latin, and take advanced mathematics classes. Consequently, Nash became solitary, bookish, and introverted; a character that made him very creative and one of the greatest mathematicians (Nowak, 2015). Studies have indicated that a number of patients with schizophrenia are highly creative individuals (Richardson, 2015). Examples of such patients include Pink Floyd of the rock band, Vaslav Nijinsky, the choreographer and legendary dancer, and also John Nash of the game theory. Other environmental factors apart from parenting that have been cited to increase the risk of schizophrenia development include demise of a parent, childhood trauma, bullying, and child abuse (Grison, Heatherton, &Gazzaniga, 2014). Urban environments also increase the propensity of developing psychosis. Other factors that have been found to play a central role in the development of this disorder include social isolation, racial discrimination, unemployment, and poor housing conditions (Sørensen et al., 2015). Research findings have also indicated that approximately half of patients with schizophrenia use drugs excessively. Abuse of alcohol occasionally causes the development of a chronic drug-induced psychotic disorder through a kindling mechanism. Cannabis abuse also contributes significantly to the development of schizophrenia especially among individuals who have a high genetic predisposition to schizophrenia (Grison, Heatherton & Gazzaniga, 2014). Factors such as infection, hypoxia, malnutrition, and stress can also cause a slight increase in the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. An increase of viral exposure during winter has been cited to increase the risk of schizophrenia development. Other fetal infections such as Chlamydia and Toxoplasma gondi can also contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia development.
John Forbes Nash is one of the most prominent figures who struggled with schizophrenia. Nash was born on June 13, 1928 in West Virginia. At 22, he wrote a significant thesis, “non-cooperative Games” (Nowak, 2015). He received the Nobel Prize in 1994 due to his outstanding work in the game theory. In 1959, John was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In 1958, Nash’s schizophrenic symptoms manifested when he attended a New Year’s Eve party. Nash had a sash across his chest and dressed in a diaper; almost entirely naked. He also had a bottle of milk and kept sitting on his wife’s lap during the event. Soon after, he began telling his fellow lecturers in MIT that outer space powers and foreign governments were sending him messages and that these messages were encrypted and it is only him who could understand them. He then began sending letters to several ambassadors worldwide. He once told Martin, his friend, that he wanted to form a global government and he wanted the ambassadors to help them. His wife reported that Nash began staying up to the night writing letters to the Pope, U.N, and the FBI. Nash not only wrote to governments, but also to his friends and colleagues. His writing was in a manner that was paranoid, in several different colors. Linn et al., (2007) report that at some point Nashstated that he had aliens from space who were ruining his career. At some point Nash saw men in MIT with red ties signaling him as if they were members of the “crypto-communist party” (Moffic, 2015). He was later hospitalized and told his friends that he had grandiose delusions. He also said that he was having thoughts that were beyond his control and that there was a plot by some military officials to take over the country that he led. He stated further that he was God’s left foot, and therefore, God was walking over earth through him. Some factors confirmed his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. For instance,he was experiencing bizarre, persecutory, grandiose delusions such as aliens affecting his career. Sørensen et al., (2014) enlightens that severe delusions often affect ones actionsby making the person to act upon their beliefs and in a manner that is dangerous or irresponsible. Nash had similar behavior. In fact, there is a time he drove to Washington, D.C aiming to send to ambassadors. He also flew severally to Europe and at some time quit his job in MIT and refused a job offer at the University of Chicago citing reasons that he was going to be Antarctica’s Emperor. These are just but a number of the irresponsible conduct he engaged in and could have landed him to dangerous situations.
In conclusion, schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to manage emotions, think clearly, and make decisions. Environmental factors such as a child’s parenting, urban environment, substance abuse, and stress play a central role in the development of the disorder. The case of Nash can be used to enlighten the general public on the onset of the disorder and its progress. The hallucinations, delusions, cognitive issues, and unusual thoughts and suspicion expressed by Nash are some of the most common symptoms associated with schizophrenia.
Grison, S., Heatherton, T. &Gazzaniga, M. (2014).Psychology in Your Life. New York, NY:
W.W. Norton & Company
Linn, A., Kuhn, H. W., &Nasar, S. (2007). The Essential John Nash.
Moffic, H. S. (2015). A eulogy for a beautiful mind. Psychiatric Times, 32(6), 1-1.
Nowak, M. A. (2015).John Forbes Nash (1928-2015). Nature, 522(7557), 420-420.
Richardson, C. (2015). A Different Look into Creativity: Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.
Schmitt, A., Malchow, B., Hasan, A., &Falkai, P. (2014). The impact of environmental factors in severe psychiatric disorders. Front Neurosci, 8, 19.
Sørensen, H. J., Nielsen, P. R., Pedersen, C. B., Benros, M. E., Nordentoft, M., & Mortensen, P. B. (2014). Population impact of familial and environmental risk factors for schizophrenia: a nationwide study. Schizophrenia research, 153(1), 214-219.