Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Negative symptoms

The general public rarely hears about people who have “negative symptoms” of schizophrenia, such as apathy, social withdrawal, poverty of thoughts, blunting of emotions, slowness of movement, and lack of drive.

That’s probably because, according to a recent study, people with negative symptoms are 9 times less likely to have a serious violent episode than people with the “positive symptoms” normally associated with schizophrenia (paranoid delusions or hallucinations).

The same study revealed that people who had mostly positive symptoms were 3 times more likely to have serious violent behavior than those who had both negative and positive symptoms.

That doesn’t mean that negative symptoms are good. They are the most difficult symptoms to treat. And they significantly impact quality of life by impairing social networking and the ability to work.

Violent episodes grab media headlines – people living isolated in a back bedroom do not. Theirs are not stories about recovery and hope, but neglect and despair, which is why the consumer elite never acknowledge their pain. So who will tell their story? Here is a good start.