Synonyms: Schizo, Schizophrenic, Psychopathy

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Psychiatry

Clinical Definition

Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling mental illness. Those affected may report hearing voices that others do not hear, believe people are reading their minds or controlling their thoughts, and may feel as if strangers are trying to harm them. The first delusions or breaks with reality typically occur in adolescence or young adulthood.  

In Our Own Words

Schizophrenia, a severe and disabling mental illness, is more complex than simply hearing voices. At times, people with schizophrenia may have difficulty telling the difference between reality and what they are imagining “in their heads.” Some think others are plotting against them (paranoid schizophrenia), and become terrified and agitated. Some may sit for hours without moving or talking (catatonic). Some have problems with thought processes, shifting from one thought to the next and so, are unable to process facts logically. Patients who are affected often have trouble holding a job or tending to their own needs.


The cause of schizophrenia is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Schizophrenics are at high risk for suicide, so any discussions about self-harming should be taken seriously and professional help should be sought immediately.

Relevant Conditions
Common Types
  • Paranoid
  • Catatonic
  • Disorganized
Side Effects
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions and fear
  • Inability to find pleasure in everyday life
  • Problems with attention
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Schizophrenia." Diseases & Conditions. April 2009. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • National Institutes of Health. Schizophrenia PubMedHealth. Jan. 31, 2013. Accessed Sept. 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Burden of Mental Illness." July 2011. Accessed Aug. 2013.
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