|•||The nature of schizophrenia|
|•||Alternative understandings of the 'symptoms' of schizophrenia|
|•||The possible causal role of genetic factors, the family and psychosocial factors|
|•||Neuronal and neurotransmitter models of the disorder|
|•||Psychological models of the experiences of people diagnosed as having schizophrenia|
|•||Differing approaches to the treatment of schizophrenia and their effectiveness.|
The condition now labelled schizophrenia was first described by Kraepelin ( 1981) using the term dementia praecox. This label was chosen to indicate that it was a progressive and deteriorating illness with no return to pre-morbid levels of functioning. Some years later, Bleuler (1908) identified four fundamental symptoms of what he termed the group of schizophrenias (literally, 'split mind'): ambivalence, disturbance of association, disturbance of mood and a preference for fantasy over reality. In retrospect, many of these people may actually have been suffering from a number of neurological disorders including a form of encephalitis known as encephalitis lethargica (Boyle 1990).
The exact nature of schizophrenia remains hotly disputed. However, the consensus view is that it comprises a number of related disorders characterized by fundamental distortions of thinking and perception. Disturbances in thought processes are usually the most obvious symptom of schizophrenia. Conversations may lack coherence,