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The interesting thing about the human mind is that it is able to handle multitudes of thoughts, visions and information, simultaneously and flawlessly. Yet, in the midst of so much diversity, it is able to preserve its integrity. Always. Well, almost always.

The exception is people living with Schizophrenia. I deliberately used the term ‘living with’, for it is often possible to lead a meaningful life, even for those with this mental condition. True, they are on perpetual treatment, but that is a small price to pay for preserving one’s sanity.

So, what exactly happens in Schizophrenia? If we were to delve into the minds of such unfortunate individuals, we would see that they are unable to differentiate the real from the imaginary. They are simultaneously living in two worlds, one real, the other imaginary. It is as if the mind is split into two halves, one real and the other unreal. Hence the name.

Say, for instance, while this person is speaking with you, there are imaginary voices speaking to him/her at the same time. Naturally, the chain of conversation breaks intermittently and his/her sentences are often lost midway. This is most distressing, to say the least but what if such voices were saying nasty things or commanding the person to act against his/her will? And that too, every moment of the day. That is exactly what happens to the person suffering from this disease. For them, those imaginary voices are as real as yours. This person naturally reacts, often with fear, at other times with anger. You might therefore see them talking emphatically to unseen people, hurling obscenities in thin air or recoiling in fear. As observers, their behavior seems utterly weird. But once you begin to understand why they are acting weird, it would be easier to understand their dilemma.
A note of caution here. Often, such imaginary commanding voices are so powerful that the person is compelled to comply with the commands. That means they might gravely harm themselves or others without any apparent provocation, if the voices that command wish so.

With time, the line between the real and the imagined blurs. The person begins to believe everything the voices say. That, in the real world translates to suspecting others, disrobing in public, collecting garbage strewn on the roads or simply wandering off at unholy hours. Such trivial issues like bathing, washing or self-care no longer matter to him/her and they spend days and nights talking to those voices, often foregoing food and sleep.
How, then do we bring them back to reality?

So far as treatment goes, the earlier we start, the better the results. It is always easier to douse a flame than a raging fire. As soon as you notice such symptoms in a near one, visit a psychiatrist and strictly adhere to the treatment regime. The treatment could last a lifetime, but in many cases, we are able to keep those unfortunate individuals happy, healthy and functioning while on regular medications. For more information, feel free to post a query to our site.