MentalIllnessPaper-5 - Since evidence of the condition...

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Since evidence of the condition first appeared in Ancient Egyptian scripts, schizophrenia has been met with societal approval and hostility in equal parts, from the past to the present- day. Some traditional cultures revered schizophrenics for straddling realism and spirituality, rendering them as religious icons and godly reincarnations. The Ancient Greeks practiced a clinical nonchalance towards the disorder, attributing it to an imbalance of the four bodily humors. Still other cultures--our contemporary society included-- have highly stigmatized the condition, ascribing it to demonic possession or divine punishment (Burton, 2012). The considerable disparity of historical attitudes towards schizophrenia can be attributed in part to societal indifference and stagnant technology, which has done little to demystify it and left ample room for unfounded hypotheses to proliferate. Today, modern technology has challenged our preconceptions about schizophrenia, rooting it in physical phenomena rather than popular perception. In contrast, other contemporary research has emphasized the cultural contributions to schizophrenia-- including societal reception and environment--, rejecting it as a condition of purely physical origin. While some researchers believe that societal perception of psychological normality has affected schizophrenia’s manifestation, historical representations of the disorder suggest societal perceptions of psychological normality vs. abnormality have not been disparate enough to merit investigation; most cultures viewed the disorder as an abnormality (Burton, 2012). Nevertheless, some researchers maintain that culture can have a considerable impact on the manifestation of the disorder. Conflicting evidence has therefore suggested that schizophrenia can neither be classified as an entirely social or biological construct-- instead, it is is best understood as arising from a combination of both biological and cultural factors. Schizophrenia first appeared in the medical literature in the mid-19th century, when scientists across Europe began to independently observe a new mental illness, characterized by a misunderstanding of reality, emotional instability, apathy, disorganization of thought and behavior, hallucinations, and delusions. German physician Emile Kraepelin recognized that each independent diagnosis described the same mental illness, and classified it under the
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umbrella diagnosis “dementia praecox”. In 1911, Eugen Bleuler coined “schizophrenia” from Greek for “split mind”, introducing the term to popular culture. Notably, the etymology of schizophrenia led to its conflation with dissociative identity disorder, an inaccuracy that, while generally omitted in the scientific literature, has persisted in popular sources (“The History of Schizophrenia”, n.d.; Jablensky, 2010).
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