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Any of a group of severe mental disorders that have in common symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, blunted emotions, disorganized thinking, and withdrawal from reality. Five main types are recognized: the paranoid, characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur combined with unrealistic, illogical thinking and frequent auditory hallucinations; the disorganized (hebephrenic), characterized by disordered speech and behaviour and shallow or inappropriate emotional responses; the catatonic, characterized by motor inflexibility or stupor along with mutism, echolalia, or other speech abnormalities; the simple or undifferentiated type, which conforms to basic definitions of schizophrenia but does not exhibit particular behaviours in the aforementioned types; and the residual type, which is a chronic stage indicating advancement toward later-stage schizophrenia. Schizophrenia seems to occur in 0.5–1% of the general population, and more than half of those so diagnosed will eventually recover. There is strong evidence that genetic inheritance plays a role, but no single cause of schizophrenia has been identified. Stressful life experiences may help trigger its onset. Treatment consists of drug therapy and counseling.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on schizophrenia, visit Britannica.com.