1.Schizophrenia is a mental illness, characterized by a range of symptoms. Most common symptoms include delusions and hallucinations. Additional symptoms of schizophrenia found in humans include: bizarre behavior, loss of contact with reality, disorganized thinking and speaking, decreased emotional expressiveness, social withdrawal and memory loss. When a person smiles at another person, the usual response is to smile back. When a schizophrenic person sees one’s smile, he/she wonders, “Why are they laughing at me?” Schizophrenics think that everyone is against them, causing everything to be rarely funny. Unlike other mental illnesses, schizophrenia has a fading effect on the person’s life. They soon lose the ability to distinguish the difference between real and unreal experiences, also called delusions. Lori recalling how she killed her dog, beating it to death, is an example of delusion. It actually happened in her head, and only in her head. The illness takes over and shuts them down until they cannot operate, causing a both a high number of suicides and attempted suicides. People with schizophrenia usually exhibit short attention spans and abstract thinking. Also, they are more likely to abuse and/or become dependent on drugs and alcohol. To describe the suffers of schizophrenia, common terms like “mad’ and “insane” are used by the outside world
Erikson formulated many different, but sequential stages in human development. The first is the “trust versus mistrust” stage. This occurs in the first year of child’s life, with the infant gaining a sense of trust. Responsive and sensitive caregivers meet their basic needs. Lori was treated well by her parents as an infant. She also developed within the following stages successfully. Stage two is “autonomy versus shame & doubt”, which occurs in the second year of infancy. Infants start to find that they can complete small without the caregiver’s assistance. This stage takes place during early childhood between the ages of three and five. Infants are likely to gain a sense of shame and doubt, resulting from encounters with the social world and new responsibilities. Stage four, is the “industry versus inferiority”. Children go through this stage between the ages of six years old until reaching puberty. The child is enthusiastic during this time, and focuses their energy towards learning, but problems can happen. Some children can feel incompetent and non-productive. Lori developed through this stage successfully by participating in activities and even being the class clown. Stage five is called “identity versus identity confusion”. Starting at adolescence (ages 10 to 20), everyone is faced with finding the “true self” and direction for the future. This is where Lori begins to feel different. Lori began to hear voices and felt different from other people. She kept it hidden for a long time. She went to college and tried to push aside the voices in her head. This brings us to the sixth stage, “intimacy versus isolation”, occurring in early adulthood. We are faced with intimate relationships with others. Lori’s voices affected her ability during this stage of her life. She often dated, but had to stop because of her schizophrenic outbreaks. Driving Lori to attempt suicide, and driving her roommate to fear Lori. Lori’s problems began to snowball. The seventh and is “generatively versus stagnation”, occurring between the ages of 40 and 50, the average age when raising children. This final stage is where we find Lori in today.
3.Doctors used a number of different treatments in an attempt to treat Lori. The doctors used medication, shock therapy treatment, cold-wet-packing, and the quiet room to try to help Lori and her illness. Medication was used both in the beginning and end of her treatment. The drugs used, are called anti-psychotic drugs, and they include: haloperidol, risperidone, olanzapine, and thioridazine. Anti-psychotic drugs are used to control the hallucinations and delusions. Lori’s doctors believed drugs were the right choice, but her mom did not agree with it, because of the side affects that the drugs have. When Lori went to the hospital, she received drugs and spent her time walking around in a daze. Specific effects include: dry mouth, blurred vision, dizziness and drowsiness. ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) can often relieve severe depression in people who fail to respond to antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. A low-voltage electric current is passed through the brain for one or two second to produce a controlled seizure. Six to ten ECT treatments are given to patients over several weeks. ECT remains controversial because it can cause disorientation and memory loss. Nevertheless, research has found it highly effective in alleviating ever depression. Lori did not like the shock treatment because it took her memories away and killed brain cells. Lori described the experience, “It was awful. They had taken away big chunks or my life” (94). She did not find this to be an effective method in her treatment. Next, doctors tried a method called cold-wet-packing (CWP for reference) on Lori. The CWP concept is that the body uses do much energy to keep warm, that the patient would calm down and relax towards sleep. Lori was injected with sodium amytal to calm her, wrapped her securely in sheets that had been soaking in ice water. She was wrapped tight like a mummy, covering her whole body minus her feet, neck and head. She was left like this for 2 hours. This was one of the more effective treatments that Lori went through. Lastly, Lori was kept in the quiet room. This was a totally empty room except for a bed. The quiet room and CWP were used to calm her down and relax, and medication was used to control her schizophrenia. These drugs help to reduce symptoms in 80 to 90 percent of schizophrenics, but have a potentially fatal side effect. This drug, named clozapine, can cause a fatal blood disease, requiring users to have blood tests taken weekly. This drug has been effective with controlling Lori’s schizophrenia.
In the treatment of mental illnesses, I believe that medications, while should not be only option, can be used if it is the best option. Also, the pros and cons of the drug must be observed. Are there side effects to the drugs? As long as a drug is effective, and does not inhibit the mental well being of the patient, I support the use of medication. If at all possible, conventional, non-medicinal treatments should be tried first (cold-wet-packing, etc…). If a majority of the population is worried about side effects, the solution is not to stop using the drugs, thus taking it away from patients who excel with it. Rather, newer drugs should be researched and put into use for old, harmful ones.
4.I really did not understand, or appreciate mental illness and the hard life such people must face. In high school they were known as the sub-losers, and the freaks. I have a relative Mike who is a schizophrenic, and obviously when I was little, I could not understand his actions. He was convinced he was under the surveillance of the FBI, and displayed erratic behavior. Mike lived across from my father’s hardware store, and he would buy massive amounts of random items. He once ordered 20 sheets of glass, and they just sat in his front lawn for years. I can remember making many jokes at his expense. But they have no control over the illness, so should they be made fun of? This book also makes you think about taking things for granted. Lori had everything in her life until the day the illness started to set in. This could happen to anyone at anytime. I feel that his book has made me open minded, and has enabled me to understand more people.
6.At first, Lori’s family as in denial of her illness. Even a psychologist father let it slip. Understanding how the perfect girl, who went so very bad, was impossible. She was the All American girl, who was living an active, happy life. Her father felt ashamed that his child was sick, and demanded his wife tell no one could find out about her condition. This illness seemed to challenge his ability to raise a child. Another part of his concern was how the illness would effect her maturation into an adult. He attempted to protect her future, by hiding the problems from the public. Lori’s mom unwillingly agreed with her husband’s decision. The lives of her two brothers were also affected. Steve was scared to bring people to the house, and the younger brother was jealous of all the attention she got from her parents. Everyone in this family had to deal with it in some way, because the problems were not going away.
7.Today, Lori is living well. Although she had worries at first, she is taking the medication called clozapine. She really had no choice, as it was her last hope. In New York, she lives in an apartment that she calls, “a beautiful place”. Gone are the white walls of the quiet room. Lori furnishes her place with whatever she likes. Getting her life back in order, Lori has lost all the weight she gained and is back down to 118 pounds. Although taking 26 pills a day seems ridiculous, the voices in her head have retreated. Only once in a while, she hears the voices, but takes trips on the New York subway to relax. Reconnecting with the outside world, and finding a new network of friends is a goal she is striving to reach. Meeting with Dr. Dollar only twice a week now, Lori has come to terms with herself. She has accepted who she is.