What are the Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2018
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Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness which may be expressed with a number of different symptoms. These are normally divided into groups depending on their type, and the two most common categories are negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Another category exists, which might be called cognitive or disorganized, and there’s some dispute about whether this truly is a separate class or deserves inclusion in positive and negative groups. A brief definition of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia is that they are the more outward-expressing and most recognizable aspects of the disease as it is publicly understood, and they include features like hallucinations, delusions, garbled or difficult-to-understand speech, and unexplained sudden or bizarre movements.

Most people immediately think of this disease — when they don’t mistake it for multiple personality disorder — as being best described by the positive symptoms of schizophrenia like delusions or hallucinations. Each deserves brief explanation. Hallucinations are seeing, hearing, feeling, touching or smelling things that aren’t truly present, and often times having difficulty understanding that these things don’t exist. To the schizophrenic, a hallucination can seem absolutely real or it can make it very hard to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.


Delusions are essentially strong beliefs in false things. These often get split into two categories when the positive symptoms of schizophrenia are described. A person can have delusions of grandeur, where they believe they secretly possess powers or that they are invulnerable in some way. Alternately, many people suffer from delusions of persecution, where they believe that other people are trying to harm them. Delusional beliefs can be extensive; for instance, a schizophrenic could believe the head of a government is secretly trying to assassinate him or that he can fly. They can also be fueled, in part, by hallucinations, which make things seem real when they are not.

Another of the many positive symptoms of schizophrenia is garbled, unrecognizable speech or unrelated speech. When the schizophrenic speaks, what he or she says may have personal meaning, but might mean little to others. Schizophrenics may suffer from flight of ideas too, where they quickly change subjects and make little sense. Sometimes the condition is also marked by strange sudden movements or things like tics, which may have an obsessive-compulsive quality to them.

The positive symptoms of schizophrenia are contrasted to its negative symptoms, which include flat affect or very little emotional expression, long periods of catatonia, and low to no interest in daily living. These symptoms don’t always mix, and types of the disease may be distinguished by whether they show more positive or negative traits. It should also be understood that the terms positive and negative aren’t value judgments, but more express whether the main features of the disease are outward or withdrawn. In either case, treatment for schizophrenia typically involves finding the right combination of antipsychotic medications, which can help reduce symptoms and as a patient stabilizes, psychotherapeutic assistance is of use.



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