Schizophrenia is often misunderstood; schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that affects one percent of the population. Schizophrenia’s nature and origins are not clear.

  • Discuss research studies that present a genetic foundation for schizophrenia.
  • Discuss what role dopamine plays in the biological nature of schizophrenia.
  • List two identifying symptoms used to diagnose schizophrenia.
  • Describe how medications typically used to treat schizophrenia, influence neurotransmission at the synaptic gap.
  • Explain a risk of using medications to treat schizophrenia.
  • Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is often confused with schizophrenia.
  • Compare and contrast two main characteristics that distinguish schizophrenia from DID.


Research studies have shown a genetic foundation for schizophrenia. This has been especially apparent in the brain structure of schizophrenics compared to people without schizophrenia. Research has shown that in schizophrenics, the brain has a fluid-filled area, has shrinkage of cerebral tissue, and has a smaller thalamus. The thalamus is the part of the brain that relays sensory information to the rest of the body. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for motor control, has been a significant aspect for understanding schizophrenia. Schizophrenic’s brains have six times the amount of dopamine than most people. High levels of dopamine can result in an increase of hallucinations and paranoia. Two identifying symptoms used to diagnose schizophrenia include delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are when people believe something is true when is usually not. For example, one may believe they are something or someone (like a fictional character) when they are not. Hallucinations are when people interact with things or perceive them even if they are not present. This may include believing someone is there when they are really not present or hearing voices inside their head. Medications involved with treating schizophrenia include Thorazine and Haldol. These drugs are responsible for lowering the dopamine levels in the brain. They do so by blocking the dopamine receptors. By blocking the dopamine receptors, the brain will not be able to intake dopamine as effectively. By blocking the synaptic gap, the neuron is not allowed to pass. The risk of Thorazine and Haldol to treat schizophrenia is the severe drop of dopamine levels. This decrease can lead to Parkinson’s disease, a motor disorder. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) has been known to be confused with schizophrenia. DID is a disorder where people seem to have two or more personalities. While schizophrenia is similar to DID, it is not the same. Schizophrenia deals more with hallucinations and disordered thinking, while DID deals with multiple personalities and memory impairment. While schizophrenics may seem to have multiple personalities, they are usually going through delusions and hallucinations. It is evident as to why these two disorders are often confused.