What is Schizophrenia (Madness): Symptoms


If I go into the street & ask anyone I meet on the road to tell me who a mad man is, majority of them would be describing a person having schizophrenia. Yes!. Have you ever asked yourself, What causes Madness?

I have come to understand that sometimes, madness may not really be madness as we think it is. People with schizophrenia (who we think are mad) are only going through a serious mental condition (condition of the brain function & perception) which causes them to be “out of touch with reality or in a different reality.”

People with this condition tend to have what we call ‘split personality’ and they tend to be ‘violent’.
Many also exhibit bizarre behaviour and mental function, withdrawal and self-neglect (they don’t take care of themselves or their hygiene). These signs most times usually starts in their youth days, although it might be mild at this point. Some of their friends might have even noticed these behaviours when they were in school, especially during their senior secondary school and the University days.

So little is known about this mental condition in this part of the world, such that, once a person starts saying things like;

  • I am talking with Donald Trump on the phone.
  • El rufai is coming to see me today.
  • I am the CEO of Arsenal football club.
  • I own all the factories in china.

Once a person starts saying things like this, we immediately, without any other thought, brand them a “Mad Person” and then, they are left on their own, in the streets, under the rain & sun, unkept, unhygienic, unfed, exposed to every illness & health hazard in the world, to suffer.

People with Schizophrenia

These people deserve some care, patience & understanding. Unfortunately, for an average Nigerian or African person, living in our environment already creates a lot of stress for an average person everyday, and hence, the people do not seem to have so much time or patience to provide such care to people with this condition.

This should not be the case, and hence, today we are going to talk about Schizophrenia.

What is Schizophrenia?

In simple English, the word schizophrenia simply translates as “split personality”. It means when a person is having a different personality from others or is out of touch with reality. Similar to what we’ve just mentioned before.
This commonly begins around the youth & early adult life and can progress to a ‘demented’ end stage, especially if nothing is done.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

People with this condition suffer the following symptoms;

  1. Auditory hallucinations: this simply means they hear sounds that are not there. They feel like a voice is anticipating or reading out what is in their head.
    Some of them hear two or more people discussing about him/her as if they are watching him, talking about his behaviour & actions.
  2. Thought Problems: Such as thought insertion: someone is putting thoughts in their head, Thought withdrawal: someone is removing thoughts from their head (Forgetfulness), Thought broadcasting: someone is saying out what they are thinking loudly.
    That’s why you’d tend to see some of them shouting things like; “leave me alone”, “dont talk to me”, “I will not do it”, ” what do you want from me”, etc.

Because of this voices in their head telling them things, or talking to them, or talking about them, they tend to act strangely and do strange things. You can just see a man who came back from work and decides to sell his house & car for no reason at all.

  1. Delusional perceptions: this is a major area that makes most person describe them as mad. Due to the disease, their ability to interpret a normal object or situation is affected.
    For example, a person can see a normal traffic light, turning from red to yellow or green, and then the person would interpret it as; ‘The traffic light is green therefore I am the King’

And you’d be wondering, what is wrong with this person.
The Yoruba’s would say, “orie ti daru”. I don’t know if I got that right.
The Igbo’s would say, ” ishi odikwa onye-a mma?”. I hope I got that one right.

What these simply translates to is that, “there is something wrong with this persons head” & they are right. They just don’t know what is wrong with the head.

The person; can’t think clearly, can’t perceive things well, can’t manage their emotions & keeps having delusions, can’t relate to others.

To summarize it, in the early stages, a person with schizophrenia could be;

  • forgetful
  • depressed
  • unhygienic
  • socially withdrawn
  • hostile when criticized
  • over/under- sleeping
  • showing improper emotions e.g. laughing when someone dies
  • using strange words
  • keeping a flat face that doesn’t show any response

As time goes on, they could start to;

  • speak confusingly
  • neglect self-care
  • see or hear things that don’t exist
  • falsely believe others want to hurt them, &
  • feel like others are constantly monitoring their actions or transmitting their private thoughts

To continue reading the Causes and Treatment of Schizophrenia as well as Psychiatry Hospitals in Nigeria, Click here.

Try to observe your child and friends today and know when they need to talk to a mental health specialist for check up. You could be saving their lives and making them better, especially in our environment.

When next you see a Mad person, think that it could possibly be Schizophrenia that wasn’t handled.


  • Obasi Chinedu David attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, in ituku-ozalla, Enugu state, Nigeria.

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