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On schizophrenia day, a visit to world of hallucinations

This is just a glimpse of what people suffering from this mental illness undergo. Wednesday, May 24, was World Schizophrenia Day, which promotes awareness on it.

punjab Updated: May 25, 2017 10:51 IST
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
World Schizophrenia Day,Chandigarh,Government Medical College and Hospital
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

How would you react if a man approaches you and says he has delivered a baby? Psychiatrists at Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, Chandigarh, are treating one such case of schizophrenia.

This is just a glimpse of what people suffering from this mental illness undergo. Wednesday, May 24, was World Schizophrenia Day, which promotes awareness on it.

The 21-year-old man, an undergraduate student, has a horrific tale to tell. He tells doctors, “I was in the third standard when I was raped by three men. I got pregnant. As I grew older, the child within me started growing. It was in 2015, when I fell from a building and was rushed to a hospital, that doctors operated upon me and took the baby out from my spine.”

The family has denied any history of child abuse having led to this thought. He tried to commit suicide twice.

He further says, “I have HIV, but the lab technicians are plotting against me. That’s why they are showing wrong reports. Everyone is conspiring against me, including the Congress government, technicians and even my brother. He is jealous of me and has taken my $5 million.”

There is another case of a divorcee woman, who says she is being raped daily.

  • What and why: Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which ability, feelings and behaviour become faulty, and the sufferer has hallucinations, such as the belief that others trying to harm him or her. Exact cause is unclear.
  • How it shows: Patient would also have problems in perception — hear when there is no sound, see what does not exist, feel a non-existent touch.
  • And then? Doctors say the illness is curable, with 80% patients responding to treatment.

“Some people come to my house and take me to a hill station forcibly,” doctors quote her as saying, “They hold me tight and rape me. There are hills and a river at the spot where they take me. They come daily and no one can stop them.” But, according to her family, she’s hallucinating, and has not moved out of the house for months.

“She remains alone in her room. At times, she cries a lot or become aggressive and breaks things,” says Dr Sakshi from GMCH-32.

There are many others undergoing treatment at the department. “In the 30-bed psychiatry ward, you will find at least 10 patients of schizophrenia,” said Dr BS Chavan, head of the department.

“Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental disorders, and affects your thinking ability, feelings and behaviour. The thinking becomes faulty and a person starts having misinterpretations, false beliefs such as others trying to harm him or her,” said Dr Chavan, who described it as “living in a world of hallucinations”.

What makes it more serious is that a patient would have major issues in perception. “They would hear things when there is no sound, see things that do not exist, and feel a touch when no one is touching them. So they react when there is no external stimulus too.”

Most of them also lose control over emotions. “They laugh and weep without any reason, and they would know that they don’t have any control. Some of them would show narrow range of emotions,” added Dr Chavan. This also leads to socially inappropriate behaviour.

The disease is treatable. “Nearly 80% of the patients will show positive response to treatment,” he says.

As for what causes schizophrenia, the exact cause is unclear, but there are some factors that contribute to its onset. That includes genetics, chemical imbalance in the, and environmental factors.


On the occasion of the World Schizophrenia Day, the department of psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and Parivartan — an NGO working for the rehabilitation of patients with mental illness — organised a oneday talent hunt programme for the patients suffering from schizophrenia (a mental disorder).

As many as 38 patients participated in painting, singing and dancing competitions held under the programme.

Dr BS Chavan, head, department of psychiatry, said that due to schizophrenia, most of the patients feel isolated and stigmatised and thus, they do get not an opportunity to showcase their talent.

The aim of the event was to give the patients a platform to perform and express themselves in whatever way they can. “Such programmes are important to convey to general public that despite illness, the patient’s creative skills still remain intact and they should be properly cared for and appreciated,” he said.

First Published: May 25, 2017 10:42 IST