A disease that I have commonly referred to when blogging is schizophrenia, and indeed, when most people think of insanity, the symptoms of this awful disease come to mind. What makes this disease most interesting, though, is the several factors that can attribute to its onset.
Generally, diseases have one distinct cause (a faulty gene, a virus/bacteria, substance abuse, etc.). Schizophrenia, however, can be caused by many factors, including depression, social disorders, and the precursors mentioned above. The disease itself is a terrible experience, one that can leave the victim nearly incapable of cognitive processes.
Generally, schizophrenia takes time to reach full effect in a patient. It will begin with hallucinations (and/or hearing voices), along with disorganized and rambling thoughts/speech. At the point of diagnosis, the patient has usually become completely antisocial, isolating themselves. In rare conditions, the subject will begin to bend into bizarre (and sometime painful) postures, a symptom commonly associated with possession.
There was one trait that separated schizophrenia with other disorders, however, and that is a supposed lack of self control. Schizophrenia patients will often believe that their thoughts are being created by an external force, usually the voices or images they are sensing. These ideas of “people in your head” are a common stereotypical symptom of a vague diagnosis of insanity. Due to its severity and mind-altering nature, schizophrenia has become sort of a “poster child” for the insane.
Many people have experienced this disease. Famed mathematician John Nash had delusions of government agents attempting to take his life. While a genius, his disorder is believed to be of a genetic origin. Another example is the now deceased musician Syd Barrett (founder of Pink Floyd), who had onset delusions from constant LSD abuse, leading to his eventual descent into schizophrenia. Insanity can be many things, but for some reason, this one pops into our heads first.