Little still known about schizophrenia A mental disorder afflicting modern people 認知度低い統合失調症 ―現代人を襲う心の病―


Have you ever heard of a mental disorder called schizophrenia? It drew wide attention when the behavioral genetics technology development team at Japanese national research institution RIKEN found in March 2017 that a symptom similar to schizophrenia suffered by adult mice was healed by genetic treatment.

Schizophrenia remains little known in Japan although it is a relatively mundane disease that afflicts one in every hundred persons. According to a survey made in 2012 by Janssen Pharmaceutical K.K., the Japan unit of U.S.-based medical equipment multinational Johnson & Johnson group, only 55.6% of 5,500 Japanese men and women aged between 20 and 69 answered they knew of schizophrenia. The poll showed that the biggest number, or 57.6% of the respondents, thought the disease stems from “failures in human relations” while less than half, or 43.6%, correctly understood it is a “brain and neural disorder”.

Medical institutions and groups that support schizophrenia patients are puzzled over the lack of understanding. The Japanese government renamed the disease in 2002 to schizophrenia from derogatory split personality. A survey by the Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry in 2011 put the number of schizophrenia patients in Japan at 700,000. People in their early adolescence and those aged up to 30 accounted for 70-80% of them.

The cause of schizophrenia is still unclear. Many scientists think it is caused by an abnormal secretion of neurotransmitter dopamine. That, they say, can abnormally stimulate the brain’s mesocortical pathway which is associated with pleasure and euphoria and the mesolimbic system which controls judgment and recognition. And that stimulation leads up to positive symptoms like hallucination and delusion and negative symptoms, such as poverty of thoughts, social withdrawal, depression and lack of concentration. It can also cause cognitive disorder like linguistic fluency disorder and learning disability.

Then, how are schizophrenic patients treated? They primarily receive medicinal therapy aside from physical isolation and psychosocial treatment. Shinichi Miyazaki, a professor at Chuo University’s Faculty of Law who majors inF neuropsychiatry, said in a lecture in May, “Medical therapy proves effective in 70% of early schizophrenic symptoms thanks to the development of new medicines in recent years. It is also effective in 60% of relapsing patients.” He said that such treatment has helped some patients come back to society with family support.

In the past, some Japanese used to say that schizophrenia patients were “possessed by the devil” or “haunted by a fox spirit”, giving rise to a lot of discrimination and prejudice. Commenting on the survey result made public by Janssen Pharmaceutical K.K., Kiyohisa Takahashi, honorary president of the National Center of Neurology & Psychiatry, said in June 2012, “I think the mass media can help more people have proper knowledge of mental disorders including schizophrenia by sending out the right and relevant information in a proactive manner”. Let us hope that more Japanese people will know better about schizophrenia to do away with discrimination and prejudice in society.

(Written by: Yuto Yawata)






統合失調症は、かつて「悪魔に取り憑かれている」「キツネを憑き」と言い伝えられ、差別や偏見を生んだ。国立精神・神経医療研究センターの高橋清久名誉総長は、前出のヤンセンファーマの調査結果を受けて、12年6月、「統合失調をはじめとした精神疾患に関する正しい情報をメディアに積極的に発信してもらうことで、多くの人に正しい知識が普及していくと考えている」と述べている。国民の多くが統合失調症について正しく理解し、差別や偏見のない社会にしてほしいものだ。(八幡 侑斗)


メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です