Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Schizophrenia—Mental Disorder

Yesterday, during our weekly Rotarian meeting, we had the pleasure of welcoming a speaker—Dr Vic Marimuttu. He happens to be the son of a fellow Rotarian, Jeyan Marimuttu who was given the honour to introduce his son to us. Dr Vic resides in the UK but currently on a holiday to Sabah. He's an expert in the field of psychiatry.

He gave a short talk on the topic of schizophrenia. Actually, Rtn Paul Thien texted us all on the topic for this week. When I received his text, I somehow had the impression that it's gonna be a boring subject. But Dr Vic had a flair in delivering a dry subject in such an interesting way.

I'd like to share with my readers a bit about schizophrenia. One can of course google up the information and I'm sure there are many, many articles on the subject found on the net. But it's strange that very few of us actually read about these things.

Most of us have the tendency to take things for granted, but according to Dr Vic, approximately 1 in every 100 people will eventually get this mental condition. Rtn Philip Koh turned to me and said that that's such a scary statistic. Any one of us can be the one in the hundred.

Dr Vic cited the movie A Beautiful Mind which's based on a true story. A brilliant mathematician who developed this mental condition. People with schizophrenia tend to see and/or hear things which are not real; yet they are very real to them. And what's even scarier is that there is no cure, although medications are available.

Contrary to popular belief, the onset of schizophrenia does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process. Statistically speaking, it usually starts at the age of 16-17 years old. The child starts to isolate himself; he begins to talk less and refrains from socializing. Over a longer duration, he starts being suspicious about the goings on around him. He'd be conscious of people frowning at him in the street. After a while, he comes up with ideas about other people. These ideas develop... and so on and so forth.

Think about it—1 in every 100 of us is at risk of getting this mental condition. It makes me feel so very lucky that I am still sane today. I've long passed the age of 16 and I hope to escape this mental condition over the remaining years of my life.

On a lighter note, when concluding his talk, Dr Vic said that to a certain extent, every one of us is eccentric; all of us are strange in our own ways. And I immediately thought of people like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Weird, weird people, if you know what I mean. But of course it'd be nice if I can get their wealth minus the eccentricity.

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