Schizophrenia is the kind of brain condition that comes with a veritable smorgasbord of positive and negative symptoms that differ from patient to patient. But what is consistent is the way symptoms are categorized—as positive or negative. “Positive symptoms are mental phenomena that normal people don’t have,” says Russell Margolis, M.D., clinical director Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Positive symptoms are basically thought of as the hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia. Researchers have found they can be effectively treated with antipsychotic drugs. Here’s the 411 on what they are and how they manifest.

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Delusions

These are irrational beliefs that aren’t grounded in reality. They’re usually personal and follow specific themes, which can be so outrageous they seem right out of a page-turning spy novel. There are four main types: persecution, conspiracy, grandeur, and paranoia. Here’s an example of each:

  1. Persecution: A person may believe their neighbor is sneaking into their house and poisoning their food.
  2. Conspiracy: The patient is convinced they are central to a national plot to take out the President.
  3. Grandeur: This is when the person suddenly thinks they can run for president.
  4. Paranoia: When, for instance the person thinks actors on TV are delivering messages directly to them right from the small screen.
Updated: Oct 5, 2020
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