Schizophrenia Types

When referring to schizophrenia, most people do not realize that there are actually five different types, or rather subtypes, of this complex psychiatric disorder. The subtypes are differentiated by the symptoms which the person is exhibiting at the time. This makes it even more confusing because symptom presentation can change, resulting in a different diagnosis at different times. In other words, the person’s diagnosis (in terms of subtype) may change from one evaluation to the next.

Also, the person may exhibit symptoms of more than just one subtype. The subtype diagnosis will usually be based upon whichever symptoms are the most prominent at that time, although it will depend on other factors as well.

The five schizophrenia subtypes are:

  1. Paranoid
  2. Disorganized
  3. Catatonic
  4. Undifferentiated
  5. Residual

Paranoid

The most prominent symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia are auditory hallucinations (usually voices) and / or delusions. Typically, the paranoid schizophrenic’s speech, cognitive functioning, and emotional expression are less impaired than in some of the other subtypes. Of all the subtypes, paranoid schizophrenics are more likely to be able to work and live on their own.

Disorganized

The type of schizophrenic generally speaks and acts in a manner which is, as the name suggests, disorganized. Also, his/her emotional expression is typically either blunted or inappropriate. He/she is often incapable of performing goal-oriented tasks, which makes independent living generally impossible.

Catatonic

Catatonic schizophrenics may exhibit various things, such as “negativism”, posturing, excited or other abnormal movements, and being physically rigid. He/she may be in a stupor at times, and may also refuse to speak.

Undifferentiated

An individual with undifferentiated schizophrenia doesn’t meet the criteria for paranoid, disorganized, or catatonic subtypes. However, he/she does have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Extremely disorganized behavior
  • Catatonic behavior
  • Negative symptoms” such as blunted emotional expression, significantly impaired thinking or speech, or the inability to begin and carry out goal-oriented tasks, such as getting dressed.

Residual

This subtype is diagnosed when the person has a history of a definite schizophrenic episode, but at the time of evaluation the person does not exhibit prominent delusions or hallucinations, or speech or behavior which is extremely disorganized or catatonic. However, he/she does show some symptoms which are typical of schizophrenia, such as lack of emotional expression, inability to start and carry out goal-oriented tasks, odd beliefs, speech which is somewhat disorganized, or behavior which would be considered eccentric.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD

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