Schizophrenia: What Is It?

Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder characterized by distorted thinking, hallucinations, and/or delusions—called “positive” symptoms—and “negative” symptoms including social isolation and flat affect. Children with schizophrenia often experience paranoid delusions—seeing hostile intent where there isn’t any—and their resulting behavior is misinterpreted as conduct disorder. They may believe other people can control their thoughts or read their minds, or believe that there are special messages for them in things like television shows or coincidences. While childhood schizophrenia is very uncommon, preliminary symptoms of the disorder can manifest in younger kids.