Schizophrenia cannot be precisely defined because of the diversity of manifestations, courses and outcomes of this mental illness. It has been described as a slowly progressive deterioration of the entire personality, which involves mainly the affective life, and expresses itself in disorders of feeling, thought and conduct, and a tendency to withdraw from reality. In general it constitutes a gross failure to achieve or maintain functioning of an integrated personality. The person becomes unable to cope with problems of living and human relationships; he or she withdraws from reality, becoming refractory to influence and suggestion, with shallow and inappropriate emotional responses, foolish or bizarre behaviour, false beliefs (delusions), false perceptions (hallucinations), and disordered thinking. The condition, previously called Dementia praecox, creates many difficulties for the family of the individual, although the human relationships in that setting may be an important factor in the emergence of it.
There are three major problems with the prevailing attitudes towards, and methods of treating, schizophrenia: they do not allow for accurate diagnosis; they are based on the unproven assumption that schizophrenia is a disease; and the usual treatments of this alleged disease are crude assaults on the brain that are both dangerous and probably ineffective at bringing a cure.