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Psychiatr Danub. 2013 Sep;25 Suppl 2:S83-9.

Different facets of schizophrenia illustrated by the analysis of the homes of three patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Community Treatment Team, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warsaw, Poland,


Diagnosis and observation of patients' behaviour during outpatient visits or hospitalisations strips the diagnostic process of the opportunity to consider their places of residence as their natural environment. In this way, patients present their symptoms and problems outside of the context of their daily life. Community-based psychiatric care, on the other hand, provides a chance to include, in the diagnostic process the environment created by a patient in their home. This image of a patient's external reality can reflect a certain mental reality. Such elements as furniture and other objects, their number, quality, distribution may reflect the inner mental world of the objects featuring in a person's mind. In some cases, this can become a valuable contribution to a diagnostic process. A description of three patients, all treated for schizophrenia, has been presented in this paper in order to explore this possible relationship. The first individual, "Patient N" lives in a flat in a state of extreme depletion of elements. "Patient N" suffers from chronic schizophrenia with severe negative symptoms. The second individual, "Patient D", has been also diagnosed with schizophrenia. Yet his home is filled with a huge number of elements, writings on the wall, things, figurines and objects of symbolic meaning. A closer examination of his psychopathological symptoms (fantastic, colourful, bizarre content) and history of his illness (unstable diagnosis of schizophrenia), and unpredictable response to antipsychotics may indicate a dissociative type of schizophrenia. Finally, "Patient K's" main living space is dominated by cats that live with him. Patient K was exposed to physical violence as a child and to him cats represent safe, non-threatening objects. He has been also treated for paranoid schizophrenia. The differences between these patients' personal histories and the courses of their illnesses are clearly manifested in the way they create their immediate environment.

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