Mandela Memorial Interpreter Has Schizophrenia, How to Pinpoint The Signs

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/12/2013 | 02:15 PM EST

Seeing the signs of schizophrenia isn't always easy

In a bizarre turn of events, the interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, who was accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama, has admitted to suffering from schizophrenia and having a violent past.


In an interview, Thamsanqa Jantjie says he was hallucinating while he was interpreting and tried not to panic while on stage in the South African stadium.


"What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium ... I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don't know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me," Jantjie said in an interview.


"I was in a very difficult position," he added. "And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I'll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn't embarrass my country."


Though this situation could have been avoided, noticing signs of schizophrenia are not always that easy. People who suffer from schizophrenia typically suffer from symptoms that are experienced from within, and are not always visible to the naked eye. However, there are signs that you can pick up on.


For one, it’s important to understand what the schizophrenia is. Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder. It affects 1 percent of the American population and women and men equally. People with it may hear voices other people don't hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with schizophrenia and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated.


Some other signs of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions or false beliefs of reality, disorganized thinking, agitated body movements and speaking little, even when forced to interact. Schizophrenia is believed to be caused by several factors including genetics and environment, as well as brain chemistry and structure.


To learn more about schizophrenia visit, www.nimh.nih.gov.

(Photo: EPA/STR/LANDOV)

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