Schizophrenia is characterized by the distorted thinking associated with delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia may have a gradual onset, with symptoms of withdrawal and disordered language evident over time, or it can have a sudden onset in adolescence. Evidence suggests that schizophrenia is due to an inherited biochemical abnormality in the brain. Treatment includes medication, such as neuroleptics, to alleviate the painful and intrusive thoughts, and structured programs and education for the youngster and family to improve daily functioning.