Does Chess help in healing Schizophrenic patients?

Does Chess help in healing Schizophrenic patients?


According to Google, Schizophrenia is “a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.”

This might not be enough to sum up what a person suffering from Schizophrenia experiences. It is a broad prospect of mental awareness that needs to be addressed to the general population of the country. The Indian Psychiatric Society is trying hard to spread awareness about the mental disorder among the commoners through various programmes.

How chess helps in treating Schizophrenia

During a research study conducted by doctors at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience in Bron, France, there was a thorough analysis over schizophrenic patients who play chess for a regular period of time and patients who didn’t play any chess at all. It was observed that the patients who did play chess had better cognitive abilities like attention span and reasoning abilities than the others who didn’t play chess. Those who play chess regularly, showed improvements and responded better to treatment as compared to the patients who do not. The research was a success and it grabbed the attention of people. The doctors believe that chess as a classic board game, is based on simple rules but requires complex cognitive strategies and hence the results .

How does chess affect the brain  

What is already known by people by now is chess helps Schizophrenic patient heal in a better way. But how? How differently does the brain work for them and how could chess be the slightest way of cure?

Through the help of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), there are evidences that prove the difference between a normal functioning brain and a brain of a schizophrenic person. The images suggests that people suffering with schizophrenia have approx 25% less volume of grey matter, particularly in the temporal and frontal lobes, the areas that are vital to maintain the coordination of thinking and judgment. These patients are unable to think straight and work out their thoughts into process.

After much research, scientists have mapped out regions of the brain that are altered with the regular playing of chess. The experts in chess are known to have a higher capacity to process chess related information and thus work both sides of the brain. These abilities tend to be associated with a unique activation of both brain hemispheres in regions responsible for pattern recognition, strategic planning, object recognition etc. All these help in reversing the lower cognitive functions of the brain and help Schizophrenic patients.


Mental health is a grave subject that needs attention worldwide, though the world is catching up, India still needs an overall view of the illness. According to Dr. Samir Parikh, director, Fortis National Mental Health Program, about 50 per cent of schizophrenia cases go undiagnosed in India.

For diagnosis, recognising the illness is extremely important. Reading its symptoms and acting upon it. Let us all make the country a better place to live in. Awareness of mental health must be our prime objective.


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