February 4th, 2011

Schizophrenia: little things you would/wouldn't like to see in fiction

I'm pretty familiar with most mental illnesses, and I know from personal experience how infuriating it can be when people perpetuate damaging stereotypes that usually have no basis in reality (thank you, "The Roommate." Ugh). Anyways, I would really like information on things to include and avoid when writing about schizophrenia so that someone with the diagnosis is shown in a positive light. My experience with hallucinations and delusions is limited to things like low blood sugar and medication interactions, so I'm not sure what's typical and what's just me talking to telephone poles because I'm 10 minutes away from insulin shock. =/

Anyways, one of my main characters is a strong, friendly, and generally highly competent super-powered woman (not really a hero, but not really evil enough to be a villain) who incidentally has schizophrenia. I'm thinking that her case was relatively mild during her late teen years, then worsened once she received her superpowers (electricity) in her early twenties. I also expect the symptoms will wax and wane with her menstrual cycle. By the time the story starts, she's found a drug combination that works for her. However, it's going to be a post-apocalyptic zombie story at some point, so chances are she won't always have access to the right meds and the stress of everything will probably not help.

Obviously I'm not going to write her as being violent as a result of the schizophrenia itself (because I know it's incredibly rare, not to mention damaging), but is there anything else you think I would benefit from knowing? Are there any specific delusions or hallucinations or other symptoms that are really common, or ones that people THINK are common but almost never happen? Would it be completely illogical if she started hearing the zombies talk inside her head while she was well away from them? Are there any stereotypes I should avoid, or any little known facts I should try to include?

I don't really even know how to search for this kind of thing. I hit my textbooks and google for in-depth information about the actual disease, but I'd like personal input from anyone with experience, first-hand or otherwise. :) Thanks in advance for any insight you have to offer.

Naming Customs In Renaissance Italy: Beatifed vs. Canonized

I have a character who is born on this day, February 4, in the late 16th century in Italy, whose father is considering what to name him. Among the choices he considers is a saint's name. I looked up lists of saints whose day is Feb. 4, and found St. Andrew (Andrea) Corsini (this guy). The only problem, which I didn't see listed on the first site where I found him, was that, while he was beatified in 1374, he wasn't canonized until 1629.

So the question is: Would the father have considered naming his son after a person who was beatified but not yet a saint? (Beatified people do have days, I think.) It's a really little Little Detail, because the father ends up choosing a completely different name, but he really does seriously consider the "saint's" name, and I'd like to know if I can keep "Andrea," or if I should go back to my lists and maybe choose one of the martyrs of Fossombrone or something.

I've Googled Italian naming customs, Renaissance naming customs, Renaissance saint's names, and similar searches, and I've been reading Louis Haas's The Renaissance Man and His Children: Childbirth and Early Childhood in Florence, 1300-1600. That last is both scholarly and well written, and it assures me that parents did like to choose saints' names, but it says nothing at all about the names of people who are beatified but not yet sainted.

Italian slang - how do you call someone a snitch?

Hi there! Quick little detail: I have an arms deal going bad, between two parties, both of whom are Italian. I had a lot of luck looking up general insults that will be super useful, but I'd like the baddie to accuse my MC of being a "snitch." I don't necessarily want a direct translation; I'd like something that carries the same negative connotation. Help?

terms searched: Italian insults, Italian snitch, How do you call someone a snitch in Italian? (desperation, that last one... and so, Little Details crew, I turn to you...)

Thanks!

How hot chocolate is made commercially

How is hot chocolate made in a coffeeshop?

Is there a machine which processes it fully in the way there is for other drinks, such as expressos, and the hot chocolate pours out?
Or is the milk heated/steamed some other way and the chocolate power added in? If so, before or after the milk is heated?

I've googled a number of different terms, with all the permutations of 'hot chocolate, starbucks, machine, commercial, coffeeshop/coffee shop, steamer' I can think of, but I'm curious as to if there are any baristas that could lend their knowledge?

The setting of the story is a modern day coffeeshop, such as Starbucks or an independent shop, whichever works better with details I can work out.

eta/
Thank you so much, everyone! I didn't expect such a wonderful set of replies, and so fast! Thank you!