BIOLOGICAL APPROACH to Abnormality

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  • BIOLOGICAL APPROACH
    • According to this approach, abnormality is an illness or disease; and mental disorders are related to the physical structure of the brain.
      • GENETICS
        • Genetic research has suggested that some individuals may be  genetically prone to developing mental disorders.
      • BRAIN DAMAGE
        • Abnormal behaviour can occur if the structure of the brain is damaged in some way.
        • ALZHIMER'S disease is caused by the malfunction and loss of cells in several areas of the nervous system.
        • Drug and alcohol abuse can damage the brain potentially cause the onset of a mental illness.
      • INFECTION
        • Infection by bacteria or viruses can lead to mental as well as physical illnesses.
        • Research findings have suggested that 14% of SCHIZOPHRENIA cases could be linked to exposure to the flu virus in the womb during the first trimester.
        • SYPHILIS has been identified as causing brain damage which can lead to delusions, bizarre and irrational behaviour and general psychosis.
      • BIO CHEMISTRY
        • Neurotransmitters are thought of to be out of balance in the nervous systems of individuals with mental disorders.
        • A decrease in the availability of seratonin has been linked to DEP RESSION
        • SCHIZOPHRENIA has been associated with an excess of activity in dopamine.
    • TREATMENT
      • DRUGS
        • ANTI-DEP RESSANTS
          • The first group of anti-depressant drugs were called MAOI'S. They block the enzyme monoamine oxidase which breaks down NORADRENALINE and SEROTONINThe drug therefore increases levels of these in the brain.
          • In the 1970s TRI-CYCLICS became the prominent form of treatment for depression as it increases levels of SEROTONIN DOPAMINE AND NORADRENALINE.
          • The latest group (developed in the 1990s) are the SSRI'S. These work by inhibiting the reuptake of SEROTONI and so increase levels of this neurotransmitter only, they also have fewer side effects.
        • ANTI-ANXIETY
          • These come from a group called BENZODIAZEPINES, the most common being VALIUM and LIBRIUM. Beta-blockers have also been used in the treatment of anxiety.
            • The prolonged use of these drugs is associated with pysiccal and psychological dependence.
        • EVALUATION
          • Fastest and most accesible form of treatment for most disorders.
          • A large proportion of people are not helped by the drugs, 30% of depressed people respond to placebo treatments.
            • Side effects are a major issue. Older APs caused symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, and the latest group lower levels of white blood cells.
        • ANTI-PSY CHOTICS
          • In 1952 a French doctor tried out CHLORPROMAZINE which had a sedative effect on pattients. He suggested trying it on SCHIZOPHRENICS.
      • ECT
        • This treatment involves passing a small electric current through the brain via electrodes placed on the temples which causes a epileptic type seizure
          • The patient undergos a short acting general anaesthetic and is given muscle relaxing drugs.
            • A course of treatments is usually prescribed 2-3 times a week for approx 6-8 weeks.
        • ECT was developed in the 1930s as a treatment for SCHIZOP HRENIA but had no effect.By chance it was found to be effective for DEPRE SSION and became a popular treatment for this condition
          • It is not known how ECT works but it is likely that the electrical discharge stimulates neurotransmitters.
        • EVALUATON
          • ECT can be effective for severely depressed patients where other treatments have failed.
            • Procedures are now less traumatic with muscle relaxants preventing bodily convulsions.
          • Short term and in some cases long term memory loss is still an issue
            • Severely depressed patients may not be in the correct state of mind to allow them to give fully informed consent.
            • Ethical concerns are still being raised about the lack of knowledge as to its precise mechanism and the effect on the brain.
      • PSYCHO SURGERY
        • Psychosurgery is the systematic damaging of the brain in order to bring about behavioural changes
          • The FRONTAL LOBOTOMY was used in the 1940s and 50s to control SCHIZOPHRENIA. A hole was drilled in the skull and a scalpel inserted to cut pathways between higher and lower centers in the brain.
          • In the 1950s the AMYGDALA was lesioned to reduce levels of violence.
        • Now such a rare procedure, it is hard to determine the rate of effectiveness
          • When it was a common treatment it was not effective as a cure for SCHIZOPHRENIA but would sometimes make patients more calm or manageable
          • Major ethical issues such as the irreversible brain damage and inability of extremely deluded patients to give fully informed consent.
    • EVALUATION
      • SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE; the research conducted into this approach is based on well establishes principles such as medicine and biochemistry.
        • This kind of evidence is very ACCURATE and cannot be BIASED by participants
      • Can be at least partly applied to ALMOST ALL DISORDERS
      • REDUCTIVE; reduces complex human behaviour to one simple explanation
        • This approach ignores the influence the environment may play in the onset of abnormal behaviour

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