Explanations for schizophrenia

  • Created by: Em
  • Created on: 22-02-16 09:19
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  • Explanations for schizophrenia
    • Biological
      • Genetics may be a cause of schizophrenia as the incidence to close relatives to sufferers is higher than in the general population
        • The diathesis-stress model suggests a predisposition to the disorder merely needs a trigger to cause the disorder
      • The dopamine hypothesis claims that excess dopamine is a cause of the disorder
        • This may be because dopamine is more available in schizophrenic brains or because of more dopamine receptors being available
          • The excess dopamine is thought to be linked to positive symptoms
      • Evaluation
        • Raised dopamine levels only explain the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.Negative symptoms are not neatly explained.
          • Lindstroem et al (1999) radioactively labelled a chemical which is used by the brain to produce dopamine. They administered the chemical to untreated patients with schizophrenia and a control group.
            • The chemical was taken up more quickly in the patients with the disorder
              • Suggesting that they were producing more dopamine than the control group
        • Gottessman (1991) combined results of 40 European studies to examine whether genetic similarity to a patient with schizophrenia was associated with the risk of developing it.
          • The greater the genetic similarity of relatives, the more likely they were to both have a diagnosis
    • Social
      • Social causation theory suggests that people who live with high levels of stress are more vulnerable to schizophrenia
      • Schizophrenia is much more commonly diagnosed in urban than rural areas. This has been confirmed in a number of studies e.g Freeman 1994. It is suggested that urban living in some way causes schizophrenia (social causation hypothesis)
        • This may be due to stress resulting from high population density, poor housing, high levels of unemployment and low socio-economic status
        • The stress of a city may trigger the onset of schizophrenia in individuals who are already vulnerable as a result of their genes
        • Alternatively, it may be that individuals who have schizophrenia are more likely to end up in cities (the social drift hypothesis)
      • Evaluation
        • Castle et al (1993) compared the birthplace of patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia in South London with that of a control group who had no history of schizophrenia
          • A similar proportion of the 2 groups had been born in and around South London. This supports social causation hypothesis
            • However, it may be that it is not the social aspects of urban life that lead to the development of the disorder. Birth complications and flu are both statistically associated with schizophrenia and are more common in cities.


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