Psychological Explanations for Schizophrenia

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  • Psychological explanations for Schizophrenia
    • Family Disfunction
      • Schizophrenogenic mother
        • Fromm-Reichmann's 1948 research
          • Asked schizophrenic patients what their mother was like (her characteristics and behaviours) and their relationships 
          • Found that the mother causes schizophrenia within the child when she is cold, rejecting and controlling (abusive).
            • She then creates a family climate characterised by tension and secrecy, which then leads to distrust that develops into paranoid delusions, then ultimately schizophrenia
        • psychodynamic explanation (unresolved childhood conflict and the unconscious mind)
        • Evaluation
          • Strength
            • Establishes a cause-and-effect relationship for why people develop schizophrenia
          • Limitation
            • Only focuses on the effect that mothers have, not any other family member.
      • Double-blind theory
        • Bateson et al (1972) research
          • Agreed with Fromm-Reichmann's  family climate and type of communication style within families.
            • However,        consistency of communication within the family climate is more important than anything else, with children fearing they are in the wrong but receive mixed messages.
              • When the child gets it wrong, they are punished through withdrawal of love.
                • This gives them a confusing understanding of the world and can be reflected in symptoms like disorganised thinking and paranoid delusions.
        • Evaluation
          • Strength
            • Establishes a cause-and-effect relationship for why people develop schizophrenia.
          • Limitation
            • Researcher bias with Bateson et al (1972) research and lacks validity as it is only a risk factor and not a cause.
      • Expressed Emotion
        • Where the level of negative emotion expressed to the patient is negative, usually by a carer
          • Includes things like verbal criticisms (possible violence), hostility, emotional over-involvement (needless self-sacrifice).
            • If the schizophrenic person experiences high levels of expressed emotion it can cause serious stress for the patient.
              • Explains the relapse of schizophrenic symptoms.
                • Could also be a trigger (diathesis stress: genetic vulnerability and a trigger causes schizophrenia).
        • Evaluation
          • Strength
            • Increased validity as it is supported by research.
          • Limitation
            • Doesn't explain the cause-and-effect relationship of why people develop schizophrenia. 
    • Cognitive Explanations
      • Dysfunctional Thinking
        • Cognitive explanation
        • Focuses on role of mental processes
          • Several types of dysfunctional thought processing.
          • Schizophrenia is characterised by disruption to normal thought processes – not processing accurately.
            • Reduced thought processing in the ventral striatum is associated with negative symptoms 
            • Reduced processing of information in the temporal and cingulate gyri associated with hallucinations.
            • Lower than usual level of processing tells us that cognition is probably impaired
      • Metarepresentation Dysfunction
        • Frith el al (1992)
          • Two kinds of dysfunctional thought processes.
            • Metarepresentation
              • Cognitive ability to reflect on thoughts and behaviour
              • Insight into our own intentions and goals
              • Interpret the actions of others
            • Dsyfunction
              • This could affect our ability to recognise our own actions and thoughts as being carried out by ourselves rather than someone else.
              • Explains hallucinations of hearing voices and delusions like thought insertion (thoughts projected into the mind by others).
      • Central control Dysfunction
        • Frithet al (1992)
          • Cognitive ability to suppress automatic responses while we perform deliberate actions.
            • Speech poverty and thought disorder could result in the inability to supress automatic thoughts and speech triggered by other thoughts. 
              • Disorganised Speech
                • Speech can be derailed because one-word triggers thoughts of others that are not part of the intended conversation. 
        • Tested using the Stroop test


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