the biological approach

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  • The biological approach
    • the relationship between behaviour and the body's various physiological systems
    • Assumptions
      • all behaviour is associated with changes In the brain function
        • psychopathology is caused be changes in the structure, function of brain or activity of neurotransmitters/  hormones
      • the development of the body, including the brain is influenced by genetics
        • most behaviours normal or disordered is inherited from parents
    • infection
      • bacteria or viruses eg syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease which can cause brain damage and so abnormality
      • 14% of people with Schisophrenia's mother had flu during the first trimester
        • lead to poor development of neurons
    • biochemistry
      • neurotransmitters send communications between cells
      • an imbalance of neurotransmitters can lead to mental illness
        • low levels of serotonin= vulnerability to depression
        • excessive amounts of dopamine can lead to schizophrenia
    • genetics
      • certain conditions are inherited
      • monozygotic twins have 100% the same genes
      • would not always both develop same mental illness
      • environment also contributes to mental illness
    • Brain damage
      • changes in brains structure can lead to abnormality
      • Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia caused by the loss of cells in the nervous system
      • damage to the head or external (blow) or internal (stroke, tumour) can lead to mental problems
      • the resulting problem depends on where the damage occurred and the function of the section that was damaged
      • Phineas Gage who had an iron bolt go through his frontal lobe had serious personality problems
    • Evaluation
      • Brain scans eg PET scans have identified biological aspects to mental disorders
        • eg people with schizophrenia tend to have larger ventricles (sacks of fluid)  than the normal population
      • research as shown that a lot of mental illnesses run in the family eg bipolar disorder
      • effective drug treatment as mental illness is treated as an illness
        • effective with depression
        • Kirsch 2002 reviewed 32 studies of antidepressants did just as well with a placebo  than with medication
          • correlational study
          • supports cognitive approach
      • reductionist
        • someone may be vunerable to depression due to low serotonin levels but depression with only be triggered by environmental factors
      • supports nature side of nature v nurture debate
        • doesn't take into account environmental factors
      • helps to get rid of the negative stigma about mental illness with an increase of knowledge and it being treated like any other illness
  • genetics
    • certain conditions are inherited
    • monozygotic twins have 100% the same genes
    • would not always both develop same mental illness
    • environment also contributes to mental illness

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