Explanations of dysfunctional behaviour: Biological

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Explanations of dysfunctional behaviour: biological


  • Humane - doesn't blame people for their abnormality. Instead focuses on biological factors that could have an impact on their behaviour. For example, according to GOTTESMAN AND SHIELDS, schizophrenia is caused by genes
  • High concordance rate in monozygotic twins (58%) for schizophrenia highlights how genes do have an impact
  • Scientific credibility - medicine and biochemistry
  • Works for some disorders - lots of evidence. PARKINSON'S research, GOTTESMAN AND SHIELDS, CROW'S HYPOTHESIS
  • Effective for treatments - in 2001, a cingulotomy was reported to be effective on 56% of OCD patients and 65% of patients with a major effective disorder. Therefore there must be a biological cause for DB


  • Reductionist - ignores cognitive and behavioural factors. For example, the concordance rate for schizophrenia in monozygotic twins is 58%, and there is no account for the remaining 42%. Therefore genes may not have a full impact and it must have other causes
  • Deterministic - no account for learning. Focuses only on the nature side of the debate and ignores nuture - having a mental disorder is already determined through our biology
  • Review articles can be misinterpreted and there is low control - GOTTESMAN AND SHIELDS
  • SZAZ - DBs are not caused by genes but people labelling eccentric behaviours they don't understand because they want to control it. Therefore they are caused by a self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Better to accept a diathesis stress approach


The biological explanation for dysfunctional behaviour is very reductionist, similar to both the cognitive and behaviourist approaches. However, unlike the cognitive approach, it has lots of concrete evidence, whereas the cognitive approach relies on subjectivity and theory. The biological approach also doesn't blame people for their abnormality, while the cognitive explanation is the opposite and the behaviourist explanation can be dehumanising.


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