Abnormality - The Biological Approach

AS Psychology

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Abnormality biological approach
It is the view of manistream psychiatry. It shows disorders as rotted in underlying pysiological processes in
the body. By removing the root, the disorder will disappear. Because of its similar diagnosis to physical
illnesses, it is known as the `medical apporach' too. It is one of the most widely accepted but also
controversial because of the similarity to physical treatment.
Syphilis and General Paresis: This demonstrates the medical model. Since the 19th century, delusions of
grandeur and progressive forgetfulness and mental deterioration have been frequent. It also caused early
deaths in sufferers. The 1st step to find a cure was to find a cause. It was thought to be caused by syphillis
bacterium in its early stages it produces genit al sores but they disappear making it seem as though its
gone. However it was thought that it cuased mental deterioration and the issue with this is that people
didn't admit it hard to see the link. Richard KrafftEbbing demonstrated this by getting nine paretics and
infecting them with the bacterium he found that all 9 did not show symptoms so cure could be found they
were immune meaning they had it before. Arsephenamine was then discovered as a cure in 1909.
Conclusion: Mental illnesses may have physical illnesses. Once a cause can be found, a cure can be
Abnormality is caused by physical factors. This model assumes mental disorders are related to bodily
changes. It could be due to genes, biochemistry, nueroanatomy, viral infection.
Genetic Inheritence: is sometimes the cause of abnormality. It can be passed through generations. You
can study twins to find this out. If one has a disorder and another does too, then this concept works. This
can be measured by concordance rate extent to which two individuals are similar. Some disorders such
as phobias have low concordance rates while others like schizophrenia have high concordance rates. We
may be abnormal because our ancestry adapted and developed traits which are no longer useful to us.
Genes Lead to Abnormal Biochemsitry/Nueroanatomy: Genes tell the body how to behave and what
hormones and nuerotransmitters to release. High levels of serotinin are a cause of anxiety while low
levels cause depression. Genes also develop brain structure schizophrenic's have large spaces in their
brain from where brain tissues have shrunk.
Viral Infection: research suggests that these can be a cause of mental disorders if contracted in the
womb. Torrey (2001) found that mothers to schizophrenic's were struck by a viral infection in pregnancy
this may have strained the under developed brain. The virus would stay dormant until puberty.
The idea of this model was to tackle mental disorders humanely. It would also ensure that it
was treatable. Thomas Szasz (1972) claims that it is a mental illness so shouldn't be treated as
a physical problemmuch deeper issue. He suggested that abnormality was only invented as a
form of social `control'.
There is no cause and effect correlation between biochemistry and Scizophrenia. Schizophrenia
is supposed to be due to high dopamine levels in brain but low levels have also been identified
in brain tissues some could be lacking while others are gaining how can it be explained?
There is no evidence that mental disorders are the effect of purely inheritence. Concordance
rates are never 100%. Gottesman and Shields (1976) studied five twin studies and found there
was a concordance of 50% in myozygotic twins. If it was causal, there would be a 100% link.
Often, disorders only appear when there are high levels of stress doesn't surface otherwise
mostly. This is called the `diathesis stress model'.
Methods of Investigation
1. Experiments: If patients fare better after being drugs this shows that it affects their
biochemistry. Kirsch et al (2002) reviewed 38 studies and found antidepressants
affected patients as much as placebos.
2. Correlation Studies: Due to it being impractical and immoral, it is hard to experiment.
Like most correlation studies, they can only compare and predict and carry out other

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Not many ways to experiment hereditary conditions need to be
studied only so many ways.…read more


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