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Aetiologies of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is characterised by a profound disruption of cognitive and emotion, which effects a
person's language, thoughts, perception, affect and sense of self. The symptoms of schizophrenia
are broken down into two categories positive and negative. Positive symptoms include delusions
which are seeing things as something they are not, for example a chair is actually a person, and
hallucinations which can be visual and auditory. Negative symptoms include alogia and affective
flattening which is a reduction in emotional display of expression. There are 5 main types of
schizophrenia which are made up of different symptoms, for example a paranoid schizophrenia
suffers from delusions and hallucinations. The big question that surrounds this topic is whether it is
possible to predict who will develop schizophrenia?
The biological approach suggests that schizophrenia is caused by bio-chemicals or hormones that are
produced in different areas of the body such as the adrenal glands and the pituitary. The Bio
chemical explanation suggests that thoughts are carried around the brain by means of chemical
neurotransmitters, therefore schizophrenia may be caused by an imbalance in these biochemical or
hormones caused by problems with the receptors on the neurons. Therefore a if a person has
imbalance in the bio-chemicals we should be able to predict if they will develop schizophrenia.
One strength of the bio-chemical explanation comes from research into dopamine. The drug
phenothiazine reduces hallucinations and delusions by working on the dopamine receptors, and by
slowing down the flow of the chemical. This supports the biochemical explanation as reducing the
amount of dopamine can reduce the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
The drug L-dopa stops tremors in Parkinson disease patients by raising the level of dopamine but
these people sometimes start hallucinating. This research suggests that there is a close link between
dopamine and schizophrenia, which strengthens the chemical explanation. This supports the
bio-chemical explanation as it shows a high level of dopamine can cause symptoms of schizophrenia.
Freud (1924) believed that schizophrenia was the result of two processes these were regression to
a pre ego stage and the ego's attempts to re-establish control. He suggested that harsh
experiences such as having uncaring parents, leads to regression as an ego defence. Schizophrenia
was thus seen by Freud as an infantile state, with some symptoms (e.g. delusion) reflecting this
primitive condition and other symptoms such as hallucinations reflected the person's attempt to
re-establish ego control.
One piece of research that supports the psychodynamic approach is Fromm-Reichmann (1948)
described schizophrenogenic families who are rejecting, overprotective and dominant act as
important contribution to the development of schizophrenia. This supports the psychodynamic
approach as the 3 parts of the personality ID, ego and superego will no be able to develop correctly
because of the disordered family patterns.
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Cognitive psychologist believes that the initial sensory experience of schizophrenia is caused by
biological factors, but other symptoms of the disorder appear as the individual try to understand and
cope with the experience. For example when a person first experiences voices and other people
can't hear the same voices the schizophrenic comes to believe that other people are hiding the truth.…read more