AQA PSYB3 Psychology - Schizophrenia explanation notes

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Schizophrenia and Mood Disorders ­ PSYB3
Schizophrenia is primarily to do with thought disturbances and mood disorders are to do with
disturbances of emotions and mood
Used to be treated badly but in the 1800s they began to be treated more humanely with `moral
treatment' consisting of social care and also mental asylums were introduced
Today treatments consist of a combination of drug therapies and psychological therapies
Generally, negative attitudes are held towards people with disorders; people with
schizophrenia are perceived as `mad' and dangerous, those with depression are seen as weak
and cowardly
Sufferers often fear admitting their condition because of such prejudices
In Greek, schizophrenia originates from `split mind'. This split occurs between reality and
delusion; they believe their hallucinations and delusions are real. It is a common misconception
that the split means split personality. This is a different disorder
It is a psychotic disorder; one where the person loses touch with reality and has a distorted
view of the world
Some research suggests it is more common in men than in women (Goldstein)
The onset of schizophrenia is earlier in men ­ typically in late teens and early twenties ­ than in
women (late twenties/early thirties); Goldstein and Lewine
Schizophrenics conjure up fear and prejudice, Torrey showed that nearly 80% of schizophrenics
live with a family member, by contrast in 1950-60s many spent most of their life in psychiatric
Classification of schizophrenia
To classify someone as suffering from schizophrenia requires distinguishing the symptoms from
other psychotic disorders and then determining the type of schizophrenia from five categories;
1. Disorganised ­ disorganized and unintelligent speech, bizarre behaviour, absence of
emotion (flat affect) and social withdrawal
2. Catatonic ­ excessive motor activity (grimacing, repletion, imitation) or fixed, rigid
posture for hours on end (catatonic stupor)
3. Paranoid ­ delusions and hallucinations are common. Typically delusions of grandeur
and/or persecution. No above symptoms. Cognitive and emotional responses not
4. Undifferentiated ­ mixture of symptoms from the above categories but without main
symptoms in one of them. Symptoms could be from all of these categories
5. Residual ­ people who have suffered from extreme and major symptoms of
schizophrenia but who now display few/mild symptoms. These may include social
withdrawal, bizarre thoughts and flat emotional affect

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The Diagnotis and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) requires some symptoms to
have been present for a month and others for 6 months before a diagnosis can be confidently
Catatonic type is relatively rare and may be due to drugs used to treat schizophrenia
(McGlashan and Fenton). Some claim it is not a true category
Undifferentiated category is also controversial because it is too vague and ill-defined
Difficult to distinguish between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder as they have similar
symptoms e.g.…read more

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Absence of social functions; shown by poor social skills and interactions with
other people e.g. being unable to hold down a job
There are also Secondary Symptoms that occur as a result of having the disorder. The most
common are depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse and social isolation.…read more

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Explanations of schizophrenia
The biological explanation is the domination explanation with the greatest support, but
sociocultural and cognitive still need to be considered
The contemporary view is that stressful events in a person's life can `trigger' the onset of the
disorder in people who are biologically vulnerable ­ diathesis-stress model
Biological explanations
Genetic inheritance plays a major role in the cause of schizophrenia. Contemporary views
suggest that heritability explains at least 50% of the cause of schizophrenia.…read more

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Twin studies show that there may be a genetic predisposition to develop schizophrenic.…read more

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Heinrichs and Zakzanis (1998) found that patients showed a variety of cognitive deficits,
including problems with visual and auditory attention. As reported earlier, Kring and Neale
(1996) said that schizophrenics experience more emotions than they reveal. Not sharing
emotions may be a way to control the internal levels of emotions
The cognitive explanation also sees delusions of persecution as incorrect cognitions that help to
prevent depressions and anxiety e.g.…read more

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Schiffman et al 2002). Research has shown
the parents of schizophrenics show three dysfunctional characteristics;
i. High levels of interpersonal conflict i.e. arguments
ii. Difficulties in communication with each other
iii. Highly critical and controlling of their children
Bateson identified faulty communication within families as a possible cause of
schizophrenia. He introduced the term double-bind to describe a `no win'
situation that children were often put into by one or both parents.…read more

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Szasz was part of the anti-psychiatry movement and had a highly controversial view of mental
illness. He published `The myth of mental illness'. Key points to his arguments were;
o Mental illnesses are actually problems of living, a social construct created to deal with
those who act outside social norms. These people are identified then separated and
then punished.…read more


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