Discuss psychological explanations of Schizophrenia

i've used two explanations.. the behavourial and the socio-cultural :)

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Discuss psychological explanations of Schizophrenia
Two main psychological explanations of Schizophrenia are the behavioural and socio-cultural
explanations. The behavioural explanation relies on conditioning where the frequency of different kinds
of behaviour is changed by consequences. Behaviour that is followed by pleasant consequences tends to
increase in frequency; whereas behaviour that is followed by unpleasant consequences or none at all is
more likely to decrease in frequency. Those who suffer from Schizophrenia are rewarded (through
attention) for their odd behaviour by the medical profession and family, and are then encouraged
continuing behaving in that way. However, this cannot explain why the behaviour actually started or
explain things like hallucinations, but is unlikely that the encouragement alone could cause hallucinations
so that may be making up their schizophrenic symptoms.
There is evidence to show that conditioning can account for the continuation of symptoms. CBT can be
used to successfully treat the symptoms but it seems fait to assume that behaviourism can explain the
maintenance of the symptoms. Research was carried by out Ayllon and Haughton (1964) who trained
hospital staff to ignore their patients delusional comments and were also told not to give any positive
feedback to a patient's remarks about being "the queen" but to respond as normal to non-delusional
speech. They found that after carrying out this study, the amount of delusional speech was reduced
hugely. Another study carried out by Wilder et. al (2001) who treated a patient who made bizarre
statements, unrelated to the topic in hand. Each time this happened,, the therapist would state "you
shouldn't talk like that, let's take a break" and look away for 30 seconds before resuming. In each 10
minute session, the therapist would only answer non-bizarre questions. Wilder found that the number of
bizarre vocalizations decreased dramatically over 30 sessions.
The fact that failing to reinforce some kinds of behaviours can rid a patient of certain symptoms give
credit to the behavioural explanation but cannot explain why/how they began in the first place. Some of
the bizarre/deluded comments made serve to draw attention to those sufferers of Schizophrenia which
they enjoy and continue with. This suggests that some symptoms of schizophrenia may merely arise as a
result of poor social skills.
Another explanation is the socio-cultural explanation. It is unlikely that one explanation of schizophrenia is
sufficient on its own. Some theories have tried to combine the biological explanations with the social
theories with reasonable success. Socio-cultural explanations tend to use epidemiological studies
(studies looking at the incidence and distribution of diseases) to find characteristics that people with
schizophrenia have in common.
One factor that affects the development of schizophrenia is birth in winter months. Research to
demonstrate this was by Davies et. al (2003) who looked at a review of season of birth studies and
found a small increase in risk of developing schizophrenia for those who were born in late winter/early
spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This fits well with the idea that schizophrenia is more likely to occur
when a mother experiences a virus during pregnancy. As viruses are more common in the winter months
this seems to make some sense. However, it is difficult to form a causal link between a virus and a
psychiatric disorder appearing possibly decades later.

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Another factor that correlates with schizophrenia is birth trauma and handedness, but again a weakness
of this is that it is difficult to form a causal link between this and a psychiatric disorder appearing decades
later. However, Green et. al (1989) said that people who are left-handed or ambidextrous have a
greater susceptibility to developing schizophrenia. Left handedness can also be associated with birth
trauma.…read more


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