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Disturbed family backgrounds
Disturbed family backgrounds are thought to place people at risk of
schizophrenia for two reasons:
Parents may provide contradictory messages to a young child (double bind
High levels of emotion may be linked to stress which can act as a trigger
(expressed emotion explanation)
Double bind theory (AO1)
Children who receive contradictory messages from their parents are more likely to
become schizophrenic. E.g. a mother tells her child she loves him whilst shouting
angrily at him. Prolonged exposure to these messages prevents the child from
developing an `internally coherent construct of reality'. In the long term this leads
to the symptoms associated with schizophrenia (affective flattening, delusions,
hallucinations, incoherent thinking and alogia).
Double bind theory (AO2)
Tienari: showed that if children were adopted because their parents were
schizophrenic they were more likely to develop the disorder only if their
adopted family were classified as disturbed.
Berger: found that schizophrenics reported a higher number of double
bind statements than non-schizophrenics, but this may be unreliable as
patients' recall may be affected by their schizophrenia.
Other research is non supportive as they found no difference in the rate
of schizophrenia between parents who gave double bind statements and
those who didn't.
Expressed emotion (AO1)
This idea suggests that some families are always aggressive towards each other as
they express or show too much emotion. This causes more stress for a
schizophrenic who may have been just starting to recover from the disorder. This
extra stress could cause the patient to have a relapse, and make the symptoms
Expressed emotion (AO2)
Iranian study: A study conducted in Iran found that overprotective
mothers and rejective mothers were the main cause of the relapses in the
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child's schizophrenia. This supports the expressed emotion theory as it
shows that higher levels of stress can cause relapses in schizophrenics.
Other research has found that you are four times more likely to suffer a
relapse if your family has high levels of aggression. This also supports the
expressed emotion theory.…read more