Explanations of Schizophrenia

a brief outline of the explanations of sz with pros and cons

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  • Created on: 15-05-12 11:31
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Biological: (only two needed)
Biochemistry - excess dopamine (neurotransmitter) in the brain. Messages from neurons
transmitting dopamine fire too easily, often affects perception and attention in SZ people.
GRILLY (2002) analysed Parkinson sufferers that took the drug L-Dopa to raise dopamine
levels, then developed SZ type symptoms. Supports dopamine hypothesis.
Genetics - SZ tends to run in families, genetic predisposition possible to developing SZ.
General population has a 1% risk. JANICAK ET AL (2001) DZ & MZ twins risk increases to
48% if one twin has SZ. Family studies are often inconclusive because they are conducted
retrospectively, looking at SZ individuals who have already been diagnosed.
Even when MZ twins are reared apart, still share same environment in womb, contribution of
environmental factors cannot be entirely discounted.
Brain Structure - enlarged brain ventricles (cavities in brain which supply nutrients and
remove waste). 15% bigger in SZ patients than 'normal' patients. BROWN ET AL (1986),
FLAUM ET AL found decreased brain weight and enlarged ventricles in SZ individuals.
Infection - SZ more common in people born in winter months (more viruses present). 14%
of SZ cases linked to exposure to influenza (flu) virus in womb. JONES AND CANNON (1998)
found that young children who had viral infections were 5X more likely to develop SZ than
those who did not.
DIATHESIS-STRESS RELATIONSHIP - there are biological predispositions (the
diathesis) for SZ that only develops into the disorder if significant psychological
stressors (stress) are present. GOTTESMAN & RILEY (2003).
REDUCTIONIST - ignore psychological theories.
DETERMINISTIC - ignores the individual's free will, SZ is inevitable for some.
CAUSE & EFFECT - hard to establish, It can only be assumed there is a relationship
between brain abnormalities and SZ.
DIATHESIS STRESS MODEL - explains SZ behaviour as a result of both biological and
psychological explanations. Links biological vulnerability to environmental stressors.

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Psychological: (only two needed)
Cognitive - disturbed thinking processes are the cause rather than the consequence of SZ.
HEMSLEY (1993) suggests the main issue in SZ is a breakdown in relationship between info
that has already been stored and new, incoming sensory info (failure to activate
schemas). FRITH (1992) SZ people are unable to distinguish between actions that are
brought about by external forces and those that are generated internally.…read more


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