First 681 words of the document:
Outline and evaluate one or more psychological explanations of schizophrenia.
A psychological explanation of schizophrenia is family relationships. Bateson et al. proposed the
double bind theory which suggests that children who frequently receive contradictory messages
from their parents are more likely to develop schizophrenia e.g. If a mother tells her son she loves
him whilst turning away in disgust, the child receives mixed messages about their relationship. The
child's ability to respond to the mother is incapacitated by such contradictions as one effectively
invalidates the other. Prolonged exposure to such interactions prevents development of an internally
coherent construction of reality which can manifest itself as typically schizophrenic symptoms e.g.
flattening affect, delusions and hallucinations, incoherent thinking and speaking etc. Expressed
emotions (EE) is a family communication style that involves criticism, hostility and emotional
over-involvement. High levels of EE are likely to increase relapse rates.
Linszen et al. support this from their findings patients returning to a family with high levels of EE are 4
times more likely to relapse than those with families with low levels of EE as this shows that high
levels of EE do influence schizophrenia. Torabi et al. looked at relapse rates in Iran where there is high
prevalence of EE (overprotective mothers and rejecting fathers). They found that in Iranian cultures,
high EE is one of the main causes of relapse. This shows that negative emotional climate seems to
arouse the patient and lead to stress beyond their already impaired coping mechanisms. However,
these two studies show that EE affects relapse, but they do not show that it causes schizophrenia.
The double bind explanation is supported by Berger who found that schizophrenics had higher recall
of double bind statements by their mothers than those without schizophrenia. This encourages the
view that contradictory messages can cause schizophrenia, however the data may not be reliable as
recall may be impaired by schizophrenia. There are serious ethical issues with placing the blame on
family for the development of schizophrenia, especially placing most of the blame on mothers as
there is little evidence to base this theory on. It is highly socially sensitive research and suggests that
the people being studied are not protected from harm.
Another explanation is the cognitive explanation of schizophrenia. This accepts that initially sensory
experiences may be biological. People then turn to friends and relatives to validate these
experiences, if this fails to happen it results in feelings of manipulation and persecution. These
individuals may reject feedback of others and develop delusional beliefs which could lead to
schizophrenia. It also proposes that schizophrenia can also be caused as a result of poor information
filtering i.e. working memory. Meyer-Lindenberg et al. found a link between working memory and
reduced activity in the pre-frontal cortex in people with schizophrenia. This suggests that inferior
working memory has an impact on schizophrenia and thus supports the cognitive explanation.
Schielke et al. studied a patient who developed continuous auditory hallucinations as a consequence
of an abscess in dorsal pons. This suggests wider academic credibility for the link between cognitive
and biological factors causing schizophrenia. However it is a case study thus has issues with high
individual differences and not being able to generalise to the wider population so it isn't reliable. In
terms of nature vs. Nurture, psychological explanations back nurture as they suggest schizophrenia is
caused by environmental factors such as cognitive deficiencies. However, it is environmentally
deterministic as it ignores factors such as free will and biological factors. Another issue is that we
don't know whether schizophrenia is caused by cognitive problems, or rather that they are a result of
schizophrenia. Cognitive approaches are also reductionist as they don't consider factors such as
genes, it could be problems caused by low neurotransmitters that cause schizophrenia. Instead, it is