Outline and evaluate one or more psychological exlpanations for Schizophrenia

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Outline and evaluate one or more psychological exlpanations for Schizophrenia.
One psychological explanation for Schizophrenia (Sz) is the cognitive model. Sz according to the
cognitive model suggests that faulty thought processes are linked to many schizophrenic symptoms,
such as hallucinations and disordered thinking, which suggest a cognitive input. This explanation
acknowledges the role of biological factors in causing the initial sensory experiences of Sz. The
cognitive viewpoint is that maladaptive thinking is strongly linked to Sz and many of its symptoms
such as hallucinations. A particular focus of interest has been the role of attention with the possibility
that Schizophrenics cannot filter out irrelevant sensory information and so are bombarded with data
that they cannot interpret meaningfully and therefore experience a different sensory world from
that of others. Frith (1992) claimed that the filter between the conscious and the preconscious are
faulty and so unimportant information gets into our conscious awareness and Schizophrenics feel
they have to pay attention to it because it is important. Frith believes that auditory hallucinations
come from being bombarded from sounds both verbal and non verbal and he believes that the
preconscious mechanisms test out various hypotheses before a final interpretation is passed to the
conscious awareness. Frith believes that this fault filter is underpinned by irregular neural pathways
linking to the hippocampus to the pre-frontal cortex, which is linked to the faulty production of
Helmsley proposed that a breakdown occurs between information already stored in memory and
new incoming data. Stored information is used to create schemas which allow us to interpret and deal
with current situations but in Sz brains, schemas are not activated. He believes that Schizophrenics
experience sensory overload and do not know which aspects of a situation to pay attention to.
Helmsley also believes that this misinterpretation is caused by abnormalities in he hippocampus.
However, there is a limitation to cognitive theories as cognitive theories in themselves do not really
explain the causes of Sz but simply describe some of the symptoms in cognitive terms. Therefore, in
order to explain the origins of Sz, they need to be combined with the biological model. Therefore
cognitive theories may not be able to offer a full explanation of Sz, but they may help to explain the
origins of particular symptoms. However, an advantage of the cognitive explanation is that it
acknowledges biological explanations too, using neurophysical models. Meyer-Lindenberg found a
link between excessive dopamine in the personal cortex and poor working memory. This is linked to
the dopamine explanation of schizophrenia. Although a criticism of the cognitive explanation is that
large amounts of supporting evidence from the cognitive model of Sz have its roots in biological
evidence suggesting cognitive faults must originate in biology with regards to Sz and so the cognitive
model may be too over-dependant on biological theories and approaches.
A major disadvantage of cognitive theories is that there is no unequivocal evidence to support the
model. Unlike various biological explanations of Sz, it is nearly impossible to obtain any empirical or
scientific support and therefore we cannot rely solely on this model. For example Helmsley has tried
to link his cognitive model to an underlying neurological system, in particular to the hippocampus and
related brain structures. However, there is very little clear-cut empirical evidence. On the other hand,
there has been some promising research supporting his ideas however, this research involves the
use of animals. This is a problem as we cannot learn much about human behaviour from animal
experiments as humans live in a more complex social world and have much more complex cognitions.

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Therefore we cannot generalise any animal research findings to humans and at the very least we
need to verify these animal findings with findings from human studies.
We can also argue that cognitive explanations of Sz, such as Frith's model are too reductionist in that
they fail to take into account the role of environmental factors. Environmental factors such as the role
of social and family relationships have contributed to explanations of Sz and so we cannot disregard
them completely.…read more

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The psychodynamic approach does not offer effective treatments. In general, psychodynamic
treatments aim of find childhood conflicts however; this is no relevant for Sz. Comer found that
psychodynamic therapy for Sz has generally proved to be unsuccessful which suggests that the
psychodynamic explanation for Sz is not accurate. Recent research has actually suggested that
psychodynamic therapies far from making schizophrenics better, may actually make them worse
which suggests that the explanation is heavily flawed.…read more


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