Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia

Psychological explanations of Schizophrenia including Behavioural, Psychodynamic, Cognitive and Dysfunctional Families (Double-Bind Hypothesis and Expressed Emotion Theory). Brief explanation of Diathesis Stress Model in relation to Schizophrenia

All with relevant AO2 points

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  • Created by: jb1995
  • Created on: 21-12-12 23:08
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Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia
AO1 ­ Behavioural Explanation
The basic assumption of behaviourist psychology is that all behaviour is
learnt ­ normal and abnormal. This explanation believes that
Schizophrenia is a learned response to certain environmental events. In
1982, Liberman proposed that we all learn to respond in socially
acceptable ways to appropriate stimuli ­ for example smiling in situations
which make us happy. These behaviours are positively reinforced by
others, making them more likely to continue.
This explanation proposes that Schizophrenia is caused from the
families/role models of potential sufferers not reinforcing these positive,
acceptable behaviours and disregarding them. In disregarding them, they
may begin to notice the less socially acceptable behaviours shown by the
individual and may react towards these instead, which acts as a form of
reinforcement. These behaviours are often seen to be bizarre by most of
society and so the individual may be punished for showing these
behaviours. The punishment will act as a form of reinforcement, making
the bizarre behaviours more likely to continue (I.e. the symptoms of
Schizophrenia develop).
AO2 ­ Behavioural Explanation
One major criticism of this explanation is that there is inconsistent support
for it. For example, if Schizophrenia can be `learnt', then it must be possible
to `unlearn' it. However, any treatments for Schizophrenia based on this
explanation and the idea of `unlearning' it have shown little significant
effect on the symptoms or development of the disorder.
Another criticism of this explanation is that ignoring the bizarre responses
of Schizophrenia sufferers and reinforcing the positive, socially acceptable
behaviours does increase the number of socially acceptable behaviours that
the patient shows, however it has little significant effect on the symptoms
and does not offer a cure/treatment for the disorder.
A final criticism of this explanation is that it is based upon the concept of
Parsimony ­ we should look at as few concepts as possible to explain as
much possible. This could be why the behaviourist explanation is often
referred to as `anti-mentalist'; it fails to consider the complex cognitive
processes involved in Schizophrenia. This is a weakness because it can lead
to reductionism.
AO1 ­ Psychodynamic Explanation

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The main assumptions of psychodynamic psychology are based around
the psyche and its three components (ID, ego and superego), and the
role of defence mechanisms. It suggests that childhood
experiences/psychosexual development can affect later behaviour.
This explanation proposes that Schizophrenia is caused by faulty
defence mechanisms ­ mainly regression.…read more

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The main assumptions of cognitive psychology are that behaviour results
from cognitive processes ­ abnormal behaviour is believed to be caused by
faulty thought processes and patterns in the brain.
Hemsley (1993) proposed that the main deficit in Schizophrenia is a
breakdown in the relationship between information already stored as
schemas in the memory, and new incoming sensory information.…read more

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The messages typically express both care and criticism, which can lead
to confusion, self-doubt and eventual withdrawal.
There are 3 main characteristics of this type of relationship:
1. the relationship is emotionally intense
2. the parent gives two contradictory messages (usually care and
criticism) simultaneously
3.…read more

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There is thought to be a positive correlation between levels of
Expressed Emotion and relapse rates in discharged patients.
Vaughn & Leff found that patients living with high EE in their home
environment had a 51% chance of relapse. Those living in more
support environments only had a 13% chance of relapse. For those
who were unmedicated and living in a high EE environment had a 92%
chance of relapse.…read more

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The Diathesis Stress Model (in relation to Schizophrenia) is one of the
most widely accepted explanations of Schizophrenia.
This model links biological vulnerability to environmental stressors;
claiming that Schizophrenia can be caused or triggered when an
individual who has a biological predisposition (such as a genetic
vulnerability) is exposed to environmental stressors (such as traumatic
experiences, dysfunctional families or even substance abuse).…read more



I love the clear layout of this and concise points :)

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