Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia

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Psychological Explanation.
Freud believed that schizophrenia was the result of two related
processes. These were regression to a pre ego state, as well as
attempts to establish ego control.
Freud suggested that if the world of a schizophrenic is harsh, for
example if their parents are cold and uncaring, then they may regress to
a stage before they had developed their ego properly.
Freud therefore saw schizophrenia as an infantile state, with symptoms
like delusions and grandeur reflecting this primitive condition, whereas
others, like auditory hallucinations, reflect the schizophrenics attempts
to reestablish ego control.
There is not any research evidence to support Freud's ideas, because
he is an idiot. However, disordered family patterns have been found to
be related to the disorder. For example, Oltmanns et al found that the
parents of schizophrenics do behave differently to other parents,
especially in the presence of their schizophrenic offspring. However,
this could be because they do not know how to act around their child.
The psychodynamic explanation has been praised for stressing the
importance of psychological factors, the importance of childhood and
the importance of the unconscious mind. It is also an influential theory,
despite very little research evidence.
However, the psychodynamic explanation has also been criticised as
the importance of childhood is often overstressed. Also, there are
problems validating the study, as no studies have been carried out in
support. There is also poor methodology and it is unethical as it blame
parents for the onset of schizophrenia.
Behavioural Explanation.
Behaviourists argue that learning plays a key role in the development of
schizophrenia. One suggestion is that early experience of punishment
could lead to the child retreating into a rewarding inner world. Others
label them as `odd' or `strange', which may lead to further retreat, but

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Scheff called this labelling theory. The
bizarre behaviour of these individuals is rewarded with attention, which
then causes their behaviour to be exaggerated in a continuous cycle,
concluding in the eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Behaviourists have therefore tried to explain schizophrenia as the
consequences of faulty learning. If there is little social reinforcement in
early life, the child may begin to attend to inappropriate stimuli and
irrelevant social cues, causing them to appear odd.…read more

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Biological factors are acknowledged in this explanation, but it says that
the condition has always existed, and is worsened by those around
When schizophrenics first experience worrying sensory experiences,
they turn to others to confirm the validity of their experiences. When the
validity of what they are experiencing is not confirmed, schizophrenics
start to believe that they are hiding the truth. They begin to reject
feedback from those around them and develop delusional beliefs.…read more

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Family relationships.
Bateson's double bind theory says that children who receive
contradictory messages from their parents were more likely to develop
schizophrenia. Bateson argued that the child's ability to respond to such
messages is incapacitated by the contradictions that they receive.
Prolonged exposure to such contradictions has been said to prevent
development of a coherent construction of reality, which can then
manifest itself as schizophrenic symptoms.…read more


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