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Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia (24)
Disorder is a result of regression to a pre-ego stage and attempts to re-establish ego control.
Freud : if the patient had uncaring parents they would regress to a pre-ego stage before they
had developed an awareness of reality and this is used as a defence mechanism to protect
Regressing back results in child-like behaviour: explains delusions of grandeur and imaginary
Fromme-Reichmann : disordered family patterns cause schizophrenia schizophrenic mothers
induce the disorder into their children through contradictory behaviour.
Positive: It does explain some symptoms.
However, cause or consequence?
Oltmann : parents of schizophrenics behave differently to parents of non-schizophrenics implying
that contradictory behaviour of parents is likely to be a consequence over cause.
Methodological issues: limited empirical evidence as the unconscious mind is difficult to research
limits cause-and-effect and validity.
Cognitive Explanations Inability to Process Normal Information:
Inability to focus on one piece of information and over stimulation from the environment.
Firth: schizophrenics suffer with the inability to filter out redundant information and focus on the
Schizophrenia is caused by a deficit in the mechanism that limits the contents of the conscious
(information which should be filtered out unconsciously reaches the conscious).
Explains delusions schizophrenics notice insignificant things and find them bizarre so they feel
the need to rationalise.
The Stroop Test : Schizophrenics tend to be slower and more likely to make errors when colour
name and ink colour do not match. Schizophrenics are unable to prioritise information as they
were unable to filter one colour over the other.
Evidence increases validity and may be useful in treatment.
However, the explanation does not suggest why faulty thinking occurs, thus having no use in
Therefore, combine psychological and biological explanations (high levels of dopamine leads to
Cognitive Explanations Failure to Activate Schemas:
Schemas: cognitive shortcuts that we develop on past experiences schizophrenics fail to use
Hemsley : Schizophrenia is the inability to make appropriate use of schemas; therefore
information that is not needed is over processed. E.g. hearing through a wall and thinking the
voice is in their head.
Hallucinations are explained by this.
Doesn't explain the cause of schizophrenia; thus limited in producing treatment or prevention.
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The Labelling Theory:
Social groups construct rules for members to follow, symptoms are seen as deviant from the
`normal' rules and so a person can be labelled schizophrenic if they deviate.
Comer: one the diagnostic label is applied it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that promotes the
development of other symptoms.
Scheff : evaluated 18 studies; found that 13 supported and 5 didn't.
However, doesn't explain why schizophrenia is cause, only explains further symptoms.
Research into labelling theory highlights the risks associated with diagnosis.…read more