Schizophrenia- Psychological explanations

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Schizophrenia 3 Psychological explanations
Behavioural Explanations
Argues that schizophrenia is a learnt behaviour.
Argues that important people in a young persons life do not reinforce socially
acceptable behaviour.
Instead they respond to more schizophrenic types of behaviour which reinforces and
encourages it.
This would suggest if its learnt behaviour then it can be `unlearnt'.
Belcher says that behavioural therapy can help to ease the symptoms as it rewards
non-schizophrenic behaviour however it does not stop it entirely.
Does not take into account any of the clear evidence of biological causes.
Psychodynamic Explanation
Feud- Schizophrenia is caused by problems with the ego defence mechanisms,
regression to a pre-ego stage and attempts to re-establish ego control. People who
are raised in an uncaring environment will have a weakened ego which is able to use
the defence mechanisms properly.
The ego fails and the Id is in charge of the person's personality. They become so
focused on themselves, this is called primary narcissism, they lose touch with reality
which leads to social withdrawal and thought disorder. Hearing voices and having
hallucinations is the result of the sufferers attempts to regain contact with the real
world and their inability to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
This theory is less popular now as biological explanations have developed further.
Criticised for blaming parents. It may be true but they may also be frightened by their
child's behaviour.
Fromm- Reichmann 1948 described sciziophrenogenic mothers or families who are
rejecting, overprotective, dominant and moralistic as important influences in the
development of schizophrenia. Oltsmanns et al 1999 have shown parents of
schizophrenic patients do behave differently from parents of other kinds of patient,
particularly in the presence of disturbed offspring but this is as likely to be a
consequence of their children's problems as cause.

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Cognitive Explanations
- Argue that Schizophrenia is due to disorganised and disordered thinking.
- Frith claims it is mostly due to faulty attention. We are normally able to filter the
information received by our senses and only a small amount of it reaches our
conscious thoughts.
- When schizophrenics first experience voices and other worrying sensory experiences,
they turn to others to confirm the validity of what they are experiencing.…read more

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Argues that Schizophrenia is caused by Schizophrenogenic families and particular
blames mothers.
- In these families mixed messages are sent to the child who will be treated coldly but
will be expected to be emotional and dependent on the mother all the time.
- Communication in such families is poor and erratic.
- Conflict levels are high and the skills to resolve disagreements are poor.
- Tension levels are high.…read more

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Evidence that does suggest a link between the two is only correlational . It could be
that the beginning of the disorder was actually the cause of the major life event.
Family Relationships: Double Bind Theory
Bateson et al 1956 children who receive contradictory messages from their parents
are more likely to develop the disorder. These mixed messages make it hard to
children to respond to the parent correctly. And can prevent the development of an
accurate construction of reality.…read more

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This indicated that expressed emotion is a factor in relapse rates.
Labelling theory
· Scheff (1999) argues that social groups have norms. Schizophrenia's symptoms are seen as
deviant as they go against the norms. Schizophrenia's symptoms are seen as deviant as they
go against the norms. Because of this, the negative label of `schizophrenic' may be applied
to an individual. People then treat the individual differently.
o Comer (2003) believed this then became a self fulfilling prophecy.…read more


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