Cognitive Explanations of Schizophrenia


Cognitive Explanations of Schizophrenia

Cognitive explanations focus on the role of dysfunctional thought processing contributing to schizophrenia symptoms.

These faulty thoughts may be due to abnormal biological functioning.

Frith et al (1992) identified two main kinds of dysfunctional / faulty thought processing:
- Metarepresentation.
- Central control.

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Metarepresentation is the ability to reflect on, and have insight into, our own intentions and the actions of others.

Dysfunction in this area could mean that the individual is unable to recognise that their own thoughts are actually theirs, so leading to hallucinations (voices) and delusions (thought insertion).

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Central Control

Central control is the ability to suppress automatic responses / triggers in response to stimuli. 

Dysfunction in this area could mean that the individual cannot suppress automatic thoughts that get triggered by other thoughts.

This could explain disorganised speech and disordered thinking.

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Evaluation of Cognitive Explanations of Schizophre

+ Stirling et al (2006) found that participants with schizophrenia took much longer than participants without schizophrenia to complete a Stroop test (a test where the colour a word is written in must be named, even though the word is a different colour). This supports that schizophrenia sufferers have problems with central control (ability to suppress automatic thoughts).

- Abnormal cognitions may be one of the effects / consequences of schizophrenia, rather than actually causing the development of it in the first place. This weakens cognitive explanations, as they are unlikely to be a complete explanation of the disorder.

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