Positive symptoms: Hallucinations are usually auditory or visual perceptions of things that are not present. Imagined stimuli could involve any of the senses. Voices are usually heard coming from outside the person’s head giving instructions on how to behave.

• Delusions are false beliefs. Usually the person has convinced him/herself that he/she is someone powerful or important, such as Jesus Christ, the Queen (e.g. Delusions of Grandeur). There are also delusions of being paranoid, worrying that people are out to get them.

Negative symptoms: Thought disorder in which there are breaks in the train of thought and the person appears to make illogical jumps from one topic to another (loose association). Words may become confused and sentences incoherent (so called ‘word salad). Broadcasting is a thought disorder whereby a person believes their thoughts are being broadcast to others, for example over the radio or through TV. Alogia - aka speech poverty – is a thought disorder were correct words are used but with little meaning.

• Avolition: Lack of volition (i.e. desire): in which a person becomes totally apathetic and sits around waiting for things to happen. They engage in no self motivated behavior. 

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Slater & Roth (1969) say that hallucinations are the least important of all the symptoms, as they are not exclusive to schizophrenic people.

Classification and diagnosis does have advantages as it allows doctors to communicate more effectively about a patient and use similar terminology when discussing them. In addition, they can then predict the outcome of the disorder and suggest related treatment to help the patient.

Scheff (1966) points out that diagnosis classification labels the individual, and this can have many adverse effects, such as a self-fulfilling prophecy (patients may begin to act how they are expected to act), and lower self-esteem.

Ethics – do the benefits of classification (care, treatment, safety) outweigh the costs (possible misdiagnosis, mistreatment, loss of rights and responsibility, prejudice due to labelling).

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For the classification system to be reliable, differfent clinicians using the same system (e.g. DSM) should arrive at the same diagnosis for the same individual.

Comorbidity describes people who suffer from two or more mental disorders. For example, schizophrenia and depression are often found together. This makes it more difficult to confidently diagnose schizophrenia. Comorbidity occurs because the symptoms of different disorders overlap.

Loring and Powell (1988) found that some behavior which was regarded as psychotic in males was not regarded as psychotic in females.

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Biological explanations - genetics

Benzel et al. (2007) three genes: COMT , DRD4 , AKT1 - have all been associated with excess dopamine in specific D2 receptors, leading to acute episodes, positive symptoms which include delusions, hallucinations, strange attitudes.Evidence suggests that the closer the biological relationship, the greater the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Kendler (1985) has shown that first-degree relatives of those with schizophrenia are 18 times more at risk than the general population. Gottesman (1991) has found that schizophrenia is more common in the biological relatives of a schizophrenic, and that the closer the degree of genetic relatedness, the greater the risk.

Very important to note genetics are only partly responsible, otherwise identical twins would have 100% concordance rates.

One weakness of the genetic explanation of schizophrenia is that there are methodological problems. Family, twin and adoption studies must be considered cautiously because they are retrospective, and diagnosis may be biased by knowledge that other family members who may have been diagnosed. This suggests that there may be problems of demand characteristics.

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Biological explanations - dopamine hypothesis

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It is one of the chemicals in the brain which causes neurons to fire. The original dopamine hypothesis stated that schizophrenia suffered from an excessive amount of dopamine. This causes the neurons that use dopamine to fire too often and transmit too many messages.A second explanation developed, which suggests that it is not excessive dopamine but that fact that there are more dopamine receptors. More receptors lead to more firing and an over production of messages. Autopsies have found that there are generally a large number of dopamine receptors (Owen et al., 1987) and there was an increase in the amount of dopamine in the left amygdale.

Is the raised dopamine levels the cause of the schizophrenia, or is it the raised dopamine level the result of schizophrenia? It is not clear which comes first. This suggests that one needs to be careful when establishing cause and effect relationships in schizophrenic patients.

One of the biggest criticisms of the dopamine hypothesis came when Farde et al found no difference between schizophrenics’ levels of dopamine compared with ‘healthy’ individuals in 1990.

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Biological explanations - neural correlates

People with schizophrenia have abnormally large ventricles in the brain. Ventricles are fluid filled cavities (i.e. holes) in the brain that supply nutrients and remove waste. This means that the brains of schizophrenics are lighter than normal. The ventricles of a person with schizophrenia are on average about 15% bigger than normal (Torrey, 2002).

Supporting evidence for the brain structure explanation comes from further empirical support from Suddath et al. (1990). He used MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to obtain pictures of the brain structure of MZ twins in which one twin was schizophrenic. The schizophrenic twin generally had more enlarged ventricles and a reduced anterior hypothalamus. The differences were so large the schizophrenic twins could be easily identified from the brain images in 12 out of 15 pairs. This suggests that there is wider academic credibility for enlarged ventricles determining the likelihood of schizophrenia developing.

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Psychological explanations - family dysfunction

Bateson et al. (1956) suggested the double bind theory, which suggests that children who frequently receive contradictory messages from their parents are more likely to develop schizophrenia. For example parents who say they care whilst appearing critical or who express love whilst appearing angry. 

Another family variable associated with schizophrenia is a negative emotional climate, or more generally a high degree of expressed emotion (EE). EE is a family communication style that involves criticism, hostility and emotional over-involvement. The researchers concluded that this is more important in maintaining schizophrenia than in causing it in the first place, (Brown et al 1958). Schizophrenics returning to such a family were more likely to relapse into the disorder than those returning to a family low in EE.

A second strength of the research into expressed emotion (EE) is that it has practical applications. For example Hogarty (1991) produced a type of therapy session, which reduced social conflicts between parents and their children which reduced EE and thus relapse rates. This suggests that gaining an insight into family relationships allows psychiatric professionals to help improve the quality of patient’s lives.

A second weakness of the double bind theory is that there are ethical issues. There are serious ethical concerns in blaming the family, particularly as there is little evidence upon which to base this. Gender bias is also an issue as the mother tends to be blamed the most, which means such research is highly socially sensitive. 

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Cognitive explanations

There is evidence that people diagnosed as schizophrenic have difficulties in processing various types of information, for example visual and auditory information. A number of researchers have suggested that difficulties in understanding other people’s behavior might explain some of the experiences of those diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The most common delusion that people diagnosed with schizophrenia report is that others are trying to harm or kill them – delusions of persecution. Research suggests that these delusions are associated with specific biases in reasoning about and explaining social situations. 

One weakness of the cognitive explanation is that there are problems with cause and effect. Cognitive approaches do not explain the causes of cognitive deficits – where they come from in the first place. Is it the cognitive deficits which causes the schizophrenic behavior or is the schizophrenia that causes the cognitive deficits?

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Drug therapy

First generation Antipsychotics are called “Typical Antipsychotics” Eg. Chlorpromazine and Haloperidol.

• They arrest dopamine production by blocking the D2 receptors in synapses that absorb dopamine, in the mesolimbic pathway thus reducing positive symptoms, such as auditory hallucinations.But they tended to block ALL types of dopamine activity, (in other parts of the brain as well) and this caused side effects and may have been harmful.

Newer drugs, called “atypical antipsychotics” attempt to target D2 dopamine activity in the limbic system but not D3 receptors in other parts of the brain.

• They also have some effect on other neurotransmitters such as serotonin. They generally have fewer side effects eg. less effect on movement Eg. Clozapine, Olazapine and Risperidone.

Since the mid-1950s antipsychotic medications have greatly improved treatment. Medications reduce positive symptoms particularly hallucinations and delusions; and usually allow the patient to function more effectively and appropriately.

Antipsychotic drugs are highly effective as they are relatively cheap to produce, easy to administer and have a positive effect on many sufferers. However they do not "cure" schizophrenia, rather they dampen symptoms down.

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Psychological therapies - family therapy

 Families taught to have weekly family meetings solving problems on family and individual goals, resolve conflict between members, and pinpoint stressors. Communication skills training – teach family to listen, to express emotions and to discuss things.

A study by Anderson et al. (1991) found a relapse rate of almost 40% when patients had drugs only, compared to only 20 % when Family Therapy or Social Skills training were used and the relapse rate was less than 5% when both were used together with the medication.

Economic Benefits: Family therapy is highly cost effective because it reduces relapse rates, so the patients are less likely to take up hospital beds and resources.

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Psychological therapies - token economy

The focus of a token economy is on shaping and positively reinforcing desired behaviors and NOT on punishing undesirable behaviors. The technique alleviates negative symptoms such as poor motivation, and nurses subsequently view patients more positively, which raises staff morale and has beneficial outcomes for patients.

Paul and Lentz (1977) Token economy led to better overall patient functioning and less behavioral disturbance, More cost effective (lower hospital costs)

There have also been ethical concerns as such a process is seen to be dehumanising, subjecting the patient to a regime which takes away their right to make choices.

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Psychological therapies - CBT

Patients problems are based on incorrect beliefs and expectations. CBT aims to identify and alter irrational thinking including regarding. Tarrier (1987) used detailed interview techniques, and found that people with schizophrenia can often identify triggers to the onset of their psychotic symptoms, and then develop their own methods of coping with the distress caused. CSE aims to teach individuals to develop and apply effective coping strategies which will reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of psychotic symptoms and alleviate the accompanying distress.

Addington and Addington (2005) claim that CBT is of little use in the early stages of an acute schizophrenic episode, but perhaps more useful when the patient is more calm and beginning to worry about how life will be after they recover. In other words, it doesn’t cure schizophrenia, it just helps people get over it.

As there is strong evidence that relapse is related to stress and expressed emotion within the family, it seems likely that CBT should be employed alongside family therapy in order to reduce the pressures on the individual patient.

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Interactionist approach - Diathesis stress model

Zubin and Spring suggest that a person may be born with a predisposition towards schizophrenia which is then triggered by stress in everyday life. But if they have a supportive environment and/or good coping skills the illness may not develop.  Tienari Et. A. (2004): Adopted children from families with schizophrenia had more chance of developing the illness than children from normal families. This supports a genetic link. 

Fox (1990): It is more likely that factors associated with living in poorer conditions (e.g. stress) may trigger the onset of schizophrenia, rather than individuals with schizophrenia moving down in social status.

Falloon et al (1996) stress – such as divorce or bereavement, causes the brain to be flooded with neurotransmitters which brings on the acute episode.

Brown and Birley (1968) 50% people who had an acute schizophrenic episode had experienced a major life event in 3 weeks prior.

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emily anderson123


Flashcards were okay but not the best ive seen

emily anderson123



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