Psychological explanations for schizophrenia

  • Psychological explanations for schizophrenia:
  • AO1:
  • Family dysfunction:
  • Schizophregenic mothers are rejecting and cold:
  • Fromm-Reichmann's psychodynamic explanation based on patients' early experiences of 'schizophregnic mothers' (mothers who cause schizophrenia). These mothers are cold, rejecting and controlling, and create a family climate of tension and secrect. This leads to distrust and paranoid delusions and schizophrenia. 
  • Double-blind theory. Conflicting family communication:
  • Bateson et al described how a child may be regularly trapped in situations where they fear doing the wrong thing, but recieve conflicting messages about what counts as wrong. They cannot express their feelings about the unfairness of the situation. When they 'get it wrong' (often) the child is ounished by withdrawal of love - they learn the world is confusing and dangerous, leading to disorganised thinking and delusions. 
  • Expressed emotion. Criticism and hostility lead to relapse in patients:
  • Expressed emotion (EE) is the level of emotion (mainly negative) expressed towards the schizophregenic parent and includes: Verbal criticism of the patient, hostility towards them and emotional over-involvement in their life. High levels of EE cause stress in the patient, a primary explanation for relapse in patients with schizophrenia. 
  • Cognitive explanations: Dysfunctional thought processing:
  • Lower levels of information processing in some areas of the brain suggest cognition is impaired. For example. reduced processing in the ventral striatum is associated with negative symptoms. 
  • Metarepresentation leads to hallucinations:
  • Metarepresentation is the cognitive ability to reflect on thoughts and behaviour (Frith et al) This dysfunction disrupts our ability to recognise our thoughts as our own - could lead to the sensation of hearing voices (hallucinations) and having thouhts


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