The interactionist approach to schizophrenia

  • The interactionist approach to schizophrenia:
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  • The interactionist approach - Diathesis stress model:
  • Diathesis means vulnerability; stress in this context refers to negative psychological experiences. The diathesis stress model says both a vulnverability and a stress trigger are needed to develop schizophrenia. 
  • In the origional diathesis-stress model, diathesis was entirely the result os a single 'schizogene'. Meehlh argued that someone without this gene should never develop schizophrenia, no matter how much stress they were exposed to. But a person who does have this gene is vulnerable to the effects of chronic stress (e.g. schizophregenic mother). The schizogene is necessary but not sufficient for the development of schizophrenia. 
  • it is now believed that diathesis is not due to any single 'schizogene'. Intead it is thought that many genes increase vulnerability. Also, diathesis doesn't have to be genetic, it could be early psycholocal trauma affecting brain development. For example, child abuse affects the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) system, making a child more vulnerable to stress.
  •  A modern definition of stress (in relation to diathesis-stress) includes anything that risks triggering schizophrenia (including psychological stress). For example. cannabis use can increase the risk of schizophrenia up to seven times depending on dose- probably because it inerferes with the dopamine system. 
  • Treatment according to the interactionist approach:
  • Turkington et al suggest it is possible to believe in biological causes of schizophrnia and still practise CBT to relieve psychological symptoms. But this requires adopting an interactionist model - it isn't possible to adopt a purely bioloigcal appraoch, tell patients that their


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