• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13

A particular type of psychosis, schizophrenia is perhaps one of the most debilitating and chronic of the severe mental illnesses

Extracts from this document...


A particular type of psychosis, schizophrenia is perhaps one of the most debilitating and chronic of the severe mental illnesses. For a long time, schizophrenia was seen as a 'functional disorder' with some doctors calling it a sociological phenomenon - i.e. patients with schizophrenia are normal people driven insane by the insane world (Gelder, et al., 1989). However, the efficiency of antipsychotic drugs and recent advances in biological research have countered this 1970s concept. Revolutionary scientific advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, genetics and brain imaging over the years have provided credible evidence for the biological bases underlying schizophrenia. There have been many theories of possible causes. For instance, many years of family studies indicate that a susceptibility to schizophrenia might be inherited. However, scientists still do not know how many genes are involved or how the genetic predisposition is transmitted, and how the environment may interact with it. Another line of research has identified specific, subtle abnormalities in the structure and function of the brains of schizophrenic patients and provided the evidence for notable, early biochemical changes. Developmental neurobiologists on the other hand suggest that schizophrenia may be a result of the neurons forming inappropriate connections during fetal development. Because of so many possible explanations, it is no surprise that the research into the causes of schizophrenia still remains one of the most challenging areas for medical investigators. ...read more.


have been consistent in finding loss of temporal lobe volume and loss of temporal lobe gray matter in schizophrenia sufferers. The areas which were found to be most affected are the limbic forebrain, (especially the amygdala and the hippocampus), and the basal ganglia (including the caudate, nucleus accumbens, and olfactory tubercle). Freedman et al., (1995) found that skull volume is reduced in persons with schizophrenia by 3.5%. Since brain growth drives skull growth, these findings suggest that the process causing schizophrenia takes place prior to the completion of brain growth (approximately age 18) (Elkis, et al. 1995). In fact, studies by Fish et al., (1992) and Marcus et al., (1993) demonstrated the presence of mild neurological impairments even in the infants of schizophrenic parents. This strongly suggests that the process leading to schizophrenia is a developmental error occurring prior to birth, rather than a degenerative or destructive process. The view of developmental neurobiologists supports this claim. They suggest that schizophrenia may be a developmental disorder resulting from neurons being miswired during fetal growth. These errors may lie dormant until puberty, when changes in the brain that occur normally during this critical stage of maturation start interacting adversely with the faulty connections. This research has spurred efforts to identify prenatal factors including infections in utero that may affect development (Murray, et al., 1992). One of the first bits of evidence to support this hypothesis came in 1988 from the study by Mednick et al, of children born to women who had been pregnant during a severe flu epidemic in Helsinki, Finland, in 1957. ...read more.


However, the current status of research on genes and schizophrenia has not yet uncovered the specific genes that underlie the disease. And even if that takes place, some researchers such as McGue & Gottesman (1989), admit that analysis of individual genes alone will not give us a full understanding of the causes of schizophrenia. The disease is most definitely a result of interactions of complex systems, therefore a systems approach is needed for understanding its development. Basic knowledge about brain chemistry and its link to schizophrenia is also expanding rapidly and this area of research looks very promising. It is clear today with the firm findings of reduced frequency, duration, and severity of psychotic episodes in persons treated with anti-psychotic medication that dopamine has a major role to play in schizophrenia like disorders. However, it is not known whether the change in the dopamine activity occurs before or after the onset of the illness. If it occurs after, than overactive dopamine is just another symptom in a long list of symptoms associated with schizophrenia (Jones & Pilowsky, 2002). It may well be that schizophrenia is not a single disorder at all, but rather that it represents a final common syndrome of behaviours and findings about mental status with multiple possible causes. Understanding these causes will be critical for the medical care of patients suffering from schizophrenia, so the doctors can if not cure, then at the least alleviate the suffering this disease brings on the patient and their family and friends. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Healthcare section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Healthcare essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Understanding and using research

    4 star(s)

    This will give me a more accurate result as I will have seen the smokers smoking myself and so I will know for a definite whether the results are true or not whereas the questionnaire may not be filled in accurately and truthfully by the individuals.

  2. Physiological Disorders

    On the other hand friends and family may not be that supportive, because they may not have enough time to be there for her. They may also not be able to handle the pressure of caring for her. When she opens up to the psychologist she will be able to deal with her emotions.

  1. Unit 4-Human lifespan development

    Good housing - Good environment - Good education - Loving family - Positive friendships - Access to services - Media & culture - No issues of gender ***Need to continue P3 Two predictable and two unpredictable major life events on the development of an individual Predictable Marriage- This is predictable

  2. Mental Illness/nature nurture debate

    The third major school is the humanistic school where the phenomenological model is derived from.

  1. Physiological disorder

    In the pulmonary circuit, the pulmonary veins transport blood form the lungs to the left atrium of the heart,, this blood has a high oxygen because it has just been oxygenated into the lungs. The systemic veins transport blood form the body tissues to the right atrium of the heart.

  2. Can CBT make a meaningful contribution in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ...

    The study also doesn't inform us about the benefits of CBT compared to other therapies, which is necessary for a thorough investigation. Rector and Beck (2001) note that the effect of CBT on the secondary aspects of schizophrenia, such as anxiety or depression has not been investigated.

  1. 1.2 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

    This compares with the prevalence of approximately 4% in these symptoms in people who have never smoked. Smoking low0tar cigarettes results in less cough and phlegm than smoking high-tar cigarettes (Higenbottam et al, 1980). Prevalence studies of COPD are normally based on values of percentage predicted forced expiratory volume in

  2. Unit 14 - Physiological disorders Bipolar project

    Child and adolescent If you are a child or an adolescent (0-17 years of age) your GP will make a referral for you to CAMHS (The child adolescent mental health service) where you will have the same assessment but with a psychiatrist and the people there will be friendlier towards you as you are a child.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work