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Outline and Evaluate 2 Biological Explanations of OCD

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Outline and Evaluate 2 Biological Explanations of OCD The biological approach suggests that all mental illness is due to physical processes. For example, the genetic explanation of OCD suggests that the illness is inherited from parents. Therefore one of your parents have the OCD gene which they could pass on to their children. It is thoughts that the gene could then cause abnormalities in Neuroanatomical and neurochemical areas of the brain which then causes the symptoms of OCD, obsessions and compulsions to develop in this person. One strength of this explanation for OCD is that there is supporting research evidence. Firstly, Nestadt (2000) identified 80 patients with OCD and 343 of their first degree relatives, and compared them with 73 control patients who did not have mental illness and 300 of their relatives. The results showed a strong familial link with the most common form of OCD. Subsequently he found that those who had a first degree relative with OCD were 5 times more likely to have the illness themselves compared to the general population. ...read more.


Another biological explanation of OCD is the Neuroanatomical explanation which suggests that OCD is caused by a problem with a part of the brain, the OFC caudate nuclei loop. The orbital frontal cortex sends a message of panic to the caudate nucleus. A normal brain would decide whether or not this issue is important and if it is, it would get passed on to the thalamus to take action. If the message isn't important or has already been dealt with it will filter out ending the circuit. However in a brain of an OCD sufferer, the caudate nucleus does not work correctly and send the potentially faulty message of panic to the thalamus which then carries out the action e.g. washing hands. This will keep repeating on a loop which is why someone with OCD performs compulsions which are repetitive rituals. The explanation of OCD is strengthened by supporting research. In a study conducted by Schwartz (1996) ...read more.


A problem with the biological explanation to understanding OCD is that it is reductionist as it reduces behaviour down to one sole cause, not looking at how other variables may interact and cause the OCD. The weakness of this is that by only looking at one factor, we do not gain a valid in depth understanding of all possible causes, meaning that if only the biological cause of OCD was treated, only part of the problem is treated. However, it could be argued that reductionism is also a strength as by focusing on one factor alone, you can isolate cause and effect and fully understand the role that the biological factor plays. In conclusion, it can be said that even though the biological explanations do propose a valid account of what causes OCD, therefore are clearly other factors involved such as the environment. In addition, both explanations have contradictory evidence showing that more research is needed in this area in order to be able to give a completely valid and reliable explanation of OCD. ...read more.

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The writer has written a very concise and succinct essay which explains well biological explanations for OCD. There has also been evidence given to support or critique both the role genetics play as well as the neuro-anatomical argument. The writer has also consistently referenced the work. The essay could be improved by giving a good explanation of OCD and its symptoms as well as the biological perspective at the beginning. However, it is clear that the writer understands what has been written and has referenced sources.

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/04/2013

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