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Schizophrenia is a very serious condition. It is the most common psychosis.

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Introduction

Schizophrenia is a very serious condition. It is the most common psychosis. Schizophrenia affects attention, thinking, social relationships, motivation and emotion. In a serious episode, most find it hard to understand the "reality" and it challenges our basic understanding about human perceptions of the real world. Most experts believe it is not really a single disorder, but has several different causes. This could be due to the fact that it has so many different characteristics. One aspect that all types of schizophrenia share is "a break with reality". No single cause has been identified with schizophrenia. Biological, behavioural and social research suggests a complex interplay between factors. For example, people might have an inherited tendency towards schizophrenia that is triggered by environmental circumstances. Schizophrenia depends in part on genetic factors. Grottesman (1978) studied the likelihood of offspring developing schizophrenia. It was found that children of one schizophrenic parent was a 17% risk, children with two schizophrenic parents were 46-47% more likely to get schizophrenia, siblings were 8%, identical twin of one parent was 17%. ...read more.

Middle

Post-mortems show a marked increase in the dopamine receptor sites in comparison to others. This suggests a super sensitivity to dopamine. However there are some problems with the dopamine hypothesis. Neuroleptic drugs block dopamine fairy rapidly, but generally fail to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia for days or weeks thereafter. Also there is a fairly new drug, Clozapine. It is frequently more effective than dopamine in reducing schizophrenic symptoms. It should be less effective according the dopamine hypothesis. Another negative point on the dopamine hypothesis is that antipsychotic medication does not work on a number of people, even if dopamine is reduced. It has been thought that someone could be wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia but has a different mental disorder and don't have high dopamine. In conclusion the evidence on the relationship between schizophrenia and dopamine levels is mostly correlational. As a result it is not known whether the changed dopamine activity occurs before or after the onset of the disorder. ...read more.

Conclusion

The behaviour becomes more exaggerated and eventually is labelled as schizophrenia. The behavioural approach has some face validity, as it makes sense. However it lacks conviction of a causal explanation, and is more relevant to maintenance not a cause. The genetic/cognitive explanations may better account for the severity. The diathesis stress model proposes that a complete explanation of any mental disorder is likely to involve both a predisposition to the disorder and a stressor which triggers the appearance of the symptoms. This can be seen to apply to schizophrenia where there is clear evidence of a genetic link, yet not everyone who inherits the genetic component becomes schizophrenic. We can explain this in terms of the psychological factors that trigger the disorder such as learnt behaviour or troubled family. The importance of understanding the causes of schizophrenia lies in the decision of what form of treatment is desirable. Biological explanations lead to biological methods and behavioural explanations to behavioural methods. The most successful therapy has been the use of chemotherapy, a biological approach. This does not offer a cure but offers relief to sufferers. ...read more.

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