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To what extent is schizophrenia a biological disorder?

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To what extent is schizophrenia a biological disorder? As well as the biological approaches there are physiological, psychological and environmental explanations. New theories of schizophrenia are constantly being developed each having their own advantages and disadvantages. How do we know however, which one is correct? The biological explanation suggests that schizophrenia is produced by an unfortunate combination of genes or is due to physical problems in the brain. Researchers favouring the biological explanation look at genetic factors, brain structure and biochemical explanations. Many researchers would suggest that the debate over whether schizophrenia is passed down through genetics is no longer a matter of controversy. The key point now, is to what extent genetic factors have in schizophrenia, it could in fact be a combination of many points. To begin studying schizophrenia and its biological aspect we must first look at blood relatives. There is much evidence to suggest that if a close relative of an individual, i.e. mother, father, brother, has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, then the chances of this individual also being diagnosed with schizophrenia are a lot higher than say if your Aunty or Great grandfather was diagnosed. ...read more.


If genetic factors are of prime importance then MZ twins should show a higher concordance rate than DZ twins. This is in fact the case, and MZ twins are two to four times more likely to develop schizophrenia than DZ twins. Again, a way of cutting out the environmental factor of upbringing can be seen in adoption studies. Children born from a mother with schizophrenia and separated 3 days after birth are still more likely to develop schizophrenia regardless to their split. Studies have also been carried out to test the importance of environment itself, however very little evidence can be found. Children (non schizophrenic) were adopted by individuals that later developed schizophrenia. As the child does not share any genes with the adopted mother/father, the environment is the only point that could determine whether or not they develop schizophrenia. There were extremely low or even no concordance rates in all studies like the one described above. Physiological factors can also be researched with reference to the above question. ...read more.


This only accounts however for those individuals that do not show positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions and hallucinations. Neurological abnormalities tend to be reported more often in people with schizophrenia than in other individuals and more often in patients with negative symptoms if schizophrenia. At best, however, these differences are subtle. The observations are intriguing because they highlight the possibility that some subtypes of schizophrenia may be caused by structural brain pathology. Findings that abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex may be a factor are especially interesting because this area is involved with some of the intellectual symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Interpreting the findings is problematic, however. These neurological abnormalities do not seem to be specific to schizophrenia. They are also found in some healthy individuals, and in persons with mood disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, and organic impairment. It could therefore be an un-reliable source of evidence. In conclusion, the above evidence does suggest that schizophrenia is hugely influenced around biology. However, I also stated the amount of alternative approaches to schizophrenia, which may as well provide similar strong supporting evidence. STUART SMALL 13-JB ...read more.

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