Biological Explanations of Schizophrenia

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Introduction

Discuss research in biological explanations of schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder involving loss of contact with reality and a range of symptoms. One biological explanation for schizophrenia is that genetic factors are involved. This view considers that certain individual's posses certain genes which predispose an individual to schizophrenia. Furthermore the condition can be inherited and as a result we would expect to find that relatives have similar chances of developing the disorder. One other biological explanation for schizophrenia is the Viral Hypothesis. This states that schizophrenia is a mental deterioration at an early age. In other words brain damage at the time or before the time of birth could be a factor in the development of schizophrenia. They have enlarged ventricles in their brain and post-mortems have found that their brains are lighter. There certainly evidence that supports that we can inherit a disposition for schizophrenia through genetic causes. Research to prove this comes twin studies of MZ and DZ twins.

Middle

This supports the view that genetics has a strong role. However, the evidence is not conclusive as not all high-risk cases got the disorder. A genetic predetermination could lead to abnormalities in the brain. There strong support for the idea that high dopamine levels are involved in schizophrenia. Dopamine is a neuro-transmitter in the brain and post-mortems have found higher levels than normal in the brains of schizophrenics. Research on amphetamines supports this because they increase dopamine and been found to worsen schizophrenic symptoms. One study found that rats which were given amphetamines displayed schizophrenic-type behaviour, though there is no reason to suppose that those drugs which are known to reduce dopamine (antipsychotic drugs) also reduce schizophrenic symptoms. However, this it is impossible to identify cause and affect as the evidence tends to be correlational. MRI scans have found that schizophrenics have enlarged ventricles in their brain and post-mortems have found the the brains of schizophrenics are lighter. This could reflect loss of cells in the brain and could explan the cognitive symptoms such as poor attention, distractibility and poor memory.

Conclusion

Evidence for this comes from the effects of certain family behaviours. For example, Laing proposed that the disorder involves a 'divided self' as the person's internal and external worlds are split, so the person can not identify with reality. This could result from conflicting demands and breakdown in communication within the family. Bateson proposed the concept of 'double-bind' to explain how a child can become confused and doubtful from parents giving conflicting demands i.e. criticising for not giving hugs and then rejecting the child's hug. Although family factors could not explain why all children in a family don't get the disorder. To conclude; biological explanations can explain the inheritance of schizophrenia to a great extent. However, it can not explain every case and so there must factors involved such environmental factors. Although it could be argued that some environmental triggers or stressors are actually biological, such as birth injuries or viruses. Furthermore the fact that biological factors are not the only cause of the condition is important for individuals who have relatives with the disorder because it means that they will not necessarily develop the disorder.

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