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'Biological explanations of schizophrenia tell us all we need to know about this disorder.(TM)

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'Biological explanations of schizophrenia tell us all we need to know about this disorder.' Critically consider biological explanations of schizophrenia with reference to the issue raised in the quotation above. (30marks) The term Schizophrenia comes from two Greek words; 'schizo' meaning 'split' and 'phren' meaning 'mind'. On average, the rates of schizophrenia during the course of a person's life are about 1% of the population. The symptoms exhibited vary, but typically include problems with attention, thinking, social relationships, motivation, and emotion. Onset of this disorder is typically late teens/early twenties in males and late twenties in females. Onset can be sudden e.g. as the individual starts at either university or at a new career. There are two major symptom categories: acute which is characterised by positive symptoms (hallucinations, delusions), and chronic which is characterised by negative symptoms (e.g. apathy, withdrawal). DSM IV has distinguished 5 different types of schizophrenia: paranoid (this type involves delusions of various kinds), disorganised (this involves great disorganisation including incoherent speech and large mood swings), catatonic (this involves almost total immobility for hours at a time with the patient simply staring blankly), undifferentiated (this includes patients who do not clearly belong within any other category), and residual (this consists of patients who are experiencing mild schizophrenic symptoms). ...read more.


The concordance rate if one parent is schizophrenic Gottesman found, is 16% and it's 8% if a sibling has schizophrenia. These were compared against the 1% of probability of someone selected randomly at suffering from schizophrenia. Gottesman further found (Gottesman & Bertelsen, 1989) that compared with the offspring of MZ twins where one of the twins is schizophrenic and the other is not, there is exactly the same (17%) in both cases. This highlights the importance of genetics in schizophrenia because the results clearly indicate that schizophrenia can run in the family. Furthermore, as predicted by the genetic hypothesis, the concordance rate is much higher between relatives having high genetic similarity. Moreover, adoption studies that have been carried out further indicate that there is a genetic component in schizophrenia. Tienari (1991) compared 155 adoptive children of schizophrenic mothers with 155 adoptive children who didn't have schizophrenic mothers and found that in the children of the schizophrenics there was a 10.3% incidence of schizophrenia as adults compared with the 1.1% offspring of the non-schizophrenics. Genetic factors may lead to differences in brain chemistry, so that it is the brain chemistry that is the immediate causal factor of schizophrenia. Biochemical abnormalities may be important in the development and maintenance of schizophrenia. ...read more.


had a greater tendency to relapse than those in low EE homes. This theory is supported by a cross cultural study by Leff et al (1987) in India, and Cazzullo et al (1989) in Italy and this is a major strength for the theory because it means that the theory can be generalised to a wider population thus is more representative of the entire population. Read et al (2004) also argued strongly that social factors are very important in understanding schizophrenia. These factors involve what is going on in people's lives, their families and societies in which they live. Read et al argue that the biological accounts are very damaging to those labelled schizophrenic. This is because the label, Read insists, is responsible for unwarranted and destructive pessimism about the chances of recovery and has actively ignored and even discouraged discussion of social factors. This is a major weakness with the biological account because although there is a diverse range of evidence to support some of the theories, it does indeed disregard the involvement of any other factors, when in fact there is evidence for them too. A final problem with the biological accounts is that by allowing it alone to define the causes of schizophrenia, it leads us to believe that only the biological account underpins the disorder when actually, British cognitive psychologists have demonstrated that hallucinations and delusions are perfectly understandable in terms of normal psychological processes (Garety et al, 2001). ...read more.

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