Biological Explanations Of Schizophrenia

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Discuss the Biological Explanations of Schizophrenia. (8+16 marks) The Biological approach to schizophrenia states that the disorder is due to an organic cause. Considerable evidence suggests that the illness is due to genetics. Genetics can be studied as a cause through family, twin or adoption studies. A family study conducted by Gottesman reported that the rate of schizophrenia in the general population is 1% whereas the rate in people where both parents suffer in 46%. He also found that if one parent suffered the rate was 13%. Gottesman concluded that the closer the bloodline the higher the risk. He and Shields then conducted a study on the concordance rates of schizophrenia in 40 sets of twins. They found that in dizygotic twins the rate…show more content…
It may be that this is the reason there are differences in concordance rates rather than the genetics. This also related the nature versus nurture debate as it is difficult to establish whether the differences in the concordance rates are actually due to the genetics. If genetics was solely the cause then the concordance rate in MZ twins should be 100%, as it isn’t this leads us to believe that the environment does play a role in the cause of the…show more content…
As the child is removed from their biological family, environmental factors are eliminated. Tienari carried out a study in Finland. Out of 164 adoptees whose biological mothers had schizophrenia, 6.7% received a diagnosis. Just 2% of the control adoptees received a diagnosis (born to non-schizophrenic mothers). Tienari concluded that the genetic link to schizophrenia has been ‘decisively confirmed’. To evaluate all these studies they can be called ethical. This is because nothing is manipulated to gain the results. All the situations are naturally occurring so there is also a high ecological validity. However the explanation if reductionist as it claims that the disorder is just due to genetics which is clearly not true. 2/3 of schizophrenics do not have a relative also with the illness. This means that the genetic argument cannot prove why they have the disorder and all other areas of biology are ignored. Another explanation of schizophrenia is Biochemistry. This is described by the dopamine hypothesis which states that schizophrenia is due to a high density and a high level of sensitivity of dopamine receptors. Due to this the neurons that transmit dopamine fire too easily or too often. More specifically Weinberger claims that the illness is due to over-activity in the pathways linking the mid-brain to the limbic system and under-activity linking the mid-brain to the
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