Discuss Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia Essay

488 WordsMay 18, 20152 Pages
Discuss psychological explanations of schizophrenia There are many different psychological approaches towards explaining schizophrenia which suggests that the development of schizophrenia is due to psychological factors rather than biological factors. One psychological approach to schizophrenia is the behavioural approach. Behavourists argue that schizophrenia is learnt through operant conditioning. This means that someone may do something that gets a positive reaction or reward from others which then encourages the person to repeat the behaviour and consequently reinforce that behaviour. For a schizophrenic this suggests that their behaviour is a consequence of faulty learning. For example, if a child receives little or no social interaction early in life (parental disinterest), the child will attend to inappropriate and irrelevant environmental cues (e.g. the sound of word rather than its' meaning). This results in the child's behavioural responses becoming bizarre and so those that may observe the child's behaviour may avoid it or respond erratically, therefore reinforcing the child's behaviour. This cycle will eventually deteriote into a psychotic state. One study which supports the behavioural approach to schizophrenia and the idea that schizophrenic behaviour can be modified is the token economy study. In this study, which takes place in an institutionalised setting, scizophrenics were given tokens when they displayed socially desired behaviour and they could exchange this token for small treats such as sweets and cigarettes. It was found that the amount of socially desirable behaviour increased- patients went from performing from an average of 5 chores a day to around 40. This shows that schizophrenic behaviour can be modified through operant conditioning and so also suggests that schizophrenic behaviour can also be learnt in the same way.
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