Outline and Evaluate Psychological Explanations of Schizophrenia

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Outline and evaluate psychological explanations of schizophrenia (24 marks) Brown and Birley studied stressful life events in the role of relapse in schizophrenics. They found that 50% of people experience a stressful life event e.g. death, relationship break-up, job loss etc. in the 3 weeks prior to a schizophrenic episode. A control sample reported a low and unchanging level of stressful life events over the same period. However not all evidence supports the role of life events. For example, Van Os et al reported that patients were not more likely to have a major stressful life event in the 3 months preceding the onset of their illness. In a prospective part of the study, those patients who had experienced a major life event went on to have a lower likelihood of relapse, further-more life events after the onset of schizophrenia may be a consequence rather than a cause of schizophrenia. Bateson et al (1956) suggested that children who frequently receive contradictory messages from their parents are more likely to develop schizophrenia e.g. a mother hugs her child but then disapprovingly tells him off for being “clingy”. This is known as the double-bind theory. There is evidence to support the double-bind theory. Berger found that schizophrenics reported a higher recall of double-bind statements by their mothers than non-schizophrenics. However this evidence might not be reliable, as patients recall may be affected by their schizophrenic. Other studies are less supportive. Liem measured patterns of parental communications in families of schizophrenic children and found no difference when compared with normal children. Expressed emotion (EE) involves high levels of negative emotion (e.g. criticism) or high levels of positive emotion (e.g. over-protectiveness). Linszen at al (1997) found a patient returning to a family with high EE is four times more likely to
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