Outline and Evaluate the Key Features of the Biological Model of Psychopathology

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Outline and evaluate the key features of the biological model of Psychopathology. In the Biological Model, it is stated that mental disorders have a physical or organic cause and can be seen as ‘diseases of the mind’. This is reflected in the use of the language, for example, ‘mental health’, ‘patient’, ‘diagnosis’ and ‘cure’. As in general medicine, it uses a classification system to identify mental illness on the basis of ‘symptoms’ that cluster together and which enable psychiatrists to make a diagnosis, eg. of depression or schizophrenia. According to the biological model, the presence of certain genes can predispose people to psychological disorders. In other words, certain genes can make people more vulnerable to disorders. Twin and family studies have confirmed that some mental illnesses run in families. In terms of biochemistry, chemical imbalances in the brain may be involved in certain mental illnesses. Neurotransmitters, for example, play a very important part in behaviour – one theory links depression to low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline. However, the relationship between neurotransmitters and depression is very complex and therefore, more research is needed to discover the exact link between this and the disorder. People suffering from depression, also often have high levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is sometimes referred to as a ‘stress hormone’ because it is produced in times of stress. The high levels of cortisol are not surprising as many depressive episodes are preceded by stressful events. Given this, the high levels of cortisol may be a result rather than a cause of depression – they may be produced as a response to stress rather than a cause of the disorder. The Biological Model states that psychological disorders are caused, at least in part, by biological factors. This suggests that treatment should
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