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Outline and Evaluate One or More Biological Therapy for Schizophrenia

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By LaulLouise
Words 709
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One biological explanation for schizophrenia is genetics. This theory suggests that a person’s genetic makeup determines whether they develop schizophrenia or not. One way of testing this theory is using twin studies. This works on the principle that twins share more genetic material than ordinary people (MZ share 100% and DZ twins share 50%). These studies are conducted using one twin who has already developed schizophrenia, and predicting how likely the other twin is to develop it. One of these studies was conducted by Rosenthal. He studied 16 pairs of MZ twins that were brought up apart; one out of each pair had schizophrenia. He found that 10 out of16 of the co-twins developed the disorder. This is known as a concordance rate. Rosenthal’s study had a high concordance rate with 62.5%. This suggests that genetics are involved in the development of schizophrenia. Although Rosenthal’s sample was small, it was extremely specific. It allowed him to study the relative effects of nature and nurture by eliminating the influence of nurture (as the twins were brought up apart, concordance was solely due to genetics).

Another twin study was conducted by Gottesman. This was a meta-analysis of over 40 studies. Gottesman found a concordance rate of 48% between MZ twins. This also suggests that genetics are involved in the development and maintenance of schizophrenia. Although the fact that it was a meta-analysis means that the sample was large and therefore valid, the meta-analysis only used studies that supported the hypothesis, and others that may not support it are disregarded. This means meta-analyses can produce an unbalanced argument.
Another way of testing the genetic theory is adoption studies. These are conducted by studying an adopted person who has developed schizophrenia and finding out if their biological parents also developed schizophrenia. Tiernari completed an adoption study and found that from a sample of 112 children adopted away from mothers with schizophrenia 7% eventually developed schizophrenia, whereas of the 135 children adopted away from mothers with no mental disorder 1.5% eventually developed schizophrenia. This study also separated the effects of nature and nurture. Although the adults born to schizophrenic mothers were not raised by a schizophrenic, the concordance rate remained high, supporting the theory that genetics influence whether a person develops schizophrenia.

A criticism of adoption studies was put forward by Wahlberg et al, who stated that although concordance rates were high, many children at high genetic risk of schizophrenia managed to live well in a supportive environment. This proposes the idea of genetic predisposition, that genes make people vulnerable to schizophrenia, rather than causing it.

The second study was completed by Zimbardo et al and they found that concordance rate between 1st degree relatives (siblings, parents) was stronger than between 2nd degree relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins). This is because you share more genetic material with first degree relatives than with 2nd degree relatives. This evidence supports the theory that the more genetic material shared, the higher the concordance rate. This study has been criticised however, as first degree family members often spend a lot of time together. This means that a combination of environment and genetics influence the development of schizophrenia. The genetic theory is also highly deterministic. It states that our genes control us, rather than us consciously deciding to express them. The theory is also highly reductionist as it disregards the possibility that schizophrenia is caused by a number of interacting factors, rather than by just genes.

Another biological explanation for schizophrenia is biochemistry. This states that an imbalance of neurotransmitters causes the condition. This is called the dopamine hypothesis. This suggests that schizophrenia is caused by three things; too much dopamine in the brain, too many dopamine receptors in the brain or those neurons are too sensitive to dopamine. Most of the evidence supports the theory of excess dopamine. A study supporting this was conducted by Iverson, who gave healthy people a predecessor of dopamine, L-dopa. This immediately caused participants to experience schizophrenic symptoms including hallucinations. This research proved that an increase in dopamine causes schizophrenic symptoms, but not necessarily schizophrenia. This research was also highly unethical, as the L-dopa could cause long term problems for the participants’ mental health.

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