Psychological Disorder: A Brief Summary

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a. In his paper, Faulty Circuits, Insel suggested that biological malfunctions underlie psychological disorder. He used some modern biology and neuroscience findings to support his argument. Here are three pieces of evidence he used.

He first presented a study performed at the National Institute of Mental Health on a serotonin transporter gene of participants with and without depression. It was found that the participants with a short variation of the gene showed smaller brain tissue volume in area 25, which has a great amount of serotonin transporters. Area 25 plays an important role in fear, memory and self esteem. Thus, it is very possible that the “short gene” underlies the maldevelopment and disfunction of area 25, which then correlates with depression.
He next gave an example of OCD as evidence for his argument. Neuroimaging of the patients with OCD shows abnormal activity in an adjacent loop that includes the orbitalfrontal cortex, which is a vital place for decision making. Moreover, it was found in the OCD therapy that the patients’ symptom improvement goes along consistently with their decrease in orbitalfrontal cortical activity. It was clear that the biological disfunction underlies the psychological disorder.
He explained how PTSD is a failure of extinguishing fear. After that, he mentioned the studies by Greg Quirk on fear
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Dopamine receptors have long been recognized as the biological cause of schizophrenia. However, when comes to expressed emotion and relapse rate, dopamine theory shows its insufficiency. According to recent studies by Hooley and others, the more expressed emotion a patient experiences, the more likely he or she would have a high relapse rate. Expressed emotion is psychological, yet it is influencing the development of the disease. Thus, the psychological approach of understanding schizophrenia remains

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