The Biological Characteristics Of Schizophrenia And The Treatment Of Mental Illness

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The biological model suggests that mental illnesses have a physical cause, for example, an illness which could have been caused by an infection, genes, brain biochemistry or neuroanatomy (Cardwell and Flanagan, 2005).

Bacterial and viral infections can damage the brain, resulting in a malfunction. An example of this is general paralysis of the insane, which is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by a sexually transmitted infection called syphilis. Brown et al., (2000) discovered a link between infections of the respiratory system in pregnant women in the second trimester and the following development of schizophrenia in adulthood. This finding suggests that infections can cause mental illness. However, not everyone who has a respiratory
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It focuses on physiological features, like genetics and brain chemistry, which can be objectively measured (Lawton et al, 2011). Also, the medical diagnosis of mental illnesses reduces the factor of blame that is normally placed on the individual and the family with a psychological model. However, this model also has many criticisms, for example, the biological model is heavily reductionist as it assumes that the biological changes in the brain are responsible for any behavioural disorder, rather than looking more generally at their behaviour, symptoms and environmental influences (McGinley et al, 2008). Most of the support for this model comes from studies on animals, but researchers cannot be sure that animals display abnormal behaviour in the same way as humans, also, animal studies are very unethical as most cause the animals stress (Lawton et al, 2011). Many studies have found that psychological disturbances are associated with biological changes, however, it cannot be told if such changes are a cause or effect of the psychological symptoms (Psych teacher, …show more content…
Much of the success of this model has come from the effectiveness of behavioural therapies for treating abnormal behaviour. However, these do not work with all disorders, such as schizophrenia which is most likely to have a biological cause rather than a psychological cause. The simplicity of the model makes it easy to conduct research to test how association and rewards affect behaviour, studies such as Little Albert have shown how abnormal behaviour can be learned which gives support to the model (Cardwell and Flanagan, 2005). The behavioural model is a positive one as it does not label individuals with the stigma of being ‘ill’ and, therefore, avoid self-fulfilling prophecies (Lawton et al, 2011). However, most of the research is carried out on animals, which may not be applicable to understanding the complexities of human mental disorders. This approach is also reductionist as it only explains mental illnesses in terms of learning principles, it ignores thoughts and feelings which could also contribute to the development of psychopathology. In addition, this model also over-emphasises environmental factors and avoids the biological and psychological factors (Lawton et al, 2011). Lastly, the behavioural approach is heavily deterministic, viewing human behaviour as simply a product of stimuli, rewards and punishment; there is no role

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