Presentation on theme: "The biological approach to psychopathology. Biological Approach There are three assumptions which the biological approach of abnormality refers to, these."— Presentation transcript:
Biological Approach There are three assumptions which the biological approach of abnormality refers to, these being; Genetics, Biochemical and Infections/Viruses. All three are discussed below.
Strengths It is objective, being based on mature biological science. It has given insight into the causes of some conditions, such as GPI (General Paralysis of the Insane) and Alzheimer's disease, an organic condition causing confusion in the elderly. Treatment is quick and, relative to alternatives, cheap and easy to administer. It has proved to be effective in controlling serious mental illness like schizophrenia allowing patients who would otherwise have to remain in hospital to live at home. The sickness label has reduced the fear of those with mental disorders. Historically, they were thought to be possessed by evil spirits or the devil – especially women who were burned as witches!
Weakness The treatments have serious side-effects, for example ECT can cause memory loss, and they are not always effective. Drugs may not 'cure' the condition, but simply act as a chemical straitjacket. The failure to find convincing physical causes for most mental illnesses must throw the validity of the medical model into question, for example affective disorders and neuroses. For this reason, many mental disorders are called 'functional'. The test case is schizophrenia but even here genetic or neurochemical explanations are inconclusive. The medical model is therefore focused on physical causes and largely ignores environmental or psychological causes. There are also ethical problems in labelling someone mentally ill – Szasz says that, apart from identified diseases of the brain, most so-called mental disorders are really problems of living. Labelling can lead to discrimination and loss of rights. The medical model has been the one that has been most influential in determining the way that mentally disturbed people are treated, but most psychologists would say that at best, it only provides a partial explanation, and may even be totally inappropriate.
Genetics This assumption states that the more genetically similar two people are the more likely they are to develop similar mental disorders: Supporting this, Zimbardo et al (1995) conducted a study which found in genetically identical twins there was a 48% concordance rate for Schizophrenia opposed to a 17% concordance rate for non-genetically identical twins. Historically because both of the twins grow up and develop in the same environment it infers that genetic reasons can only be the viable reason for these differences. Concordance (agreement, harmony)
Biochemical This assumption states that abnormality is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, where specific low levels or increased levels of hormones are linked with specific conditions. Lower levels of serotonin for example have been linked with depression. Whereas, raised levels of dopamine have been linked with schizophrenia.schizophrenia
Infections/Viruses This assumption, lastly states that some bacterial infections at certain points in a persons life can affect their brain and spinal cord-nervous system. Syphilis for example has been linked to dementia. The flu virus has been linked to schizophrenia where the mother has been infected with flu during pregnancy.
ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) ECT was used in the 1930's for schizophrenia and again in the 1950's for depression. A small electric current is passed through the brain from two electrodes placed on the temples of the head. These induce a seizure. – Patients are now given muscle relaxants to stop full body convulsions and only now used for the most serious cases of depression. – Consent is needed before ECT can be used furthermore ECT is used when drug treatment doesn't seem to work.
Evaluation of ECT Strengths of ECT ECT can improve a patients quality of life if the treatment works. It gives the patient more control over their mental state, when it works. It's mostly approved by Doctors and few disapprove of it. Weaknesses of ECT ECT can be extremely painful for the patient and if a muscle relaxant isn't used it can induce full body convulsions. It doesn't always work for each patient. ECT requires informed consent but if you are at the point where you need to have the treatment to improve your mental state, how exactly can you give informed consent?
Drug Therapy Schizophrenia drugs consist of: – Chlorpromazine which was originally used as a sedative, It reduces the amount of dopamine activity in the brain. – Clozapine is as effective as Chlorpromazine, but it reduces positive and negative symptoms by reducing dopamine and serotonin activity in the brain. Depression drugs consist of: – Previously, around the 1960's two types of drugs were used for depression; MAOIs and Tricyclics which work by increasing the levels of serotonin but they had bad side effects which reacted with some food types. – Currently, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) such as Prozac are used to treat depression. Possible idea to define Psychiatrist and Psychologist. Monoamine-oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants
Evaluation of Drug Therapy Strengths of Drug Therapy – Drugs increase the amount of serotonin levels in the body. Weaknesses of Drug Therapy – Older drugs can give certain patients heart and digestive problems. – Patients can become addicted to the drugs and when they "come off" of the treatment they can relapse into their previous state. – Can be expensive depending on how abundant the drug is usually.
Question Outline and evaluate the biological approach to psychopathology.
Answer AO1: The key features of the biological approach to psychopathology are that disorders have an organic or physical cause. The focus of this approach is on genetics, neurotransmitters, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy etc. This approach argues that mental disorders are related to the physical structure and functioning of the brain. Description of relevant biological therapies can receive credit, but an answer that focuses solely on therapies will be limited to basic. AO2: Evaluation of the approach could be through research that supports these different causes, evidence from the use of therapies, or by consideration of disorders that do not seem to have organic causes and can be better explained by other approaches. The approach can also be criticised for ignoring environmental and developmental influences and alternative approaches can be used to elaborate this problem. Strengths of this approach include its testability via neuroscience research, evidence for genetic and neurotransmitter involvement in conditions such as schizophrenia. Answers which make no reference to psychopathology (while unlikely) will be limited to Basic marks.