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Describe and evaluate the causes of mental disorders from two different approaches Free essay! Download now

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Describe and evaluate the causes of mental disorders from two different approaches

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 820 | Submitted: 23-Feb-2012
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Abnormality according to the behavioural and biological approaches


There have been many attempts to explain the causes of abnormality.

According to the Biological approach there are four main causes for mental disorders.

The biological model says that one of the causes is our genetics. Psychologists use different types of studies to show this.
Family history studies are used to compare members of the same family for the occurrence of a particular disorder like bipolar.
Twin studies are used to compare monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (non identical) twins for a particular mental disorder. Zimbardo’s statistics for a genetic link for schizophrenia is 48% for MZ twins, 17% for DZ twins and 9% for siblings. This shows that it is more likely that a person will develop schizophrenia if they are a MZ twin rather than a DZ twin or sibling. A reason for this could be because MZ twins are more likely to be brought up in similar conditions than DZ twins or siblings. However, schizophrenia cannot be entirely genetic otherwise the concordance of MZ twins would be 100%.
Adoption studies compare the biological parents and the adoptive parents to the child for example to test for schizophrenia or bipolar.

Another cause for mental disorders according to the biological model is biochemistry. This is when there is a chemical imbalance in the brain. An example of this is low levels of serotonin can cause depression.

The third cause is brain damage. This can be either through disease or accident. An example is Alzheimer’s disease which is a form of dementia caused by the malformation and loss of cells in a number of areas of the nervous system.

The last cause of mental disorders according to the biological approach is infection. Bacteria or viruses can cause mental illnesses as well as physical illnesses. Infections can cause physical illnesses which have mental illnesses as symptoms. For example, liver disease can cause hallucinations.

The biological approach can be criticised for having a stigma attached to mental illnesses. Some people do not know how to interact with someone who has a mental illness as so they try to stay away from them as they think the person is dangerous or unpredictable. According to this approach, people with mental disorders are patients who are not in control of their disorder and therefore are not responsible for their own recovery. They are not responsible for their abnormal behaviour and so it is not their fault. They are more likely to be treated sympathetically by others and be in need of help rather than punishment. The biological approach is reductionist. It attempts to break things down to their most basic level. However, it is much more likely that psychological disorders are caused by the interaction of many factors.

Another approach which ...

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