Family Dysfunction Explanation of Schizophrenia
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What are the assumptions of the family dysfunction explanation?
- A person develops schizophrenia because they have been raised in a dysfunctional family environment
- The family is dysfunctional because of the way its members communicate or interact with each other
What are the features of Bateson's Double Bind theory?
- Parents communicate contradictory messages to their children
- They say one thing but their tone or gestures or tone communicate the opposite
- One message is conveyed on the verbal level but another is conveyed on the non verbal level
Give an example of double bind communication?
A parent tells her son she loves him whilst turning away in disgust
What are the effects of double bind communication?
- The longer it goes on, the more the child will misinterpret the contradictory messages and the more confused they will get
- The child will assume they can do nothing but displease the parent and this will affect their ability to respond to them
- Eventually the child's sense of reality is distorted leading to schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations
What are the features of Brown's expressed emotion theory?
Schizophrenia development is augmented when someone is in a negative emotional climate
What are the features of the expressed emotion family communication style?
- Criticism (frequent critical comments made by the family)
- Hostility (statements of dislike or contempt made towards the person by the family)
- Emotional over involvement (over protectiveness by the parents/family)
What did Schiffman et al find in 2002?
Expressed emotion is a stress factor possibly causing or contributing to the development of schizophrenia
What did Butzlaff and Hooley find in 1998?
- Over 20 studies of expressed emotion were reviewed
- 70% of schizophrenics in such families relapsed within a year
- 30% of schizophrenics with families not displaying EE relapsed
How does the family dysfunction explanation over emphasise nature?
- Only family communications and the environment are focussed on
- Other factors such as biological factors are ignored
How is the family argument overly deterministic?
- It reduces a complex disorder such as schizophrenia down to only nurture
- This implies that family communications and EE cause and determine our behaviour meaning we are helpless and have no control over our actions
- This is too simplistic and many who are brought up in a family with negative communication patterns do not become schizophrenics
How is the family theory unfalsifiable and unscientific?
- Evidence supporting the theory is flawed as it is based on self reports
- The theory is based on correlations, schizophrenia could cause someone to interpret communication as double bind
What did Berger find in 1965?
Schizophrenics reported a higher level of double bind than non schizophrenics
How is the family theory gender biased?
- The blame is placed on the mother, she can even be labelled as a schizophregenic mother meaning she can create a schizophrenic child by her communication
- Does not account for children raised by their father
What did Tienari find in 1994?
- Adopted children in Finland with schizophrenic parents were more likely than a control group with non schizophrenic parents to become schizophrenics themselves
- This difference only occurred when the adopted family was judged to be disturbed or dysfunctional
- This supports the diathesis stress model
What did Liem find in 1974?
There was no difference in patterns of communication in families with a schizophrenic child and families without
What did Hall and Levin find in 1980?
In a review of family studies, no evidence of a contradiction in verbal and non verbal messages between children with schizophrenia and parents
What did Vaughn and Leff find in 1976?
- EE play an important part in schizophrenia relapse
- The extent of emotional expression in families is a strong predictor of relapse rates amongst discharged patients
- 51% in high EE homes
- 13% in low EE homes
What are the practical applications of EE?
Families can be educated in controlling and reducing levels of EE which is effective in reducing relapse rates
How is causation a problem for Family dysfunction?
- Studies are always carried out after the child has been diagnosed
- The trauma of this diagnosis may cause the family to change their communication with parents leaving jobs to care for the children
- EE could be caused by schizophrenia, not the other way around
How is the family dysfunction theory unethical?
- It places blame on the family and focusses on early relationships with the mother as the cause
- This causes guilt and can be destructive to families that are already experiencing trauma after a diagnosis
What has been recognised about family dysfunction?
Family interactions may act as a trigger rather than a cause for schizophrenia
Write a word equation for the diathesis stress model
Diathesis (biological vulnerability) + Stress (trigger caused by social or psychological factors) = Disorder (mental illness or schizophrenia)
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