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Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

By Edited Aug 17, 2016 0 1

There is an ongoing argument as to whether schizophrenia is an inherited illness, or not. Conflicts in evidence suggest that schizophrenia occurs due a biological basis in a patient, in which a psychological event provokes the onset of the illness. On the other hand; the patient may need a stressor for a biological response to be initiated.

Biochemical and Genetic Factors of Schizophrenia

There is research suggesting that schizophrenia is the result of biochemical change in the brain; amphetamine and cocaine users can be seen exhibiting similar symptoms to schizophrenia. This was made evident in Davis’s (1974) findings in which he injected methylphenidate (an amphetamine like drug) into schizophrenic patients whose symptoms had lessened over time. He discovered, that within a few minutes, the symptoms of each patient had dramatically increased ‘from a mild schizophrenia into a wild and very florid schizophrenia’. According to the Dopamine Hypothesis, this occurs because these drugs cause an extra release of dopamine in the brain from over stimulation of synapses, that use this chemical as a transmitter.

The Psychodynamic Approach to Schizophrenia

The Psychodynamic approach to schizophrenia suggests that it is a type psychosis that has regressed back to primary narcissism. Primary narcissism is found in the oral stage of development of self indulgence. The infant is conflicted, between satisfying their self indulgent side and their experience of the real world. This regression, according to Fromm-Reichmann (1940), could be due to being reared by an abrasive and cold parenting style . This can present behaviour that is seen as the self indulgent symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Cognitive Factors of Schizophrenia

Cognitive theories also offer evidence to suggest that schizophrenia is not an inherited illness. A study conducted by Tienari (1987), involving children who were adopted away from their schizophrenic mothers at a young age. These children were then adopted by three categories of families; the well adjusted, the moderately maladjusted and severely maladjusted. The findings of the study showed that the children with the well adjusted families were significantly less likely to develop any behavioural abnormalities. Concluding that the environmental stressors (such as a maladjusted family) could be a key factor in the development of schizophrenia.

So do we Inherit Schizophrenia?

To summarise these findings, it could be suggested that schizophrenia is inherited, if the child has a genetic susceptibility to the disease. This can then emerge in the child at a later age. A child need not be brought up in a maladaptive environment, such as staying with schizophrenic parents to develop schizophrenia, but is much more likely to develop the disease if environmental stressors have been an issue.





Sep 15, 2014 12:33am
Genetic causes of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has schizophrenia have a 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1 percent chance of the general population.
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  1. Davis J. M. "A two factor theory of schizophrenia." Journal of psychiatric research. 11 (1974): 25-29.
  2. Fromm-Reichman, F. "Notes on the mother rĂ´le in the family group. ." Bulletin of the Menniger Clinic. (1940): 132-148.
  3. "The Finnish adoptive family study of schizophrenia: Possible joint effects of genetic vulnerability and family environment.." British Journal of Psychiatry. (1989): 19-33.

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