In childhood the ego is not developed enough to deal with traumas and therefore they are repressed. For example, a child may experience the death of a parent early in life and repress associated feelings. Later in life, other losses may cause the individual to re-experience the earlier loss and can lead to depression. Previously the unexpressed anger about the loss is directed inwards towards the self, causing depression. Ego defences, such as repression and regression, exert pressure through unconsciously motivated behaviour.
Freud proposed that the unconscious consists of memories and other information that are either very hard or almost impossible to bring into conscious awareness. Despite this, the unconscious mind exerts a powerful effect on behaviour. This frequently leads to distress, as the person does not understand why they are acting in that particular way. The underlying problem cannot be controlled until brought into conscious awareness. However Abstract concepts such as the id, ego and superego are difficult to define and research.
Because actions motivated by them operate on an unconscious level, there is no way to know for certain that they are occurring. Also a common criticism of Freuds work is that it was sexist. The Biological approach is the view that behaviour can all be explained in terms of biological mechanisms, such as hormones, neurotransmitters, brain activity and influences inherited via genes. A biological psychologist explains abnormal behaviour in terms of an abnormal biology, and therefore explains mental disorder as the consequence of malfunctioning of these biological systems.
It follows the belief that treatment should repair these faulty systems, using somatic therapies such as drugs, ECT and psychosurgery. The biological (medical) model assumes that all mental disorders are related to some change in the body. Mental disorders are like physical disorders i. e. they are illnesses. Such changes or illnesses may be caused by one of four possible factors; * Genetic Inheritance * Biochemistry * Neuroanatomy * Viral infection Abnormalities in brain anatomy or chemistry are sometimes the result of genetic inheritance, and so are passed from parent to child.
One way of investigation this possibility is by studying twins. Pairs of identical twins can be compared to see whether, when one twin has a disorder, the other has it as well. This provides us with a concordance rate. A concordance Rate: the extent to which two individuals are similar to each other in terms of a particular trait. There are low concordance rates for some mental disorders, such as phobias, but relatively high concordance rates for others e. g. schizophrenia. Genes tell the body how to function.
They determine, for example, the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain (biochemistry). Genes also determine the structure of the brain (Neuroanatomy). Research has shown that schizophrenics have enlarged ventricles in their brains, indicating of brain tissue around these spaces. Research suggests that some disorders may be related to exposure to certain viruses in utero (i. e. in the womb). For example, Torrey (2001) found that the mothers of many people with schizophrenia had contracted a particular strain of influenza during pregnancy.
The virus may enter the unborn childs brain, where it remains dormant until puberty, when other hormones may activate it, producing the symptoms of schizophrenia. The emergence of the medical model in the 18th century led to more humane treatment for mental patients. Until then mental illness was blamed on demons or on evil in the individual. The medical model offered a different source of blame the illness, which was potentially treatable. However, more recent critics have claimed that the medical model is inhumane.
Thomas Szasz (1972) argued that mental illnesses did not have a physical basis, therefore should not be thought of in the same way. He suggested that the concept of mental illness was invented as a form of social control. The available evidence does not support a simple cause and effect link between mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and altered brain chemistry. For example, schizophrenia is commonly associated with an excess of the brain neurotransmitter dopamine.
However, some studies of schizophrenic patients have shown reduced levels of dopamine in some brain tissues, meaning that there may be simultaneous excesses and deficiencies in different parts of the brain. There is no evidence that mental disorders are purely caused by genetic inheritance concordance rates are never 100%. Gottersman and Shields (1976) reviewed the results of five studies of twins looking for concordance rates for schizophrenia. They found that in monozygotic twins (identical) there was a concordance rate of around 50%. If schizophrenia was entirely the product of genetic inheritance then this figure should be 100%.
It is likely that, in the case of certain disorders, what individuals inherit is susceptibility for the disorder, but the disorder itself only develops if the individual is exposed to stressful life conditions (i. e. stress). This is called the diathesis-stress model. Diathesis-Stress Model: a belief that, in case of certain disorders, individuals inherit a susceptibility for the disorder (diathesis) which develops only if he individual is exposed to difficult environmental conditions (stress). The greater the under-lying vulnerability, the less stress is needed to trigger the disorder.