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Psychologists use the term “schizophrenia” to describe a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown in how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may have trouble distinguishing between what is real and what is not. They may also experience hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and speech. The Nature vs. Nurture debate is a long-standing debate within the field of psychology that seeks to explore the relative contributions of nature (i.e., inherited traits) and nurture (i.e., upbringing or more general life experience) to human behavior (McGuffin, 2004). The debate has mainly influenced whether schizophrenia is caused by nature or nurture. The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown; however, a combination of psychological, physical, genetic, and environmental factors can make an individual more susceptible to developing the condition. Hence, both nurture and nature play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
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Those who believe schizophrenia is mainly caused by nature point to studies that have found that the disorder runs in families (Murray & Vassos, 2020). There are many different causes of schizophrenia, and multiple factors likely play a role. One important factor is genetics. Schizophrenia tends to run in families, which suggests that the disorder has a heritable component. Studies of twins and adoptees have shown that genetics plays a significant role in the development of schizophrenia. For example, identical twins have a much higher concordance rate for schizophrenia than fraternal twins. If an identical twin has schizophrenia, the other twin also has a 50% chance of developing the disorder (Dick et al., 2022). This is much higher than the general population, with a 1% chance of developing schizophrenia. And adoptees whose biological parents have schizophrenia are more likely to develop the disorder than those whose parents do not have the disorder. While genetics appears to be a significant factor in the development of schizophrenia, it is essential to remember that a single gene does not cause the disorder. Instead, multiple genes and nurture likely contribute to the development of the disorder (Danylova, 2019). There is also compelling evidence that schizophrenia is caused by brain chemistry and structure disturbances. In people with schizophrenia, the balance of certain chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters, is disrupted. The imbalance is thought to interfere with how nerve cells in the brain communicate (Dick et al., 2022). The most common neurotransmitter abnormality in people with schizophrenia is excess dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and the experience of pleasure. An excess of dopamine is thought to cause the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. Other neurotransmitter abnormalities that have been linked to schizophrenia include abnormalities in the levels of serotonin, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These neurotransmitters are involved in mood, anxiety, and cognition and are also thought to play a role in developing psychotic symptoms. In addition to neurotransmitter abnormalities, people with schizophrenia often have changes in the structure and function of their brains. These changes can be seen on brain scans and include abnormalities in the size and shape of specific brain regions, as well as changes.
The term “schizophrenia nurture” refers to the theory that the environment plays a role in the development of schizophrenia. It is a theory based on the observation that people with schizophrenia often come from families and social backgrounds marked by poverty, violence, and other forms of stress. Psychologists who believe that schizophrenia is mainly caused by nurture point to studies that have found the disorder is more common in certain cultures (McGuffin, 2004). For example, schizophrenia is more common in industrialized societies than in traditional societies. That suggests that modern society’s stress may cause the disorder. For example, schizophrenia is much more common in urban areas than in rural ones. That is because urban areas are more likely to be marked by poverty, violence, and other forms of stress. Therefore, it is now widely accepted that the environment is a major contributing factor to the development of schizophrenia. A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to certain environmental factors, such as stress, can increase the risk of developing the condition (Danylova, 2019). For example, research has shown that people who experience stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, are more likely to develop schizophrenia. Additionally, people born into poverty or growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods are also at increased risk. Evidence also suggests that exposure to certain toxins, such as lead, can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Additionally, people who use drugs, such as marijuana, are also at increased risk (Murray & Vassos, 2020). While the exact cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, it is clear that the environment plays a significant role in its development.
While the exact causes of schizophrenia are still not fully understood, the evidence suggests that genetics and the environment play a role in the development of the disorder. Genetics may make some people more vulnerable to the disorder, while environmental factors may trigger the onset of symptoms.
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- Danylova, T. (2019). Moving beyond the “nature-nurture” dichotomy: a holistic approach to mental health. Res. Revol, pp. 7, 1–5. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tatiana-Danilova/publication/332808451_Danylova_T_Moving_Beyond_The_Nature_-_Nurture_Dichotomy_A_Holistic_Approach_to_Mental_Health/links/5ccaea01a6fdcce35cd2e511/Danylova-T-Moving-Beyond-The-Nature-Nurture-Dichotomy-A-Holistic-Approach-to-Mental-Health.pdf
- McGuffin, P. (2004). Nature and nurture interplay: schizophrenia. Psychiatrische Praxis, 31(S 2), 189-193.https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-2004-834565
- Murray, R. M., & Vassos, E. (2020). Nature, nurture, and the polygenic risk score for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 46(6), 1363-1365. https://academic.oup.com/schizophreniabulletin/article-abstract/46/6/1363/5896017
- Dick, D. M., Riley, B., & Kendler, K. S. (2022). Nature and nurture in neuropsychiatric genetics: where do we stand? Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.31887/DCNS.2010.12.1/ddick