Biological and Psychological Theory Case Study

Applied Psychology and Criminology Assignment Case Study Report

This essay will look at a biological and psychological theory to reach a diagnosis of a fictional case study. The aim of this essay will be to explain why twenty-seven year old Jack has the illness that he has and then a therapy will be presented that best fits Jack’s illness.

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From Jack’s paranoia that developed over a year working at the video store to the voices he heard and the strange comments that Jack made to his boss and his customers and ultimately his victim, it is apparent that Jack’s diagnosis could be schizophrenia. To give a more confident diagnosis of Jack, DSM edition five is used. In the DSM criteria for schizophrenia, it states that schizophrenia is defined by hallucinations, disorganized speech, delusions, social dysfunction and other symptoms. For a diagnosis of schizophrenia at least two of these symptoms have had to of been present in a individual for six months and the individual has have to of shown at least one month of active symptoms. (DSM-5.2013.) The case study shares that after a year of working at the video store, Jack quit his job after hearing voices and yelling at his boss as he believed that he was being watched. This shows that Jack was having hallucinations and delusions, which are two of the symptoms in the DSM-5 criteria. Not only this but Jack also began ‘talking strangely’ to customers which shows a third possible symptom of social dysfunction. (DSM-5.2013.) These three symptoms give a strong suggestion that Jack could have schizophrenia.

A biological theory will be used to give the first explanation for the knife attack that Jack carried out on a stranger. The exact cause for schizophrenia is unknown but there are different contributing factors that are linked with the mental illness of schizophrenia (nhs.2012.) One main factor is genetics as schizophrenia tends to run in families. People can develop schizophrenia from a first degree family relation such as a parent or a sibling or a second degree relation such as a cousin or an aunt or uncle. However it is not the responsibility of one individual gene, it tends to be different combinations of genes that makes people more susceptible to schizophrenia. The case study doesn’t mention much about the extended family of Jack but it does mention that his uncle had spent a lot of time in the hospital and was being treated for verbal hallucinations. Although it doesn’t mention specifically as to whether Jack’s uncle had schizophrenia or another mental illness, hallucinations is one symptom of schizophrenia (nhs.2012.) and it is a symptom which Jack also suffered from so there is a possibility that it could of been passed down to him. Hallucinations also show that Jack is suffering from positive symptoms, something that a ‘sane’ individual wouldn’t normally have. (Applied Psychology and Criminology study session 2.) The criticism of this biological theory would be that the case study mentioned Jack occasionally used amphetamine which could have caused a dopamine in balance inside Jack’s brain and therefore caused him schizophrenia. But alternatively Jack’s use of amphetamine could have triggered the schizophrenia even though it may have possibly been genetically disposed to Jack. (Applied Psychology and Criminology study session 2.)

The next theory is of a psychology nature and will give a second possible explanation for Jack’s illness. Expressed emotions or EE is a measure of the family environment. Although the case study doesn’t give a full insight into Jack’s home life or his childhood, it shows that his mum was always losing her temper and had a very neglectful and affectionless nature towards Jack and it briefly mentions how he enjoyed school because this meant he got to get away from his parents. It also mentions how he always found his home life very volatile. EE’s measurement of the family environment includes the quality of interaction of family relationships among family members and patients of schizophrenia. (Anekal.C. et al.2012.)The case study only mentions a volatile and unhappy relationship with his mother but it does mention that he liked going to school because he could get away from his parents, so it would suggest that a relationship with his father or father figure was the same as the one he had with his mother; volatile and unhappy. A high level of EE in the home can cause an outcome of someone developing schizophrenia or another mental illness. In Jack’s case it is possible to suggest that the unstable home life he had would have contributed to a high level of EE and therefore contributed to his mental illness. Individuals that have a high level of EE tend to have hostile and judgemental characteristics. On the other hand low expressed emotion is when individuals are more reserved and not judgemental. (Anekal.C. et al.2012.)

To a great extent the biological explanation is successful in explaining Jack’s disorder. The idea that genetics could be a possible reason behind Jack’s suggested diagnosis is a clear and confident explanation as there is evidence of genetic disposition from the case study. His uncle visited the hospital numerous times with hallucinations and other schizophrenia related symptoms, and although his mum didn’t have a mental illness diagnosis, her characteristics were not of a motherly nature. A study that would support the biological theory of genetics is the study of monozygotic twins. Monozygotic twins or identical twins have the same genetic makeup, with identical twins it is expected that if one has a particular trait through genetic cause then the other would have the same trait, along with other factors the risk of schizophrenia in monozygotic twins is between forty and sixty percent compared to non-identical twins at ten to twenty percent, although Jack didn’t have a twin it gives a insight into percentages of mental illnesses and family relations. (Goldberg.E.T et al.ND.)

To a great extent the psychological explanation of expressed emotions is also successful in explaining Jack’s mental illness. The expressed emotion theory looks at measuring the home life of an individual and how this could contribute to an individual developing a mental illness. The case study of Jack gives us a clear indication of Jack’s unstable home life and this shows that there was a high level of EE, this too could have contributed to Jack’s possible schizophrenia. A study to support this psychological explanation is interpersonal relations by Bateson. Bateson, 1972 paid attention to family relations and the distinctive system of interpersonal relationships where individual’s lives unravel. He looked at how individuals communicate through communication and how certain expressions were very significant. Jack’s case study gives a clear insight into his home life and relationships with his family.(Ceryone.D et al. ND.)

In Jack’s case the most obvious and successful treatment would be antipsychotic medication which can effectively treat schizophrenia however it came about. Individuals have roughly one out of a four chance that symptoms will not return if they have suffered just one schizophrenic episode. Jack has suffered for a year with schizophrenic symptoms so it is likely that Jack would need to carry on taking antipsychotic medication for the foreseeable future. (Royalcollegeofpsychiatrists.ND.) The statistics for how well individuals respond to antipsychotic medication specifically clozapine, is four out of five people, these odds should work in Jack’s favour and control his symptoms which include paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, and could even take away his symptoms if he were to carry on taking the medication and not stop. Clozapine seems to be the only medication that works much better than others. In particular it seems to reduce suicidal thoughts in individuals with schizophrenia and has very little effect on the dopamine systems, which is another cause of schizophrenia. This would be successful for Jack, as there is very little risk of the mental illness returning from a different mean, and the statistics provide a confident outcome for Jack. Some side effects of taking these antipsychotic medication is sleepiness, dizziness, increased chance of developing diabetes and weight gain however these are only possible symptoms and Jack may not suffer from some if any of them. (Royalcollegeofpsychiatrists.ND.)

In conclusion, both the biological and psychological explanations give a successful insight into what could have caused Jack’s possible schizophrenia, and neither is better than the other. The idea of genetics can fully relate to Jack as even though there was no diagnosis, both his mother and his uncle weren’t in a sane state of mind, which could have easily been passed onto Jack. Expressed emotions links to Jack as it explains how his turbulent and volatile home life could have too easily made Jack more susceptible to schizophrenia. In terms of Jack’s possible treatment, antipsychotic medication seems to be the most successful way of treating him. The statistics show how well it works for individuals with schizophrenia and the chances of his symptoms coming back and having terrible side effects are slim. However even though medication seems to be the most successful treatment, from the case study Jack should be having a combination of treatments as well as the antipsychotics. This could include some form of therapy such as family therapy where the mother and uncle could be involved to try and rebuild relationships or one on one counselling.


Applied Psychology Study Session 2 (2012). Indian J Psychol Med Expressed Emotions

Ceryone.D et al.(ND). Personality: Determinants, Dynamics and Potentials

DSM-5.(2013. DSM5

Goldberg.E.T et al.(ND). Arch Gen Psychiatry

nami.(ND). retrieved from // Illnesses/Schizophrenia9/Causes.htm

nhs.(2012). retrieved from //

Royalcollegeofpsychiatrists.(ND). retrieved from //


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