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Schizophrenia: Nature or Nurture?
Schizophrenia seems to be a topic full of mysteries, a disorder of the unknown. Those who are victims experience extreme delusions and hallucinations and may be completely uncontrollable or even dangerous. The cause of it? This is unknown as well. There has been an ongoing debate concerning the cause for a number of years, the nature versus nurture debate. In 1582, an educator in Britain stated, “Nature makes the boy toward, nurture sees him forward.” This acts as the quote that describes the debate of nature versus nurture. It has left many researchers questioning whether the cause is a person’s surroundings or genetics. A plethora of research has been done to come to a conclusion. Researchers that argue the side of nurture have a much stronger argument. Though many will argue it, the cause of schizophrenia is most certainly nurture.
A number of experiments have been done to decide which is the more plausible answer, nurture or nature. One of the most popular tests is the twin or sibling test. This is experiment is designed to test which side of the debate is more believable. If the side of nature is correct, we should expect that monozygotic, or identical twins, will both be schizophrenic regardless of their environment. Looking at experiments though, this is false. Identical twins are genetically identical but do not have the same nurture as they grow up. This is important to remember. Therefore, why would one twin have schizophrenia and the other twin be completely free of it? The answer to this is the way they grow up. Both twins do not receive the same amount of nutrients and chemicals in the womb nor do they have the same nutrition, hormones, or life experiences. Statistically, if one identical twin has schizophrenia, the other has a 48% chance of also being affected by the disease. This is unlike most statistics. When you look at other statistics showing diseases between identical twins, there is generally a hundred percent chance of both twins having it.
After looking at statistics and different discussions in the scientific world it is easy to see how many would lean toward that side of nurture.
An important argument in this to the discussion is the occurrence time. Schizophrenia tends to occur around the ages 16-30. Research has been done to show that there is a trigger that causes schizophrenia to show in a person. When we look at other disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder, we see that there is almost always a trigger that causes a person to show signs of PTS disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder is something no one is born with, it generally takes a life experience for signs to show. The similarity between post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia is that each of them needs triggers to show in a person. This is the key element to the nature versus nurture. Now we must consider, what would the trigger need to be. The answer to this is something in a person’s environment.This seems to be an obvious showing that nurture is the cause for schizophrenia
Next, we look at the treatment. Aside from a small number of medications that seem to slightly help the victims of schizophrenia, the number one type of treatment is therapy. The most helpful form of therapy is family therapy. Now first, we must look at the purpose of this therapy. It is to help the patient to deal with their problem and possibly even resolve it completely. If schizophrenia was a matter of genetics, we would expect the patient to be going to individual therapy sessions. If they are the problem, they are also their only solution therefore individual therapy is the answer. Most patients go to family therapy though. Why would they need to go to family therapy if family is not part of the issue? That’s exactly the point; they are part of the problem or they are the cause. This is not saying that family is the sole reason for schizophrenia but they seem to be a big part of the problem. The solution is often times the problem. This is why therapy, one of the treatments, leads me to believe that schizophrenia is caused by nurture.
Lastly, we look at something that is very important to know about schizophrenic people. Those who are affected with schizophrenia often have what society would call ‘imaginary friends’. Schizophrenic people have delusions and hallucinations. These delusions and hallucinations often come in the form of animals or people telling them to do things that they regularly would not do. These ‘imaginary friends’ tend to be violent and tell them to hurt their own loved ones. Some researchers consider these delusions to be the inner demons of the person coming out. Most people are able to control their anger and hold back these thoughts but unfortunately something goes wrong in the communication in a schizophrenic person’s brain that causes them to let these thoughts out. Many will say that they are threatening their loved ones because of something their loved ones did to them in the past. This is yet another example why schizophrenia is caused by nurture rather than nature.
After looking at a number of interviews, reading many books, and assessing many articles nurture seems to be the more correct than nature. When we look at the twin experiments we don’t always see both twins being affected with schizophrenia. On a number of occasions we only see one twin affected. This could have simply been a matter of coincidence or very similar ways of nurture. Next, we examined the age of occurrence. Schizophrenia often shows between the ages sixteen to thirty. There needs to be a trigger in order for it to show. A trigger must be in their environment therefore showing yet again the side of nurture. Lastly, we looked at their delusions or hallucinations. These delusions often come as animals or people telling them to do harmful things to their loved ones. These are often considered to be the person’s past taking revenge on the loved ones. After looking at all the different information gathered, we ask the question again. Is the cause of schizophrenia nature or nurture? Nurture has much more to back it up and is a much more plausible argument. Simply put, nurture is the more plausible cause.





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