there has been evidence to show that an imbalance in neurotransmitters such as serotonin noradrenaline and dopamine causes symptoms of mental disorders. For example, if a person had low levels of dopamine they are likely to experience symptoms of depression such as loss of appetite or experience low moods, as monoamines are part of our biology which causes mental illness. Therefore mental illness can be argued to exist because the symptoms can be linked to a physical cause.
although it has been proven that there are real physical causes of mental illness, there are some illnesses that do not have a physical cause, and therefore cannot be classed as a mental illness. For example, Szasz uses the example ADHD, explaining that there is no physical cause of this illness, and therefore cannot be a mental illness, he further supports this argument that this has been classed as a mental illness due to society believing that a collection of socially unacceptable behaviours are assumed to be a mental illness, and that this is a label, not a disease
The genetic explanation of mental illness could be seen to be deterministic as the factor is out of the individual's control. For example in depression, the short-short form of the serotonin transporter gene is responsible for the genetic vulnerability to depression. A person who inherits this gene is more vulnerable, but unable to change this factor, therefore making it deterministic. However, it could be argued that genetic factors are also affected by the environment, which an individual may be able to control, therefore reducing the deterministic aspect in genetics.
Another explanation may be the monoamine hypothesis of depression. This is where levels of serotonin a neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of dopamine and noradrenaline, may reduce after adverse life events. This is deterministic as individuals cannot control neurotransmitters levels nor the adverse life events hence are under the influence of external factors. However, an individual may exercise free will by using drug therapy to regulate their neurotransmitters. In contrast, the cognitive explanation involving cognitive distortions (inaccurate perceptions) or negative schema development may be less. This is because individuals have a greater level of control over thought patterns. Additionally, it is possible to change thought patterns, as used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) indicating that there is an element of the individual's free will. This is particular to life events as it is the individual's free will that can also be changed. However, it could be argued that these life events are deterministic in themselves as well as the environment which helped to create negative schemas in the first place.
Describe the debate: Psychologists who think behaviour is due to nature would consider that it had been inherited from parents and the child is born with that behaviour. This can be seen in the biological explanation of mental illness where genetic explanations for disorders such as schizophrenia can be seen. Evidence: In Gottesman's research he showed that children with two parents who had been admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia were much more likely to be diagnosed themselves with schizophrenia and even bipolar, showing genetic similarities between these two disorders. Evaluate: This presents a problem of suggesting the nature side of the debate, as it could be seen as unethical if we then tried to prevent people from having babies if the parents had mental disorders. Evaluate: It is also a problem that it is very reductionist, in that if we say babies are born with a mental disorder due to inheritance, why is there not a 100% concordance rate between identical twins who have the same genetic makeup and the same environment, but don't always both get the same disorder. Therefore the nature debate cannot account as a sole explanation of mental illness
Describe the debate: This means that we have to adopt a nurture side of the debate, and this could be seen in things like the chemical imbalance of a person, which might be caused by the environment. Evidence: The World Health Organisation have found that people with schizophrenia have depleted levels of dopamine. However, this could be caused by stressors in their environment. So it is the environment of nurture of the person that causes the schizophrenia. Evaluate: This has less ethical considerations as it suggests we can actually do something to help prevent the disorder, other than gene therapy, and means that we can make a difference. Evaluate: However it means the person has to help themselves, whereas the nature side might give someone the excuse "it's not me it's my genes".
Conclusion - How each side interacts together: As you can see there are arguments for adopting a nature and nurture side of the debate within the biological explanation. It is probably an interaction between genetic disposition and environmental factors which result in a person having a disorder as it is impossible to develop as individual without the influence of both nature and nurture.
An alternative to the medical model would be the behaviourist explanation, which assumes that we are born a blank slate therefore mental illness are learned from the environment and the result of nature. The behaviours approach is scientific to a large extent due to the use of lab experiments, which allows for high levels of control therefore the effect of the IV on the DV is clearly measured. An example would be little Albert - using the concept of classical conditioning, a little boy learned to fear white objects due to an association between a white rat and a loud noise, which then generalised to other white objects leading to his phobia which is anxiety disorder. Thus through the lab controlled condition, the behaviourist approach is scientific to a large extent. The behaviorist perspective is also scientific as it is objective- free form bias and is shown through the little Albert study again, as the concept of classical conditioning was objective to see the effects of a conditioned stimulus and a conditioned response.
Another alternative would be the psychodynamic perspective, which assumes that mental illness are caused by unconscious conflicts, which manifest themselves into our behaviour - leading to mental illness. This alternative is less scientific as it is unfalsifiable - it cannot be proven wrong. For example, Little Hans phobia of horses was explained to be a result of his conscious conflicts whilst resulting the Oedipus complex - but this can not be proven wrongs the psychosexual stages of development and the ego and superego are theories and cannot be tested. It is also less scientific as it is subjective - of dreams and pscyho-analysis differ which lowers its reliability. For example, Freud interpreted Hans phobia through his dreams, such as the parenting fantasy where he was married to his mum, and his father was elevated to grandfather, which has seen by Freud as Hans resolved conflict, thus meant his phobia would stop, which is highly subjective and open to interpretation.
In conclusion the behaviourist perspective is scientific as it uses lab experiments and objectives methods to gather research about mental illness, however the psychodynamic perspective is less scientific due to unfalsifiable explanations to mental illness, thus alternatives to the medical model vary in terms of the extent to which they are scientific.
Describe the debate: The nature debate is the belief that behaviour is derived from what we are born with. It also believes that chemical changes, brain structures, brain activity and hormonal imbalances cause id behaviour. Evidence for nature debate: Freud believes that mental illness derived from the unconscious mind, this is something we are born with as it is basically an aspect of our nature. All instincts are present from birth. This model was Freud's idea of the cause of mental illnesses. Evidence for nurture: He said it was traumatic experiences, and being unable to express the instincts that caused a back log of psychic energy that results in symptoms of mental illness. So although the instincts themselves are nature, the traumatic experiences - such as having cruel parents - are aspects of nurture. Also, being unable to release that built-up energy, for example if you are bereaved but don't want to be seen crying, is another illustration of nurture.
Describe the debate: The nurture debate is the idea that a behaviour is influenced by the environment, situational factors and social situations. Evidence for nurture debate: Psychodynamic therapy aims to release built up psychic energy - catharsis. This is another example of nurture - the experiences with the therapist change the status of mental illness. One way this is done is by letting the psychic energy is by expressing the pent up feelings to the therapist. Comparison: This helps provide a solution for the problem with nature - the trapped instincts, by using the nurture from the interaction with the therapist.
Freud explained how nature and nurture can interact in childhood. In the oedipus complex a child is directed at the opposite sex parent. so the instinct itself is nature but the interaction between the child and each parent is nurture. This helps to explain why problems in childhood, especially with parents are at risk of developing mental illnesses because both nature and nurture could be influential. For example, Freud said depression was sometimes linked to losing a parent or being rejected by them. Although the event with the parent is nurture, the psychic energy, which is trapped in as anger against the parent and guilt about themselves, is a nature aspect. Together these cause the symptoms of mental illness.