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Schizophrenia and Psychosis: Behavioral Components


Schizophrenia and psychosis are mental disorders which are basically characterized by eccentricity in the perception, depiction or interpretation of reality. Common attributes of schizophrenia and psychosis include symptoms such as auditory or visual hallucinations, delusional thinking, personality changes and paranoia. Individuals suffering from severe conditions may exhibit advanced symptoms such as disorganized speech and thought, occupational dysfunction as well as apparent social impediments. This paper aims to examine the biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components of schizophrenia and psychosis in order to understand the holistic implication of the conditions. Furthermore, this essay will discuss the biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components involved in human developmental disorders which may occur in a human being during lifespan development which is from birth till death.

Schizophrenia and psychosis

Like most mental disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis both have various components which combine to manifest as a mental illness. Though the etiology is yet to be identified, research indicates that biologically, some individuals are hereditarily predisposed to schizophrenia (Beck, 2004). It has been observed that schizophrenia is a disorder of multifarious inheritance, with various latent genes playing different inception roles and influencing neurological pathways hence creating the physical conditions necessary for the onset of the condition. The Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) gene protein which is known to cause this condition has been found to interact with certain chromosomal regions mainly the chromosome 6 HLA region of individuals who were exposed to infections prenatally (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Elicitation studies reveal disengagements between emotional and response components in both psychosis and schizophrenia. Individuals suffering from schizophrenia and psychosis are noticeably less expressive when compared to healthy individuals though the emotional experience and autonomic physiology tend to be similar in both affected and healthy individuals. According to Beck’s psychological studies, individuals suffering from psychosis have a deviation in reference to emotional expression and experience and hence find it difficult to express their emotions (Beck, 2004).

Cognitive abnormalities are the dominant trait of schizophrenia as well as psychosis and hence individuals suffering from the disorders exhibit various cognitive abnormalities that generally reveal a difficulty in rapidly synchronizing the steps that transpire in an array of mental activities (Hansell & Damour, 2008). According to Beck (2004), individuals with either schizophrenia or psychosis normally experience trouble when it comes to processing input from the environment around them, making quick reactions, and articulating their reactions fluently in either words or emotions. Consequently, people suffering from schizophrenia flaunt a socially incompatible mentality and an inept thought process. Due to the fact that reality is altered for individuals suffering from both psychosis and schizophrenia, it is apparent that they will show evidence of disparate behavior (Smith, 1992). Symptoms such as hallucinations are likely to cause individuals to behave in a manner different from the norm since responses are elicited without real stimulus (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Additionally, delusions are responsible for rousing anomalous behavior because individuals with schizophrenia believe they are living a life or experiencing a situation that does not exist in actual fact. Furthermore, due to the disassociation between emotional expression and experience, individuals with schizophrenia or psychosis are prone to inappropriate reactions such as laughing over a sad event.

Lifespan development

There are generally five developmental stages in the lifespan of a human being and the phases are categorized according to age. The stages are 1) childhood, from birth to age ten, 2) adolescence, age twelve to twenty, 3) Early adulthood, age seventeen to forty-five, 4) middle adulthood, age forty to sixty-five and 5) late adulthood, age sixty onwards(Smith, 1992). Several biological, emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes occur within these stages leading to a progressively complex being. The biological components of lifespan development disorders are primarily of a heritable nature, with conditions characterized by mental retardation for instance Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and phenylketonuria (Hansell & Damour, 2008). These conditions are genetically induced either through defective or duplicated chromosomes which develop biologically to manifest as a disorder and can be diagnosed in the childhood stage (Smith, 1992). Motor Skills Disorders are also neurological and are therefore likely to be transferred genetically for instance muscular dystrophy, notably Duchenne’s and Becker’s muscular dystrophies which are caused by defective genes(Hansell & Damour, 2008). Generally such disorders manifest during the childhood stage though there are instances where symptoms may appear during adolescence or early adulthood.

According to Hansell & Damour (2008), emotional components are mainly pronounced in Communication Disorders with individuals suffering from conditions such as Expressive language disorder, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder and phonological disorder tending to experience extreme negative emotions since they find understanding others and expressing themselves through words a major challenge(Hansell & Damour, 2008). The majority of patients suffering from lifespan development disorders experience emotions normally though some conditions such as Conduct Disorder, ADDs and PDDs limit or inhibit emotional expressiveness (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Learning Disorders are largely based on the cognitive components whereby individuals suffering from conditions such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia experience intellectual challenges and exhibit inferior performance particularly in academic spheres, education, and intelligence when compared to their peers (Smith, 1992). Individuals suffering from dyslexia for instance find it difficult to cognitively comprehend written words or solve simple mathematical problems (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

Due to the emotional and cognitive strain that most lifespan development disorders inflict on the patients, most of the challenges are expressed through deviant, antisocial or destructive behavior. Consequently, the behavioral components are prominent in most development disorders though conditions such as Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder have a propensity to be behavioral or neurobehavioral. Autism, Rett’s disorder and childhood disintegrative disorder are Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) where patients exhibit social and communicative dysfunctions consequently adapting introverted conduct(Smith, 1992). Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders also known as Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) are neurobehavioral developmental disorders which are characterized by behavior such as disruptive conduct, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Examples include hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder (Hansell & Damour, 2008).


The biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components are the baseline to any condition and analysis of these components offers a profound understanding of any condition. Changes in emotional or cognitive components will normally lead to changes in behavioral components thus these components are often interlinked. Schizophrenia and psychosis are mental conditions which are caused by biological conditions which possess complex hereditary links and are characterized by altered reality which results in atypical emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. Lifespan development disorders consist of broad diagnostic categories which typically affect and manifest during the first three stages of development with each stage perpetuating biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components.


  1. Beck, A. T (2004). A Cognitive Model of Schizophrenia. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy. Vol. 18 No.3, pp. 281–88.
  2. Hansell, J. and Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Wiley.
  3. Smith, F. (1992). To Think. In language, learning and education. London: Routledge.