chapter  1
22 Pages

Integrative Theories of Schizophrenia and Learning: a Historical Perspective


Schizophrenia is a disease, or more accurately a cluster of psychiatric symptoms, characterized by bizarre perceptual experiences in sufferers. It is surprisingly common, with a prevalence of 1 in a 100, meaning that that 1 person in a 100 will suffer from schizophrenia at some time during their life, rising to 3 in a 100 when all psychotic disorders are considered (Peraala et al., 2007). From the earliest incarnations of modern psychiatry and experimental psychology there have been attempts to understand and ascertain the origins of the symptoms of schizophrenia. This is partly because schizophrenia has always been a signi®cant societal burden, particularly prior to the discovery of antipsychotic medication in the 1950s. However, a more likely reason is that an interest in the mind and behaviour is naturally accompanied by an interest in what happens when perceptual processes and behaviour go awry in such a dramatic fashion. To the student of human behaviour there is something inherently fascinating about extremes of behaviour and experience such as hallucinations and delusions. This fascination crystallized in the 19th century as the search for the origin of schizophrenia symptoms moved from the hands of religion into those of science.