The main strength of the model is that drugs have been successfully used to treat a wide variety of mental disorders, they have allowed people the chance to live independently and as normal life as possible without having to stay in hospital which prior to drug treatment was the only option. Where other therapies have failed, drugs have been successful, it has revolutionised the treatment of people with schizophrenia. Drugs have helped people improve sufficiently to allow psychotherapy and allow them a chance to gain insight into their illness. Drugs have also removed the stigma surrounding people with mental health issues so they are not blamed for being ill or accused of being possessed.
Another strength of the biological approach is that it is very scientific, as the experiments used are measurable, objective and can be repeated to test for reliability. Also, the researcher has more control over the variables which is evident in Selye’s study of rats which led to him developing the theory of General Adaptation Syndrome. The biological approach is also deterministic and increases the likelihood of being able to treat people with mental issue and provides explanations about the causes of behaviour, this understanding can then be used to improve people’s lives.
One of the major weaknesses of the model is the side effects associated with drug or chemotherapy, as previously mentioned when outlining the different classes of drugs available. Most of these drugs can also cause dependency where people cannot cope without them and in some cases tolerance where the drugs actually have little or no effect. It’s also important to note that some other therapies may be ignored as busy doctors will prescribe medication rather than seek alternative means of helping the patient cope, in some cases people suffering from the stresses of daily life may be prescribed medication when exercise or relaxation could be more effective. Drug therapy also does not work for everyone such as people suffering from negative symptoms of schizophrenia where they have motivation or as it is more commonly known as Flatness of affect
Another weakness of the biological model is that it focuses too much on the ‘nature’ side of the nature v nurture debate. It argues that behaviour is caused by hormones, neurotransmitters and genetics. One theory is that schizophrenia is genetic, however, Bouchard and McGue (1981) twin studies show that it is not completely genetic and the environment has a part to play.
Another weakness of the biological approach is that it develops theories about disorders and generalises them to apply to everyone. It does not take into account the view that humans are unique. An example of this is that General Adaptation Syndrome assumes that everyone responds in the same way to stress but does not take into account that some people have more support than others. Szasz criticised drug treatment as inappropriate, rather people had a problem with living and therefore pills weren’t the solution.
Whilst all the approaches have been criticised, they all offer some form of therapy which has positive benefits for the patient and more importantly in some cases have worked hand in hand with other therapies to help people live better lives. None of them can be overlooked as they are beneficial to some extent.
McLeod, S. A. (2010). Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/behavioral-therapy.html – See more at: http://www.simplypsychology.org