Dec 14

Social Media…The Brain Refresher

Social Media…The Brain Refresher


Ah, social media, personally it’s my ‘smoke break’ and some days it’s my only escape.   Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, are only a few of the top applications listed in ITUNES and my personal favorites; Amazon, Instagram and especially Pinterest provide me ‘mental rest’ as I scroll through the beautiful and creative ‘pins’, however, some employers suggesting it decreases productivity deny access to this ‘break’. Personally, my productivity decreases with (usually) uncontrolled interruptions like meetings, a co-worker complaining about anything, or when I have to pee because I’ve had too much coffee (haha).

(You don’t have to look very hard to find websites loaded with facts and figures about all the time spent on social media sites and how terrible it is for productivity. This one in particular annoyed me.  http://ericadhawan.com/social-media-hurts-productivity/ )

Someone once told me that if you manipulate numbers enough they tell you exactly what you want. This person is now a major leader at IBM, works from home, spends a ridiculous amount of time on social media sites and yet one of the most productive and creative people I know. He also gave me one of the most valuable pieces of advice…he always said “…only you know when it’s time to work.  What makes you successful is knowing the exact formula that allows the output you need and want. Remember the manipulation of numbers to get what you want? That formula is unique to each person and truly knowing yourself is the basis of that formula and the key to your productivity and success.” Honestly, how many people can say they admire their ex-spouses…his exceptional intellect and creativity will forever positively impact my life even though most of the time he drives me nuts.


Being productive means you are efficiently producing something. You can efficiently produce anything…but who wants to produce junk?   The formula for completing a task or to efficiently produce is derived from our ability to use our brain…. to think! What we know about how our brains work and work flow tells us that we need to give our brains and our bodies small breaks so we don’t deplete the very source we need to survive. We need breaks and distractions but we need them customized. It might be a nap, or a specific playlist on Pandora, maybe a walk or buying a birthday present on Amazon, and in my case it’s usually beautiful combinations of colors and patterns associated with whatever project I am daydreaming about at the time.


Social media and technology enable us to escape and help us disengage from our tasks and when used creatively (and honestly) it allows us the small break our brains need to recharge and be the machine we need it to be.

“When demand in our lives intensifies, we tend to hunker down and push harder,” says Tony Schwartz, head of New York City-based productivity consulting firm The Energy Project. “The trouble is that, without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing.”(1)




  1. Seiter, C. (2014, August 21). The Science of Breaks at Work: Change Your Thinking About Downtime. Retrieved from https://open.bufferapp.com/science-taking-breaks-at-work/

Dec 14

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

Social media is commonplace in today’s society and Instagram is one of the most popular applications used.  Instagram.com reports over 200 million users around the world, sharing an average of 60 million photos daily!  Although it is typical to share photos of trivial things from breakfast to landscapes, what would happen if photos were used towards the better good?

PhotoVoice  is an agency that combines the use of photography and grassroots social action for disadvantaged groups.  According to PhotoVoice.com, their work focuses on consulting and developing projects that are specialized to the needs of its community.  The methodology involves providing communities with cameras which are used to photo journal real perspectives on social change.  PhotoVoice feels that the most effective way to monitor social change is from the within the community.


Social change from within is the perspective of Participatory Action Research. Development programs are constructed by researchers based on information collected from within the affected community and analyze not just social aspects but also political and economic (Brydon-Miller, 1997).  Habermas (1971) felt that empirical inquiry does not accurately analyze every facet of knowledge, stating that “practical interests” are only obtained through interpretive means and not simply by observation.  That is, qualitative data is at times as necessary as quantitative data.  Participatory Action Research methodology embraces this idea by its influence from various scientific and social science fields. Ultimately, the goal is for the research to be applied in the real world.

Currently, PhotoVoice methodology is being used all over the world.  Some project examples including providing cameras to Los Angeles high school students to document healthy eating and physical exercise, in order to bring childhood obesity and type II Diabetes awareness to the disadvantaged neighborhoods in which the students live, and Syrian  refugees documenting their perspectives living in a host community.

Perhaps you want to gain insight on homelessness within your community.  Suggest implementing a PhotoVoice project in order to capture the real issues that the homeless community faces.  PhotoVoice can be applied to a multitude of scenarios and anyone can suggest a project, although it is probably most useful to work with researchers, agencies and groups dedicated to social betterment.


Brydon-Miller, M. (2010). Participatory Action Research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues, 53(4), 657-666. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1997.tb02454.x/pdf

PhotoVoice. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.photovoice.org/

Dec 14

Addiction and depression therapy – A new approach to a solution Can we sell happiness?

Addiction and depression therapy – A new approach to a solution

Can we sell happiness?

Can we take the same approach as Apple or any other successful company that sells a product we think we need? Can we sell happiness? If we could cure addiction and depression the results would likely revel happiness or a happy life. What if we changed our marketing strategy in terms of our behavioral therapy model to reflect selling happiness?


It’s 7:00am and I am doing my 30-minuet patient safety check at work in a psychiatric inpatient unit and almost all 18 patients (mostly addiction and depression issues) are in the main area for the evening group therapy session. The topic today is Anxiety not unlike almost all other “groups” we have; the topic is something in the category ‘what’s wrong with me’.   Most of the patients are daydreaming and even a few appear to be sleeping, and I am almost positive that none are benefiting from this experience. Now, fast forward to my lunch break, I watched an amazing Ted-talk speech that inspired me to think and triggered some challenging questions. The general statement and pure awesomeness from this Ted-talk that lit my mind on fire “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!”



Is our approach to ‘curing’ and ‘treating’ addiction and depression wrong? Currently the focus is on how to avoid unhappiness accompanied by a giant list of things ‘Not to-do’. Should we instead be marketing happiness? If “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, then “happiness “ is WHY we do it. Since we know our behavior is motivated by our beliefs- what we believe we need in order to be happy, which then triggers action driven by emotion. Couldn’t we use this exact force to sell our product “happiness”? Isn’t it the exact same force that causes people to reach for their addictions and or remain depressed?

Teaching what drives behavior, and knowing why we make the choices we make is a very powerful tool we all need if we want to change any habitual behavior. Patient’s perception of their ability to obtain happiness is rooted in their perceived lack of control, therefor we need to introduce happiness as desirably different outcome that they in fact have control over. Perception is also a very powerful tool and the ability to change each patient’s perception of happiness is a tall order because each person’s set of beliefs is so different but I think it’s possible because companies like Apple, BMW, and Kellogg’s do it everyday using emotional triggers to create desire for happiness.

Change your perception!

Change your perception!

Happiness isn’t about pain even though pain is an inevitable component in life. Teaching happiness means our patients believe (perceive) that the therapist actually believes in happiness themselves which brings me back to Simon’s quote from the Ted-talk “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Why should patients choose our ‘happiness product’ over their current product?   Because happiness embodies a life of pleasures and rewards that remain vibrant throughout life.


“Aristotle’s idea of happiness; doing good things.“ (Russell, 2009)


I think of happiness as a beautiful breeze that constantly moves through us, its created and derived from everything we do. It’s always there swirling around inside and with each experience the root of happiness is strengthened.

“The gift of friendship is a wondrous thing with the joys and happiness good friends bring” –Anonyms

“The gift of friendship is a wondrous thing with the joys and happiness good friends bring” -Anonymous







Russell, R. V. (2009). Pastimes: The context of contemporary leisure. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Pub.


Dec 14

Refugees And The Social Learning Theory

The culture we are surrounded by everyday and the situations and lifestyle we have, can greatly impact the way we can cope with the world around us and how we may feel comfortable doing so. An estimated seventy to one hundred and fifty million people around the world are currently displaced from their homes because of war, genocide, social and economic turmoil, poverty, religious diversities, deportation and natural disasters. These millions of people are known as “refugees” and come to other places for safety and livelihood after having been through tremendous events and cultural shocks. This post will focus on the environmental changes refugees undergo by uprooting their lives as well as relating to the social learning theory.

Refugees are a pretty broad group of people, all sharing similar changes in environment and reasoning’s behind how they became refugees. Refugees come from all over the world and have experienced a tremendous amount of loss, grief and an array of other circumstances that have affected their lives. Today the majority of the refugees are women, children and handicapped people, and most are refugees from Africa, Asia, The Middle East, Central America, Eastern Europe and Russia. Understanding a refugee as opposed to an immigrant is a first step in helping to understand them. A refugee is someone whom is forced to leave due to impeding and life threatening situations, whereas an immigrant comes because of their own free will or desire to do so. The next step is to understand the many different nationalities, cultures, religions and so forth these people have derived from or continually practice.

Culture is a broad subject matter as it can be formed from many aspects of a person’s surroundings. Things such as home environment, overall environment, religion, beliefs, attitudes, money, customs and traditions, as well as, location can have drastic impacts on a person and what is “normal” living to them and therefore what type of counseling they may need or so desire. Refugees have usually undergone tremendous ordeals, thus gaining refugee statuses in foreign lands. Everything they know is no longer part of their lives, so as one can imagine it is a rough and challenging time.

The environment in which we live has a keen affect on our customs, values, traditions, and social norms. To be stripped of all the environmental influence we once had can most certainly affect an individual psychologically and socially. If we take into account Bandura’s social learning theory and apply it to refugees, chances are within a period of time the refugees would adapt their behavior to their surroundings through the observation of other’s behavior and attitudes. It may not be their innate desire to conform to the behaviors of other citizens of their host country, but fitting in is often a large driving force.


Blackwell, Dick. Counseling and Psychotherapy with Refugees. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (2005).

Chaney, David. Cultural Change and Everyday Life. Palgrave Macmillan. (2002).

Counseling Refugees: A Psychosocial Approach to Innovative Multicultural Interventions (Book). (2003). International Migration Review.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381

Dec 14

Co-occurring disorders

In a previous blog post, I wrote about addiction and now plan on further investigating addiction in relation to individuals suffering with mental illnesses. Individuals with mental illnesses suffer in ways far greater than debilitating symptoms. Many individuals are forced to self medicate because of lack of monetary funds or medical treatment, and many become addicted to drugs or alcohol just to help them feel normal. Nearly seven to ten percent of police arrests involve individuals with mental illnesses. This is due to an increase in drugs usage to medicate and a lack of proper medical treatment and medications causing them to act publicly unacceptable. This being said, most parolees that had co-occurring mental disorders were rearrested faster than those without mental health problems. It is hard for the average person to understand how debilitating a mental illness can be and how it can unravel a person’s life so quickly. A first hand meeting of a thirty-seven year old lady with Schizophrenia, I found out first hand how she went from a professor to homeless in a very short time period. I saw, as she was unable to do simple tasks as her mind wandered and dressing herself in appropriate clothing became an unbearable task for her. Studies show that the more a disorder is explained and understood by the public, the more it is accepted. This is the first step in providing more funding and more medical research for drugs and further therapy techniques to help these individuals cope with different mental disorders without turning to self medicating strategies.

The vastness of reasons behind addiction has lead many scholars to search for correlations. This paper will look into the psychological disorders behind addiction, specifically those individuals already in treatment facilities. Many individuals that enter rehab facilities for addiction have previously documented forms of mental illness, and a number of them are diagnosed after entering rehab through the rehabs counseling program. This concept of two or more disorders or illnesses in one person is known as comorbidity. Comorbidity mostly implies that the interactions between the illnesses can cause both illnesses to worsen. These mental illnesses can either be caused by prolong addiction to certain substances or could have went undiagnosed possibly leading the client to self medicate by consuming alcohol or using street drugs. Many individuals with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, have limited access to mental health care, if any at all. Those with severe mental health disorders may possibly be homeless or struggling financially due to inability to hold down a job because of the symptoms related to their disorders. Drug addiction is classified as a mental illness because of the way it changes the brain. Individuals who are addicted to drugs are twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders and vise versa is also true. These disorders often co-occur because drug abuse may bring about the symptoms of other mental illnesses. Mental disorders can also lead to drug abuse because many will turn to alcohol or drugs to alleviate symptoms of their mental illnesses, such as severe anxiety or depression. Shared risk factors in both mental illnesses and drug addiction can also play a role. These include overlapping genetic vulnerabilities; overlapping environmental triggers, similar brain region involvement, and they are both developmental disorders.

Knowing that there may be a correlation between mental illnesses and addiction can be very helpful to a number of people. Proper treatment of the mental disorders can save many individuals from a life of substance abuse. I have personally worked at a drug abuse counseling center and have seen first hand the amount of patients with co-occurring disorders. Some patients had symptoms of these disorders before the onset of addiction and others developed mental disorders after prolonged substance abuse.

Further research into the correlation between mental illness and addiction and proper diagnosis of both can be very beneficial to any community. It should also be known that early diagnosis and proper treatment of certain mental disorders could prevent substance abuse among many. This can also help show government officials that handle health care, that mental health care is very necessary and should be covered so everyone, rich or poor, can get the counseling and medication they need so they don’t find the need to self-medicate.


Franz, S., & Borum, R. Crisis Intervention Teams may prevent arrests of people with mental illnesses. Police Practice & Research, 265-272.

Rüsch, N., Evans-Lacko, S., & Thornicroft, G. (2012). What is a mental illness? Public views and their effects on attitudes and disclosure. Australian & New Zealand Journal Of Psychiatry.

Wood, S. R. (2011). Co-occurring Psychiatric and Substance Dependence Disorders as Predictors of Parolee Time to Rearrest. Journal Of Offender Rehabilitation.


Dec 14

How Solar Energy Can Help a Growing World

Between grocery stores and restaurants around every corner to gas stations and electricity in abundance throughout many countries, we as humans have developed a lifestyle of plenty without sufficient realization that our ecosystems and natural resources are not infinite. As population increases, thanks in part to modern medicine, agriculture and lack of family planning, natural resources will become scarcer and pollution could very much take over. Although it is important for social psychologists to focus on population control as means to sustaining life in our ecosystems, finding alternative sources of energy that produce less pollution could certainly play a role in assisting. Solar energy is one such source that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to tax initiatives as well as loss or decrease in cost of energy for facilities. It is a great way to increase renewable energy goals without developing greatly on lands or destroying wildlife. Taking a look at the developing of solar energy, history and limitations can help to determine if solar energy is a plausible solution to a social problem of population explosion ruining ecosystems.

Solar research and technology development are searching for ways to most efficiently capture low-density solar energy and then convert the energy to useful purposes. The potential benefits of solar energy are quite significant as it is the most abundant energy resource on the planet. Around one hundred and seventy three thousand terawatts of solar energy hits the Earth constantly. This is ten thousand times more than the current world’s total energy usage. Another benefit is the lack of space it takes up and the ability to construct on roofs and unused land. This form of renewable energy source is low in maintenance cost as well as environmental impact. This is because it requires little land usage and rarely destruction of wildlife as it can be placed on existing roofs and unused areas. Solar thermal energy is stored in four main ways. These include, sensible-heat-storage systems, latent-heat-storage systems, chemical energy storage and lastly electrical or mechanical storage. Biomass is a renewable energy resource because it can be harvested periodically and converted to fuel. Even wind is an energy source derived from the Sun. It comes about by unequal heating of Earth’s surface by the sun and energy from wind can be used in a variety of ways such as lifting water or moving boats. Wind turbines can also convert wind energy into mechanical work or generate electricity. The Ocean can be used as an energy source as well. Ocean thermal energy conversion uses the differences in temperature from the surface water, which is heated by the sun, and the cold water from deep in the ocean. This source can provide electricity all day long.

Solar energy dates back thousands of years in history. During the fifth century BC, the Greeks faced fuel shortages and archeological evidence shows that they used the sun for energy sources during this energy shortage. They did this by taking advantage of housing placements to optimize sun heat during the winter through the windows. Houses were built to face the south so that during the winter the sun penetrated the front windows and let in more heat. The same concept was used in Ancient Rome. Romans took advantage of the sun to make glass greenhouses to grow plants all winter long. Horace de Saussure observed in the 1760s that when sun passed through a glass structure it made it warmer such as the inside of a carriage or room. He built a rectangular box, insulated the inside and covered the top with glass. He then put two glass-covered boxes inside and documented the reactions. When the sun penetrated the box it heated above the boiling point of water. In the nineteenth century, there lacked an easy way to heat water. Most had to use a wood burning stove to boil water. Farmers during this time began to place a metal water tank that was painted black into the sunlight to absorb the solar energy and heat the water. These were the first solar water heaters that were ever recorded. One problem with these first heaters was the lack of heat at night when the sun went down. The first commercial solar water heater was discovered by Clarence Kemp in 1891. He originally marketed these products to husbands whose wives had left for the summer or for extended periods of time and they had difficulty fending on their own.

The biggest limitations on spreading the use of solar energy are the current start up costs. Permitting and zoning costs add over twenty five hundred to the cost of the solar energy system itself. Currently research is trying to work on making larger scale models that utilize more of the suns rays without taking up as much space, as well as finding cheaper methods to provide this energy source to more people worldwide. This source of energy is also being looked into for third world countries as a source of power for areas with little other resources available. The government is also providing many tax incentives to make the cost of installing solar panels less demanding on the average family financially.

Solar energy has been a source of energy since the beginning of time. It has provided sunlight and heat, and with new technologies it has began to be harnessed to power more. Solar energy is a fairly cheap source of energy in comparison to others and there is an abundance of sunlight available. In fact ten thousand times more than the entire world uses in the form of energy. With the costs of solar energy decreasing to become more affordable, clear indications that increase usage of this energy source will be in our futures and this can truly impact our survival in an ecosystem with limited resources available for our current and growing population.



Solar energy.” McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Solar Energy, History of.” Encyclopedia of Energy. Oxford: Elsevier Science & Technology, 2004.

United States. Department of Energy. Top 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Solar Energy. Web. http://energy.gov/articles/top-6-things-you-didnt-know-about-solar-energy


Dec 14

The Relationship Between Stress and Physical Illness

A substantial amount of research has been done to prove the correlation between stress and physical illness. This research proves that stress is a large contributor to both the onset and progression of both physical and mental illnesses. Walter Cannon first confirmed the stress response system in the late 1920’s. His observations and research proved that certain stressors such as lack of oxygen, extreme cold, and emotional incidents all lead to the release of stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine from the adrenal glands. Cannon discovered that the brains response to the hormone increases the body’s heart rate and respiration, dulls pain, releases sugar and fat, and brings blood from digestion to the skeletal muscles. Cannon called this concept fight or flight. There are however, alternatives to Cannons stress method, fight or flight, and those include withdraw, pull back and then conserve energy, and also “tend and befriend” which is common among women and means to seek and give support. The method of withdraw, pull back and then conserve energy is most often seen after the death of a loved one. In these circumstances most people withdraw from the situation in a state of shock. They then realize what has happened and pull away from the situation and start showing emotional responses such as crying. The last step when observing this method is to conserve energy. This includes possibly lying down, or the end of crying frantically. The “tend and befriend” method most commonly occurs with women as a reaction to stress. This method is considered to be the method that shows how women deal with stress differently and usually more successfully than men. This method ranges from asking a stranger for directions to talking on the phone to relatives and friends. Women more often seek social support than men during times of stress.

Physical illness is associated with stress because of the body’s biological            response system dealing with stress. Some large spread human and animal studies have shown that uncontrollable stressors increase gastric lesion tendencies, and reduce immune defenses. A thirty-year study on the high stress job of air traffic controller’s helps show that not only is it a biological effect but also an environmental/behavioral response. The thirty-year study showed an increase in high blood pressure among air traffic controllers, assumed to be because of their high stress jobs working away at their nervous systems. However, in 1987, DeFrank established that the high blood pressure was because of an increase in alcohol consumption among the air traffic controllers. Their health was not just caused by the biological affect of years of stress, but on the behavioral response of drinking because of their increased stress. Its kind of like the saying, “what came first the chicken or the egg?” The stress caused the drinking and the drinking lead to the high blood pressure. Stress may not have directly caused the high blood pressure, but it did cause a change in behavioral responses within the air traffic controllers.

It is important to remember that not all stress is bad for the body or mind. Has stress at school or work ever prompted you to achieve something worthwhile and helped you develop new skills? Many Psychologists have found that not all stress is bad. Stress can help motivation, problem solving, and the fighting of infections. Even the most stressful situations such as surviving Cancer can have a positive affect on people’s lives. Some Cancer survivors emerge with a newfound spirituality or stronger self-esteem because of the stress they endured and then conquered. A personal battle with long-term health problems can be very difficult and stressful, however some individuals start to develop a new self worth and new dreams and desires because of it. When someone survives an illness or life-threatening situation more times than not a person will take life less serious and live everyday thankful to be alive. This attitude is what helps most survivors deal with the situation that has arose in their lives.

It was this positive stress outcome that helped mold my life into what it is today. My first semester at college I became very ill with what I believed to be a horrible stomach bug. As the days and then weeks passed and symptoms became worse, I began seeing doctors and specialists daily. I had to leave school and soon became hospitalized. It took doctors weeks to finally discover what was wrong and plan a course of action. A previous trauma had caused damage to my liver, which was causing an inability for me to process food, which then became two months of not eating and feeling very close to death’s doorsteps. After months of being too ill to walk without blacking out, I still remember the first day I successfully walked around my house, and then down the block and can even recall the fresh air after spending so long in hospitals and inside lying in bed. I felt a sense of joy and excitement towards life and the smallest of things that I had never felt before. The stress of being so sick and the positive outcome of getting better changed my entire viewpoint on life. I started back at school a year later with the highest amount of self esteem I had ever had in my life and the general desire to worry less and experience more. Despite all the stress of being ill and even the stress of having to put my life on hold, the outcome was something I could never have achieved without going through all that stress in the first place.

In conclusion, stress is something everyone has to deal with at some point in his or her lives. The difference between jeopardizing your health and accomplishing stressful tasks is how you handle the stress. It is important to find that one thing that helps to relieve stress in a way that is individually suiting.


Myers, David G. “Exploring Psychology In Modules.” (7th ed.). (2008) Holland, MI: Worth, 2008. Print.

Stress and health.” Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

“You May Have Always Suspected It, But A Study Suggests That Women Do Cope With Stress Differently Than Men.” August 2000.

Dec 14

Transcendence – Individualism then Collectivism

For my final post I wanted to share a favorite topic of research I believe we all seek on our individual yet collective/connected journeys. In the TED Talks attached below Jonathan Haidt covers religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence, allowing a connection between the individualism and collectivism theories. Even though the theories hope to cancel each other out, attempting to show greater significance towards the individual’s self-interests, using society to further their individual needs – the contrary point of collectivism emphasizes the individual’s interdependence to obtain those needs. I hope you see the correlation in how both need each other.

To summarize, by stating how “the capacity for self-transcendence is just a basic part of being human” and, using “the metaphor of a staircase in the mind” to suggest how “we are Homo duplex and this staircase takes us up from the profane level to the level of the sacred” – “when we climb that staircase, self-interest fades away, we become just much less self-interested, and we feel as though we are better, nobler and somehow uplifted”, Haidt is illustrating how as individuals we might have our self-interests in mind but once we reach a place in our lives, perhaps as experiencing parenthood, that changes. As a family, we seek to provide and protect, nurture and love someone other than ourselves.

In discussing what takes place when we transcend ourselves, as a social psychologist Haidt raises some interesting topics. He makes us aware of a “breakthrough” in scientific research, and a relatively “new” area of study. This assignment also allows me the opportunity to reflect an importance to understanding “faith”. This discussion couples sciences (Psychology and Biology) to emphasize an importance to decode how humanity seeks “morality”, and would assist Aristotle’s “virtue ethics”, and Aquinas’ concepts of the general principles of “natural law” being applicable to all.

From the very beginning Haidt suggests how most people are spiritually inclined to search for some sort of “transcendence”. This concept would address our fascination with death and overcoming mortality, among many other areas of interest. He also states how all “faiths” share this idea of “evolving” from an individual “self-will”, to seeking a “fellowship”, where we operate in a “sum of its parts” society, intricately moving as “one”. Through transcendence, or physical rebirth, a feeling of mortality is replaced with a collective unity that, in essence, is “immortal”, belonging to something “bigger than ourselves”.

In referencing Durkheim’s “homo-duplex”, Haidt says the “capacity for self-transcendence is a basic part of being human”, to go from the “profane level” to a “level of the sacred”. He offers “the staircase of the mind” as the “transcending doorway” we can “walk through”, or “climb”. This is an individual effort we choose in order to experience enlightenment. At this “higher self” we join the “source” at the “level of the sacred”. This “energy” that we search for, through spirituality, propels us. Once enlightened, this creates a “new” us, through a form of “rebirth”, “where self-interest fades away”, and the morality of not being “self-absorbed” is “activated”.

Haidt also asks if this “staircase” is a “feature of our natural design”, something we are born with, a “God gene”? Or is it a “bug”, “a mistake in our system”? He follows that up with the thought provoking notion that if indeed the “staircase” is an “adaptation”, and not a “bug”, “then the implications are profound”. If so, “then we evolve to be religious”, not as some form of “denomination”, but to see the world as it really is – seeing “sacredness” all around us, and developing “moral ideas”. This is what allows us to identify “good and evil”, and by believing ourselves to be “good”, joining “forces” with the “good team” to battle “evil” through a developed morality.Interestingly enough, he even goes as far as specifically calling the world we live in a “modern society” that is built to satisfy the “profane human”. Only reaching one’s potential, “self-actualization”, can we contribute to something outside of ourselves and “be fully alive, and find meaning in life”, and not be restraint to “only being able to sustain one’s basic needs”.

Ever watch the Matrix (Part 1)? How about the movie Constantine? “There’s a door behind a door, and a window behind a window.”

There is an incredible “movement” in studying the “psyche”, as morality, and/or “faith”, is becoming (and has been) an area of scholarly interest in more areas than just in philosophical and psychological arenas. If proven, wouldn’t this confirm the eerie “we’re all connected” – “collective unconscious” Carl Jung coined, and Buddhists and Christians share in “interconnectedness”? If proven to be “true”, Haidt’s “staircase” metaphor being a possible genetic human adaptation, in line with natural selection, would actually prove an existence of a “God” we are “in tune” with, and quite possibly always have been – hence calling Him, “Father” for passing on His controversial DNA?




Schneider, F., Gruman, J., Coutts, L.  (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.






Dec 14

Social Learning Theory and Addiction

A universal problem grasping the lives of many victims worldwide is addiction. Hiding itself in a variety of different substances and states from drugs and alcohol to food, it takes over individual’s lives and families. Addiction is very complex and deals with biological, physiological, psychological, behavioral and spiritual aspects of a person. It is best to think of addiction as multilayered of disorders, by which compulsive use of the addicting substance is only one of them. Defining addiction is hard enough, so one can imagine how hard diagnosing addiction can be. For this reason, it is left to counselors who are trained and have a vast knowledge of the issue at hand.

Substance Use disorders can be easy to misunderstand and society views drug abuse as being caused by lack of “will”. Even moderate use can affect a person’s mood, mental state, and coping abilities and in ways that can stop therapeutic progress or can develop a more serious substance problem. For these reasons it is important to be familiar with the diagnostic criteria and categories that define substance use disorders. Addiction specialists see substance use disorders as conditions that are influenced by a web of interaction between biological, psychological and social factors that are presented in different degrees in each individual. Social factors include variables such as socioeconomic status, heaving drinking in certain peer groups or subcultures and religious prohibitions against using psychoactive substances. Expectancies about the positive effects of alcohol and other drugs develop through peer influence, adult examples and mass media. These experiences can shape the actual alcohol or drug experience once experimentation has begun. For example, if peer influence prompts you to use drugs or alcohol during parties or different social events, than drinking alcohol or doing drugs becomes part of the inclusion requirement. This can innately be contributed to the social learning theory. Albert Bandura states in the social learning theory that behavior is learned from the environment through observational learning. Reinforcements can then keep the act from continuing. For example, a teenager that begins drinking and begins to feel more self confident or like they are fitting in, will associate drinking with a better image of themselves.

Growing up, a friend of mine would always complain that her parents drank in excess after work every day. They drank to the point of it being a problem and affecting their health. As the years went by, slowly my friend would begin joining her parents and through observed social learning had attributed drinking as a way to cope with the stress of a long day. Gradually, like many within addiction, my friend began losing contact with those who did not enjoy drinking to excess. Her social circle revolved around drinking with her parents and other friends who drank as much as she did.

In many instances, social learning theory can be used for the treatment of addiction. This can be done by incorporating new groups of individuals who have healthier habits into your life, observing and adapting to new positive coping mechanisms and learning refusal skills in response to peer pressure.


Albert Bandura | Social Learning Theory | Simply Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html

Schlosser, A., & Hoffer, L. (2012). The Psychotropic Self/Imaginary: Subjectivity and Psychopharmaceutical Use Among Heroin Users with Co-Occurring Mental Illness. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry, 36(1), 26-50.

Washton, A., & Zweben, J. Treating Alcohol and Drug Problems in Psychotherapy Practice: Doing What Works. (2006).Guilford Press.

Dec 14

Order Out of Chaos – Utilitarianism revisited

For this post I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an analysis of Webster Tarplay’s view on the Global Elite in order to share information and spread awareness. This is also an attempt to persuade readers to take a deeper look at the influences they are influenced by, to analyze the actions and words that the authorities, lawmakers, and philosophers pass and teach, while trying to show a connection to various theories. The impact and effectiveness on societies can be explained by the programming used to not only predict people’s behavior but to control it. Group-think theory, and the theory of reasoned action, as well as social dominance theory show how people who belong to a certain group wouldn’t reveal the inner workings or intentions of that group for personal gain/placement within hierarchies.

“The Greater Good” are the “elite”, the “1%” that rule the 99% of us. They are everywhere and control everything. From billboards in big cities, the blatant “flashing lights”, to the signs in the background that are in our peripheral. They are our “educational systems” and what we are told to learn as part of a “curriculum”. They are constructed and organized religions and “faiths”, and their denominations. They are the words and beliefs of our choice authors, the people we follow, the story-lines in movies we live in vicariously, it’s the directors “vision” – down to the publication and the publishers. They are our leaders and instructors. All of it is part of our programming.

Throughout my studies, and after reading about Utilitarianism, and its modern founder, I found it incredibly hard to swallow how such a belief as Bentham’s “no action or motive is intrinsically bad” could be accepted as “rational” or “logical”. I wanted to research who would study and emulate his framework that, by definition, became a “school of thought” for others to add on to, refine, and adapt to their own. Along with the mentality, as it’s defined, (state of mind, frame of mind, attitude, approach, way of thinking, etc.), in my opinion, a concept holding that “pleasure is the only good”, and furthermore, that “the greatest happiness for the greatest number should be the ultimate goal of humans”, are examples of just that, intrinsically evil beliefs. This “greater good” doesn’t include everyone – it’s a happiness and stability that comes at the expense of others.

Machiavellism argues that “human beings are motivated to seek power and status above all else.” Another is captured in Legalism’s, founded by Hsün Tzu, “most important principle” in thinking that “humans are inherently evil and inclined toward criminal and selfish behavior”. So far, the aforementioned serve as adequate and accurate starting points in attempting to explain the culminating state of affairs, and “surveillance state”, a society based on Bentham’s obsessive ideologies for legal and social reform enable a means for a “national penitentiary” system, without doors or windows, to remedy a human condition built to encircle Bentham’s “Panopticon” vision.

To provide more insight I’d like to shed light on a “Frankenstein” of many philosophers, Michel Foucault, who invokes the spirit of Bentham in his own concepts that, as a close colleague, Pierre Bourdieu, summarizes him as having “a long exploration of transgressions, of going beyond social limits, always inseparably linked to knowledge and power. He says not only prisons but all hierarchical structures – the army, schools, hospitals and factories have evolved through history to resemble Bentham’s Panopticon.

But what I find even more fascinating is the interest “critical theorists” have shown in these philosophies and philosophers. The scrutiny these philosophies have received influenced critics to regard such thinking as negative – but as contemporary social critics point out, technology has asserted this “way of life” and deployment of panoptic structures with more invisibility. This brings me to John Holdren, a “science czar” and “Benthamite” himself, who co-authored “Ecoscience” which is regarded as the “norm” for its proposals and theories, basing his own perspectives on this same research.

Aside from my personal belief that Bentham is from the “same school” that Hitler was “educated” in, where they teach one-sided “win-lose” situations, where “education” disregards morality for all, and is contradictory – I’d like to know who would follow an “immoral morality” which is impossible to be beneficial to anyone other than those who would use this ideology, and technology, to indeed benefit from individually? This leads me back to Darwinism, and his “survival of the fittest” belief in “prosperity through conflict”. “Problem, Reaction, Solution.”

As with many of these experimental and unethical approaches, the “controlled substances” – whether dog, “man’s best friend”, or “man” himself – I find it appalling how a person, and subsequently, institutions could adapt an “operant conditioning”, and it’s “rewards and consequences” programming. That, coupled with Darwin’s observational and also “hands on” approach at manipulating one’s environment and/or not manipulating it but rather watching and recording – studying it, and you, longitudinally, and culturally was one of the fundamental points in establishing a “theory of evolution” that has been considered “fact” or “proven” so much so that a character such as Bentham can be credited in much of the “conditioning” practices.

It’s one thing to want to help people but when the help that is offered is provided to control it almost seems like a “God-complex” to categorize certain people as unfit or unworthy of having the same rights. They then decide who can or can’t receive what are often referred to as “privileges”. So taking a closer look at the character of Bentham, at the core of his beliefs on humanity, society, behavior and what is acceptable on his take of morality – his works are the ideal blueprint for a manipulative and corruptible system that projects itself as the counter-opposite designed to prevent that which they are created to be. It is by these means that the “elite”, by commonality, share in their entitlement via obtainment, and containment, by reaching various statures, through affiliations, providing the platform to operate and influence with the mentality that “I can do no wrong”. In theory, from an objective place, don’t these concepts sound rather radical? They sound racist too.

I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences either, a la Sigmund Freud, but this “greater good” I always hear used so loosely in this secularly controlled “program”, where “in God we trust” refers to money, allows the flow of money to bring with it a certain power. And controlling the “current of currency”, the influence of it, allows money to act like its own entity. It can provide everything! Or so is the illusion. It also provides a means of soliciting and solidifying a personal or collective goal, a means to be seen as an authority figure – “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

With a concept of “no action or motive is intrinsically bad” not pertaining to everyone, but referring to those who “can do no wrong” – this “greater good” doesn’t include the “expendable” because, to them, we are not created equal. We are society’s “lab rats” looked down upon and labeled as “immigrants” or “invalids”. We’re the “inferior” cattle on an “animal farm”, milked to the last drop for this “economic machine”. We’re the “casualties” of an unseen war. We produce the “data” for the research, and cure for our own cancer – the vaccine and the cancer too. This system reminds me of Nazi Germany trying to resurface on American soil, as if the spirit behind its “master race” was now embodied by its “democratic” captor.

History sure does have a history of repeating itself, but somehow, as historians and philosophers interpret and, at times, try to rewrite, using psychological warfare, attempting to learn from the mistakes of their teachers – as Orwell prophesized in his “doublespeak” and “groupthink”, “thought police” think-tank, the individual finds others to inherit their ideas, and the affluent continue to contribute to the results of those who have less power and/or no power at all, no “voice” or “say so”. This is what separates the lawmakers and those who the laws are made for. They are “subject to interpretation”, open-ended and ever-changing and confusing, and controlling propaganda we oblige to so freely and ignorantly as our “programming of choice”.

It’s everywhere. It’s in our every background, and right in front of our faces. It’s in our homes, and jobs. It’s there playing in our favorite music and songs, our favorite artists and actors, our favorite sports and athletes. It’s who we mimic and “look up to”. “What is she wearing?” “What is he saying and doing?” “How are they acting and behaving?” Distractions upon distractions.

I stumbled across the YouTube video below by accident one day and was shocked to hear how among the many disturbing facts and policies it mentions, along with the people named – Bentham was a main source of inspiration for the material discussed. He wasn’t only mentioned but his maniacal framework, as “innocently” as it was made known to me, is one of the voices behind “Ecoscience”.

And I quote, “there’s a limit to growth, and the privileges of an oligarchy are more important than the standard of living and the success of the individual human family. This summarizes the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” a “greater good” defined by a character of Bentham’s caliber offers, along with both philosophies and philosophers he’s tailored his costume to fashion, and the students of his own “school of thought” that he helped “enlighten”.




Schneider, F., Gruman, J., Coutts, L.  (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.




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