Author Archives: meh5662

Friends with Depression

Megan Henderson
Psych 100.003
Blog #3

It’s funny how you learn about things like the disorders and phobias and problems we do in Psychology, but you never think it’ll actually affect you in any way (thanks personal fable…). I’m not the depressed one, but one of my best friends in the world suffers from depression and so does her mother.  While I love her dearly, her condition has affected her friendships, romantic relationships, and her home life.

Diana has always been the emotional friend, by far, but we didn’t know how bad it was until junior year.  It started with the classic struggling with body image and being sad about herself in general (at least that’s what it looked like to us, she wouldn’t divulge her secrets until about a year later).  She pretended she was fine and simply tired or didn’t feel well, but her “headaches” eventually turned in to not showing up to school at all or showing up and skipping all her classes.  Finally, Diana explained to us her whole battle with depression.  I knew her mother suffered from it and dealt with her issues through alcohol abuse and I didn’t want her to go down the same path, being that she was already genetically predisposed to her mother’s condition.  Diana’s mother had refused to take her to a doctor which resulted in the worsening of Diana’s condition and her own form of “self-medicating” which resulted in permanent scars down her forearms. Because of her lack of medicine, Diana’s reduced levels of serotonin and norepinephrine were going to start seriously taking over her life is she didn’t get help.  Finally, she turned 18 and was able to make herself a doctor’s appointment and got on a medication regimen which greatly improved her condition. While she still struggles day to day, all of my friends remain positive around her and she’s discovered a lot of great artistic outlets and takes her medication daily.

I’ve been very fortunate in that my close family has not been impacted by any severe psychological disorders, but when something as drastic depression affects your 18 year old best friend, it really does take a toll not only Diana, but also on the people around her.  Diana struggles to maintain romantic relationships because she constantly sees herself as worthless and undeserving of the affection a boy will show her, its difficult to keep her interested in things that our friend group wants to participate in for an extended period of time, and she can’t live with her mother anymore because the two of them are unable to reconcile out of differences in their coping mechanisms.

Memory: How a Thespian Operates

Megan Henderson

As a performer, a popular question among friends and family members is “How can you remember all your lines and songs and dances?” The simple answer is: “I don’t know! I just do!” But in reality it takes a few different types of memory and processing and retrieval to get everything down. During the first few days of rehearsals, the cast will no doubt focus on maintenance rehearsal as a way of remembering lines (let’s face it we put off memorizing until about 20 minutes before the start of practice that day), even though simply repeating ourselves is not as effective as we’d hope.  Because this method isn’t very effective, we can more than likely attribute everyone forgetting their lines when it comes time to actually run the scene to the information not making it to long-term memory (yet). The first few lines will usually go off without a hitch, but if the scene is particularly long, the struggle begins and gives us all away.  Thankfully, this really only goes on during the first run or two of the scene.  Once we know the whole plot of the show and how each scene will begin and end in relation to the others, its easier to remember all the lines.  Through elaborative rehearsal, we’re able to transfer the dialogue from our short term memory to our long term.  When we see the development of the characters throughout the show it’s much easier to remember our lines because we’ve made the information personally meaningful and we’re able to relate it to prior information in the show.

While we put the first half of the show to rest and work on the second act, most of us have no trouble remembering the dances and lines and songs from the first act because they now lie in our long term memory.  When it comes time to run the show in its entirety, we can easily employ selection and recall as a means of doing so.  There are always some lines fluffed or added or a jazz hand forgotten, but the process it takes to learn a show in it’s entirety is actually quite hard.  Its not about just being able to memorize your lines with different tricks (writing them in red pen, saying them over and over again, knowing the line before yours, etc.) its being able to recall the correct line and react appropriately to your character and the show.  Some of the information will stay forever. I still remember the choreography from the finale number of my freshman musical four years ago.  A lot of it still sticks with most of us because we’ve done it so much and we’ve got so many personal memories attached to the songs and scenes and dances.

Nature vs. Nurture: What Makes a Killer

Megan Henderson

Blog Post 1

Psych 100.003

 

Nature vs. Nurture: What Makes a Killer

            School shootings, serial killers and violent children.  Any time a shooting occurs, children lash out, or horrible things happen by the hands of humans, people instantly respond with “It’s these video games today, there’s too much violence on television…” or something of that nature.  When horrible things happen, people naturally assume it’s because of the environment in which they’ve been raised, but there might be more to the debate than that.                                                                                                              On one hand, the concerned mothers of Call of Duty and GTA players might just have a handle on things. Stemming from the time of the Greeks, Aristotle had the belief that human behavior is subject to laws.  This view, known as “Empiricism” was built on the idea of knowledge being gained through experience.  This is where the mothers and concerned citizens come in.  Children who witness violent behavior on television at a young age and virtually act violent on video games as teenagers are the ones who become violent (according to this school of thought).  The Empiricism view is widely accepted due to the success of an experiment run by Dr. Vincent Matthews with his colleagues at Indiana University. Matthews used fMRI tests to scan the brain activity of 28 students.  After the initial scans, the men were asked to perform tasks with either emotional or non-emotional content.  These men were randomly assigned to play either violent shooter games or non-violent games every day for a week. After the seven days of video games, the same men were rescanned using fMRI while re-completing the same non/emotional tasks to observe differences.  Of the results, Matthews said “Behavioral studies have shown an increase in aggressive behavior after violent video games, and what we show is the physiological explanation for what the behavioral studies are showing,” The results showed those who played the violent games showed less brain activity in the areas which involve emotions.  The views of Aristotle clearly have some physiological significance to them, based on the results of Matthews study.                                                                                                  Opposing the views of Aristotle and the results of Matthews study sits the school of Nativism.  According to Plato and Socrates our thoughts, characteristics, and behaviors are all innate qualities.  Because this field of study heavily relies on genetics, most studies will look into the heritability of traits such as aggression.  In an effort to look at the genetic and environmental influences of aggression, twin male subjects were mailed subscales of the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory.  In the results of this study, three of the four BHDI scales demonstrated heritability among aggressive behaviors of a non-additive nature (40% -Indirect Assault, 37% -Irritability, 28% -Verbal Assault).  Because of what these BDHI scales indicate, we can technically infer that some forms of impulsive aggression can be heritable in men.                                                                                                While both Empiricism and Nativism are accepted schools of thought with evidence to support both, it’s impossible to say one is more accurate than the other.  At best, psychology will uncover behaviors, particularly aggressive and violent ones are a product of a combination of both the environment in which a person is raised and the innate characteristics with which the child is born.

 

References:

http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/02/how-playing-violent-video-games-may-change-the-brain/

 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322396002570