Author Archives: Michael Joseph Rosa

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that can be very disabling to those affected. According to webmd.com the disease affects 2.4 million adults over the age of 18. The causes are believed to be mostly genetic, however, there is data that shows environmental factors may play a key role as well. Symptoms often include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, paranoia, lack of emotional expression, lack of motivation, lack of pleasure in everyday life, and lack of the ability to feel empathy towards others. The two main symptoms that I wanted to talk about where hallucinations and lack of empathy. These two are believed to contribute to many of the violent behaviors of those with the disease. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho brutally murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech. He was hospitalized for the disease shortly before the attack but it is common for people with schizophrenia to refuse treatment out of fear. The hallucinations and paranoia can convince them that the caregivers are trying to cause harm to them thus causing them to leave treatment. There is no none cure for schizophrenia currently. Those with the disease are given many heavy sedative drugs to reduce the harmful thoughts and hallucinations.

One of my close family friends developed the disease when she was eleven years old. In the years prior she had been a very normal happy-go-lucky child that was always playing outside and running around the neighborhood. She was like any other child enjoying life and hanging out with friends. Shortly after her eleventh birthday however, she began to become more reserved, keeping to herself and rarely interacting with others. A couple months later she started causing great bodily harm to herself. When asked why she did it, she would respond “they told me to.”, referring to the voices in her head. She started treatment with a therapist and things started to look up for a few months before they took a turn for the worse. One morning she tried to attack her mother with a kitchen knife. Luckily, her mother was able to subdue her before she was seriously hurt. The response was the same this time, “it was the voices”. After that episode, she has been in and out of psychiatric care facilities. She is no longer able to attend public school as she would disappear daily causing frantic searches. Currently she is on a variety of sedating drugs. It’s sad because it’s the only way to treat the disorder but it leaves the patient in a “barely there” type of state. Hopefully one day we will find a cure because its extremely sad to see this happen to anyone.

Recognition and Recall

Have you ever encountered someone you thought you knew but couldn’t remember their name? Then, shortly after their names pops into your head. You are using both recognition and recall in this situation. You are using recognition when you realize the persons physical appearance or voice matches one that is previously stored in your memory. This is called a cue. On the other hand, you are recalling information when you suddenly remember that persons name. In recognition, sensory cues act as an aid in memory retrieval. When some one is using recognition, they are matching a current cue with one stored somewhere in their brain. It acts similar to a mental filling cabinet. When you receive a certain stimulus, your brain opens the filling cabinet and searches for the correct folder that matches the stimulus. A common instance in which recognition is used is on a multiple choice test. You have a list of possible answers and must select the correct one. Some of theses words look more familiar then others thus helping in retrieval. While recognition and recall are similar, recalling is a form of memory retrieval that lacks the aid of a specific cue. When taking a fill-in-the-blank or essay test, you have to retrieve the answer from stored memory without a cue. These tests are typically harder as it tends to be easier to recognize answers than to recall them. Trouble recalling information results in something known as the Tip-of-the-Tongue phenomenon. This is where you feel as if you know the word, but you just can’t say it. Sometimes people go as far as remembering the first letter or how many letters are in the word, but cannot completely retrieve it. Recall and recognition are two very important aspects of memory retrieval that are used in our every day life.

Nature vs. Nurture

The argument of Nature versus Nurture has long been around in psychology.  It is the idea that a person’s characteristics are either predetermined through evolution or are formed or molded through the environment in which they are raised. Nativism takes the stance that our characteristics are attributed to our genetic code (nature) where as empiricism states that our parents and our environment are responsible (nurture).

Personally, I believe both sides of the argument play a role in how ones behavioral characteristics are developed. However, it is my own opinion that nurture has a larger influence then nature.  Going back to the empiricist view, you are a product of your environment, this has played a big role in my life.  My parents got divorced when I was about very young. This led to me living predominately with my dad and he was the main influence on me. I find that my dad and I are extremely similar and share the same characteristics, as I have heard the saying  “you sound just like your father” countless times.  We do certain things the same way and are often on the same side of an argument as we have very similar thinking processes. When it comes to my mother, I have much less in common with her. I attribute this to being around my father for the majority of my childhood. While my mother and I do have many differences, there are still a few small similarities in our personalities that i have noticed. Also, my laugh is very similar to that of my moms, which I found very interesting. This leads me to believe that both sides of the argument play a role in the development of our characteristics, with nurture contributing more.  We may never have a concrete answer to this question so its up to you to decide.