Study Habits

In high school, I never studied very much. Topics came easily to me, and I managed to almost be a straight A student just by doing my homework and paying attention in class. I came into college with no recent knowledge on what ways of studying work best for me. When I have studied in college, I had been provided a study guide, which I found beneficial because I could better aim my studying.

For the first exam, the only studying I did came from doing one of the practice question tests four times. I did not realize that the chapters were broken up into two different groups of practice questions. Even with that little amount of studying, I still managed to score above the class average and receive a passing grade on the exam. I found the questions beneficial, so I would do the practice questions for the next exam. I would also make sure that I did both of the sets of practice questions. Along with that, I should look back in the book or in my notes if I do not understand concepts or come along information that I could not remember. I have the hardest time with the information that is only in the book. I would also do the practice questions more times to see as many of the questions as possible and to see at least some of the same questions several times. Repetition is a key in learning, and it should benefit me remembering the information. Hopefully, these new study habits will improve my exam grades in the class.

 

No Such Thing As Free Will?

According to B.F Skinner, there is no such thing as free will. From his experience of doing a study with pigeons, he determined that the pigeons did the desirable behaviors for food. The pigeons would peck at a colored disk until food would be revealed to them. The food was revealed in different reinforcement schedules, which Skinner said were like the schedules used on gambling machines. His argument is that we believe free will exists because we do not understand the behaviors behind the things we do.

I believe that Skinner is correct about this assumption. Our natural drives are fueled by our needs. We act based on what needs to be satisfied within our body, whether it be food, comfort, shelter. This needs could very well be why we end up in bad situations and feel as if  we have no control over them. This lack of free will can bring us into unhealthy situations. We do things because we need to. We eat because it is required to survive. We may choose what we eat and when we eat, but we eat because we must.

Skinner compared the scheduling to those on gambling machines. We believe that something like gambling is something we choose to do, but gambling can become an addiction. Does this inadvertently show that things like addiction become just like our natural drives? Do we completely lose our free will to things that are not required for survival? It appears that we, as humans, do not have the free will that we thought we did.

“Toward a New Understanding of Mental Illness”

I watched the TED Talk video of Thomas Insel talking about his work in the federal government for mental disorders. I am personally drawn into topics on mental health and specifically on mental disorders. It is very interesting to me, and I want to work with those who have mental disorders as a music therapist in the future. Insel talked about how deaths related to heart disease, stroke, AIDS and Leukemia have dropped significantly in the past few decades in the US. The same does not apply to suicide rates, which have stayed stagnant. 38,000 people commit suicide a year, which is double the homicide rate and higher than the amount of vehicle fatalities a year. His work involves early intervention in diagnosing mental disorders, which he referred to as brain disorders. By scanning the brain, researchers are beginning to see that they can see the onset of some mental disorders, specifically schizophrenia. By performing these scans before the symptoms even appear, it could prevent long term devastating effects and lower suicide rates. He hopes to find the technology and ways to do this in the next two years.

I found the presenter to be very trustworthy. He is employed by the federal government to research early intervention and prevention of chronic mental disorders. He had lots of statistics and research to back up his case. He was even humble about his credentials, and was more interested in sharing his work and bringing awareness to the audience. His work shows real potential in the mental health field as well, making it more credible.

A research idea I have is about the effects of different environmental factors on the development of a mental disorder. I would get participants from all different backgrounds (ethnicity, location, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.) and follow them over the course of twenty years, starting from around age 5. They would have brain scans performed on them every year and have to discuss important events in their year (a change in environment, identity, situation, traumatic events, etc.) as well as symptoms that could indicate underlying mental disorder(s). If significant changes occur and begin to indicate that a mental disorder is appearing, whether in scans or through symptoms, then the event(s) that occurred to the person will be analyzed to determine if they perhaps caused the mental disorder.

The “Right” Way to Parent

There are many different ways to parent your children. I would consider that the style my mother used on me was one of a “helicopter parent.” She always had asked me what was going on in school, if I had homework, put a lot of pressure on me to succeed academically and always had to know where I was and who I was with. I had friends growing up that had parents that didn’t really care what they did or how they were doing in school or even about going to their extracurricular events like music concerts and sports events, whereas my mother was always present at my concerts. As I see it, parenting is a balancing act in every aspect. The “Perfect” way to parent would be unachievable. I don’t have any children yet, nor do I want them before I am married and established in my career and financially, but I have an ideal way of how I would want to parent my children that could be called a “balanced” parenting technique.

First, you need to pay attention to your children, especially when they are doing appropriate things. They often act out to get your attention, and if you only pay attention to them for inappropriate behavior, then they will continue to do inappropriate things to get your attention. Second, technology should not do more of the parenting than you are. Using technology for educational purposes at home is something I really agree with , but you as the parent still need to educate them yourself and spend quality time with your children, teaching them, playing with them and just spending time with them.

Third, you need to be open-minded about the world and the things your children might do or be. If they cannot see that you are willing to be open-minded about their personal lives that is not deemed socially “normal” or has a stigma around it, they will not open up with you and trust you. Fourth, you do need to guide them. Give them advice when they ask for it because you have probably traveled that road before in life. Fifth, you have to let them make mistakes and get hurt. Lots of valuable learning comes from first-hand experience, and a part of life is making mistakes and getting hurt. Be there for them as a person to help them through those mistakes and pain and help them understand what had happened.

This last part is the hardest part for parents to deal with. Lastly, you need to let your children go when they’re ready. Holding on too tightly and sheltering them too much under prepares them for the world and it can make them resentful of you. They will come back for your guidance and love, so you will not be letting them go forever. Your parenting might even influence their parenting and make a chain reaction for generations to come.

Tiger moms and jellyfish dads are on the opposite sides of the parenting spectrum, one being incredibly strict and the other being laid back. The helicopter parent is on the stricter side of the spectrum as well. I find that my style of parenting is a balance in between both, taking aspects from both sides and incorporating them together to create the most ideal style of parenting.

Bonus Post: Miguel

“Miguel has been struggling with his coursework lately. He has felt very tired in recent weeks and has found it difficult to focus on his studies. Even though he is always tired, he has trouble falling asleep at night, is irritable during the day, and picks fights with his roommates. He is a bit of a perfectionist and gets mad at himself when he makes even tiny mistakes. It’s gotten to the point where he doubts his ability to do anything right.”

 

From a psychodynamic perspective, Miguel’s negative thoughts have been repressed for a long time. Now, they are “leaking” out and bringing negative symptoms with it. They are causing him to not believe in himself, lose sleep and alter his behaviors with his roommates.

From a behavioral perspective, Miguel’s perfectionist behaviors are hurting him in the long run. Because he has conditioned himself to require perfection, anything less than that causes him to be negative towards himself. He has conditioned himself for perfection, and not attaining it is causing issues.

From a humanistic perspective, Miguel’s perfectionism is not allowing him to be his true self. Since he is limiting himself from making mistakes, he is holding back his true self. This in turn causes negativity in his mind, which can begin to create adverse physical and mental side effects.

From a cognitive perspective, Miguel’s mental processes are off. Since he focuses on perfection so much, other mental processes, such as positive thought, focus and interaction are all being affected. His focus is on unhealthy, repetitive thoughts rather than coursework and relationships.

From a neuroscience perspective, Miguel is predisposed to his perfectionism and the effects that it brings. One of Miguel’s family members may be just like him and passed the trait down to him. This results in being predisposed to negative thought, low self esteem and mental health issues.

From a cultural perspective, Miguel lives in a culture built on success. It is important to get good grades and achieve some sort of perfection to move forward in life. Anything less contributes to failure, which Miguel does not want. This leads him to be a perfectionist and become very negative when he fails.

Introducing Me

Hi! I’m Brittany Freed, and I’m a first year Music Therapy major!

I decided to take PSY 105 because it was a requirement to take this semester. That does not mean that I didn’t want to take the course though. I love psychology, and it really is an interesting topic for me. I took it my senior year in high school, and I really loved the material. Just not the teacher.

When I hear the word psychology, I immediately think of the definition of it. The dictionary definition is the study of the human brain and its functions. Psychology is more than that though. It’s all the functions and dysfunctions of the brain and how it works with and against your body to create the person that is uniquely you.

Of all topics, I am most excited to learn about mental illnesses. As dismal as that may sound, the dysfunction of the brain and chemical imbalances within it is a fascinating topic that is too stigmatized due to may people lacking proper information and understanding on them. Next, I would have to say I am excited to learn about personality theory. I love to analyze the personality of people, real and fictional and think about why they act the way they do and do the things they do. I was not aware until looking at the syllabus that personality had a whole theory classified just for it, and I am very excited to learn all about it. Finally, I am looking forward to learning about the psychology of addiction. Just like mental illnesses, addiction has a harsh stigma in society and is not usually understood by most people. Learning how addiction occurs will open up a whole new world of understanding for me since I am not sure what all happens inside the brain to create an addiction.

The first on my list for least interesting topics is classic conditioning and such because I already know a lot about Pavlov’s work with classic conditioning. Next, I would have to choose the theories of intelligence because it does not interest me that much to understand why some people are just naturally more intelligent than others. Finally, I would choose the scientific method and experiments because I have learned about the scientific method so many times in high school that it has already gotten old, has retired and has four lovely grandchildren.

By the end of psychology class, I would like to understand why our brain falls out of chemical imbalance and why dysfunctions, addictions and mental illnesses occur. I want to gain an understanding of the commonly misunderstood and use it to understand my clients and to educate other people about these misunderstood topics.

I hope to get to know you better throughout the semester. Trust me though, my conversation isn’t as smooth or charismatic as some of my responses were in this post. I’m usually quite quiet and class and refrain from answering because I second-guess myself a lot, especially if I don’t feel comfortable. I will try my best to participate and let myself blossom! I cannot wait for this semester in PSY 105!