Spotlight Post 1- Children of Divorce

As divorce has significantly increased over the past years, the issue of child development has become a concern. With an average of only 40% of two parent families in the United States it’s safe to say divorce is an issue prevalent to almost everyone. You may not be immediately affected by the separation of parents but you most likely have a friend or loved one who has. It’s debated whether a child can come through divorce without any significant or serious consequence, some believe this is strictly impossible.
Looking at a recent study, I acquired from a journal article in the New York Times, 131 children from 60 families of divorce were studied over a course of 10-15 years. The author of the article Judith Wallerstine is a credible psychologist and author of the book, ”Second Chances: Men, Women & Children a Decade After Divorce”. The article the news produced was an adaptation from her book. The researches of this study thought that after a year or two, individuals would get their lives back on track and children would, “get on with new routines, new friends and new schools, taking full opportunity of the second chances that divorce brings in its wake”. However, the findings were quite different. Checking in on children about a year after a divorce they found them on a downward spiral and most were worse than they were immediately after the divorce. Looking in after 5 years they found, “only 34 percent of the children were clearly doing well”. Depression, a hard time concentrating in school, trouble making friends, and behavioral problems were reported or seen in many of these children. After the course of 10 years, almost half were still doing poorly as they entered adulthood some were angry, worried, under achieved, and self-critical. The study also indicated parents often in a divorce put substantial amounts of pressure on children to grow up fast and even sometimes participate in role reversal. The article states, “they are not simple role reversals, as some have claimed, because the child’s role becomes one of holding the parent together psychologically”. There can be emotional and physical hardships for a child trying to make whole what is left of a family in pieces (Wallerstine 1989).
Charles Bryner agrees with Judith’s stated research, in that children are in fact strongly impacted negatively by divorce. Bryner is a doctor of medicine who posted his findings in an article on Clinical Review. He states a child at an early age is dependent on both parents for support and if a parent isn’t initiating in one’s life, they tend to feel a sense of abandonment. When a parent leaves, a child may then feel rejected. Bryner describes that the loss a child feels during divorce can be compared to the same loss someone feels during death except, “divorce might actually be harder on children because it lacks the concrete cause and finality of death”. He describes stages of a child going through a parent’s divorce. One who doesn’t get adequate support can be stuck in denial. The child could be confused in this stage if a parent moves on because they don’t see the divorce with finality. He goes on to explain the negative impacts that poor father-daughter relationships can have. Resulting that many girls have poor social adjustments and during adolescence, exhibit precocious sexual activity and promiscuity. He does however throw in his writing the significance of getting help to reduce social and behavioral problems from such a traumatic event (Bryner 200).
It is believed by some that not all marital partings end harmfully. Research has said to constantly show families doing better than they are stereotyped after divorce. The more recent studies have shown less of a gap in academic achievement, self-concept, adjustment, and social competence as stated by Paul Amato author of the article “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children”. This article was credibly published by the National Council of Family Relationships. The article actually keys in on positive aspects of divorce on children. Some studies have shown children doing better as daughters gain closer relationship with custodial mother and high-conflict marriage divorces results in a better outcome for the child. Divorce is an escape from a crazy or unhealthy home environment and a chance to develop relationships with parents without a constant having to choose sides or getting caught in between a world wind of craziness (Amato 200). As the years have changed divorced families have become more common and are less stigmatized. They over time have generated a greater support system. Although children of divorce are at high risk for adjustment problems, developmental difficulty can be reduced significantly if there are effective parenting practices and adults avoid hostile exchange in a child’s presence (Simons 1999).
My view towards the effects of divorce on children is very biased as my father and one of my best friends went through some rough parental divorce. Seen from the many studies and results in journals and articles it seems most children of a divorce as well have some difficulty adjusting after. I think it’s very rare for a child to not have any negative consequences when their parent’s split apart. However, I can recall some friends that say divorce made their parents a lot happier and because of them no longer fighting they were happier too. I believe most cases that turn out positive after divorce are contributed to parents that work together to make sure their children aren’t affected by their drama or situation. Assuring a child both parents still love them very much and setting a schedule were the child sees both parents I believe sets up for minimal negative consequences. Not all people are the same so it’s hard to say all individuals will have a negative outcome but from the reports I read and person insight, most do.

Refrences:
Amato, P.R. (2000). The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children. Journal of Marriage and Family 62(4), 1269-1287. Retrieved from:
http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1566735.pdfrefreqid=excelsior%3A4610afb5cf7c5ec5e22a97e212ea26b0

Bryner, C. L. (2000). Children of Divorce. Clinical Review 14(3), 202-210. Retrieved from:
http://www.jabfm.org/content/14/3/201.full.pdf

Simons, R.L., Lin, K., Gordon, L.C., Conger, R.D., & Lorenz, F.O. (1999). Explaining the Higher Incidence of Adjustment Problems Among Children of Divorce Compared with Those in Two-Parent Families. Journal of Marriage and Family 61(4), 1020-1033. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/354021.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A6e4db98a9bd7b2fa094cfdbcdb838914

Wallerstine, J.S. (1989). Children After Divorce. New York Times. Retrieved from:
http://www.weightiermatter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/children-after-divorce-new-york-times.pd


Week 6-Psychoactive Drugs

Addiction affects many homes and families as well as the individual involved in the problem. It is hard to decide what is best for a love one and there well being, but all anyone can want is for them to get better. The two methods treating addiction are very different. Abstinence cuts off all ties from the substance, it is a very hard road to take and one that requires immense support.  The harm reduction process may be an easier adjustment for someone then just going cold turkey, as it rules out the negative effects.

I believe it strongly depends on the individual as to which method will work best or be most effective.  I have some stubborn loved ones that I know no convincing would keep them from doing what they wanted.  If alcohol or substance abuse was a problem for them then the harm reduction program would be the best route.  Making sure to rule out the negatives when using drugs would ensure they were safer.  For example having a designated driver, providing clean needles, drug replacement therapy, and so on. However, this method does seem to bring some problems.  The family may still be affected by the individual who for say, when he drinks abuses his wife and children.  In this case an abstinence method would be best.  The addiction to the drug on this method still doesn’t change one may even begin to crave it more, the negative effects are just reduced.

Abstinence seems like for most cases, but not all, the better way to head down.  It completely cuts off the user from the drug and with support of AA meetings and family can be possible. The long term affect of drugs on the brain and the body is very detrimental and unlike the harm reduce program this one will rid an individual of the substance.  It will help ones body and mind recover although one might experience withdraw willpower can help them push forward.  One who has an addiction may have no control over the drug instead it has control over them.  Abstinence may be a way to hold on and grasp ones life again.


Week 5- Memory

There are many memories we hold dear to us.  Ones that no matter how old we get, we will always remember.  So the question is, what ties us to these memories and what makes a simple event so memorable while others are dismissive? Memories are not created equal some hold more weight than others, often these ones are associated with a particular emotion.  I believe an individual is easier to recall moments or days in which they experienced an extreme emotion then an ordinary melancholy day.  Emotions are what enhance our ability to remember.  When we associate feelings of happiness, sadness, and anger with a particular event they become etched in our minds.  Big life steps or life changing events like moving, weddings, and a first child tend to be vivid memories too.  Your mind remarks important milestones in your life and holds them with more weight then others.  You can’t remember everything so it’s important for your brain to filter the important events that shaped you or defined you in some way and disregard the others.  This makes me question however, why do we remember certain dreams but forget others?

To talk with individuals all over the world from different aspects of life would be interesting.  I would be curious to hear some of the memories they recall vividly and have them indicate the emotion they felt on that day and at which extent on a scale that feeling was at. I know this wouldn’t give a cause and effect but its hard to perform an experiment in which you would put humans through extreme emotional distress.  Surveying individuals may be the best research method in this case. Looking how hormones, released when expressing certain emotions, affects recollection of memories could be vital as well.


Neuroscience: Exploring the Mind of a Killer

I have recently been binge watching the Netflix television show, “How to Get Away with Murder,” and a lot of cases on the show deal with killers.  So, when this option presented itself as a choice for one of the TED talks, I was immediately drawn too it.  It interests me to get into the mind of a killer and to see what causes them to take certain actions.

The talk dove in with Jim Fallon discussing that recently he had been asked to analyze the brains of psychopathic killers.  It had been a blind experiment, meaning he did not  know exactly whos brains he was going into or examining.  He discovered multiple factors led to what made up a killer’s brain: the individuals genes, biological-epigenetic brain damage, and the environment.  The timing these three things came together was very critical. Each brain examined had multiple damage but one thing common in all was orbital cortex and frontal lobe damage.  A specific gene referred to as MAOA was also present in the brains of killers but is also existent in the brains of us who aren’t killers.  However, it only becomes triggered or activated if one is involved in or sees  violence before puberty.  The gene is sex-linked which may help further explain why more men are killers because you can only get it from your mother.  The gene produces too much serotonin which, because babies become used to it at birth, enables the chemical nerve cell to calm a person or regulate anxiety.

Although I have always know that every killer had some kind brain or mental process problem, I did not know exactly what connected one to another.  The most interesting thing I discovered from this talk was that all killers had a consistent same orbital cortex damage and all contained the same triggered MAOA gene.

Jim Fallon established himself well in the beginning of the talk.  Providing the audience with the information of where he taught, the University of California, which I think many consider a very respected institute.  He is a neuroscientist professor there who expressed his past research in the opening of his talk as well.  For most of his life he had been studying genes and neurotransmitters which he also stated at the start of his speech.  I think this was smart of him to establish his authority and why he should be considered by those listening as a reliable source.  He provided pictures and detailed descriptions of the research he had done as well.  I think someone who has been researching and creating known and validated discoveries in a particular topic over a period of time we can consider an expert.

I would want to discover if there is a way to deactivate the MAOA gene in a killer.  Maybe there is another gene that can manipulate or mask the expression/ function of the gene so it can’t be triggered.  Inserting this gene and recoding and analyzing data. Also, to examine brains of those with the MAOA gene and of those without it who have had a traumatic experience in childhood could be interesting.  This could be a longitudinal research to view brain development and damage of the individuals over multiple time points.

 


Extra Credit: Coke vs. Pepsi Taste Test

A strength of this exercise was a double-blinded procedure where neither the participate nor the one giving the soda, as well as the information collector  knew what type of soda was given in each cup.  Another strong suit of this experiment was having the tester clean his or her palate with water after each sample.

A weaknesses or limitation of this experiment could have been the ability to smell the drink.  Smelling incorporated another outside factor that could help students more easily identify soda type, as some said the two types had different smells.   Another limitation was the experiment didn’t represent the population of students as a whole, instead it was tested upon those who were already soda drinkers.

Confounding variables in this experiment could be that students chosen were those who had a bias towards a specific soda type.  Another could be the smell factor or the ability to identify color differences between the two drinks.  The opinions of others in the hall questioning if their tester was positive of a choice or causing them to second guess themselves could have been a confounding variable as well.

The conclusion we came up with was that the difference between Coke and Pepsi could not be identified between individuals.  This conclusion was valid for my group receiving 2 right answers out of 5 correct.  The rest of our class had similar results, except for one group who correctly identified all the samples.  We also had to consider that getting none right would also mean that you could differentiate correctly but that you just got the sodas mixed up.

One changes I would make to the experiment is opening to the whole class to participate.  That way there is an equal chance for all students to participate and their is no systematic bias.  Another change I would make would be limiting other factors like smell and sight so they can’t influence the decisions.  Each member of the group not being able to talk to one another could help give better results as well.  Increasing the size of participants would give better results for a whole population we are testing.  Lastly, giving the tester more time in between drinks could help them to get the taste of the last soda out of there mouths.


Extra Credit

Taking a psychodynamic approach, we would look at Miguel’s childhood and figure out what traumatic or memorable event caused him to act the way he does now.  His parents may have been very strict when he was younger and anal about him learning certain things a certain way.  This has caused him later in life to be very hard on himself especially when he can’t live up to or meet a certain potential.  He know deals with obstacles in his life with a negative approach that he will never be good enough, making him irritable and explaining him lashing out on his roommates.

Looking at Miguel’s situation from a behavioral standpoint he may be acting this way due to his external environment stimulating certain behaviors.  The outside world may be training him to act a certain way removing or changing certain things in Miguel’s daily routine can improve his behavior.  School stress and parental influence may be the reason he is so hard on himself and struggling in school.  Something is affecting him on the outside and causing him to act irritable and affecting his sleep.  Creating a happy and positive environment for Miguel may result in different outcomes in school life and home life.

The cognitive approach is determined by looking at expectation and emotion.  How Miguel internally processes and handles the obstacles of life will reflect externally.  When things are difficult for him he loads himself with stress.  When he can’t meet his own self inflicted expectations he turns it into a negative and therefore reflects negative responses.  These negative responses involve him being mean to his friends, having sleepless nights, and going through life with the wrong mindset he’s not good enough.

A humanistic outlook would focus on Miguel feeling good about oneself and focusing on fulfilling his needs and goals.  Motivating him to be the best person he can be and analyzing why he does something in the first place. Starting from the basics of fulfilling his little goals he can work his way up the pyramid to fill the bigger goals.  He need to find and realize his own self potential first.

From a cultural aspect, Miguel may be feeling extreme pressure due to the religion he practices or the expectations of those in his community.  Cultures cope with scenarios in different ways and the way he is taught to deal with things may be too much for him.  Cultures can also have certain standards they live by some requiring high self standards as well.

From a biological approach we would look at Miguel’s genetic makeup, hormones, and nervous system.  This approach would target understanding a healthy brain and examining the mind and body.  Miguel may be going through depression which can be inherited across generations and explain why he is so down on himself lately and irritable towards his friends.  Depression can interfere with normal life and lead to fatigue, slowness, and changes in sleeping patterns.

 


Week 2 First Impression Blog

I watched one of the Mythbusters videos for this blog.  It explored the topic of hands free driving devices and their ability to improve driving safety.  There were a lot of good things they did to test this idea, but also quite a few things that could have been done to improve their experiment and make it a little better.

The first mini test was a driving course set up the same for both the two drivers. I thought this was a strength having the same course design meant that the level of difficulty wouldn’t vary with the driver.  However, some people generally tend to just be better at driving than others as well as better at multitasking.  The questions that were asked of each driver either through the phone or Bluetooth triggered the same part of brain, the prefrontal cortex.  The asking of the same type of question to each driver was also a strength of this study.  The downfall this experiment had was that one individual only did hands free driving and the other only did hands full driving they didn’t switch roles. Who is to know if the two men in the test have the same skills in driving or if one is naturally a little more talented at driving than the other.  Adding more than just two people to this study would help to come to a better conclusion as well.

The second test involved 30 volunteer drivers in a driving simulator created at Stanford. They were then divided into two groups those using a phone and those using Bluetooth, both groups receiving GPS instructions.  The course was monitored on a computer screen so each individual ran the same one in a controlled environment and the same car, this was a major strength for the experiment.  I think another strength for this test was also the size. More people could help the experiment to receive better results.  However, the age of the participants wasn’t specified.  I think we can all agree a 17 year old driver would have quite a different driving experience than a 40 year old driver.  Gender also wasn’t taken into account which could be a whole other topic in itself, are men better drivers than women?  The participants did not switch roles either from hands full to hands free they just completed the course using one.  Having a separate group run the simulation with the use of no devices to test the difference in performance as a control, could have also heled to see clearer results. I believe running a controlled simulated course in the same car with lets say,  30 men ranging from 35-45 years old would be a better test.  Each of the men getting a chance to do the test with no devices, with Bluetooth devices, and lastly with their hands full.


Introduction

Hi everyone!  My names Kaley and I am currently a sophomore at Elizabethtown College.  I grew up in New Jersey not too far from the beach, where I tend to spend most of my summers.  I am studying Biology-Allied Health in the hopes of being a physicians assistant or a physical therapist.  This summer I had the opportunity to shadow at a dermatology office which was a wonderful experience.  I enjoy going to music festivals and concerts with friends.  If I’m not with my friends, you can always find me with my family.  I am a big homebody and going to college two hours away was very hard for me at first.

I am anxious to dive into this psychology course this year.  This course was required for my major but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something I am very interested in learning about.  I chose this class to learn more about the conscious and unconscious mind.  To study why we think and do certain things.  As well as to grasp the concept of how our brain processes emotions and memory.  I don’t have any formal background in the subject but I am always open to learning.

When I think of the word “psychology” I think of the study of the mind, how it works, and how it affects the body.  One topic in the syllabus that caught my eye was the Personality Theory.  I wonder why everyone’s personalities are different and what makes up an individuals personality? Is it their experiences, how they were raised, or how their mind perceives things, that interoperates their personality?  The brain on a micro-level also caught my eye.  I am very big on breaking things down and I believe to understand things you have to get to the bottom of it.  I’m interested to see how the brain can be pulled apart and understood.  Lastly, coping with stress was a topic that I found intriguing.  College is a stressful place and I am one of those people who get pulled into the wormhole of it all.  I have trouble calming myself down and taking a breath.  Little things get me very on edge and I would like to discover why.

The topics I found least interesting at first glance were Stereotypes& Discrimination, Mechanics of Sleep, and Classifying Mental Illnesses.  In fact none of these looked particularly boring.  They all seem like they would create quite simulating conversations and choosing my three least favorite was hard to do.  However, these were the topics I already knew a little about while the other topics were completely new to me.  I am always drawn towards new things and find enjoyment in learning something different.

I want to be able to understand myself a little more by the end of this course.  To be able to learn about why I behavior a certain way and to see how my brain processes different emotions and how it reacts.  I also want to learn how other people think, and how my mind works differently than others.  By the end of class I hope to be able to grasp the basic concepts of psychology and further expand my knowledge.