First Impression: Week 6

Studying is a concept that I never had a particular problem with, however, the beginning of this semester proved to be a rude awakening. I have always been a conscientious student and how I do in school has always been important to me. I tend to find that I retain information better when I write it out multiple times, so that is exactly what I do before exams. I write out notes on the chapters being covered from the textbook, I write out a sheet of key points from lectures and I write out practice exam questions if a review is provided. Sometimes Quizlet comes to the rescue if a particular exam is heavy with vocabulary terms. However, this last exam really threw me for a loop. In hindsight, I probably could have taken some additional quiet time away from the stresses of my other classes and friends to focus on details more. Needless to say, there needed to be changes made before the second exam, as there will NOT be a repeat of such a poor performance. For this second exam, I have begun reviewing the information both in the notes from the text and the notes from the lecture at the end of every week. Rather than trying to cram everything into 2 or 3 days of hardcore and time-consuming review, I am working on spreading out my review over the course of the weeks leading up to test day. This way my brain has a better chance of retaining information that is essential for the exam. This method is also allowing me to complete my other schoolwork with less stress. Last time I was scrambling to finish other assignments in the few days leading up to the exam because I devoted huge chunks of my time to review alone. Cramming is a bad habit that I carried over from high school that is proving to be difficult to break. However, my new technique seems to be putting me in a better place than I was weeks ago and I hope that it will be exactly what I need to bring up my grade. So far, a less stressful environment is more beneficial for learning, I have been finding. This elongated studying, good sleep, minimizing stress and remembering to take breaks regularly, is my recipe for saving my grade in the upcoming weeks.

First Impression Post #3

For this week’s first impression blog post, I chose to watch the TED talk regarding psychopathic killers. The talk was given by a Neuroscientist by the name of Jim Fallon and was dutifully named “Exploring the mind of a killer”. This topic interested me because I have always had an affinity for things that are traditionally seen as scary and freaky. Horror movies and television shows, such as Criminal Minds, have been favorites of mine for the majority of my short life. The inner workings of how the human mind and how it can potentially go so wrong is immensely interesting to me.

Fallon’s talk began with his philosophy of how psychopathic killers are made. According to Fallon, the components of such an individual are a combination of his or her environment, genetics and brain damage. Many of the individuals he gave as examples in the beginning moments of his talk were names that have become media icons for their horrendous and seemingly impossible actions. Ted Bundy, John Gacey, and Charles Manson were a handful of such examples. Fallon found through the use of PET scans that many of these individuals sustained damage to their orbital cortex and their interior temporal lobes. This, in addition to the presence of the MAOA gene, that results in the brain becoming unresponsive to the hormone serotonin. He also exposure to serious violence before the individual reaches puberty can create a situation where psychopathic tendencies can become present. This cycle, as prolonged violence becomes more prevalent, can perpetuate entire generations of damaged brains. Fallon goes on to tell his own family history about how his distant cousins, including Lizzie Borden, were murderers; a particular fact that I found interesting. He then began conducting brain scans on his own family members to see who could have the potential, not necessarily prove, to be a murderer.

I found Dr. Fallon to be trustworthy. The research he conducted on the convicted psychopathic murders were done anonymously, in order to reduce bias. His colleagues requested his input and executive eye to determine differences in the brains. He has been a leader in his field for a number of years and is currently at the University of California.

A study that could be conducted based on the information gathered from Dr. Fallon’s TED talk could be one regarding how the presence of brain damage affects an individual’s tendency to display psychopathic tendencies. Individuals with brain damage can receive PET scans in order to determine which area of the brain is affected. A short survey can be given to each individual to gauge their moral and reasoning abilites. Such data could be compared to those without brain damage. The purpose of the study would be to investigate the correlation between psychopathic tendencies and brain damage, as brain damage does not necessarily mean that the individual would become a psychopath.

First Impression Week 3: Parenting

Adequate parenting is a topic that remains on the minds of thousands on a daily basis? Am I doing this right? What if I’m scarring my children? While there are countless opinions as to which of these styles is the most beneficial to child development, I personally do not think there is one magic answer to create the perfect storm that will result in the perfect adult. However, this does not mean that there are parenting styles that do not work and rather sabotage children from what they will experience as adults in the ‘real world’. It seems that today, many parents want to have a hand in every aspect of their child’s life and want to prevent him or her from having any hardship. While I see the thought process of wanting to protect your child from harm, there also comes a point where children need to learn lessons for themselves. I remember a while back there was an article in the newspaper where a parent went and harassed the teachers in the local middle school until they agreed to give their child an A in the class. This over-involvement more than likely damaged the child’s ability to perform everyday tasks independently. Not to mention the skewed morals that are being reinforced. It is also important to remember that a single child does not fit in a predetermined mold, no matter how hard one might try. The child as a unique being needs to be taken into account when discerning a parenting style. Not all children are outgoing and personable, and not on the other hand, not all children are quiet either. There is no single parenting style that will completely be applicable to every situation.

I believe that one has to work to get anywhere in life, even children. While there are instances where a child requires assistance and an extra hand, as they are still learning and developing, I do not believe that everything should be done for him or her. Mistakes and imperfect situations open the door to learning. A child that has everything done for him or her will have a rude awakening when they reach adulthood and find that no one is going to be willing to do everything for them. I have found, especially in my own upbringing and the upbringing of my younger brothers, that allowing a child to develop self-sufficiency and feel their way through uncomfortable situations are key to becoming a contributing member of society. From personal experience, I can attest that without my parents forcing me to figure things out on my own and discern a path through novel situations, I would not be the person I am today. Failures should be learned from, victories should be acknowledged and everything in between should serve as a growing experience. Adulthood isn’t going to cater to every individual, so child rearing should be individualized to the child, but in such a way that they can adapt to their surroundings wherever they may end up.

About Me

Hi! I’m Anna Watts and I’m from the suburbs right outside of Philly. I’m a freshman Occupational Therapy major here at Etown and have survived my first semester of college. I can’t wait to start Psych. I’m enrolled in this class now to fulfill the requirements for my major and because I find psychology interesting. I took AP Psych in high school and I absolutely adored it. I hope that psych here is as amazing as I think it will be. When I think of psychology I think of people and how it seems impossible to understand what people are thinking. Then as I learn more about the details of the various areas of psychology, the seemingly undecipherable actions of people seem a little bit more understandable. The sections that seem the most interesting are the brain on the micro level, emotions, and personality theory. I can see the most interesting of the three being the brain on a micro level. I always found the parts of the brain and how they work extremely interesting. The sections that seem the least interesting are the operant conditioning, theories of intelligence, and the mechanics of sleep. I found sleep a little monotonous. At the end of this class, I hope to have a greater understanding of the fundamentals of psychology.