Spotlight Blog 3

--Original published at *Psych 105*

Society has become so enamored by reality television and the plights of complete strangers that even the most tragic situations become entertainment. This seems to be the reason that the infamous show Hoarding: Buried Alive has become a household name. Many don’t understand that the individuals that exhibit these extreme hoarding abilities are really suffering from mental illness. Rather, their illness is trivialized and they are labeled as lazy. Anna Almendrala from the Huffington Post agrees and with the help of Randy Frost from the British Psychological Society, sheds light on the potential detrimental effects such shows can have. Frost points out that the only portion of these people’s lives that are seen, is bits and pieces of an hour when their homes are emptied. There is no attention drawn to the therapy services that are needed in such situations like these, or that simply cleaning the house does not solve the problem. Instead, their struggles with mental illness are put on display without attention being drawn to the actual solutions to the underlying problems. Debbie Stanley, a licensed and certified professional organizer with a specialty in chronic disorganization, states that the show is more of an exploitation of the individuals than anything else. She highlights the fact that the cases that are chosen for the show augment the amount of squalor and only show the dysfunctional habits of the otherwise functioning people. It also stigmatizes and ostracizes those that are afflicted with hoarding, making them seem like outsiders that are messy and unable to control their lives.

However, there can be some foreseeable benefit for a television show like Hoarding: Buried Alive. As points out, hygiene is sometimes risked for the sake of hoarding. In one particular instance, there was a situation where the one bathroom in the home was no longer functional, ultimately resulting in the family of 3 having to bathe outdoors. The benefits of the show were within the ability for the family to regain a more or less normal hygiene routine. An article written by Aina Hunter from CBS News highlights the warning signs for hoarding behaviors, thus drawing attention to the realness of the mental illness behind the show. Dr. Julie Pike explains how the diagnosis of OCD plays a role in the behaviors seen on the show. She states that it is easiest explained as an “addictive process” that wreaks havoc on home life. At the conclusion of the article and the warning signs, resources for assistance and support for those that may be affected by hoarding.

From my perspective, I see the reality television portrayal of hoarding to be detrimental to all those involved. Mental illness is already a stigmatized topic in today’s society and the exploitation of those who actually are affected by mental illness creates a situation where judgment and misinformation to flourish. The sources in which the show was viewed as a detriment highlighted the fact that the actual therapies that can help individuals that hoard is completely left out. This fact was pointed out by researchers from the British Psychological Society and experts in the field of organization. The show itself preys on the misfortune of the mentally ill and makes it glamorous for the general public. Those that say the show is beneficial only really say so for the awareness airtime and the quality of life piece. While the overhauls cannot solve the problem, they can potentially reduce health hazards and safety concerns within the home that otherwise would have continued to be an issue. Though doctors and news outlets preach the positives of the show, they neglect to touch upon the fact of the psychological and social effects of the show. It seems that the negatives outweigh the positives. At the end of the day, the show does not leave the viewer with an increased understanding of how mental illness plays a role in the behaviors that are displayed, but rather they are left with a portrait of individuals that are “lazy” with “no self-control”. There is little to no empathy for the situation, which leads to judgment and more stigma.


Media Production Post

--Original published at *Psych 105*


Can that midnight snack be the reason why you are gaining weight? A 2016 study conducted by Dr. Erin Hanlon and seven fellow researchers and published in Oxford’s journal Sleep seems to think so. The objective of the study was to determine whether a hunger system in the brain is overstimulated when the body experiences sleep deprivation, ultimately resulting in increased weight gain.

The randomized crossover study began with 14 individuals, 3 women and 11 men, and their sleeping habits. These participants were chosen based on their health, BMI’s and their “normal” sleeping habits. These individuals self-reported that they received an average 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep a night, with no naps throughout the day. Participants were not allowed to be on prescription medications, be pregnant or menstruating, or be a smoker, just to name a few parameters. In order to measure the levels of the endocannabinoid system, a hunger system within the brain, each participant underwent a series of blood tests, brain scans and sleep scans to determine any changes throughout the study. Sleep deprivation was defined as receiving 4.5 hours of sleep, and regular sleep was defined as receiving 8.5 hours of sleep. These variables were tested by randomly assigning both treatments to each participant. Throughout the course of each treatment, the participants were given 3 nutritious meals with no snack in between and then were offered a buffet each night, where they were allowed to eat as much as they pleased for as long as they pleased. The amount of food eaten at the buffet was a strong indicator of whether or not sleep played a role in overeating and in the grand scheme of things, obesity.

At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that while the body naturally has an inclination to eat more in the evenings, sleep deprivation amplifies the effects of the system. So, what exactly does this mean? The results of the various tests indicated that the endocannabinoid system naturally has increased production in the evenings, but this natural rise is increased when sleep deprivation is added to the equation. The body has a natural inclination to increase food intake on its own, but lack of sleep leads an individual to act upon this natural tendency more so than if they received an adequate amount of sleep. While this does not mean that sleep deprivation will result in obesity, it is enough to draw attention to the fact that it does, in fact, play a role in overeating and the “late night munchies”. Unfortunately, this data cannot be generalized to the entire human population, as the average person does not apply to the rigid sleep and health parameters that were included in this study. However, the data collected can serve as a starting point for future research regarding individuals that do not fit the specific criteria required in order to be chosen for this study.


The role of a journalist in the media tends to be trivialized by the majority of the general public. However, after critiquing an article written in the New York Times, it has become clear to me that they have a harder task than one might initially think. The main goal of a journalist is to create an article that the general population of readers will find interesting and want to take the time to read. An aspect I didn’t take into account was that I might be better versed in psychological jargon and the information that was in the study than the average person. The role of a journalist is to be able to translate the information of a research study into language that can be deciphered by the average individual. The majority of the information included in the article was watered down in order to keep interest without coming off as too scientific. The use of buzzwords, like marijuana in the pop culture articles case, were used to increase interest as well.

When creating my summary, I made a point to include the 5 critical research questions to ensure that all the important information was being conveyed. The operationalization of the variables was essential to include in order to tell the general population just how reliable the collection of the information was. It was also important to include how the participants were selected and how the information can be generalized. In the New York Times article, they did not include how the data could, or could not, be generalized. The bare bones of the study were conveyed, though the parameters of the population in question were relatively ignored. Yet, at the same time, I have a new respect for what these writers do. It is important to tell the readers what does and does not apply to them, and in this case, the data uncovered cannot be generalized. I felt that it was also important to include the rigor of the study that the participants had to undergo. In the original article, there was not much regarding the schedules that the participants had to follow, leading the reader to infer that any sleep schedule could apply. The basic concepts of the inclusion of the buffet, the means in which the data was collected and the differing sleep schedules were key components that were included in both the pop culture article and my summary.

Upon completing the assignments surrounding the pop culture article and the study itself, in addition to writing my own summary, I have come to the conclusion that the piece that was originally written served its due purpose. Yet at the same time, the information that was included in my summary more accurately conveys the actual population in which this study applies to. Psychology research can be a dense and confusing, resulting in difficulty determining which facts are necessary to capture the essence of the study and which facts have the ability to be overlooked. The scholarly article was plainly facts and geared towards individuals that have prior experience in the subject. The pop culture article served more as the eye candy or clickbait for the article’s data, which also blurs the actual intention of the study. This final summary serves as a happy medium of sorts between the two spectrums. While the summary includes the essential data in the study, it also condenses it into a form that the average person can read and comprehend.



Bromwich, J. (2016). “Poor sleep gives you the munchies, study says”. The New YorkTimes. Retrieved from

Hanlon, E. C., Tasali, E., Leproult, R., Stuhr, K. L., Doncheck, E., de Wit, H., Hillard, C. J., & Van Cauter, E. (2016).  Sleep restriction enhances the daily rhythm of circulating levels of endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol. Sleep, 39(3), 653–664.

Original: 616

Summary: 476

Spotlight Post 2

--Original published at *Psych 105*

Stress cannot be escaped. While this sounds severe, it is simply a fact of life. Stress is a constant force that can either drive you forward or hold you back. Positive and beneficial stress can result in the ability to push forward and obtain our goals. At the same time, stress has the ability to wear a person down until they crumble. This is where stress management and coping mechanisms come in to ensure that circumstances do not reach that point. Stress management looks different for each person, as we are not all the same and have different stressors that affect us all differently. In this post, we will be looking at three different populations: children, college students, and athletes.

It seems as though children have nothing to be stressed about, and in turn have no stress. This is a naïve observation that downplays the very real stress and anxiety that children can feel in their everyday lives. Home life and school have the potential to provide stress for a child. An influx of stress requires the utilization a stress management technique to maintain high quality mental and physical health, as well as a healthy self-esteem. In article powered by Nemours Children’s Hospital and Dr. D’Arcy Lyness, offers several methods for children to deal with stress. One of the first is talking to a trusted adult about how the child is feeling and taking steps to create a regulated schedule. Reaching out to for outside support employs the technique of emotion-focused coping, as explained on page 419, in Chapter 11 of the textbook. The act of reaching out allows the child to seek support through their stress while accepting that the stress is there at the same time. In the area of scheduling and time management, the child may not have control over their schedule, so this communication is key to minimizing stress. The changes in scheduling allow for problem-focused coping as the issue is faced head-on. The acronym SELF, or sleep, exercise, leisure, and food, is also included in this article. All the activities in SELF have proven to be positive coping mechanisms and can be used throughout the lifespan.

College has the potential to be one of the best, but also one of the most stressful times of a person’s life. A key step to ensuring that the college days do not become too stressful is employing superb time management. An article from the University of Michigan’s Campus Mind Works points out the fact that sometimes stress is good, but when the cons outweigh the pros it’s time to make some changes. Goal setting and healthy scheduling are two ways that a student can alter their external stressors. From an internal perspective, positive self-talk and validating one’s feelings and emotions can provide stress relief. Much like the examples given for the children, seeking outside support from friends or family is a viable option as well. Aerobic exercise can be a positive coping strategy as well. This relates back to what we learned in class about how exercise increases not only physical fitness but also reduces the likelihood of anxiety, depression and even Alzheimer’s disease. Though the age ranges are very different between the children and the college students, there are many similar methods of stress management.

Athletes tend to be individuals that have the ability to perform relatively well when under stress. This does not mean that they are immune to it. On the contrary, athletes must find various ways to relieve stress just like everyone else. Dr. Aaron C. Moffett of California State University, San Bernardino created a list of physiological, behavioral and cognitive coping strategies for the Association for Applied Sports Psychology. These coping strategies can be used for when the stress of sports and everyday life seem like they are becoming too much. Deep breathing is on the top of the list for physiological coping. Deep breathing allows for muscle relaxation and increased amounts of oxygen entering the body. This falls into the category of relaxation and meditation. The use of self-talk and positive affirmations, like the ones recommended for college students, are listed under cognitive coping strategies. Mindfulness meditation is a similar coping mechanism that also utilizes the different cognitive strategies that Dr. Moffett discusses. Mindfulness meditation allows the individual to take in their problems in a nonjudgmental and accepting frame of mind (DeWall, N & Myers, D., 2016, p.429). Behavioral strategies include exercise, goal setting and list making, which allow for the athlete to create realistic standards to achieve. Dr. Moffett also makes a point to speak about negative coping strategies, such as drinking and smoking. These activities can lead to unhealthy habits for any person, especially athletes.

After sifting through the various methods of stress management for the three different populations, I can confidently say that I agree with their findings. The websites were written and reviewed by educated individuals from prestigious universities and were made in conjunction with highly rated hospitals. Their findings and recommendations line up with the material discussed in class and the material that is in the textbook. These methods all target potentially positive coping strategies that have beneficial physical, cognitive and behavioral outcomes. Ultimately reduced stress, whether it be in the form of physical activity or a daily inventory of individual stressful thoughts, results in a healthy frame of mind and body. Stress is something that will be with us our entire lives, but with these healthy strategies, we can keep it in its place.

DeWall, N. & Myers, D. (2016). Exploring psychology. New York, New York: Worth Publishers.

First Impression Post: Week 13

--Original published at *Psych 105*

The teacher-student relationship is one such relationship that can have a lasting effect on a student’s life, whether it is obvious or not. From my personal experience, I always think back to my anatomy teacher from my junior year of high school. That teacher was one of the best I ever had and the material I learned in that class still resides with me today. She was one of those teachers that understood that each student does not learn the same and tried to engage everyone in the lessons. Her lectures were not simply created to ensure that we aced the tests. While she was obviously required to give us exams, the point of her class was to get us to actually learn instead of just regurgitating the information to get a high mark. She would work with students with questions they got wrong on assignments to ensure that the important information in the correct answer was understood; a practice that I had never seen before coming to her class. She also understood that sometimes students come into the classroom with issues that are out of their control. This is where she truly made her impact. She was willing to work with any student on anything, whether it be class related or if the individual simply needed a safe space to just breathe. The trust she built with all her students was one that left people coming back to her class year after year.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was my AP literature teacher(s). My senior year I  had chosen to take AP lit, as I loved all my previous lit classes from the time I was in grade school. The first semester of the class, the usual teacher had broken multiple bones in her left leg and was unable to walk. This resulted in a substitute coming in to teach our class. It was at this point that I thought I was going to drop the class. The next 4 months were torturous and no one wanted to even sit in that class. We knew going in that the purpose of the class would be to make sure we were ready for the AP exam, however, this man barely interacted with us the entire time. We each had a workbook with practice problems for the exam and every single assignment he gave us was from the said workbook. He would sit on his phone and act like we weren’t even there day after day. It’s safe to say that I didn’t really learn all that much until the usual teacher was able to return to school. When she returned we made up for lost time in our curriculum work and actually began to learn again.

A common issue that I find with the school system is that everything is centered around receiving high marks on exams with not much else in between. The students that sit in these schools need more than simply preparing for a test to truly understand the information that they are expected to know. Giving a student a book and essentially saying, “Have at it.”, is not the ideal way to foster intellectual growth. Taking the time to see where a student is coming from and seeing that their struggles are, creates a relationship that helps the student feel safe in the school environment. A space where a student feels safe is a space where a student can grow.

Week 12: First Impression Post

--Original published at *Psych 105*

All throughout high school, I had a pretty good idea as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Getting a spot into an entry-level OT program was the ultimate goal of my high school career, and sure enough, it led me to Elizabethtown. My mother and two of my aunts are also occupational therapists, so they stressed to me how important an entry-level program was to have on my short list of must-haves for the ideal college. This criteria alone narrowed my search to about 5 schools, as not all institutions are entry level. Then came Elizabethtown College. I had not heard much about the school people in my town got wind that I was interested in applying. Within a mere 2 weeks, I had found at least 10 people that had not only heard of Elizabethtown but also knew current and/or former students. After I had visited the campus and gotten in contact with an upperclassman to answer my various questions, I knew that Elizabethtown was the place for me. The day that I was accepted into the occupational therapy program at Etown was the first moment where I felt everything was finally falling into place. Not long after learning that I had secured a spot as an entry-level OT student, I also discovered that Elizabethtown had a Divison III field hockey program. It was like the stars were aligned; I was going to be able to play the sport I loved, enter the profession I loved, all while attending a school that I loved.

Motivating myself to accomplish my school work has never really been an issue for me. While yes we all have those days where homework and projects seem to be the bane of our existence, I find I pull myself out of those ruts rather quickly. I am prone to setting high standards for myself and my work, so the effort required to try and meet those goals is what keeps me motivated. The standards set in place by the occupational program also keep me motivated. I must keep a certain GPA in order to remain in the program, so keeping my grades up is imperative, as I know that it would be near impossible to enter into a new OT program if I fall behind. Field hockey also acts as a great motivator, as you cannot be failing classes in order to play. The sports teams also have a competition between each other, so this friendly competition acts as even more motivation to do my work and do it well.

The future of my academic career looks bright, and I can honestly attribute the continued motivation do well to my department and my sports team. I will be playing sports (God willing) until my senior year of college. The structure it provides allows me to budget my time correctly and be surrounded by positive influences that wish to see me succeed. The occupational therapy department at Etown also allows for future motivation as I continue to learn more and more about my future profession. A pseudo-intervention that could be utilized is the implementation of the mindset I will need when I become a practicing clinician. My clients and their well-being are going to be my top priority in a matter of a few short years, so doing to best I can now while I’m in school is going to ensure that I give them the greatest therapy possible. Their health and well-being is the whole reason I am where I am right now. When the going gets tough and I just want to give in, I will think of all my future clients and how without my very best effort, I won’t be able to help them to the very best of my ability.

Johari Window Post

--Original published at *Psych 105*

When we were initially given the Johari Window assignment, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. The directions were straightforward, yet I didn’t get what the outcome of the whole thing was. I chose my adjectives, sent out the link and called it a day. The next day I checked the window and was thoroughly surprised at what I saw. The initial adjectives that I had chosen were: dependable, giving, kind, accepting, patient, and wise. Upon returning to my window, I found that 11 people had responded and many of their responses were different than my own. The list within my blind spot was rather extensive, but mainly consisted synonyms of the initial words I chose. Of the 11 people that responded, 72% said I was trustworthy, 63% said loving, and 54% said intelligent and caring. These were all characteristics I see in myself, however, it didn’t occur to me to choose them for my window. It was comforting to see that these are the things that people find the most memorable about me. That is also not to say that there weren’t any surprising adjectives chosen either. 18% of people said that I was mature and spontaneous, and 36% said I was dependable. It was a little bit of shock that so many people said I was spontaneous as it isn’t necessarily a word I would have on my shortlist of adjectives that describe my personality. This whole experience gave me a new perspective as to how my personality is presented to the people I am closest with. The aspects of me that I don’t think present themselves actually do, whether I know it or not.

Something I have come to understand about the answers of the various individuals is that each entry was heavily influenced by the type of relationship that I had with him or her. Each person that received the link was either grouped into childhood friends, college friends or family. In comparison, the friends gave answers that speak to my quirky but caring side, and the family members spoke to the characteristics that I typically choose for myself. That being said, the validity of the test can vary from situation to situation. The responses that are given depend heavily on the individuals asked to partake in it, and what your relationship is to them. I feel as though my Johari window is pretty accurate. I received input from people that have known me my whole life, from college, from a school setting, from a social setting and those that I have lived with both in the short and long term. The variety of relationships allows for different characteristics to be prominent, which in turn creates a more comprehensive assessment.


Week 11: Stress First Impression Post

--Original published at *Psych 105*

Stress is simply a part of daily life, whether we like it or not. It is one of the characteristics of our lives that is essential. While it is most certainly needed, too much stress is unquestionably detrimental to your health. As a college student, stress is everywhere; whether it be internally or externally influenced. The whole concept of college can even be stress-inducing, as we are here in this school preparing for a career that could potentially last us our entire adult lives. While that is an extreme example, that is one of the many facts that can prove to be a great stressor for a college student. The pressures to make deadlines and give all your effort into various assignments, all the while trying to maintain a healthy and balanced social life, and get a decent amount of sleep can take a toll on the body.

However, hope is not lost, stress management has the ability to be a college student’s best friend. Personally, I struggle to deal with my stress. It has always been a game of tug-of-war for me for as long as I can remember. Coming to college itself hasn’t induced as much stress as I thought it would, but mine stems more from my mind and my personal expectations. These expectations simply become unrealistic and my mind goes into overdrive trying to correct it. Needless to say, it is an exhausting cycle and I need to keep making changes. One of the stress management activities that has worked the best for me is constant activity through sports. I love being a part of a team mentality, and you get to actually see your progress as the weeks go by. The sports provide structure and a schedule that cannot be broken. It is during the sports season, particularly field hockey, that I find I am the most comfortable with my stress levels. While they are still a little high, it is a healthier amount of stress than when I am out of season. Another stress reliever I use is meditation. For the longest time, I thought meditation was a bunch of bologna, but after taking the time to just stop what I’m doing and making an effort to quiet my mind has really helped. While it does not take away the endless things I need to accomplish, it allows me to just take a step back for a couple moments to recenter myself.

In the future, there are quite a few things I would like to incorporate into my daily life to help manage stress. One activity that I have done in the past, but never really stuck to, was yoga. The whole idea of yoga is really attractive to me. The focus on breathing and taking care of your body through the stretches seems like something that could be really beneficial if I stuck with it. Another activity is taking steps to improve my time management and prioritization. One of my greatest faults is taking on too much at one time and being overly ambitious. Taking the time to truly budget my time between all the areas that need my attention will allow me to make a preemptive strike against stress. Creating a solid routine for when I am outside of season will also make a world of difference in my stress levels. I already try to regulate my sleeping schedule, but I also need to begin regulating when I eat or when I do homework instead of just cramming everything in right before I go to bed. This also loops back into the time management piece. When I am comfortable with my routines and schedules, I am a calmer person. Many of the changes I hope to make in my daily life seem minor, but that is really all it takes to make a positive change in your life: consistency is the key.

First Impression Post: Week 9 Part 2

--Original published at *Psych 105*

Emotions are a slippery slope to navigate, especially if you are one that does not openly express emotions in words. However, emotions can be determined not only by the words you speak but also in the body language and facial expressions you exhibit. In a quiz provided by The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkley, I was able to test just how proficient I was in determining which emotion a person was expressing based completely on the facial expression. The quiz was made up of 20 images, each with 4 choices as to what emotion could be exhibited. The models in the images were of varied races, genders, and ages, clad in black turtlenecks and were only pictured from the shoulder up. Upon finishing the quiz, I received a 15/20. In the description, my score was deemed above average; which I would agree with. While I did not get the correct answer every time, I did get the majority of them correct. I believe this is pretty accurate in regard my ability to interpret emotions, as I am usually able to read people well. The emotions I had the most trouble discerning were the negative emotions; namely emotions like shame and sadness. While the explanations of the correct answers made sense, I also feel that the negative emotions are so similar in their facial expression that it can be difficult to determine on the face alone. Which leads me to the credibility of the test. I do believe that this test is a beneficial tool in recognizing the slight differences between the different emotions. The quiz also diversified the models, allowing for a new interpretation to be made with every question. No two persons look exactly alike, so incorporating a variety of individuals to examine creates a more realistic experience in analyzing real-life people, instead of a cookie cutter. However, it should not be an end all be all. Emotion affects more than just the face. This quiz completely eliminates the input of body language, which can be a strong indicator of the type of emotion an individual is exhibiting. The test only pictured people from bust level up, focusing on the faces only. Yet, in the real world, emotions will be interpreted by taking in the entire person: face and body language.  The information extracted from this test can allow people to be more aware of just how much their face tells the rest of the world what is going on, and how one can become more aware of others’ expressions as well. Continued practice in noticing the subtle facial cues between the different emotions will also lead to increased proficiency in the future.

First Impression Post: Week 9

--Original published at *Psych 105*

Sleep seems to be the thing college students can’t seem to get enough of. School, social obligations, sports/extracurriculars, and work take up the majority of the day, stretching past the typical 9-5 schedule. It’s a common occurrence to see students studying and finishing work into the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis, not just during finals. Of course, it’s no secret that this isn’t exactly a healthy way to live, but it has become almost excepted to just put off sleep until everything is accomplished.

In regard to my own sleep habits, there is definitely room for improvement, but I have also come a long way. I remember in middle school and the beginning of high school I would get an average of around 5 hours of sleep, especially my sophomore/junior year when stresses of college deadlines became more intense. Those years were rough and looking back, I would have been more productive if I stopped staying up all night to finish work I could have done in the morning when I woke up. Then, one day my mom came to me and essentially told me that sometimes you just have to choose sleep. Since then, I’ve changed my sleeping habits a lot. Now during the week, I tend to go to sleep around 12:30-1:30 and wake up around 8:30-9. This has drastically changed m overall energy and health. However, there is more that I can do to enhance my sleep. I recently invested in a Fitbit tracker and one of the features it has is sleep tracking. Each morning I look at my own stats compared to the “average” Fitbit user with my same age, and I have found that I’m spending an almost negligible amount of time in deep sleep and upwards of an hour and fifteen minutes awake throughout the night. While I’m getting more sleep, I’m getting a lower quality of sleep; which could also be attributed to stress, anxiety and electronics usage before bed.

A realistic amount of sleep for students could be around 6-7 hours of quality sleep per night. However, this amount of sleep would only be attainable through proper time management and prioritization of tasks. Sleep can’t be a “back-burner” task, but one of importance. The amount of sleep could also vary person to person, as the quality of sleep an individual gets per night isn’t predetermined. Some ways to improve the quality of sleep is to develop a routine that gets your body ready for sleep each night, like not going on the phone right before bed or making it a point to do a nightly self-care routine. At times it’s simple enough to start a routine with good intentions, but if you’re anything like me, keeping up with them is a struggle. By remaining steadfast to the routine and remembering that sleep is very important, my sleep could improve.

Spring Break First Impression Post

--Original published at *Psych 105*

Autism, savant and synesthesia appear to be a group of words that do not belong in the same sentence, yet all three are used to describe famed author Daniel Tammet. Individuals such as Tammet experience the world in a way that may not make sense to the average person. Rather using the senses “traditionally” to make perceptions, those who are synesthetic use their senses to make perceptions that are unique; such as numbers and words having their own shapes, colors and emotions The existence of synesthesia may seem impossible to some, or even a hoax to others. However, through the usage of his TED talk and his various books, Tammet is able to allow the public to peer into his world and how he perceives it.

In the beginning of the video, Tammet talks about how the general public has a set ideology of how savants and those with synesthesia work. The endless questions about astronomically high numbers and birthdates can be tiresome, especially when the extent of how his mind works goes far beyond the capacity of tedious repetition. Tammet shows us that he discerns the answer to large sums by using numbers as tangible beings, with colors and shapes. Each number is not simply a numeral on a page, as you and I see it, but more of a sculpture that can be changed as more digits are added. Even words themselves have different colors and images. In the example he gave, he saw alliteration in blue and the hare he saw as a landscape where the actual hare itself was vulnerable in conjunction with the connotation given by its auditory twin “hair”. Each construct of the sentence was more than just letters compiled on a page. Each word invoked an entire sensory experience; a completely incredible way to view a traditionally “black and white” perception.

I would imagine this condition would allow for a completely changed perception of the world around us. Though the individual with the condition may not see it at first, but in comparison to how the “average” person views it, the differences are astounding. The traditional way of perceiving our surroundings relies on thinking through numbers and words analytically, rather than with our guts or images. There is a stigma that there is “only one right way” to view things, so having this condition might prove to be difficult for some. Then, there are examples such as Tammet, who uses his abilities to show the world the various ways to experience literature and mathematics. Rather than having to learn how to think in this manner, it is the way they are wired to think so there is not as much strain as one might initially think. The differences between perception may allow them to come to conclusions more quickly, or even hold onto information more effectively since there is already a deeply embedded connection to various words and numbers. Individuals with this condition can help the rest of the world think outside the box, and help determine different ways to solve different situations. In day to day life, it can present challenges like a constant flow of sensory input can be taxing on the mind. There is no cease to ever present scenarios of images and colors that create associations to every word and number that can carry meaning.