An informative Blog presenting a broad array of topics and issues relating to the science of psychology.
Suitable for professionals, students, and anyone who wishes to learn more about this fascinating science.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Abusive Relationships

As a teen counselor, I find that relationships are one of the biggest topics brought up regularly when dealing with teenagers. Some of these relationships are healthy relationships that will ultimately help a teen establish their identity and learn valuable life lessons. However, some of these relationships are unhealthy and have the potential to emotionally scar a teen (or any other age group) emotionally and mentally. Both emotional and physically abusive relationships take a deep toll on the partners of abusers. Abusive relationships can be in a number of forms. “Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone” (The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 2009). One might be in an abusive relationship and not even realize it. The important thing is to evaluate your relationship (this includes non-romantic relationships) to see if they are harming more than helping you. Here are some warning signs of abusive relationships.

Warning signs or risk factors of being in an abusive relationship include:

*Abuser is jealous or possessive toward you.(Jealousy is the primary symptom of abusive relationships)
*Abuser tries to control you by being very bossy or demanding.
*Abuser tries to isolate you by demanding you cut off social contacts and friendships.
*Abuser is violent and / or loses his or her temper quickly.
*Abuser pressures you sexually, demands sexual activities you are not comfortable with.
*Abuser abuses drugs or alcohol.
*Abuser Claims you are responsible for his or her emotional state. (This is a core diagnostic criteria for Codependency.)
*Abuser Blames you when he or she mistreats you.
*Abuser has a history of bad relationships.
*Your family and friends have warned you about the person or told you that they are concerned for your safety or emotional well being.
*You frequently worry about how he or she will react to things you say or do.
*Abuser makes "jokes" that shame, humiliate, demean or embarrass you, whether privately or around family and friends.
*Abuser grew up witnessing an abusive parental relationship, and/or was abused as a child.
*Abuser uses Screaming, physical expressions of anger, violence or threats of violence, sulking, manipulation, emotional blackmail, silent smoldering, and anger to punish when they feel hurt, shame, fear or loss of control.
*Both parties in abusive relationships may develop or progress in drug or alcohol dependence in a (dysfunctional) attempt to cope with the pain.
*You leave and then return to your partner repeatedly, against the advice of your friends, family and loved ones.
*You have trouble ending the relationship, even though you know inside it's the right thing to do (Will H.- RecoveryMan.com Webmaster, 2002).

Abusive people use certain tactics to employ upon their “target.”
Some of these tactics include:

Intimidation- looks, actions, gestures, destroying things, abusing pets, silent treatment, displaying weapons, making physical threats.
Overt Physical or Sexual Abuse- physically assaulting partner (slapping, hitting, pushing, choking, etc...) or sexually assaulting partner.
Emotional abuse- insulting, criticizing, calling names, interrogating, harassing, constantly wanting to know whereabouts of partner, humiliating partner, making one feel guilty, making partner feel shameful.
Isolation- controlling aspects of partners life (what he/she watches, reads, who he/she talks to, etc…), limiting social contact, cutting off partner from social networks such as friends, family, and activities, using jealousy to justify these actions.
Minimizing, Denying, and Blame shifting- making “light” of the abuse that is going on, denying that the abuse happened or saying it wasn’t that bad, blaming their behavior on someone or something else, saying that the person who they abused caused their behavior.
Economic abuse- constantly asking for money, not letting one know what the money is for but demands it anyway, uses guilt to get money from someone or to let them keep the money instead of repaying it.

Now that you know some signs of abusive relationships; let’s talk about healthy relationships. In a healthy relationship, both partners should always show non-threatening behavior. Both should make their partner feel safe and comfortable in things they do and say. Respect is a major factor in healthy relationships. This includes listening to your partner attentively and non-judgmentally, being emotionally affirming and understanding, and valuing opinions (even if you sometimes do not agree). Trust and support is another major pillar of a healthy relationship. Each partner should support each other in their goals in life. Respect of each partner’s right to their feelings, own friends, activities, and opinions is also imperative to build a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, each member must have honesty and accountability. One must recognize when he/she does something wrong or hurtful and must be willing to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the behavior if it is hurting others. When concerning parental relationships, parents should always be a positive, non-violent role model for younger children.

Abuse is serious. Self esteem is destroyed, sense of options dissipates, self-care is compromised, and the power of choice is eroded. Partners of abusers may experience clinical depression, denial, chemical dependency, extreme codependency, and suicidal ideation or attempts. The abused partner frequently clings desperately to the abuser, believing that it's all they deserve or will ever get (Will H. - RecoveryMan.com Webmaster, 2002).

If you think you are in an abusive relationship; there is a way out. It takes two to change the abuse in a relationship. Usually nothing changes without intensive therapy and willingness to change and compromise. If the abuser is unwilling to acknowledge their destructive behavior; the healthy thing to do for the abused is to remove themselves from the situation completely. Detachment with love is difficult, but if you stay in the abusive relationship the cycle will continue and might even get worse!
The main thing is not to isolate yourself from others! Call 911 if your partner physically assaults you in anyway. There is also The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE. They can help you find individuals and groups in your community that can help you.

Some helpful websites include:

www.ndvh.org- The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website has a number of resources and information
www.loveisnotabuse.com – Liz Claiborne’s teen dating violence website has great information for both, those living with violence and their friends and family.
www.ncadv.org – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website contains current information for survivors and those dealing with violence.
www.endabuse.org – The Family Violence Prevention Fund website provides materials which can be ordered, including “No Excuse for Abuse” materials and health care provider brochures.
www.nrcdv.org – The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence’s website features various publications and resources for organizations and individuals working to end domestic violence.
www.ncvc.org – The National Center for Victims of Crime information site includes materials on domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.
www.womenslaw.org – Legal information website, including referrals and detailed protective/restraining order information, state by state.

Remember, abuse can happen to anyone. It can happen to any age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Do not feel ashamed if you are in an abusive relationship; get help immediately!

References

Will H.- RecoveryMan.com Webmaster. (2002). Abusive Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.recovery-man.com/abusive/abusive.htm

The National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2009). Get Help. Retrieved from http://www.ndvh.org/

Monday, November 9, 2009

Questions and Answers about Suicide

Suicide. Everyone is afraid to talk about it. No one wants to talk about what takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans each year (Suicide Awareness Voices for Education, 2003). Is suicide right or wrong? In my opinion, this is not a moral question because suicide occurs for the following reason: having too much pain (emotional, physical, or psychological) and not enough coping resources. As a result of this, many choose to end their life because they feel like they have no choice. Suicide is fatally unique because humans are programmed to survive. One cannot kill themselves by holding their breath simply because your mind will not let you. But suicide, the ending of one’s life, goes against all of our biological hard-wiring. So why do people do it? With these questions and answers, I will discuss some common questions about suicide and provide coping resources and information.

What are suicide risk factors?

You need to know about this important subject because you could potentially save your own life or someone you care about. Let’s talk about risk factors. Risk factors include: depression, substance abuse disorder, other mental disorders, prior suicide attempt, family history of mental disorder, family history of suicide, being subjected to violence, firearms present in the home, and exposure to suicidal behavior of others (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009).

What are signs that someone is suicidal?

• Depressed or sad mood
• A change in the person’s sleeping patterns (e.g., sleeping too much or too little, or having difficulty sleeping the night through)
• A significant change in the person’s weight or appetite
• Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness
• Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
• Withdrawal from family and friends
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Diminished ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness
• Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or guilt
• Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead (Grohol, 2007)
70% of people who commit suicide tell someone about their plans, or give some kind of warning signs (Grohol, 2007). You need to watch out for your own mental health. Take care of yourself. However, you also need to watch out for your family and friends. Little clues could show you that they need help.

What can be done if someone feels suicidal?

If you ever feel suicidal, there are resources out there to help you. If you feel like you are going to hurt yourself or others, call 911. If not in immediate stress, try to see your doctor IMMEDIATELY. In the meantime, you can call 1-800-273-TALK, this is a free, 24 hour hotline available to anyone who is suicidal or any other emotional distress. You can also e-mail “The Samaritans.” This is a group of volunteers that provide confidential, emotional support. You can talk to a trained Samaritan volunteer via e-mail. This service is free. The e-mails sent are answered daily. In 2002, Samaritan volunteers responded to e-mails from more than 100,000 persons. Click here to e-mail the Samaritans:
http://www.samaritans.org/talk_to_someone/email.aspx
You can also talk to a minister, rabbi, priest, or other religious counselor who can help you cope.
If someone you know is suicidal; do NOT leave them alone. Get them help immediately. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove firearms or other tools they could use to commit suicide.

A Final Note

In 2006, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). Suicide is completely preventable. What we all need to do is step back from our busy, hectic lives and take a deep breath. Find a hobby, exercise more, eat healthy, and take care of yourself. Only one life is promised to you; you must find a way to get through the hard times. Furthermore, watch out for each other. Someone may be screaming for help and you need to notice so you can help him or her. Knowledge is power; knowing about risk factors and warning signs could potentially save your life or another’s life. There is a way out from all the troubles you are facing; if you are suicidal please get help!

Resources

Grohol, J. M. (2007). Common Signs of Someone who May be Suicidal. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/10/08/common-signs-of-someone-who-may-be-suicidal/

National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). Suicide in the U.S. Statistics and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml

Suicide Awareness Voices for Education. (2009). Suicide Facts. Retrieved from http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=705d5df4-055b-f1ec-3f66462866fcb4e6

The Samaritans. (2009). Find it Impossible to Talk About Your Problems? Retrieved from http://www.samaritans.org/talk_to_someone/email.aspx

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Questions and Answers About Women and Depression

1. What are the biological factors behind depression for women?

There are many biological factors behind depression for women. According to “Depression” (2008), “Because this depression gender gap coincides with puberty and disappears after menopause, some researchers say that hormonal factors increase a woman's risk of developing depression.” Obviously, hormones have a huge factor in the biological aspect of why women are more prone to depression. Premenstrual syndromes are also another biological factor that women have to face. Women experience hormone fluctuations before their menstrual cycle, and a select few suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a more severe form of PMS. Researchers believe that recurring changes in estrogen, progesterone and other hormones have the ability to disturb the function of brain chemicals such as serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that affects the mood. Pregnancy is also a factor when one reviews the biological factors that are behind the depression rate for women. Again, drastic hormone changes may be responsible for the high rate of depression that occurs during pregnancy. According to The Mayo Clinic (2008), about 50% of new mothers suffer from feelings of sadness after their baby’s birth. Sometimes, it can develop into postpartum depression. This is yet another biological factor that may contribute to the depression of women. This is also attributed to major hormone fluctuations. Lastly perimenopause and menopause can be the culprit of depression among women. Hormone fluctuations during this crucial time are also a factor that contributes to depression among women. Another factor is the insomnia that may accompany menopause, which can definitely affect a woman’s mood in a negative way.

2. How do premenstrual factors play a role in depression?

Hormones fluctuate before a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women experience fluctuations in the hormones estrogen, progesterone and other hormones. These hormones have been tied to the functioning of certain chemicals, chemicals like serotonin. Serotonin has been proven to play a factor in the way one thinks and acts; directly affecting a woman’s mood. Women have to put up with the symptoms of PMS monthly. Symptoms can include abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headache, anxiety, irritability and a blue mood (The Mayo Clinic, 2008). Some forms of PMS can even be so horrible that they affect daily functioning; this disorder is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. On top of hormone fluctuations and sometimes severe PMS symptoms, premenstrual factors can be a substantial catalyst for the mood of a woman.

3. What is postpartum depression?

Feelings of sadness after a new baby’s birth affect one-half of all new mothers (The Mayo Clinic, 2008). Postpartum depression is a real, serious condition that requires immediate medical attention and treatment. When the feelings of sadness after the baby’s birth do not go away, this is when postpartum depression can develop. Postpartum depression is associated with major hormone fluctuations. Symptoms are very bothersome and sometimes dangerous. These symptoms may include: an inability to care for your baby, thoughts of harming your baby, anxiety, low self-esteem, agitation, and thoughts of suicide.

4. How does perimenopause and menopause play a role in depression and women?

During perimenopause, a woman once again experiences hormone fluctuations. At this time, the hormone estrogen drastically fluctuates. During menopause, women may experience bothersome symptoms such as insomnia that may affect their mood. Finally, having a hysterectomy (removal of the ovaries) causes an abrupt onset of menopause. This can result in more severe symptoms, including mood changes and sometimes depression (The Mayo Clinic, 2008)

5. How do social and cultural factors play a negative and/or positive role on a woman's depression?

Unequal power and treatment, work overload, and more risk of abuse put women in a position to be more at risk for developing depression than men. Women are still subject to sexism and discrimination based on their gender. Women still receive unequal pay and unequal power. According to The Mayo Clinic (2008), “Single women with children have one of the highest poverty rates in the United States.” Women are more likely to take on the role of caretaker and still at the same time have a career. This can put added stress upon a woman, making her more prone to developing depression. Women are also more at risk of being sexually abused in their lifetime, making them more at risk for developing depression. According to Crandall (2006), Women often juggle work and childcare more often than men. Also, women have to think of both the risks and benefits of treating depression while they are pregnant or nursing. Women are more at risk for being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. Women who experience abuse have a higher incidence of depression.

6. How does one go about getting treatment?

One can simply ask their primary care physician to refer them to a mental health provider. A primary care physician can treat the depression with medication but can refer the patient to a more experienced mental health care provider. A primary care doctor can educate the patient on the causes and symptoms of depression and can make the referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

7. Are women are more likely to seek out treatment? Why or why not?

I think women are less likely to seek out treatment. According to Crandall, “women often think they can "work through" a depression on their own.” Women are used to being the one keeping it all together in a family. They may have too much pride to seek treatment from a behavioral health specialist.

References

Crandall, C. J. (2006). Women and Depression. MedicineNet.Com. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from, http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=18987.

The Mayo Clinic. (2008). Depression. Retrieved February 7, 2009 from, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00035.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Importance of Psychopathology

The study of psychopathology is the branch of medicine that studies the causes and nature of mental disease. The importance of studying to understand such mental diseases is significant. We need to study more about what effects our behavior bring about in order to help those with psychological problems on a individual basis as well as for the general population. According to the Surgeon General’s report (1999), In the United States of America, mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature mortality. This information clearly states that in our country, mental illness is not only a problem; it is an epidemic that needs swift action to correct.

Also mentioned in the Surgeon General’s report (1999), approximately every year one in five Americans experiences a mental disorder. This is a tremendous amount of people who need treatment for their mental disease. As times get rough in our economy today, more research is needed in the field of mental illness. We need to understand the inner workings of the psychological disease and find out how to treat each patient properly for whichever ailment they are experiencing.The state of one’s life relies on their mental health status. People cannot work or even function properly when facing a serious mental illness.

The way we understand psychopathology and related fields has a substantial impact on individuals, medical and mental health professionals, government agencies/programs and society at large (Maddux & Winstead, 2008). We must take swift action in treating these mental disorders; but first we must research to understand the dynamics of such disorders.

References

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health.

Maddux, J. E. & Winstead, B. A. (2008). Psychopathology: Foundations for a contemporary understanding. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Social Psychology and the Military

The Abu Ghraib prison incident was definitely horrifying. The treatment of the prisoners who were tortured and abused by members of the United States military was both unacceptable and shocking. When I first read about this event; I immediately thought of the Stanford Prison Experiment and how this experiment correlated with such an incident like what happened at Abu Ghraib.

In the Stanford Prison Experiment, Philip Zimbardo used undergraduate students to re-create a prison environment, complete with guards and prisoners furnished with lifelike costumes and props (Zimbardo, 1999). In this experiment, prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles. They even stepped outside their boundaries which led to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations (Zimbardo, 1999). Even Philip Zimbardo became so engrossed in his role of prison superintendent that he did not stop the experiment right away.

This shows how cognitive dissonance theory and the power of authority can make people do sadistic, unethical things. The results of the experiment supported situational attribution, the situation the prisoners and guards were in cause them to act in the way they did.

These theories can be applied to the situation that occurred at Abu Ghraib. Cognitive dissonance theory would suggest that these people were not normally sadistic people but that their behaviors caused dissonance to their original self-concept. The attribution theory could be used in this situation since the situation was ultimately said to be the reason why these people acted in such vicious ways.

The social group processes theory of groupthink can also explain the situation at Abu Ghraib. If some guards were participating in these horrible acts; they could deem this torture and abuse as the “norm.” In order to avoid appearing deviant, other guards could have conformed and participated in these immoral acts.

I think that the soldiers should be held accountable for their actions. I know that certain situations can make you act different; but the United States Military receives extensive training on the Law of Armed Conflict, The Geneva Conventions, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (USMJ). I know this because I myself was in the military. We are taught the proper treatment of prisoners and how they should NOT be tortured or abused in anyway or you can get punished under the UCMJ. Although these soldiers might have been influenced by situational attribution, authority, and principles of groupthink; they should have taken a second to think about the consequences of their actions.

References

Zimbardo, P. G. (1999). The Stanford Prison Experiment. Retrieved August 27, 2009, from http://www.prisonexp.org/

Monday, August 17, 2009

Perspectives of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

A variety of theories have been explored to try to explain why people develop Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In order to understand how the disease manifested itself one must look at the sociocultural factors, the psychological factors, and the biological factors. Using these perspectives, we can attempt to understand what caused the Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Just as we look at the sociocultural, psychological, and biological perspectives to try and figure out the cause of the disorder; we can look at those three perspectives to formulate treatment plans.

The sociocultural perspective theorizes that Generalized Anxiety Disorder arises when people are in poor social conditions; ones that may even be hazardous. According to Comer (2007), studies show that those living in threatening conditions are more likely to develop symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Societal stress can be tied to poverty; which in turn is tied to a higher crime rate. According to Comer (2007), there are 90 victims of violent crime per 1,000 poor persons. Whereas, there are 50 victims per 1,000 middle income people and 40 victims per 1,000 wealthy individuals. In the U.S., the rate of generalized Anxiety disorder is twice as high among with people with low incomes compared to those with higher incomes (Comer, 2007). Clearly, there is a tie between sociocultural issues and generalized anxiety disorder.

When one ponders the treatment plan for someone with sociocultural issues; one must be very sensitive to the fact of the client’s living conditions and place in society. According to Comer (2007), clinicians believe that biological or psychological conditions or both contribute to the disorders evolution. Therefore, an integrative approach in therapy would be the best treatment plan.

Evaluating Generalized Anxiety Disorder from a psychological perspective includes several factors. From the psychodynamic perspective, one factor is early developmental experiences. Sigmund Freud believed that some children were more prone to Generalized Anxiety Disorder due to being overrun by neurotic or moral anxiety (Comer, 2007). Another factor is that overprotected children don’t have the opportunity to develop effective defense mechanisms (Comer, 2007). Many theorists believe the disorder can be traced to discrepancies regarding the relationship between child and parent early in their lives (Comer, 2007). Using the Humanistic perspective, other psychological factors may include when people stop looking at themselves with acceptance. According to Comer (2007), those who do not receive unconditional positive regard from others may be overly critical and have harsh self standards later in life. This in turn may cause Generalized Anxiety Disorder. From the cognitive perspective, another factor that contributes to the psychological perspective is the cognitive perspective, which theorizes that dysfunctional ways of thinking and excessive worry cause Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

From these various psychological theories of why Generalized Anxiety Disorder occurs; many treatment options are available. For the psychodynamic perspective; psychodynamic therapy is used. These therapies include using free association and using interpretations of transference, resistance, and dreams. These treatments try to identify childhood problems and settle them so they would no longer produce anxiety in adulthood. Client centered therapy is a good treatment approach for the humanistic perspective. From the cognitive perspective, clinicians help their client change their maladaptive assumptions. Another therapy helps the client to recognize and change their dysfunctional worrying.

From the biological perspective, theorists believe biological factors are the culprit that causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder. According to Comer (2007), 15 percent of the relatives of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder display it themselves. One theory is that there is poor gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) reception. Another theory is that people may have too few GABA receptors or their GABA receptors do not capture the neurotransmitter (Comer, 2007).

Biological treatments include antianxiety drugs, relaxation training, and biofeedback.
One must take the sociocultural, psychological, and biological factors into perspective when diagnosing and treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Using all three perspectives, one can paint a whole picture of what is causing the disorder as well as how to treat it.

References

Comer, R. J. (2007). Abnormal Psychology (6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Women are more at risk for developing Multiple Personality Disorder

Women are more at risk than men for developing multiple personality disorder. The exact reasons, we will never know. However, I believe that more chance of being abused, sociocultural factors, and drastic hormone changes are the possible reasons women are more prone to multiple personality disorder than men.

According to Reyes (2009), the origin of multiple personality disorder is believed to be the result of psychological trauma, such as chronic physical or sexual abuse, in childhood. Women are more likely than are men to experience sexual abuse (Mayo Clinic, 2008). Women are at more risk for being physically, sexually, and emotionally abused. This can be a big factor why women are at more risk for developing multiple personality disorder.

According to Ernest & Allen (2006), “in American society, girls learn to internalize their problems, and boys learn to externalize them.” Perhaps the sociocultural forces of our society teach women to “bottle up” their emotions. This can easily become a predisposition to developing any psychological disorder. The more a woman bottles up her emotions, the more those emotions need to be expressed. Such pressure on a woman could make her more at risk for developing multiple personality disorder.

There are many biological factors behind psychological disorders for women. Obviously, hormones have a huge factor in the biological aspect of why women are more prone to multiple personality disorder. Premenstrual syndromes are also another biological factor that women have to face. Women experience hormone fluctuations before their menstrual cycle, and a select few suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a more severe form of PMS. Researchers believe that recurring changes in estrogen, progesterone and other hormones have the ability to disturb the function of brain chemicals that affect mood. Pregnancy is also a factor when one reviews the biological factors that may be behind the risk factors for developing multiple personality disorder. Lastly, perimenopause and menopause can be the culprit of depression among women. Hormone fluctuations during this crucial time are also a factor that may contribute to the risk of developing multiple personality disorder. Another factor is the insomnia that may accompany menopause, which can definitely affect a woman’s mood in a negative way.

One will never know for sure why women are more prone to developing multiple personality disorder; but it is in my opinion that the risk of abuse, sociocultural factors, and hormone changes are at the root of why women are more prone to the disease than men.

References

Mayo Clinic. (2008). Depression. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00035.

Reyes, A. (2000). “Dissociative Identity Disorder - Multiple Personality Disorder.” Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www.medicineonline.com/articles/d/2/Dissociative-Identity-Disorder/Multiple-Personality-Disorder/info/Overview-Causes-&-Risk-Factors.html.

Ernest & Allen (1996). “Dual Personality, Multiple Personality, Dissociative Identity Disorder - What's in a Name?” Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www.dissociation.com/index/definition/

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Examining Attachment: The Biological, Physical, and Emotional Aspects That Affect Us Throughout life

Attachment is a subject often researched and debated among many psychology experts. The importance of early attachment is prominent according to many studies. Aspects of attachment include the biological component of attachment as well as the physical aspect of attachment. The importance of early attachment is imperative and directly affects how we form relationships in the future. Many believe that the positive emotional effects of a secure attachment can be carried into adulthood. Many professionals such as Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson have studied attachment theory and its effects.

Examining Attachment
The Biological, Physical, and Emotional Aspects That Affect Us Throughout life

Attachment is obviously a very important component in the raising of a healthy, mentally stable child. There are many components of attachment that come into play. Many agree that the prominence of early attachment between an infant and its caregivers is of the utmost importance. The biological roots of attachment are rooted inside of our DNA from years of evolution. There are physical aspects of attachment that include touching, and physical contact that make up the attachment process. The emotional effects that are left upon us through a secure or insecure attachment bond with our caretakers are not only real but are also reflections on how we were raised. This post will discuss the following topics concerning attachment:

  • The Importance of Early Attachment Between an Infant and Its Caregiver
  • The Biological Aspect of Attachment
  • The Physical Aspect of Attachment
  • The Emotional Effect of Attachment That Contributes to How We Form Later Attachments Throughout Life.
  • The importance of early attachment between an infant and its caregiver

Many have heard of the utmost importance of providing a child a secure environment in which he or she can grow up in. Coming directly from the womb, the child must feel attached to its caregiver in order to form a trusting relationship with the caregiver. The five crucial family functions are to provide basic necessities, encourage learning, develop self respect, nurture peer relationships, and ensure harmony and stability (Berger, 2007, p. 345). It is of the utmost importance to not only care for the infant by supplying it with its basic biological needs, but also to make the child feel safe and secure in its environment. Intuitively we all know that for the child, mother-love whether it is from the biological mother or one who has taken her place, encourages well being (Karen, 1994, p. 14). The most supreme gift you can offer your own child is a secure attachment (Newton, 2008, p. 7). The child must have basic needs met to form such a trusting relationship. The child needs to feel as if he or she is being cared for. Sensitive and responsive care giving in the early years of life contributes to a child’s development. Care giving produces secure children (Newton, 2008, p. 8.) According to Erikson the first crisis of life is “trust vs. mistrust.” This stage is the stage in which the child learns to feel secure or insecure with the fact of trusting the world for its basic biological needs (Berger, 2007, p.183). It is of the most significance that an infant feel attached to its caregiver.

The Biological Aspect of Attachment

The biological aspect of attachment is very real. We as humans need each other. In fact, not only do we need each other but even our neurons need each other. Without mutually stimulating interactions, our neurons die (Cozolino, 2006, p. 41). Attachment to a protective and loving caregiver, who provides comfort, support, guidance, and basic needs, is a basic human need stemming from millions of years of evolution (Levy & Orlans, 1998, p. 2). Without interaction with each other, we do not know if we are “up to par” and we will not be as motivated. Children are constantly reviewing their performance and comparing their evaluations to other peers. This is crucial so the child can keep up with the performance of their peers and thus continue to mature. Piaget proposed his six stages of cognitive development thinking as a developmental biologist. With that in mind, his stages coincide with the basic biology of the human mind according to what stage of growth the infant’s brain is experiencing. The human’s health depends on the attachments he or she forms. Studies done over 20 years involving more than 37,000 people show that social isolation doubles the chance of sickness or death (Goleman, 1995). The bottom line is we are biologically hardwired to be attached to each other.

The Physical Aspect of Attachment

The Physical aspect of attachment is quite simple. Children need to be held and touched gently to feel secure. This stems from inside the womb, where the fetus is physically attached to the mother via the umbilical cord. Attachment is a child’s biological tie to her primary caregivers (Newton 2008. p. 9). The characteristics of the child that are most enduring are the ones the infant has brought with him or herself from birth (Karen 1994, p. 254). The physical signs of positive affect such as smiling, touching, and eye contact reinforce positive attachment (Levy & Orlans 1998, p. 2). The importance of contact is furthermore expressed in research from conducted psychology experiments. In an experiment carried out to see which surrogate mother monkey a baby monkey would prefer, the importance of contact comfort in the development of attachment between infant monkeys and their mothers was displayed (Hock 1999, p.129). The physical aspect of attachment is important; we all need to feel the tender touch of one another to be reassured and to avoid feeling socially isolated.

The Emotional Effect of Attachment That Contributes to How We Form Later Attachments Throughout Life

Erikson theorizes that if the infant can be secure and learn to trust its mother and its atmosphere around him or herself than attachment issues will not be hard for him to face in the future. Later attachments in life are directly correlated with the early attachments we had when we were children. If we were constantly on guard being an infant in a stressful environment, we would have learned to be mistrusting and suspicious in all or most of our later relationships in life. From birth until death each of us needs others who seek out for us, show concern in discovering who we are, and aid us in feeling safe (Cozolino, 2006, p.41). Studies have shown that sustained levels of stress partially explain why early negative experiences in parenting and attachment have a lifelong impact on physical health, mental being, and learning (Cozolino, 2006, p.222). Countless studies demonstrate that children who begin their lives with the essential foundation of secure attachment do better in the following areas: self-esteem, independence, resilience, ability to manage impulse/feelings, long-term friendships, relationships with authority figures, pro-social coping skills, trust, intimacy, affection, hopeful beliefs, empathy, compassion, conscience, behavioral performance, academic success, and promoting attachment in their own children (Levy & Orlans, 1998, p. 3). These healthy traits are apparent in confident individuals who are secure with themselves. Such traits are essential in forming healthy and rewarding relationships with and assist with everything from working well with others, to being content with your own self. John Bowlby, a renowned psychiatrist and theorist, argues that infants form “internal working models” of attachment figures and that those models guide their relationships later in life. In retrospect, adults with secure attachments recall positive family relationships while avoidant and anxious adults recalled having problems with one or both of their parents (Brehm, Kassin, & Fein, 2002). The bonds we form as infants directly correspond with our ability to form future relationships.

Attachment in early childhood is a very important aspect of development in humans. There are both biological and physical aspects of attachment that take a part in the process of attachment. These attachments that we form in early childhood directly coincide with the attachments we form later in life. Attachment is a subject that correlates with our relationships in school, work, family, and friends. Attachment is an essential element in a healthy, mentally stable, and content individual.

References

Berger, K. S.(2007). The Developing Person Through the Lifespan. (7th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

Brehm, S. S., Kassin, S. M., Fein, S. (2002). Social Psychology. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin.

Cozolino, L. (2006). The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain. New York: Norton and Company.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Hock, R. R. (1999). Forty Studies that Changed Psychology. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Holmes, J. (2001) The Search for the Secure Base: Attachment Theory and Psychotherapy. London: Brunner-Routledge.

Karen, R. (1994). Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love. New York: Oxford.

Levy, T. M., & Orlans, M. (1998). Attachment, trauma, and healing: Understanding and treating attachment disorders in children and families. Virginia: CWLA Press.

Newton, R. P. (2008). The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure and Confident child using the science of attachment theory. California: New Harbinger Publications.