D
Daniel Sumner

Daniel Sumner

Psychology Expert
+4
More actions

Forum Posts

Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jul 02, 2022
In Depression
New research hints at the underlying neurological basis of depression, involving key areas like the pons and the cortico-limbic network. The research (Wong, 2022) involved two sets of MRI investigations to investigate the pons and other neural networks were involved in affective processing. These studies were then used to study the differences between those with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and a control group. A key finding was that the connections between the amygdala and the pons was much stronger in those with MDD, but this connectivity was also linked to the severity of the depression. In other words, the stronger the connection the worse the depression. Understanding the neurological basis of depression is crucial for addressing the problem and developing medications to aid in the treatment of MDD. An interesting finding and of immediate practical use is the guiding away of sad visual information. Visual sad information stimulates the pons and “reinforces the depressed mood. Prevalence: The World Health Organisation citing research (WHO, 2022) holds that at 280 million individuals worldwide are affected by depression. Over 700,000 people commit suicide every year with the demographic 15 - 29-year-olds having suicide as the fourth leading cause of death. References: The University of Hong Kong. "Research reveals the pons plays a significant role in processing sad information." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220622113158.htm>
Neurological basis of MDD (major depressive disorder) content media
0
0
1
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jul 01, 2022
In Depression
In the public mind there is a tendency to think of depression as a mere inability to experience pleasure or that depression is a blue mood taken to extremes. However, a great deal of nuance is missed when one confines themselves to thinking only in terms of a sad/happy mood. (Taken From my Medium Article) In this brief article I’m going to introduce a simile to help provoke an intutive understanding of depression. A tool for thinking: Let us imagine for a moment a long day ahead of you. Maybe you have to get your kids to school, go to the shops before work etc. To carry out the list of exhaustive tasks ahead, you rely on your ever faithful car. The car is nothing fancy, but it gets you from A to B and you know you’ve been lucky in the way that it doesn’t generally go wrong. You’ve had no expensive garage fees for fixing the car and on the whole you know that your car will work. So you climb into the driver’s seat and attempt to start the ignition — click…nothing happens! You try again and still nothing. Four or five attempts are tried and still nothing. There are two possible outcomes here, one being that the car stays put, or you manage by some miracle to get the engine to come to life although the experience leaves you a little shaken as to whether the car is going to do what you need it to do that day. With relief you pull out of your driveway and take a left at the next junction ready to finally begin the day. But with mounting horror you begin to feel that the car isn’t responding as it should. The engine feels sluggish, the car can’t seem to step into the next gear and refuses to accelerate. The car as mind in depression: Depression in absence of other mental health issues: In the first part of the simile, I stated that the car has worked pretty well in general and is fairly dependable. Here I am drawing a fine line between a mind that may suffer depression with comorbid mental health issues, or depression that stands in its own right. In this example we see that the mind we are dealing with has been fairly dependable without the need for prior ‘mechanic’ (doctor) to prescribe anything to regulate mood. There is also the idea that the individual has in the past felt an equilibrium of mind. Turning the key “click…nothing” Now let’s move on to the idea of the ignition not working or the engine not even starting. This is our first deviation from the common idea of depression, we’re not even broaching mood yet. The engine not ticking over, may signify something of a complete loss of will or motivation. Personally, I know that this may exhibit as a sort of hypersomnia, an inability or desire to get out of bed. I may awaken several times, shift and twist as if making the effort to arise (turning the key?) but find that the mind can’t bridge that last step of putting two feet on the ground. A profound sadness may be the cause, but one need not feel that profound sadness at the time for these effects to be present. All one truly need for inertia, is a curious apathy, more on this soon. Along with this idea of inertia, or lack of will I want to discuss another subtle point and that is of suddenness. The onset of depression may be as sudden as this or it may be precipitated by a gradual breakdown of parts. But the important facet is that the individual need not be aware of the breakdown of parts so that the appearance of the depressive can seem acute and unexpected. The ‘causes’ if we want to describe them as such, may be lost to time and very difficult to analyse. Thus asking the depressed individual what made them depressed, can be akin to asking an individual who can’t start the engine what’s wrong with the car. Even a specialist would need time to look at the anatomy of the car to discover the root cause. And for the rest of us, it can seem like an exercise in futility to try and ascribe causes to something which is so acutely present. The car moves but something is wrong: So in the next part we explore what may happen even if the car is compelled to work. But in doing so, we see that the car is still not behaving as expected. To the depressed individual, the emotional disequilibrium occurring may mean that functionally the body is moving but the relation between experience and emotion is either inverted or not acting as one might expect. An example might be of a previously enjoyable hobby or interest no longer evoking the same joy or passion as it once did. Communication one once found compelling may now feel more forced as if to whisper a single syllable taxes the vehicle of thought more than it ought. While we may still drive the vehicle of the mind into any number of familiar experiences, those experiences do not elicit from us the usual emotive responses. Driving this vehicle suddenly become an alien experience, devoid of anything familiar. Depression and symptomology: We have introduced a couple of ways of thinking about depression through the simile of a non-functioning vehicle, these include: Loss of will or a feeling of inertia Extreme apathy Suddenness of onset with a lack of insight into prior causes But of course we cannot ignore profound sadness, and the aim of this article is not to ignore symptoms of depression, but to provide a more nuanced view and one that may not be appreciable to the common notions of what depression is. In fact the DSM — 5 outlines 9 total symptoms 5 of which have to be present throughout a 2-week period. Sadness is one of these, but it is no mere sadness, it is often a sadness accompanied by a sense of hopelessness. It’s not just sadness but irritability which may be the aberrant emotion to an experience one has encountered thousands of time before. Conclusion: Using a simile such as a non-functioning car can help provoke thoughts or insight into the nature of a disorder which while widespread, is inherently, an individual experience. One may in fact deviate from the simile in several ways, but to a lesser or greater extent these feelings will no doubt be familiar to the individual in the throes of a depressive episode. For the sufferer: There should be a willingness to let go of the tremendous guilt one may feel when suffering from depression. After all, your vehicle has gone awry and you’re not expected to immediately understand how to get the damned thing moving again. What has happened is that your day will not go the way you had expected it to, so now is the time to seek help, let somebody else pick up the kids, let somebody else go to the shops. I’m more than aware that this is far from possible in every circumstance, and all too often we are greeted with stigmatisation. For the observer (husband, wife, child etc): It’s time to recognise the signs of a depressive episode. The role here is to step up and take a few of the responsibilities away from the individual who is unable, through no fault of their own, to fulfil their usual daily quota of activity. It would be useful to inquire whether anything needs doing, whilst staying away from inquisition or assigning blame for the situation. Whatever happens, the vehicle has stalled and is not functioning as it usually does, but this is the situation and no amount of judgement, blame or throwing solutions is going to help. Questions to think about: 1. Under what conditions does the simile break down? 2. Is there any way that thinking about your depression in this way, helps alleviate the guilt? 3. Did the engine light come on prior to the car breaking down? In other words, would is possible next time to anticipate the onset of a stall (depressive episode)? 4. Ap part of owning a car, one often owns a user manual which will cover a variety of tips and tricks should the car break down, how can we develop this idea for depression? 5. It’s a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol, what may we learn from thinking about the dangers of DUID or driving under the influence of depression?
Driving the Vehicle of Depression: An Aid to Understanding content media
1
0
4
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 29, 2022
In General Discussion
When I first picked up the book ‘Intuition Pumps: Tools for Thinking’ authored by the philosopher Daniel Dennett, I thought I knew exactly what it was I was buying. I suspected that I was about to be swept off on a journey similar to the one I had travelled whilst reading books like ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Kahneman or ‘Irrationality’ by Stuart Sutherland. I had expected that contained within the pages of Dennett’s book would be the same hints and warnings about heuristics I had encountered in these other brilliant publications. But I was wrong! However, I was wrong in a profoundly positive way. Dennett’s book not only provides tips for thinking, along with thinking pitfalls he calls ‘boom crutches’ but how these thinking tools can be applied to seemingly insurmountable philosophical questions. Layout Dennett’s ‘Intuition Pumps’ is laid out so that after the introduction describing intuition pumps, a section providing some generalised thinking tools is provided. This section comprises 12 chapters which are easily digestible since the chapters are incredibly short, usually no more than a page or two. Of course, in this section Occam’s Razor appears, though with some warning about taking the ‘law’ too far, which provides a nice counterbalance. Then the reader is introduced to Occam’s Broom an invention of the molecular biologist Sidney Brenner. Occam’s Broom simply put, is what Dennett calls a boom crutch — something that hinders thinking rather than fosters it. Occam’s Broom is the tendency for inconvenient facts to be swept away where they are hidden from view and only appreciable or detectable by specialists. The book really gets started after this worthy primer, with sections on meaning, evolution, consciousness, and free will. Each topic gets its own intuition pumps that the reader can play around with to help think about the topic. Intuition Pumps In essence, Dennett’s intuition pumps are fable-like stories capable of stoking one’s intuition. Therefore it allows the reader to start contemplating seemingly insurmountable philosophical questions such as what is consciousness? Or if the universe is deterministic, how is possible to have free will? These are heavy questions, that most try not to think about since it’s hard to find a decent foundation. Dennett provides the foundation by providing these intuition pumps that rely on narrative fictions to help provoke insight. One such pump I’ll provide: Dennett is talking about belief and he invites the reader to think about an intuition pump called ‘An Older Brother Living in Cleveland’. The intuition pump goes a little like this: Imagine a neurosurgeon in the far future who is able to insert a belief into an individual’s brain (Dennett names the individual Tom, I’ll do likewise). The inserted belief is that Tom has an older brother living in Cleveland. Once Tom awakes and is sitting in a bar somewhere, we can imagine a conversation taking place wherein someone asks Tom about his family. Bartender: Do you have any brothers? Tom: Yes, I have an older brother living in Cleveland. Bartender: What’s his name? Here we run straight into a brick wall, Tom’s fictional brother doesn’t have a name. So Tom might respond by saying that he doesn’t in fact have an older brother, or that he is both an only child and has an older brother living in Cleveland. What Dennett is keen to point out is that the neurosurgeon hasn’t really ‘installed’ or ‘programmed’ a belief since Tom is merely parroting something that is completely paradoxical. Dennett describes Tom’s insistence as a tic rather than a belief since one cannot be both an only child and also have a brother. If Tom denies the older brother due to his being an only child, then his rationality wipes out the ‘programmed’ belief outright. And if he irrationally holds to holding two contradictory statements then Dennett disqualifies this as a belief since Tom won’t be able to understand this sentence of being an only child and having a brother and thus is parroting rather than having a genuine belief. In either case, the neurosurgeon’s attempts have failed. What Dennett attempts to demonstrate through this bizarre fable is that beliefs don’t stand in isolation. Having an older brother in Cleveland is tied to a name, an occupation etc. With every intuition pump Dennett employs, he encourages the reader to ‘turn the knobs’ of intuition. He encourages playing around with the scenario to see whether anything novel can be appreciated from the thought experiment. What I love about all the examples is that Dennett is not primarily interested in getting you to come to the same conclusions as he does from the intuition pumps. Rather he wants to move the reader to at least start asking the questions that really matter. And the intuition pumps are a way for the reader to embrace the more complex issues already mentioned. Along the way, the reader will have a chance to play around with some interesting exercises such as composing on paper a register machine to perform various functions. This was an exceptionally fun part of the book that allowed me to not only better understand the growing complexity of computer systems from a few simpler functions, but how this might translate into the complexity of the human brain arising from denser more ‘stupid’ parts that only have to deal with less complex operations. The term homuncular functionalism comes into play and was a compelling argument for the materialistic explanations of consciousness rather than requiring what he calls ‘wonder tissue’ explanations. Conclusion There is so much to this book, that I cannot possibly cover all or even a fraction of the subtlety of the arguments in this small review. I can only say that after closing this book, I knew I would have to read it again knowing that I would gleam even more the second time around reading it. A book like this requires a certain mood, so I would advise not picking it up until you can be sure of some quiet and are feeling reflective about some of the deeper questions of existence. With that said, Dennett writes with wit and with an openness that places upon the reader the impression that he not only loves philosophy but that he wants you to love philosophy too. And with that in mind, Dennett creates easily digestible chapters that present each intuition pump in as few words as possible whilst losing any of the astounding implications. I give this book 10/10
Book Review: Dennett's Intuition Pumps content media
2
5
15
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 28, 2022
In General Discussion
*It is perhaps considered something of a universal law that there is, and must be, a single entity we call the ‘self’. We prize this individuality, adorn it in such a way to try and make it even more unique and separate from all other acting agents within the world. So what happens then, when we meet ourselves out in the world? What happens when we are greeted by our doppelganger? What happens when this sense of individuality is threatened? We’re about to see what may happen when a brain under the influence of a psychotic delusion finally cracks. The Case of Mr X and his doppelganger The case study (Barberi et al, 2022) begins one week before the homicide occurs. When an individual — Mr X starts to exhibit personality changes. According to the reports given by the family, Mr X had begun to appear more introverted and isolated than was usual, although he had broken up with his girlfriend 8 months before so it was easy to assume that this was the cause of the abrupt changes. These behaviours soon evolved into something a little stranger, when Mr X began to experience what might be called persecutory delusions. The nature of the delusions were extremely odd. X began to vociferously rant about supposed conspiracies involving Nazis and this was soon followed by bizarre paranoid behaviour in which X turned out the lights and began whispering as if under the grip of some grotesque terror. His mother heard him whispering to her about the neighbours and that he was afraid that they were spying on them. A GP was consulted in then wake of these peculiar symptoms. X was diagnosed with a depressive disorder and was prescribed medications to help ameliorate these symptoms. However, after extensive investigations it was determined that X needed a psychiatric assessment. And now we turn to the words of X a day before the murder, as you read these words try and place yourself within the same mindset and see if you can trace out the general landscape of X’s thinking: “I thought I was dead, and in a suspended, timeless condition, I had heard talk about particles on television and I am made of particles so I understood that they were hunting me and wanted to carry my spirit to Hell”. What does this tell you about X’s state of mind at the time? On the actual day of the murder, X reports on how the events culminated in the death of Mr Y: “I felt anguished and my parents advised me to go to the gym, where I saw Y, who told me “I met your sister”, that wouldn’t have been a problem but at lunch I remembered that my sister had complained of belly pain and I understood that he had raped her. I had to strike him, it was a trial of strength”. The tragedy was that the crime took place 24 hours before X was due to meet with the psychiatrist. Upon meeting Mr Y, X stabbed him with a blade, more specifically a diving blade 25cm long. When the police entered the gym, they found X seated amongst the barbells appearing detached and he still held the bloody knife within his hands. Aftermath While in prison, X was given various assessments. Overall X continued to exhibit distanced behaviour with the addition of fragmentary and partial amnesia. The authors of the study continue that when X saw his ‘double’ a clear psychotic association was created along with the bizarre idea that his double had caused his sister to become pregnant. The nature of the delusions seemed to take on elements of Capgras’ delusion as well as the doppelganger delusion. Doppelgangers are usually the products of hallucinatory events. Given the elements of X’s pre-murder behaviour, the researchers observe that these symptoms make up a disturbing pre-psychotic syndrome. The authors of the paper note that there is a link between the perceived threat that the doppelganger poses, and the level of violence on the part of the individual who experiences the delusion. What is happening is that a general environment of paranoia, persecutory delusions and fear lead to an atmosphere where the fundamental sense of self is vulnerable to doubt. Conclusion: This is a fascinating case in which an individual’s very sense of self is damaged and fractured. The unique elements of neuropsychological events conspired to create an atmosphere where X’s paranoia and fear create an other ‘self’ where one can direct the violence and fear X was feeling. I would like to end by asking the reader some questions for reflection: 1. To what extent do you think X should be punished for the crime? 2. If the psychosis was the result of recreational drug use, would that change your the answer to question 1? 3. If the psychosis was due to a side effect of medical pharmacology, would that change your answer to question 1? 4. What can this case teach us about neuropsychology and the law? References: Cristiano Barbieri, Gabriele Rocca, Caterina Bosco, Lucia Tattoli, Ignazio Grattagliano & Giancarlo Di Vella (2022): The Doppelgänger phenomenon and death: a peculiar case of homicide by a subject with first-episode psychosis, Forensic Sciences Research, DOI: 10.1080/20961790.2022.2055827 *Taken from my article on Medium
Strange Tales of Crime: The doppelganger content media
0
1
6
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 27, 2022
In Mental Disorders
It might sound strange that an individual may have a collective narcissism or one that applies to how they view things from a national perspective. Recent research illustrates the defining features of a national narcissist. It’s well known that narcissists feel superior to others and have shallow egos that are easily punctured/threatened. Research indicates that national narcissists who view their political group, nation, or religion as superior but not appreciated are known as ‘collective narcissism’ (Young, 2022). Now studies have been performed which indicate that when an individual is high on scales of national narcissism, they are much more willing to act against individuals belonging to the same group. Such actions that individuals assessed for high national narcissism seemed more likely to do include: Wiretapping citizens Spread false information Perform Internet surveillance Those with high national identification weren’t likely to act against fellow citizens and thus were substantially different from the category of a national narcissist. In the US more extreme scenarios were imagined and national narcissists again were more likely to act against fellow citizens by carrying out domestic acts of terrorism. While this work is correlational, still it reveals that narcissistic characteristics may mean an individual being damaging to a group. References: Young, E. 'National narcissists are more willing to conspire against their fellow citizens' (2022) 'British Psychological Association' [URL] Available at: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2022/06/27/national-narcissists-are-more-willing-to-conspire-against-their-fellow-citizens/#more-47885 (Date Accessed: 27/06/2022)
National Narcissism: A hidden danger content media
1
4
12
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 27, 2022
In General Discussion
Notable Figures in Psychology: Kenneth Clark Kenneth Clark was a leading figure not only in psychology but also in the civil rights movement. Alongside his wife who was also his long-term colleague, he investigated the effects of segregation in schools and the damage this did both to Black and White children. Using dolls in early psychological experiments, the couple discovered that children as young as 3 preferred picking White dolls over Black. This study proved pivotal in 1954 when the Supreme Court declared segregated education unconstitutional (although given recent events, one hopes this ruling stays). Among Clark’s achievements was being the first Black president of the American Psychological Association (APA) 74 years after its founding. Clark was a prolific writer and authored 6 books. Clark died in 2005 aged 91. image credits: https://psychmuseum.uwgb.org/social/kennethclark/ References: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/03/special-report-pivotal-moments https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_and_Mamie_Clark
Notable Figures in Psychology: Kenneth Clark content media
0
2
8
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 26, 2022
In Mental Disorders
Effects of disassociation in Trauma Disassociation is a well-recognised result of trauma. While the disassociation may be part of an overall defense mechanism in view of the trauma, still new research (LeBois et al, 2022, as cited in ScienceDaily, 2022) indicates that the presence of disassociation and derealisation may indicate further mental health issues for several months following the trauma. The overall study AUOROA (Advancement Understanding of RecOvery after traumA) focused on data from 1,464 patients treated at a variety of emergency departments. 145 of these patients also underwent assessment as they were given an emotional task. Findings: The researchers found a wide variety of issues in those who reported derealisation at a 3-month follow-up. These included: 1.Depression 2.PTSD symptoms 3.Anxiety 4.Pain The findings are important as knowledge of who is more at risk of mental health issues following trauma, may aid in supplying a rapid response and early intervention to those who need it most. "Therefore, persistent derealization is both an early psychological marker and a biological marker of worse psychiatric outcomes later, and its neural correlates in the brain may serve as potential future targets for treatments to prevent PTSD," said senior author Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD References: McLean Hospital. "Feelings of detachment predict worse mental health outcomes after trauma: Patients who experience this symptom may benefit from early interventions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220622101352.htm> image credits: chenspec/pixabay
Effects of disassociation following trauma content media
1
4
12
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 26, 2022
In General Discussion
Science progresses in general through the slow steady steps of replicating initial findings, this either adds trust in an experimental finding or the hypothesis needs amending or throwing out completely. Unfortunately, in recent years a problem has been developing with the seductive appeal of chasing the P-Value and getting a statistically significant result. Researchers know that journals are more likely to report a statistically significant finding. In this way, the scientific journals are adopting a media-type approach by ‘if it bleeds it leads’ or a ‘wow!’ factor. This creates a couple of issues, one is that researchers may be more tempted to massage the figures to create a statistically significant result. There is also the issue, that previous studies aren’t being replicated as often leading to a lot of noise within the field of psychology. Solutions: In light of these difficulties, there are now organisations such as OSF (Open Science Collaboration) which fosters and helps researchers design their studies with transparency in mind. Along with this, more replications of new studies are taking place to reduce both the noise in science and provide a safer foundation on which to build. There have also been attempts to more clearly delineate the plan of the study design. Conclusion: There are a couple of links at the bottom to find out more about the replication crisis and how it affects the field of psychology. But I want to end by saying that even with these problems science moves us forward. We continue to learn more and more about the human mind and behaviour. Any human endeavour will have issues, the wonder is that science, a human endeavour, works as well as it does to innovate and make possible a multitude of benefits. Acknowledging shortcomings is one of the chief benefits of science, and how it differs from every other method of human investigation. Useful Links: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/replication-crisis https://osf.io/?view_only=
The seductive appeal of the P-Value content media
1
0
1
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 23, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Given the recent tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde involving mass shootings, people struggle to form a psychological reason. In a recent CNN opinion piece, Reid Meloy a forensic psychologist warns against hasty judgements and blaming mental illness. Instead, he points out the common psychological themes that run through these tragedies. Reid Meloy began working by researching the behaviour of stalkers and violent attacks. This was followed by studying individuals who commit acts of terror and how this relates to other mass murderers. Meloy rejects common claims made by organisations such as the NRA, that these individuals have a higher chance of being mentally ill, and instead finds that there exists a ‘pathway to violence’. And it is this pathway Meloy expands on in the interview. The first misconception Meloy puts right, is that individuals just simply ‘snap’ before they commit acts of violence such as mass shooting. In reality, Meloy’s research suggests that there is a great deal of pre-planning and preparations. This is the same in either terrorism or non-ideological attacks. The second point is that more often than not, there is some history involving a personal grievance usually a profound loss such as a relationship or occupational loss. Meloy points out that the loss may either be a single-time event or cumulative. The psychological ramifications of these losses then lead to humiliation, anger and shame. Finally, in the light of these events, there is the person choosing to commit violence in response - this Meloy points out as the vital last step everyone has the same events happen with the same accompanying emotions but not everyone sees acts of violence as a suitable answer. Meloy then illustrates that interventions to halt tragedies, can exist anywhere on the pathway to violence. Gun control, Meloy states exists at the midrange of the pathway. As a final warning, Meloy states that the frustration he feels is when people don’t take signs of ‘leakage’ seriously enough. Where online activity or the way a person reveals violent ideation isn’t taken seriously by those around them. Conclusion: This is a fascinating article that reveals the psychological motivations and pathway to violence which is followed. If the public allowed themselves to get swayed by the common argument that the people who commit acts of mass violence are only those with mental illness, than the acts of violence will always appear random and without cure. This article goes some way in addressing the misconceptions. References:
1
0
5
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 22, 2022
In Science/Research Discussion
To understand the nature of violence between groups has led to a lot of research that investigates the nature of ingroups vs outgroups. Now new research reveals what makes individuals exhibit violent behaviour towards people of other groups. Researchers (Lasko et al, 2022 as cited in ScienceDaily, 2022) took 35 male university students and assigned them a competitive and aggressive task in competition with either students from their own university or students from another. In reality, the task took place against a computer. The researchers discovered that those individuals who were more aggressive against those who they believed were from another university, had greater activity in parts of the brain called the nucleus accumbens and the vmPFC or ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These areas are highly involved in rewarding behaviour. These findings indicate that for the brain, higher aggression against individuals of another group is rewarding and thus may provide positive emotions. As ScienceDaily states, prior research has focused on the negative emotions such as anger when considering violence or aggression against individual of another group, but this research gives us clues as to why violence or aggression might be used and sustained by neural circuitry involved in reward. Understanding the relationship between neural circuitry and psychology is crucial if future research is to deal with the question of how to reduce intergroup violence. image credits: sw_reg_03/pixabay References: Virginia Commonwealth University. (2022, June 16). Us versus them: Harming the 'outgroup' is linked to elevated activity in the brain's reward circuitry: A new study used brain imaging to explain why humans are aggressive toward rival groups. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 22, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220616135231.htm
New Research: Ingroups vs Outgroups content media
0
7
16
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 21, 2022
In General Discussion
So I created the meme above to point out the chasm that exists between what general impressions may be about the field of psychology and the actual practice of psychology. One of the first questions people may ask when they know you are studying psychology, is whether you know what they are thinking? It's one of the funniest and most touching parts of human psychology, that we desire to be known (at least within reason) and yet this creates uncertainty and vulnerability that we may find less than comfortable. This sort of defensive questioning hidden beneath a veil of humour indicates the desire and reticence about giving too much of private mental lives away. I remember tales of my mother working within a hospital setting and having to perform any number of intimate care procedures for individuals, and the men she said were often uncomfortable with these as they were made vulnerable. But what these men failed to realise was that any discomfort or awkwardness on the part of my mother wasn't there since she had had many patients in the hospital who required the same considerations. I mention this to illustrate that for the psychologist there is little of surprise in the psyche of individuals, especially after a sustained and prolonged career. There is a professional detachment, and objectivity that comes with treating a subject as academic fodder, thus the discomfort lies only on the part of the patient, participant or friend. Thus, psychologists whether researching or applied, need to be able to put the minds of individuals' at ease in order to facilitate psychological understanding. Sometimes this might be as simple as stating humorously but directly that given the amount of time each day devoted to understanding the intricacies of the human mind and behaviour, sometimes a psychologist has neither the will nor inclination to dig deep into the psyche of a new acquaintance. But this meme is created principally from the perspective of the psychologist themselves who do well to remember, the limitations of their knowledge.
Humour and Misconceptions content media
0
2
8
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 20, 2022
In Science/Research Discussion
Psychological research is coming to appreciate the role of moving beyond stereotypical populations and including stigmatised or under-represented groups. But if the ultimate aim of psychology is to understand the mind and behaviour of an individual, all individuals need to be represented. According to research, approximately 1% of the population identifies as asexual. Asexuality may be defined as: “A term used to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender” (LGBT center, 2022). Asexuality differs from celibacy in that celibacy is a choice to refrain from sexual contact even if one still maintains sexual desire. Research is now coming to appreciate the defining features of asexuality and the psychology involved. Asexuals appear to differ significantly in viewing erotic material from allosexuals. Research (Milani, 2022 cited in Harper, 2022) has revealed that the duration of attention paid to erotic imagery was the same duration paid to non-sexual imagery. The attention was divided equally between the two. Allosexual individuals tended to have their attention captured and maintained by the sexual imagery. Methodology: The ingenious way this research was carried out was by using eye-tracking equipment. The researchers also used eye-tracking as this could measure the attention given before conscious attention is invoked. There were 92 participants in this study which included 26 heterosexual men, 30 heterosexual women, 13 asexual men and 18 asexual women and eight asexual nonbinary individuals. Conclusion: Research such as this will pave the way for more insight into sexual attraction in individuals. image credits: sergiovisor_ph/Pixabay references: "Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation" (2022) LGBT center unc-chapel hill [URL] Available at: https://lgbtq.unc.edu/resources/exploring-identities/asexuality-attraction-and-romantic-orientation/ Harper, C. 'Do Asexual Individuals Look Differently at Sexual Images?' (2022) in 'PsychologyToday' [URL] available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/articles-heterodoxy/202206/do-asexual-individuals-look-differently-sexual-images
Differences in asexual and allosexual visual attention content media
0
0
3
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 20, 2022
In Science/Research Discussion
It’s well appreciated that reducing stress is overall a good thing. Much research has been done to draw conclusions about the effects stress has on the physiology of an individual. But new research has deepened the understanding of the effects on the immune system (Klopeck et al, 2022 as cited in Sciencedaily, 2022). As advanced age begins, the immune system naturally begins to decline as cells malfunction or with worn-out white blood cells taking the place of fresh ones. Researchers used large data sets and questionnaires (national sample, n = 5744 age > 50) to assess levels of stress. These stressful events included items such as discrimination, chronic stress and life events. As advanced age begins, the immune system naturally begins to decline as cells malfunction or with worn-out white blood cells taking the place of fresh ones. Researchers used large data sets and questionnaires (national sample, n = 5744 age > 50) to assess levels of stress. These stressful events included items such as discrimination, chronic stress, and life events. was significant. However, past research showed that some effects of degradation of the thymus and T-cells is accelerated by factors such as diet and exercise. When diet and exercise were accounted for in the stress-immune age relationship, the effect was not as strong. This hints at a possible way to mitigate the damage of stress by exercise and diet. Conclusion: Research such as this paves the way for increased understanding the factors that are both out of an individual and more importantly what is in the control of the individual to help lower the damaging effects of stress on the immune system. References: University of Southern California. (2022, June 13). Stress accelerates immune aging, study finds: Traumatic life events, discrimination prematurely weaken body's mix of immune cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 20, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220613150648.htm image credits: ha110k/pixabay
New Research: Stress and the immune system content media
0
0
6
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 19, 2022
In General Discussion
The problem with systemic racism is that it’s often exhibited in a variety of subtle ways. Psychological research can often reveal the hidden perils of this type of racism, in particular, a recent article points out the danger for non-White individuals as they go through the court system. The article points to a court case in which Tim Gilbert was granted a new trial as the original trial was deemed to be unfair. The jury passing judgement in the original trial, deliberated in what is called the U.D.C room or United Daughters of the Confederacy. Needless to say this raises some issues, even more so with the adornments and decorations of the U.D.C room. The room included a Confederate flag, a Confederate leader’s portrait and plenty of other memorabilia. The argument was that this environment, no matter how subtle, could influence the final decision made by the jurors. By deliberating in the room, the jurors may have been more susceptible to the cultivation or tolerance of prejudice. The article points out that this is not an isolated scenario, and other cases such as Terrance Shipp Jr has his case in a trial where the Virginia courthouse was adorned with a variety of portraits or White judges some of “whom had issued discriminatory rulings. This article is extremely interesting, and it falls on us all to absorb this information and learn from a psychological viewpoint how to make the jurisprudential system fair for all.
1
1
5
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 18, 2022
In General Discussion
Before studying psychology, I had never come across this word, but now it's one of my favourites. Buried within the word is a world of meaning to a psychological/social being such as ourselves. Etymology The first step to comprehension of a word is to know its history or etymology. In a sense, we may ask what philosophical or psychological consideration provided the necessity for the word to exist. The first part of the word is extremely common: de- This 'de-'is a prefix that indicates either removal or negation (Dictionary.com, 2022). The '-cathect' part of the word comes from a Greek word meaning 'to keep' or 'to hold on to'. Meaning As seen from the etymology of the word, to decathect would be 'not holding on to' or 'not keeping'. In psychology, to decathect is a sort of defense mechanism. It is a way of protecting one's emotional wellbeing in the prospect of some loss. The easiest way to explain the psychological term decathect, is to consider what might happen when we know someone who is dying, we may feel that we are not capable of dealing with this prospect and begin the process of detaching ourselves emotionally from the individual whilst they are still living. Quite literally, to decathect is to withdraw emotionally when anticipating a loss. Discussion Some words encapsulate various human vulnerabilites, and this one for me perfectly describes the existential crisis of what it means to be human and the expectation of loss. This word isn't solely used for the example I provided and there are many more mundane examples one of which is provided by the online dictionary. However, for me, the power of the word 'decathect' lies in its ability to describe the fundamental nature of expected loss. References: Dictionary.com - 'Decathect' (2022) (URL) Available at: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/decathect
Psychology Terminology: Decathect content media
0
3
7
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 16, 2022
In Science/Research Discussion
It’s typically well-known in the field of psychology that certain interviewing techniques can facilitate the implementation of false memories. This has been demonstrated powerfully by the work of Loftus and Palmer. And since their research, new interviewing techniques have been developed such as the cognitive interview which enables an eyewitness to be as open as possible without leading them to any particular conclusion. But I came across an interesting article (Gurney, 2016) highlighted in ‘the Conversation’ which seems to suggest that verbal communication is not the only path along which the implementation of false memories can occur. Gurney’s research involved the following methodology: Participants were shown a short video of a man entering an office and stealing a phone. After asking a few questions that were not important to the overall study, the interviewer would make a brief gesture like stroking the chin as if thinking or pinching his finger. The participants in the group where the interviewer stroked his chin reported a higher incidence of remembering that the man in the video had stubble or a beard. And those in the group where the interviewer pinched his finger, reported seeing a wedding ring on the individual in the video. This original study has now been replicated with a variety of individuals from psychology students in the original study to Lawyers. Gestures tend to be not consciously recognised and thus represent a more pernicious form of false memory implementation. The author concludes the article by raising an interesting point: “There may be times when we’ve been influenced by someone’s hand gestures, and without even knowing it. Because of this, we should be aware of the power of nonverbal suggestion and how susceptible we can be to its effects.” Image credits: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay References: Gurney, D. (2016) 'How police witnesses could be misled by a simple wave of the hand' in 'The Conversation' [URL] available at: https://theconversation.com/how-police-witnesses-could-be-misled-by-a-simple-wave-of-the-hand-55913 (Last Accessed: 16/06/2022)
Can a gesture implant a false memory?  content media
1
3
7
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 15, 2022
In Forensic Psychologist
Anyone who’s taken even a cursory look at the topic of deception within the psychological literature will understand that there is no single ‘magic bullet’ to detect lies from an individual. Whether this is the notorious ‘eye aversion’ or suspicious ‘body movements’ these are only reliable if one understands a baseline behaviour of an individual. Thus, there can exist a huge chasm between what the public understands about lie detection and the efficacy of various methods as indicated by the research. Part of the issue, is the lack of disclaimers in certain popular ‘psychology’ books on topic like non-verbal communication. Despite these troubles, research into lie detection is continuing and some of the research is more promising than other research. One interesting critical review (Brennen and Magnussen, 2022) of the verbal cues to deception will now be summarised in brief with a link to the full article which will appear at the end. The overall sense I got from this article was that the authors certainly were critical of a lot of the research that existed on verbal cues to deception but not unfairly so. There are in the article words of precautionary wisdom, and advice to refrain from implementing unsound or even apparently sound lie detection methodologies too soon given the high stakes within the law. The authors took a look at four different techniques that seemed to be the most promising, but also indicated another approach that is already used that seemed to be effective. One method already used is to allow an interviewee free rein to give an account whilst keeping discovered evidence quiet right up until the investigators could reveal it and a possible issue with the testimony given. This is the so-called SUE method (strategic use of evidence). The authors did note though that the fact that evidence is used, means that the method has a narrower range of applicability than other methods, though this ‘weakness’ may also be a strength considering that facts in the form of evidence mean it does possess a dynamic form of method within an interview. One issue raised about the efficacy of a given approach is that a high percentage rate of catching a lie does not automatically render the method useful in a forensic context. The reason is that, a high percentage rate still implies a high false positive rate in which a person telling the truth may be falsely assumed to be deceitful. Conclusion: I have only barely scratched the surface for this brief summary, so I would encourage readers to go back to the original article to assess the verbal cues to deception. Also, the authors present a balanced overview of the research and suggest where and how the various methodologies might be used. References: Brennen T and Magnussen S (2022) The Science of Lie Detection by Verbal Cues: What Are the Prospects for Its Practical Applicability? Front. Psychol. 13:835285. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.835285 Image credits: ThomasWolter/Pixabay
Verbal cues to deceit: Pitfalls and Opportunity content media
1
0
2
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 14, 2022
In General Discussion
Syndromes and disorders may teach a significant amount about what it means to be human. Some disorders such as the one described below traverse several fields including philosophy, neuroscience and psychology. Charles-Bonnet syndrome is a well-recognised phenomenon arising with age-related optic degeneration. This syndrome presents with moderately simple geometric hallucinations all the way to exceedingly complex hallucinations involving people and scenes. Occasionally this syndrome has also led some to mistakenly believe that a patient has some sort of dementia, for example, Alzheimer’s. I was browsing the literature on Google Scholar when I came across an interesting case study of a child who developed Charles-Bonnet syndrome (Mewasingh et al, 2002). Here I present a summary along with the article at the end for the interested reader to gain a fuller view of the case. I will also leave a couple of resources so that the reader may find out more about this fascinating syndrome. The case: Symptoms for the child (from here on we’ll refer to as A) began at age 7 when there was total blindness of the left eye along with poor vision in the right. Investigation revealed hypopituitarism and a suprasellar craniopharyngioma (a brief description of these terms at the end of the summary. The treatment plan included removing the tumour and hormone replacement therapy. Our story picks up at around age 9 when A began to see things and experience visual hallucinations. The hallucinations consisted of scorpions and mammals as well as reptiles. These images evolved into complex scenes with animated characters. Only eye closure was sufficient to halt the hallucinations. One might ask how this affected A. At first, he reported being frightened rather unsurprisingly, but after a while, his relationship with these hallucinations developed his interest and he became piqued by these apparitions. A few months after the development of these hallucinations, A developed apathy and a certain degree of abulia. I’ll avoid the technical details of the paper, but the visual issues were related to ongoing issues with brain topography. Carbamazepine was started and the frequency of the hallucinations decreased to about once a month. Conclusion: It’s important to note that while the images can be disturbing, insight is usually maintained and the patients experiencing Charle-Bonnet Syndrome generally know they are hallucinating and this was observed in this young patient too. Brief glossary: Abulia: Refers to a general lack of will or inability to decide Carbamazepine: Anti-convulsant drug used especially in epilepsy Hypopituitarism: A failure of the pituitary gland to produce hormones Suprasellar Craniopharyngioma: Tumours that grow near the pituitary gland References and further reading: Mewasingh, L.D., Kornreich, C., Christiaens, F., Christophe, C. and Dan, B., 2002. Pediatric phantom vision (Charles Bonnet) syndrome. Pediatric neurology, 26(2), pp.143-145. For Charles-Bonnet Syndrome see: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/charles-bonnet-syndrome/
The case of the boy who saw scorpions content media
2
3
19
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 13, 2022
In General Discussion
As previously discussed, an experiment tries to establish a causal link between two variables. One we call the dependent variable and the other is referred to as the Independent variable. We also discussed something called a confounding variable which is a factor that can mess with the results of the experiment by changing the nature of the relationship between two variables. This post will summarise what is meant by a dependent variable. But let's start by asking what is the variable dependent on? Well whatever the variable considered, we call it dependent as it depends on what happens with the independent variable. Let's imagine Bandura's experiment establishing a causal link between observed violence and the violence demonstrated by the participants. In this scenario the dependent variable is the 'amount of violence demonstrated by the children', this variable depended on a set of independent variables which could be changed by the researchers. An example of one of these independent variables was whether a child observed violence as in the control group when they were not. Thus an independent variable is ideally free from other factors and can be manipulated by researchers to see whether there's a causal link between the independent variable and the dependent variable. Let's play with this idea and imagine an experiment in which we have three light bulbs and a switch. We want to establish a causal link between one of the lightbulbs and the switch. When we flick the switch a lightbulb flickers to life. In absence of any other factors which might be activating the light, we may conclude that the flicking of the switch causes the bulb to light. What do you think our independent and dependent variables are? Well, the dependent variable is whether or not our lightbulb is illuminated. This is dependent on whether we flick the switch or not. But what possible confounding variables are there? Well let's imagine that the circuit linking the lightbulb also includes an internal clock, and periodically the lightbulb responds to the clock by lighting. In this case, if we're not careful our flicking of the switch might just happen to coincide with the lightbulb lighting due to the switch and thus we would be unable to conclude that the lightbulb is responding to the switch.
Psychology Terminology: Dependent Variable content media
2
3
15
Daniel Sumner
Psychology Expert
Psychology Expert
Jun 12, 2022
In General Discussion
Considering the role of psychology, one may find its findings useful and applicable to a broad array of problems. Some of these may include why people may be disinclined to reject authority when asked to do something that goes against conscience such as Milgram’s obedience studies. Or how volatile memory can be and how this may impact on eyewitness testimony as in the experiments by Loftus and Palmer. But another use of psychology is how we might use the research to improve something within our own lives. Here we might think of marriage, and other interpersonal relationships. But this post of mine, is about one of my favourite pastimes - Chess. An article (Gobet and Jansen, 2006) illustrates what psychology can teach us about the optimal way of learning to better one’s level of skill at chess. The only assumptions are that the reader understands the rules and how the pieces move and coordinate together. Methodology and focus: The authors choose to provide the following guide when thinking about chess and improving. “A. Type of encoding 1. Explicit 2. Implicit B. Diachronic dimension 1. The opening 2. The middle game 3. The endgame C. Chess contents 1. Tactics 2. Strategy” Here I’ll focus on just a couple of points made by the authors - however, the link to the original article is at the bottom for interested readers. One interesting facet was the concept of what knowledge may be required to improve one’s game. The authors suggest that the most needed explicit knowledge that is useful is the theory of openings, endgames and methods that apply in certain situations. But even with this, the authors do suggest limiting oneself to only a few openings at the beginning and learning these well. This is due to the limited time available as well as the plethora of information regarding the openings. The authors also point out that this facilitates learning by aiding recall of patterns etc. One key tip here quoted directly from the article: “Or when studying an opening line, one could first try to memorize and understand it using an opening textbook, then study games using this opening, then carry out one’s own analysis. This approach will offer a richly-indexed encoding of information, which helps prevent forgetting and allows easier access to memory traces.” Implicit information by contrast, according to the authors is harder to assess than explicit knowledge. This involves such jargon as schemata, chunks, and templates. Either way, like implicit knowledge the authors suggest careful preparation of a few small selections of openings. This will increase the likelihood of finding these chunks appearing in tournament play. The authors highlight the importance of maintaining a fluid balance between rote learning and learning from general principles. Effective templates will be built naturally when one studies opening to middlegame positions, and thus knowledge and learning will be facilitated. There are a lot more tips to help one improve their chess game, I’ve barely scratched the surface. So please check out… Meanwhile, let me know whether you're a chess player or want to know a good website to begin. References: Gobet, F. and Jansen, P. (2005) 'Training in Chess: A Scientific Approach' in 'Education and Chess' Available at: http://www.chrest.info/fg/preprints/Training_in_chess.PDF image credits: JESHOOTs-com/ pixabay
Psychology for Fun: Chess content media
1
1
4