What is Psychology?

According to the Amercian Psychological Association, “psychology is the study of the mind and behavior . . . — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged” (APA). Psychology assesses the capability and performance of the mind in comparison to other’s minds. However, this is not to be confused with neurology, “the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system” (URMC). In comparison, psychology deals with the metaphysical aspects of the brain whereas neurology is more associated with the anatomical workings of the same organ. While these professions may become one and the same in the future, for now, they are separate fields of study.

What Defines a Science?

Though science is a word which is used frequently in varying ways and understandings, science is fundamentally defined by the Science Council as “the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence” (Science Council). In essence, any study of the surrounding world is defined as a science as long as it is studied using standardized planning following psychical observations. In addition, a science is characterized by its ability to be recreated and its ability to be measured consistently, or validity and reliability respectively. This means that the yields of a science can be reproduced at will as well as provide reliable results every time.

Is Psychology a Science?

A science is defined by its ability to be replicated and its ability to give similar results if done correctly. However, as psychology involves results from human beings, beings who are all inherently different, the validity and reliability of these fields are less than acceptable. One example of this would be happiness research. There are far too many vague variables; for example, how exactly is happiness defined? how does one measure happiness? what makes someone happy? THe

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Human Reanimation

Since the dawn of man, the revival of the deceased has been a lingering question in many of the great thinkers of their time. Now, however, scientists are getting closer to achieving their goal of resuscitating the dead with people who are “dead”, but current medical techniques can bring them back to the world of the living. Scientists have discovered that “when human cells are abruptly cut off from the steady supply of oxygen, nutrients and cleaning services that blood flow normally provides them, they can hold out in their membranes for a surprisingly long time” (MacKinnon). For patients who will suffer from a cardiac arrest or any possible injury that is not physically fatal, this can potentially mean the difference between life and death. Through a therapeutic hypothermia, doctors can lower the patient’s body temperature and lower the risk of reperfusion, or “a surefire way to kill a cell that has been cut off from oxygen and nutrients for an extended period of time by giving it oxygen and nutrients” (MacKinnon). However, “whether this kind of medical miracle qualifies as reanimating the dead” is a matter of personal opinion.

Animal Reanimation

In as early as May of 1925, a Russian physiologist, Sergie Bryukhonenko, was tasked with keeping individual organs functioning once they had been removed from their host. To do so, he created the world’s first heart-lung machine, a “life-support machine that drew exhausted blood from the head and deposited it in a glass chamber where it was warmed and oxygenated, then pumped back” (Swain). He presented his findings at the Second Congress of Russian Pathologists by keeping a dog’s head alive for about one hundred minutes. He later attempted to revive a man who had recently committed suicide, and, after just three hours from time the man hung himself, “the doctor slit open an artery and a vein and connected them to the machine” (Swain). After a few hours, the body slowly warmed, and a heartbeat was heard. However, “the reanimation lasted just two minutes; the experimenters, ‘unbearably horrified’ at what they had done, immediately switched off the pumps, allowing the patient to slip back into death” (Swain).

Ethical and Moral Implications

Humanity now has the means to revivify the dead under a certain set of conditions. According to critical care physician Sam Parnia, ” modern resuscitation science will soon allow doctors to reanimate people up to 24 hours after their death” (MacKinnon). With this advancement in medical technology, there are many risks that come along with it. One example is the science fiction classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. In this book, a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, uses tissue from slaughterhouses and hospitals to cobble together an unnamed creature. This creature killed all of its creator’s family, and had no moral limitations. If doctors revive a deceased person, there might be unknown damage to their mind, making them someone completely different. Also, there is not enough supplies on Earth to support people resurrecting the deceased when there are people still starving globally. Some people say that this could provide opportunities to learn from those in the past, but the downsides cannot justify the upsides to this technology.

Bibliography

“Frankenstein: Plot Summary.” SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

MacKinnon, Eli. “Is It Possible to Reanimate the Dead?” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 08 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Swain, Frank. “Russians Who Raised the Dead.” Saloncom RSS. N.p., 14 June 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Wang, Brian. “Next Big Future: Modern Resuscitation Science.” Next Big Future. N.p., July 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

What is Psychosurgery?

According to the Boundless textbook article titled “Psychosurgery”, psychosurgery “is the name for a group of neurosurgical treatments including cingulotomy, subcaudate tractotomy, limbic leucotomy, and corpus callosotomy”, and, in each of these procedures, a part of the brain is damaged or destroyed” (Boundless Psychology). This is an incredibly risky procedure with irrevocable effects; however, there are cave paintings that suggest, in the Stone Ages, that very early man attempted brain surgery. In actuality, the earliest recording of psychosurgery is in the Middle Ages in a process called trephining. This procedure involves used a toll to cut through portions of the skull. All of the aforementioned could also describe neurosurgery, but the main difference between the two is that “psychosurgery is a general label for any surgery that is performed on the brain to alleviate mental illness” (Lavoie).

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What is Lobotomy?

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, lobotomy, also called prefrontal leucotomy, is a “surgical procedure in which the nerve pathways in a lobe or lobes of the brain are severed from those in other areas” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). It was formerly used to treat psychiatric disorders such as depression, OCD, and epilepsy. In the late 1880s, Swiss physician Gottlieb Burkhardt removed “parts of the brain cortex in patients suffering from auditory hallucinations and other symptoms of mental illness” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica), marking the first usage of surgical manipulation of the brain to calm patients suffering from mental illnesses. However, few attempts were made to validate Burkhardt’s research until 1935. In 1935, Portuguese neurophysician António Egas Moniz, using the help of another surgeon “drilled two holes in the patient’s head and then injected pure ethyl alcohol into the prefrontal cortex. Alcohol was used to disrupt the neuronal tracts that were believed to give rise to and reinforce the recurrent patterns of thought observed in mentally ill patients” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). This operation was considered a success as there appeared to be a reduction in the symptoms of paranoia and anxiety the patient had been suffering with. A year later, in 1936, American neurologists Walter J. Freeman and James W. Watts modified the lobotomy and made a new standard for the Freeman-Watts standard lobotomy. In reality, “the use of lobotomy in the United States was resisted and criticized heavily by American neurosurgeons. However, because Freeman managed to promote the success of the surgery through the media, lobotomy became touted as a miracle procedure, capturing the attention of the public and leading to an overwhelming demand for the operation” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). Because the procedure met with seemingly widespread success, Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1949.

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The Controversy

Lobotomy is a controversial procedure because, while the many patients exhibited reduced tension and agitation, the majority displayed other effects such as “apathy, passivity, lack of initiative, poor ability to concentrate, and a generally decreased depth and intensity of their emotional response to life” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). The transorbital lobotomy procedure destroys a sizable portion of the brain, which is the main argument against lobotomy. Even though lobotomy is irreversible and life-altering, many people glance at the effects of lobotomy, and see it as a psychiatric cure-all for all mental illnesses. However, in a medical ethics journal, Larry O. Gostin summarizes psychosurgery as a whole by saying, “scientific psychiatry is not yet in a position to directly treat psychiatric illness solely through surgical intervention. There is no reliable theoretical relationship between particular cerebral sites (which are normal and healthy) and an identifiable psychiatric illness or symptomatology” (“Ethical Considerations of Psychosurgery: The Unhappy Legacy of the Pre-Frontal Lobotomy.”). Also, there are prescription drugs which also led to the downfall of psychosurgery. In conclusion, psychosurgery and lobotomy by extension are rapidly becoming archaic and crude methods to treating the sophisticated enigma that is the brain.

Bibliography

Gostin, Larry O. “Ethical Considerations of Psychosurgery: The Unhappy Legacy of the Pre-Frontal Lobotomy.” Journal of Medical Ethics 6.3 (1980): 149–154. Print.

Lavoie, Sarah. Psychosurgery: Definition, Types & History. 26 February 2015 <http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/psychosurgery-definition-types-history.html&gt;.

“Psychosurgery.” Boundless Psychology. Boundless, 03 Jul. 2014. Retrieved 01 Mar. 2015 from https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/treating-psychological-disorders-19/biological-therapies-100/psychosurgery-385-12920/

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Lobotomy. 15 August 2010. Web. 26 February 2015. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/345502/lobotomy&gt;.

What is a leader?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a leader is “a person who leads as: a person who has commanding authority or influence” (Merriam-Webster, Inc.). The root word of leader is clearly lead, and, according to the Oxford Dictionary, to lead is to “show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them” (Oxford University Press). This definition is not supposed to be taken literally because, as Lao Tzu (creator of Taoism) once said, “a leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves” (Ruse). Even so, none of this answers the question: What makes an inspiring leader?

What qualities are found in leaders?

The Forbes writer Kevin Kruse once wrote that “Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position in the hierarchy of a company . . . [and] Leadership has nothing to do with titles . . .” (Kruse). But if leadership does not involve titles or the top positions in a hierarchy, then what does a leader have that gives them such ardent followers? Three qualities were stated by Fuchan Yuan: “humility, clarity and courage” (Kruse). These are essential to leadership in that a leader should have the humility to recognize their mistakes, the clarity to see their mistakes, and the courage to accept their mistakes. Another quality can be found in the Bible – specifically Proverbs 29:28 – “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” the famous author and speaker john Maxwell also said that ” A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position” (Kruse). People must “buy into the leader before they buy into the vision” (Kruse). Leaders are defined by their passion for their beliefs, but, in addition to that, they have an powerful control over their followers. President Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the European forces, said that “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Kruse). Leaders have this  “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others” (Oxford University Press), also called charisma. However, even with all of these personality traits, this is not true leadership. Peter F. Drucker said it the best when he said, Leadership is not magnetic personality; that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’, that is flattery” (Wright). But then, how do leaders come to be?

How do leaders change history?

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations” (Wright). This is the finishing statement to Drucker’s quote, and it separates leaders from people in leadership positions. Truly great leaders are not just shepherds leading their flock, but revolutionaries, inspirations. Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln – as well as equally qualified, but controversial – Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, and Saddam Hussein are people were not only charismatic people, but people who yearned for change and tried to catalyze that change. Not all are able to achieve their goal: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin. These three were great leaders and coercers and were able to understand what the people wanted to hear, and reflect their actions based on that. After all this all I can say, using the words of Ross Perot, “Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.”

Bibliography

Kruse, Kevin. 100 Best Quotes on Leadership. 10 October 2012. Web. 6 December 2014.

—. What is Leadership? 9 April 2013. Web. 6 December 2014.

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. leader. n.d. Web. 6 December 2014.

Oxford University Press. charisma. n.d. Web. 6 December 2014.

—. lead. n.d. Web. 6 December 2014.

Wright, Kip. Truly Understanding Leadership. 17 March 2014. WordPress.com. Web. 6 December 2014.

What is Psychology?

Before anyone can explain the effects of psychology in everyday life, a proper definition is needed to understand what psychology is. The word psychology has two Greek roots psukhē and logia, with psukhē meaning soul or mind and logia denoting a subject of interest (Oxford Dictionaries). The American Psychological Association (APA) defined psychology as “study of mind and behavior” and that “the discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged” (American Psychological Association).

Effects on Children

There are many accomplishments that psychologists have achieved, but, due to a lack of communication to the media, the pervasiveness of what psychologists has done has been lost upon the public. One such example would be the development of an objective way of quantifying someone’s intelligence or skill set including the SAT. Every school, college, and corporation is heavily reliant on these exams to apply a numerical value to one’s intrinsic psychological qualities. Another accomplishment from psychologists redefined the correct way to discipline and teach children. In the past, it was only that school’s reared their heads at negative behavior, but this idea has been displaced with the focus to provide positive reinforcement for correct, appropriate behavior. This is so effective that it has since become the most popular technique to discipline children. After all this, it also became apparent that children were not property and psychologists moved to support child rights such as due process (Zimbardo).

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Effects on the Public

We all know about lie detectors and the subtle signs that are made when we lie, and, while this is true,  there are many other ways that the mind has been studied to influence the masses. As aforementioned, the most well-spread psychological finding is human characteristics when they lie. This has been used in many spy movies and criminal TV shows, but there are many other activities that are based on findings by psychologists. One key principle to keep in mind here is that human behavior is triggered by stimulus around us of which are not known. Now, a slip of tongue or an accidental gesture are seen as meaningful symptoms of suppressed intentions (Zimbardo).

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In the workforce, there used to and still are assembly lines where workers do the same repetitive task as if they were robots. However, while this initially gave America an advantage, Japan used psychology to change this assembly line into small work teams with participatory management and other democratic principles. Psychologists have done this and more to improve worker-job fit, job satisfaction, and personnel selection and training (Zimbardo).untitled

Finally, in political elections and other types of voting mechanisms, there is big business in amassing and analyzing data in order to predict election outcomes. A psychologist called Hadley Cantril started research into the methodology and gave President Roosevelt valuable information about the public opinion. He then established the Office of Public Opinion Research, which has become a central archive for polling data (Zimbardo).

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In Conclusion

Psychologists have collectively enriched the way we think about the human condition and have guided some policy and improved operating procedures in our society by understanding the behavior of individuals. Also, many psychologists have advanced a variety of innovations in attention, learning, memory, individual differences, and classroom dynamics. As a whole, psychology is serving to influence individual and societal action, and changing the human experience in school, in work, and even in our governments.

Bibliography

American Psychological Association. About APA & About Psychology. n.d. 27 October 2014 <http://www.apa.org/support/about/apa/psychology.aspx#answer&gt;.

Oxford University Press. Oxford Dictionaries. n.d. 27 October 2014 <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/psychology&gt;.

Zimbardo, Philip G. Does Psychology Make a Significant Difference? American Psychologist. July-August 2004: 339-351.

Welcome!

The topic of my blog – as you can see in the title – is psychology. I chose this topic because I was interested in the odd behaviors that are inherent in all of us. Also, to be frank, I could think of nothing else that would provoke insightful opinions or research. The human psyche is odd in that it can favor certain things over others for no apparent reason. For example, why is it that we happen to find things like puppies or stuffed animals cute? Such idiosyncrasies have been the subject for debate for many years, and researchers find it difficult to come to conclusions since there is always person with a different opinion on certain things.  In my blog, I expect to explain mannerisms which you thought were normal but have a deep background linked to survival or other archaic instincts.

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