Category: Psychology


Shutter Island (2009): Relevance to Nursing

The film Shutter Islands holds value for students of psychology, psychiatry and nursing for its portrayal of complex mental illness. The film should be evaluated separately on two counts – first, its entertainment value and second, its relevance to the medical profession. Obviously, the parameters used for the respective evaluations are different. In my view, the film is highly impressive in both these counts. But this essay will focus on the second aspect, and argue that the film is full of key insights into the pathology of delusion and the range of therapeutic approaches in dealing with it.

Firstly, director Scorsese intertwines war-induced mental trauma of Teddy Daniels with personal tragedy of Andrew Laeddis. This compounds the confusion for the audience, but also adds a political dimension to what is an exposition on psychiatric illness. Toward the end of the film it is unveiled how the whole of the Shutter Island is a set up to play along the illusions of Andrew . . . Read More

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Daniel Dennett’s and John Perry’s contrasting views on the nature of individual identity

Being the same person from one day to the next means to carry forward a whole complex of characteristics across time. This essay will argue that self-identity is constituted of three key components, namely, mind, brain and body. Based on the essays by John Perry and Daniel Dennett, it can loosely be stated that individual identity is primarily a concept of the mind, with the brain and the body providing supporting physiology. Though the role of brain and body are secondary, they are nonetheless essential to self-identity.

Daniel Dennett and John Perry address two facets to the question of identity. Dennett’s preoccupation is with various manifestations of identity during an individual’s lifetime. Perry, on the other hand, treats the idea of the self in the backdrop of mortality and impending death.

Weirob identifies qualities of memory and anticipation as key markers of identity. In the context of mortality, an individual’s afterlife can be spoken of only as a . . . Read More

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Where Am I? by Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett’s essay is about the roles of brain, body and mind in self-identification. Dennett takes the reader through a list of dizzying circumstances in which the brain is separated from the body and yet the two are in communication through sophisticated technology. The central question in a situation like this is the location of the individual across temporal and spatial scales. Given the speed-of-light communication between the terminals in his skull and the separated brain, the subject’s experiences only suffer a small time lag. The really important philosophical questions, then, arise out of spatially locating the ‘I’ in this unusual configuration of one individual.
Dennett suggests various methods of logic and training through which the distended individual can retain his personhood and function as he is used to. Dennett chooses himself as the case study of these thought experiments. For the sake of this acclimatization project, the body is named Hamlet and . . . Read More

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C. A. Campbell’s Has The Self ‘Free Will’?

Rubric: What two conditions must be satisfied, according to Campbell, in order for a choice to be an exercise of free will (in the morally significant sense)? How do these two conditions relate to determinism? Also provide a reasoned evaluation of Campbell’s defense of free will.

At the outset, there is no consensus among philosophers as to the definition of free will. The definitions have ranged between the most banal to the most intellectually rigorous. Since Campbell believes that a well-defined problem facilitates its solution, free will is identified with two attendant features – moral responsibility and consequences. In other words, free will is said to be operant whenever an action is seen to be morally responsible or lack thereof. In the same vein, free will is applied to those actions which lead to significant consequences. The second condition is important, for there is no utility in dissecting the intentions of an individual when they do not . . . Read More

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Historical Analysis: Regeneration by Pat Barker

It is important to remember that Regeneration is a work of fiction, even if it is based on a real historical event. Certain circumstantial settings of the novel are indeed true. For example, it is not contested that within the theatre of the First World War, many British soldiers suffered severe psychological trauma. Likewise, it is a fact that some of them were treated at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. While retaining these basic facts of the war, author Barker had taken the liberty to change chronology of events or distil the collective experiences of the soldiers onto one character, etc. These literary licenses do not majorly diminish the utility of the work as a historical record. To the contrary they condense and encapsulate British soldiers’ experiences. The book proves to be both intellectually engaging and technically satisfying, while not compromising on history. This essay will argue that while accommodating the imperatives of the novel form, . . . Read More

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Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Therapist Effectiveness: A Conceptualization and Initial Study of Cultural Competence

It is an established fact in psychotherapy practice that client racial/ethnic background is a variable in their health outcomes. As different racial/ethnic minority groups assimilate their own set of cultural values, it has a bearing on their psychological outlook. Their cultivated worldview, in turn, affects their response to psychotherapy. However, the unanswered question was whether the cultural competence of the therapist is in itself a key factor. It is this question that the research paper seeks to address.

The researchers identify and devise experiments to be conducted on adolescent cannabis users. The Bayesian multilevel model is the chosen method for the study. Two areas were evaluated: first, whether therapists differed in their overall effectiveness; second, whether treatment outcomes differed across therapist caseloads. Results suggest that both of these are true, answering the initial proposition that therapists display varying levels of cultural . . . Read More

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My Experience attending Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

Although I am personally not addicted to alcohol or narcotic drugs, I participated in the Alcoholics Anonymous program in my locality. The purpose is to glean important key insights through first hand observation and direct interaction. Although most of the participants in the 12 step program were adults, there were some who were adolescents as well. It is saddening to see teenagers fall into the vicious trap of alcohol addiction. However, it is also consoling to know that they can get cured through participation in the program. I must say that, though at the beginning I was uneasy with the whole idea, by the end of the exercise I found it enriching and rewarding.

Addiction to alcohol poses serious problems for both the addict as well as his/her family. In a culture that associates drinking with festive occasions and celebrations, over-indulgence in alcohol is to be expected. In the case of teenagers, alcohol addiction is often the result of a dysfunctional relationship with . . . Read More

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The dehumanizing effects of totalitarianism in 1984 by George Orwell:

The most prominent message of 1984 is that totalitarianism destroys all that is civil and noble in human beings. In the novel, Orwell writes “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. Once that is granted, all else follows.” The converse of this quote is that by disallowing fundamental freedoms that are inherent to humanity Big Brother and his Party are able to produce a dehumanized, mechanical race of people. In other words, dehumanization is both the cause and effect of a totalitarian political system. This essay will take this as its thesis and flesh out arguments and evidence in support.

There are several methods adopted by the party to dehumanize its population. One such is the rigid scheduling of everyday activities for the people. This is most pronounced for members of the Outer Party and Inner Party and less so for the Proletariat. Winston Smith, the protagonist of the story, is a member of the Outer Party. As a result he is subject to strict daily . . . Read More

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Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas and philosophy in The Tipping Point, as they apply to Occupy Wall Street Movement

Malcolm Gladwell has attempted to create a unique style of scholarship that navigates between science and popular culture.  As a result he has earned the wrath from both quarters.  For example, scientists accuse him for being simplistic or lacking in rigor. On the other side, commentators from mainstream media accuse him of bringing esoteric scientific concepts to popular discourse. Yet, his book The Tipping Point has sold more than a 3 million copies.  His other titles such as Blink (2005), Outliers (2008), David and Goliath (2013), etc, continue to fascinate and provoke in equal measure. Despite the controversies surrounding some of Gladwell’s inferences, his ideas and philosophies have become assimilated into popular discourse. It is an interesting exercise to study how the most important social movement of recent times – Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) – measures up in relation to the author’s theories. This essay endeavors to perform the same.

The Occupy . . . Read More

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How was the shift from behaviourism to cognitive psychology ‘revolutionary’ in the Kuhnian sense?

The advent of cognitive science at the centre of studying psychology is widely portrayed to be a revolutionary event.  It was in the 1950s that the shift from behaviourism to cognitive psychology took its first bold step.  There has been no reverting back to behaviourism as the dominant paradigm within psychology ever since. Cognitive psychology is one of the disciplines in psychology that focuses on studying internal mental processes.  How individuals perceive, conceive, recall from memory, articulate their views and arrive at conclusions, etc, are studied. As opposed to Behavioural psychology, Cognitive psychology adopts a scientific analytic method rather than introspective or speculative theorizing.  At the outset, it acknowledges the presence of such internal mental states as knowledge, belief, motivation, desire, etc. This essay will evaluate how ‘revolutionary’ an event, in the Kuhnian sense, was the placement of cognitive science at the centre of . . . Read More

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