Category: Psychology


What are effective discipline strategies to use with a child who is going through the “”terrible 2’s?”

There is truth to the popular belief that toddlers of 2-3 years old are the most difficult to deal with. This is so because during this phase, toddlers are exercising and consolidating their newly acquired motor and language skills.  They tend to speak or babble a lot and also run about the space at home.  Such behavior helps them discover the three-dimensionality of space and learn to master maneuvering through it.  The incessant verbal output prepares them for social interaction that awaits them in subsequent stages of development.  But the most dreaded part of ‘terrible 2s’ for parents is the tantrums thrown by toddlers.  This is due to the beginnings of the process of decentralization whereby the ego-centric perception is slowly lost.  The tantrums are partly a reaction to this ‘loss’. To compensate for this feeling of insecurity, toddlers resort to tantrums which bring them parental attention and . . . Read More

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The dramatic differences found by Piaget in the development of preschoolers and elementary-age children

A child undergoes rapid physiological and cognitive developments in the first few years.  Preschoolers or toddlers slowly shed their ‘ego-centric’ view.  This means that a newborn baby does not have the capacity to think of and for others.  This ability to understand that there are others in the world is slowly gained during the years 0-3.  After a year and half the toddler begins to verbally express its likes and dislikes.  This is an important cognitive milestone, for the language ability has significant ramifications for psychosocial and later academic performance.  The preschool stage is when most of the gross and fine motor ability is acquired and exercised.  So the graduation from moving limbs to crawling to walking signify the baby’s growing capacity for self-expression in physical space.  During the elementary school age, the child understands that the world is comprised of people like itself with similar motivations and needs.  During this stage crucial . . . Read More

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy: An analysis

One of the later works of Leo Tolstoy, the novella is preoccupied with the meaning of death, and by extension the meaning of life.  The main character, Ivan Ilyich, is a sort of a symbol for common man in the industrial age.   Outwardly, he has all the trappings of a successful life, but there is a persistent feeling of hollowness and ennui.  As Tolstoy writes, his life had been “the most simple, the most ordinary and therefore most terrible”.  This sentiment is all too common in the capitalist age, the rise which Tolstoy witnessed firsthand.

It is basic human individual psychology to ward off the idea of their own death although everyone understands death in the abstract.  The Death of Ivan Ilyich is not so much a work about death in the abstract, but death as a personal confrontation.  It is ironic to note that even as he is terminally ill, Ivan cannot come round to grasp his own extinction.  To the contrary he still believes that death is something that happens . . . Read More

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How the Brain Learns?

It is now a standard theory that students’ prior understanding of a subject matter plays the pivotal role in furthering their understanding.  The easiest demonstration of this theory at work is the design of school curricula from primary education through high school and college.  Basic concepts are introduced at earlier levels, which are further built upon in higher levels of education.  Likewise, the effectiveness of students’ learning also depends on the personal interests and motivations they bring to the table.  The learning experience is most meaningful for the student when it comes out of personal interests and motivations.  Otherwise, it tends to be academic or abstract, negatively affecting learning outcomes. (Hardiman, 2001, p.53)

Researchers have identified biological and cognitive predispositions of students as key factors in learning.  For example, the capacity and functioning of working memory and the sensory registers are key determinants in . . . Read More

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A Study of Aristotelian tragedy in Oedipus

The great Greek myth of Oedipus continues to be integral to the Western literary canon even today.  Starting from 5th century B.C., various ancient writers of the Hellenistic era made references to Oedipus in their works.  The best known version of the Oedipus myth comes from Sophocles’ trilogy of Theban plays: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. Reading the biography of Oedipus through Aristotle’s conception of tragedy makes for an interesting scholarly exercise.  One of Aristotle’s most influential works concerning literary theory is his Poetics.  In it he articulates with eloquence and clarity various facets of good theatre.  Tragedy is acknowledged as a powerful genre of drama.  Aristotle goes on to set out various rules of thumb for making aesthetically and emotionally satisfying tragedies.   His concise definition of tragedy is that it is “an imitation of an action that is serious … with incidents arousing pity and fear, in . . . Read More

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The African Child by Camara Laye

The novel was originally written in French and later translated to numerous other languages including English.  Mostly autobiographical, the novel paints a colourful picture of life in Africa.  There are the typical ingredients of African wildlife, traditional tribal culture, belief in hoodoo or black magic, etc.  But each of these facets to the novel presented through the personal experience of one individual, abstractly referred in the title as the ‘African Child’. Since the story starts from Laye’s childhood and continues into his maturation and adulthood, the work can be classified as a bildungsroman – the story of growing up. But the focus is not solely on one individual, as Laye fleshes out in detail the dynamics of several key relationships through his life. One of the recurrent themes is Laye’s search for intimacy, which starts in his teenage years and continues to adulthood.  Though these relationships are not always successful, they do help mould Laye’s . . . Read More

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Social development theory as it relates to Seung-Hui Cho

Mass indiscriminate shootings like that which happened in the Virginia Tech campus in 2007 are lurking nightmares in society. 32 people were killed and scores others were injured as a disgruntled and mentally disturbed student Seung-Hui Cho let loose his two guns in the sociology department building. When the police had rounded up the site of massacre, Seung-Hui turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Starting with the Columbine school shootout of 1999 the Virginia Tech incident is just one among a spate of high school shootouts. In the immediate aftermath, social commentators and public officials expressed utter shock and pain at what has happened. The catch phrases that came into circulation were ‘violence in video games’, ‘violence in films/music videos’, ‘rise of gang culture in urban America’, ‘dysfunctional family set up and upbringing’, ‘mentally deranged youth’, etc. All of these explanations are true to an extent. But they don’t account for . . . Read More

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Do characters in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird construct their own identities?

To Kill a Mockingbird is a masterpiece of American fiction.  One of the reasons for this success is its handling of a pressing social issue, namely, racial prejudice.  Secondly, the work is structurally layered, allowing readers numerous interpretations. For example, the book can be studied for its socio-economic indications under the Marxist critical framework.  It could be studied with equal felicity under the feminist, psychoanalytic or formalistic critical frameworks. To this extent, the novel can be said to be ‘polysemic’. Polysemy is the state of having more than one meaning. Though first coined to describe a linguistic phenomenon, the term has now gained a broader meaning so that it is also applied in discussing authorial intent in literary works.  Also implied in the term ‘polysemy’ is the notion that perceptions vary depending on the particular identity of the reader, and

“that words are multi-ordinal; these characteristics can lead . . . Read More

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A comparison of the subjective factors between Di Hua and Juanjuan which cause the tragedy of their lives in Wu Jianren’s Sea of Regret

Wu Jianren’s 1906 novella ‘Sea of Regret (originally titled Hen Bai) is a masterpiece of modern Chinese literature.  The book is rich in themes of morality and the challenges of modernity and patriotism. Adopting a tone of sentimentality that is essential to the Chinese literary aesthetic the novella deals also with concepts such as chivalry in the Chinese milieu of early twentieth century. This essay will argue how the tragedies in the lives of the two central female characters – Dihua and Juanjuan – are shaped largely by their own personal choices as opposed to external compulsions.

It is interesting to begin by trying to understand the choice of metaphor that constitutes the title.  Sea of Regret is taken from an ancient Chinese myth that is well known to the Chinese public. The myth concerns the daughter of a feisty Emperor, who, after drowning in the ocean off the East coast, returns as the mythical bird Jingwei.  This bird spends the rest of her life flying . . . Read More

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The psychosocial changes incurred during adolescence

Adolescence is a key developmental stage in an individual’s life. It encompasses substantial changes physiologically, cognitively and socio-emotionally.  Adolescence begins with the onset of puberty between 11-13 years and continues till the end of teenage years. Recent scientific evidence suggests that while physical growth stops in late teens, the cognitive development goes up to and beyond the age of 24.

Family dynamics undergo changes when children turn adolescents. Parents feel that their children are becoming rebellious and argumentative. While this is true, it is a natural developmental stage through which adolescents individuate from their parents.  While some amount of alienation from parents is requisite for healthy psychological development, adolescents still care what their parents think, and they still seek their love and guidance, albeit in an altered interpersonal setting.  Psychologist Laurence Steinberg observes that dealing with adolescents is akin to . . . Read More

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