The Enlightenment is a historically important event for scientific progress. It was ushered in by the collective transformative forces of path-breaking scientific discoveries in the preceding century. Most of these scientific discoveries dispelled long-held religious views of the world. This proved controversial at the time and provoked sharp censure from religious authorities. Yet the force of truth and reason is too strong to be contained by threat of punishment. This inevitability gave rise to the Enlightenment – one of the pivotal moments in the cultural ascent of our species. As Immanuel Kant famously described, Enlightenment is humankind’s “release from its self-imposed immaturity”. (Withers, 2007) Enlightenment is therefore an act of breaking shackles of authority and substituting it with independent inquiry. Since the Enlightenment attitude toward science encouraged skepticism over tradition and superstition, it immediately attracted the wrath of the powers that . . . Read More
In the case of Tan, while physicians were aware of a prior brain injury causing speech impairment for the patient, they were unable to localize it within the topology of the brain. Moreover, since all other cognitive functions of the patient remained unaffected after the injury, the task of drawing up the diagnosis and prognosis became difficult. It is only after the death of the patient that the brain autopsy revealed lesions in areas of the brain now identified to be the speech centers. (Stirling, 2002)
In contrast, in the case of Phineas Gage, the exact location of the injury was known. During a rock-blasting operation, foreman Gage’s skull was pierced by a thick iron rod above the left-prefrontal cortex and had exited through the left cheek bone. The miracle of his survival apart, Gage even managed to regain most of his functions over the next 12 years of his life. But the behavioral changes witnessed in him by close friends and colleagues indicate core personality . . . Read More
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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