Jenni Russell’s article for the Guardian newspaper that appeared on 6th December 2003 raises contemporary problems in social interactions. She laments the fact that as individual, isolated consumers of a capitalist society, people are gradually losing their humanity. In its place, they are acquiring rather unsavory social tendencies, the most blatant of which is lack of politeness in social interactions. People are always conscious of their own image and social status that they act in an overtly aggressive manner. Hence, there is a tendency for people to take offense where none was intended and inflict hurt where none was warranted. Modern industrial society, as primarily represented by the United States of America and countries in Western Europe, place undue primacy to the superficial over the substantial. This is nowhere truer than with respect to the Public Relations industry’s constant barrage of illusory imagery and ego-stroking message in the form of . . . Read More
The definition of mental illnesses is a complex and controversial subject, where there is no universal consensus yet. The disagreements are not only at the level of different perspectives such as psychoanalytical, medical, socio-cultural, etc, but are evident within them as well. Since mental illnesses don’t lend themselves to physiologic proofs such as blood tests or scans, the psychiatrist/psychologist has to resort to evaluation methods such as questionnaires, personal interviews and other indirect methods of arriving at an inference. The drawback with such methods is that they are not precise and subject to interpretation and presentation, which can compound errors. Moreover, there is no consensus when it comes to definition of several major mental illnesses. Definitions of normality and abnormality in mental health have proven to be abstract, inconclusive and have elicited contestation. Take say, the example of Adjustment disorder, which occupies a peculiar position . . . Read More
It is fair to say that Margaret Mead is one of the most influential cultural anthropologists of the century gone by. Although some of her inferences have been proven to be flawed, she is a pioneer in the field who opened new vistas within the field of anthropology. In the documentary videos about her life and work perused for this essay, one could witness the key developments in anthropological study that she initiated. One could see in the videos, that Mead contributed immensely to not just the study of cultural anthropology retrospectively, but she played a role in creating new trends and fashions in her own era. In this view, Mead was a key figure who ushered the cultural upheavals in the American society of the 1960s. The ‘Hippies’ culture of this period was inspired by thoughts of such intellectuals as Mead, who were able to present anthropology from a feminist perspective.
In her early field work in remote islands in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, . . . Read More
Rubric: One of your peers made the claim that rather than being about “The History of Love,” this novel is largely about the history of loss. Argue for or against this assertion. Whether you support or refute this claim, be sure to explain the significance of yours.
The History of Love: A Novel is the second work of fiction by American novelist Nicole Krauss. First published in 2005, the book has since received both critical and commercial acclaim. The novel is full of “conflicting storylines, occasional episodes of funny typography and coy references to actual writers such as Borges and Babel”. (Chisholm, 2005, p.65) The novel can be considered a literate tribute to Jewish roots and Holocaust survivors. Leo Gurksy, the protagonist, “is an elderly Pole living in New York and mourning the loss of Alma, his childhood sweetheart, and of the epic novel he wrote about their affair, apparently swept away in a flood.” (Shoard, 2006, . . . Read More
The human sensory faculties, in addition to the processing power of the brain, play a vital and definitive role in how knowledge is acquired. The five major sensory faculties are sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Cognition is the higher faculty that integrates and interprets inputs from these five senses. But what is also interesting is that the brain, rather than being a passive recipient of inputs also directs and conditions the other sense organs. This makes the brain the most powerful sense organ, for it can potentially control the flow and the meaning of information that is gathered through the five basis sensory inputs.
There are several factors that determine the accuracy of sensory information. The quality of the information source is one and the health of the receiving sensory organ is another. The conduciveness of the medium of transmission is also a key factor. The way these three factors interact and compound is best illustrated through the . . . Read More
Conventional knowledge, as gathered from history, mythology and literature, has always differentiated human personality types based on the birth order. But it is only in the recent century that scientific evidence is brought to bear on the subject. Today, based upon numerous surveys and scholarly studies conducted on the subject, it is fairly clear that birth order impacts aspects of personality. But there is disagreement among scholars as to the exact correlations between personality traits and birth order. The rest of this essay will peruse source work and Internet sources to arrive at current understanding on the relationship between birth order and personality.
The CBS News article titled Birth Order Affects Smarts, Personality (2010) forwards the view that the eldest among siblings tend to have superior intelligence while the younger ones “get better grades and are more outgoing”. Using robust methodology, a team of researchers from Lawrence High . . . Read More
First coined by social psychologist Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, Cognitive Dissonance describes the state of conflict arising in the human mind as it tries to accommodate two opposing realities. This concept is best illustrated through Aesop’s fable of the hungry wolf. As the wolf’s attempts to get hold of the bunch of grapes fails repeatedly, it eventually gives up. But instead of smarting from the failure, it perks itself by thinking that the grapes were not needed after all. For all it knows they could turn out to be bitter and sour. The theory of Cognitive Dissonance is quite fundamental to the study of social psychology, as it is applicable to a vast array of everyday situations faced by people.
In my life so far, there have been many instance of Cognitive Dissonance. But I would regard a few of them to be particularly instructive and formative. One such is the high school prom event that happened last year. I am usually a . . . Read More
“Love is always something more and something different than can be captured by any single definition” (Watts, 2002).
Love is a universal phenomenon of life. Where ever life exists, love manifests there. Love can take various configurations too. While romantic love is the most publicised and celebrated type, parental love, sibling love and compassionate love towards larger humanity are all equally powerful and valid. Besides, there is also the love of art that powers creative energies, and the love of knowledge and discovery that drives a scientist toward this goal. Since Alan Watts is a spiritualist and philosopher, his understanding of love would have encompassed all of these possibilities. This essay would venture the arduous task of confining to words the endless scope and interpretation of this time-honoured concept.
Evolutionary sociology has offered to lay bare the practical and rather mundane reasons why love exists between two individuals . . . Read More
Ambrose Bierce’s short story titled An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is one of the classics of the art form. The story could be read from several different angles, such as the social, cultural, psychological, political, etc. First, the American Civil War of the 1860s provides the political angle. Second is the cultural angle, whereby the unique flavors of the American South can be appreciated. Third, the story provides rich material for studying the psychology of impending death. Apart from these merits, the story also excels in employing literary devices, which heighten its aesthetic effect. What we also witness in the short story are some of the persistent themes in Bierce’ fiction, namely, dark imagery, ambiguous setting of time, bare-essential descriptions, the background of war and magical/surreal events. Hence, not only does An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge present various analytic perspectives, but it is also stamped with the author’s unique artistic . . . Read More
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a popular science book published in 2005. The subject is the ‘human adaptive unconscious’, which is the cognitive phenomenon behind quick, frequent and automatic processes in the mind. Gladwell’s central thesis is that our minds can make fairly accurate judgments, without consuming much time and information. Gladwell goes on to present several supporting evidence to back up his thesis. These include verifiable cases from the domains of gambling, speed dating, strategy video games and malpractice suits. And I have to admit that most of them are quite convincing.
Gladwell describes the phenomena as ‘thin-slicing’, which humans employ most of the time as a way of de-cluttering the mind from the abundance of information available to it. According to Gladwell’s thesis, ‘thin-slicing’ is as good a strategy (if not better) than comprehensive analysis of an occurrence/situation. Hence, spontaneous . . . Read More