In most of Shakespeare’s plays, the rulers are portrayed to be in a state of mental stress. This is particularly true with respect to the two plays – King Lear and Measure for Measure. King Lear, which is a tragedy, is full of expressions of anguish and pathos by the old king, whose mental faculties are disintegrating by the day. After dividing his kingdom between his two elder daughters Goneril and Regan (who betray his trust), the former king becomes a lonely figure disillusioned with filial love and duty. In a hasty act, he also disowns his youngest daughter Cordelia and ends up without physical and emotional security and care, barring his retinue of one hundred Knights. This situation bears very heavily upon his already weak mental condition and in this state he pours out some of the most heart-wrenching words of anguish and despair. (Beauregard, 2008, p.201) In this respect, the following observation by critic Barbara Ann Lukacs is valid:
“By . . . 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 three different angles. First, the political angle provided by the American Civil War of the 1860s. 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. This essay will extend the third angle and argue that though the hallucinatory sequence experienced by Peyton Farquhar is temporally brief, within it contain profound truths about the nature of human psychology and existence.
A striking aspect of the story is the non-linear plot structure employed by the author. The story is divided into four compact parts. Chronologically they are arranged in this fashion – 2,1,3,4 – which means the background information about Farquhar’s allegiance to the confederate cause is placed next to the event of his . . . Read More
Buddhism is a major religion in current times, but its origins goes back thousands of centuries. Having originated in North Eastern India, it had spread far and wide in the Eastern hemisphere, making it a dominant religion in the Asian continent. Buddhism has been in existence even before the rise of Judeo-Christians, making it stand second only to Hinduism in the chronological order for major surviving religions. But, Buddhism differs from most other major religions of today in that it offers practical and feasible solutions for universal human concerns. Buddhism is typically an Eastern religion for it focuses on human suffering and offers practical solutions to counter it. Rather than dealing with the paranormal and the supernatural, it is a practical philosophy toward life. In other words, Buddhism can be seen as offering psychological insights into the workings of the human mind, an understanding of which will benefit the individual subject. Both Buddhism and psychology can be . . . Read More
Yes, there are obvious dangers in adopting sociological perspectives wholesomely. Firstly, sociology as a branch of rational enquiry, alongside psychology, is the most contested among all sciences. Several sociological theories such as Conflict Theory, Functionalism and Network Theory have elicited substantial proofs to the contrary, that their validity cannot be taken for universal truths. In other words, many sociological theories do not stand rigorous tests and experiments the way general scientific theories do. Take say Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. During the course of last two centuries, copious evidence has been gathered in support of this theory. Recognizing its merits, many theologians who support Creationism have tried to incorporate evolution within the theological framework. Rather than disputing the claims of evolution, they see it as a manifestation of the genius of God and his intelligent designing of the Universe and its lifeforms. . . . Read More
Business corporations are instituted for the primary purpose of economic gain. Often, as the pressure to show impressive profits in each financial quarter increases, it is the workforce who are put under undue stress. Ranging from unreasonably high productivity standards, to sub-standard and hazardous work environments, workers face several potential risks to their mental and physical health. The paradox lies in the fact that an unhealthy and burnt-out workforce is less productive than that which is relaxed and contented. But despite this, work-related stress continues to be a nagging problem facing business leaders and workers alike. With the profit motive being paramount for business leaders, their policies and decisions should be regulated by law. The common law duty of care provisions were designed toward this end, namely to hold employers liable for psychiatric illnesses suffered by employees, and for especially those illnesses arising as a result of employees being made to . . . Read More
The study of differences between individuals is as old as recorded history. These differences could pertain to aspects of personality, interests, physical traits, talents, etc. Only during the last few centuries has this field of inquiry attained a more scientific and methodological approach; for prior to it, theories were constructed based on select observations and limited understanding. In other words, the fields of inquiries of human psychology and human physiology have only been devised during the last few centuries and theories and methods employed previous to that remain deficient to that extent. It is fair to say that the Renaissance was a crucial period in the advancement of robust theories pertaining to individual differences among humans. At the outset, it is important to note that human behaviour and personality is much more difficult to understand than that of animals. And more than any other species, human behaviour is subject to interpretation and . . . Read More
Sociology as a field of inquiry has wide ranging applications in the understanding of human societies. While sociology does not lend itself to rigorous scientific analysis in terms of conception and verification of theories, there are indeed some proven methods of testing the veracity of theories pertaining to sociology. Sociology is usually approached from certain broad theoretical frameworks such as the Marxist approach, nationalist approach, etc. In each of these approaches, one aspect of a community is given importance to. For example, in the Marxist approach to studying sociology, the social class of an individual and his/her community is given prominence. Similarly sociology can be studied from a majority/minority perspective wherein the issues and problems faced by minority communities are given special attention. Ultimately, all these approaches have one thing in common, namely, the identification of pressing social problems and devising of ways to alleviate them. While . . . Read More
The basic tenet of Cognitive Theory is the fact that people are products of the way they think and construct their realities; and by identifying the flaws and distortions in thought patterns, the therapist can devise ways of rectifying the problem. Cognitive Theory is founded on the principle that each individual’s conditioned thought patterns go a long way in determining their perception of events and understanding of facts. While emotions such as loss, grief, loneliness and sadness are to an extent subjective to the particular individual, using broad analytic techniques the therapist can gain insights into the nature of patient experience. Cognitive theory is most useful when dealing with patients suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc. Often, in these cases, the perceived threat/loss of the patient is likely to be exaggerated and aberrant. By bringing the patient to see the difference between his/her subjective internal assessment of situations to that of an . . . Read More
The issue of maintaining law and order is as old as the origins of civil society. While a large majority of the population are law abiding and conform to the social norms of the times, there is always an underbelly of disorderly conduct on part of a disturbed minority. As the process of urbanization takes off and more people start residing in major cities, the fissures start to appear within the apparent harmonious co-existence. There are several reasons why disorderly conduct on part of individuals and groups takes place. Sociologists have proposed numerous theories explaining this phenomenon. This essay will pertain itself to the contrasting viewpoints presented by the theories of Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault by citing real instances that support their theory.
Erving Goffman was an astute observer of society, who immersed himself in the social environment which he was studying. He carefully observed and recorded the ways in which people’s behavior and interpersonal . . . Read More
Hannibal Lecter is a recurring central character in many of Thomas Harris’ novels. Starting from the novel Red Dragon, the character appears in all four sequels including The Silence of the Lambs. In the author’s own words, Lecter is a masterful psychiatrist and a cannibalistic serial killer. Given that Lecter is a fictional character, the author had constructed a unique psychological profile that did not exactly fit with conventional categories. In other words, there is hardly any reference in mainstream press and medical history for a person with such a psychological profile. Nevertheless, based on first hand information gathered by the author’s biographer David Sexton, it is learnt that the character of Hannibal Lecter was based on that of William Coyne, a notorious serial killer who terrorized American society in the 1930s. In this context, one can claim that Lecter’s profile belongs to the Psychopath category. This assessment also makes sense when one . . . Read More