Assignment 2.3: Journal Entry

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **

For this journal entry assignment relating to the reading chapter on Consciousness, we were to discuss our dreams, specifically:

  • Do you remember your dreams? If so, are they more vivid at times of creativity? Describe some common themes in your dreams.
  • Has there ever been a time, other than in sleep, when your consciousness was significantly altered? What happened? How did you transition back to consciousness?
  • Have you ever been sleep-deprived (have you been jetlagged or have you pulled an all-nighter)? How did you feel? Describe how your circadian rhythm affected your sleepiness, if at all.

I remember many of my dreams.  I may not remember them from one day to the next, or even beyond the first few minutes of waking up, but I usually remember something of them to some degree.

I have not noticed that my dreams have been more vivid during any particular event occurring in my life, or at any point in my week where I have felt more creative.  I have definitely had vivid dreams but I don’t notice a pattern of anything that triggers them more often than other times, except maybe when I am more stressed or more upset about something.

When I was younger I frequently had recurring dreams that went on for years.  One was somewhat of a mild nightmare in which a group of myself and my friends would go to the house across the street and find that it wasn’t a house but an old convenience store that had been abandoned and was falling down.  We could see some stairs leading down into darkness but would never want to go and see what was down there.  In the end of the dream I would venture down alone usually, but sometimes with one friend, and as we reached the bottom we would run screaming back up the stairs and I would wake up.  I never found out what was down there that scared me so much.

Another recurring dream that I had as a child actually grew up with me.  It started when I was fairly young and in the dream I had found a whole secret room that I could get into through the back of my grandmothers kitchen cupboard.  When I got through I had to squeeze through some narrow openings and climb up a hole in the ceiling and then there was a whole place to sit and imaginary creatures to talk to and books to read.  As I got older it got harder and harder for me to squeeze through the cupboard and climb through the whole until one time I finally made it through and sat down with my “friends” and told them that I wouldn’t be able to come back again.  I was so sad in the dream and sad when I woke up.  I never had the dream again after that, but I still remember it, and remember what it felt like to know that I wouldn’t be going back.

I have never had any times where my consciousness was altered.  I have never been knocked unconscious and I have never fainted.  I don’t even drink very much, so I have never experienced even a self-induced altering of consciousness.

I have, however, been sleep-deprived due to various reasons.  I was always a “night owl” when I was younger and frequently worked the afternoon or later shifts at work.  I had a job once where we did events for kids that were sometimes overnight.  Since I was already awake earlier in the day and didn’t like to take naps, I would just stay up through the event and into the next day.  Since I was young, I didn’t really notice much of an issue with staying up for 24 hours or more, except to sleep for a long time after I finally got to bed!

Now that I’m older, I have a hard time functioning if I have to stay awake for too long.  A couple of years ago I went to Las Vegas.  We had a very early morning flight so I didn’t get much sleep the night before, and when we got there it was earlier because of the time zones.  Since it was still early in the day we didn’t want to waste time going to our hotel and sleeping, so we stayed up and saw the sights, well into the night.  By the time we decided to head back to the hotel I remember walking along the sidewalk not really understanding how to walk and just moving forward by rote.  I know that I don’t remember seeing anything that we passed by on the street because the next day I couldn’t remember much of anything past a certain point.

I think that I definitely feel the circadian rhythm more now that I’m older.  I know that if I had to switch to a job that had afternoon or midnight shifts now that I would have a very difficult time adjusting to it!

Assignment 2.2: Journal Entry

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **

For this assignment we were required to choose a novel or story that we were familiar with and skim through a short section of the text to locate descriptions that related to the senses we are learning about.  We were then requested to answer some questions about the descriptions in regards to which sense it was related to, which properties were described, and how the description added to my experience of the story.

The story that I chose is part of a series of books called The Wheel of Time, written by Robert Jordan.  While all the books are so heavily detailed that some people don’t even like reading them, I enjoy the details which seem to pull me into the world of this story.  I chose to look through book 1, “The Eye of the World,” to gather some descriptive phrases pertaining to the senses that we are studying about.  This is a science fiction/fantasy story about a group of friends whose home village is unexpectedly attacked by attacked by evil creatures forcing them to leave their homes and set out to find a safe place to figure out what is going on.  The story is about a cyclical, created world where male and female magic are supposed to work together but long ago in the cycle the Dark One tainted the male half of the magic.  In the current day, certain females, called Aes Sedai, are the only ones able to wield the magic, the One Power, safely, and men who can wield it are “gentled” to keep them from destroying the world.  The story continues through a series of what will be 14 books with the main characters splitting into different groups at different points in time and having different adventures and tragedies befall them, as they learn what the Wheel has in store for them.

As I mentioned previously, the books are richly detailed.  Skimming through a few chapters gave me plenty of choices to relate to the senses.  Here are a couple of lines that I found regarding the senses.  These quotes are related to vision, which is a property of the eyes.  The eye works because light enters through the cornea, the iris, and the pupil of the eye and finally through the lens.  The lens passes an image to the retina and is transmitted to the rods and cones which are what receive the light and send the picture to our brains.  The rods allow black and white vision, while the cones allow us to see in color.   In this section of the book, the party is riding on horseback through a dense fog in the dead of night, in a forest. Each of the quotes are related to not being able to see very well with very little moonlight and with the fog obscuring objects outside of a few feet.

“Moonlight filtering through bare branches gave only enough illumination to fool his eyes into thinking they saw what was underfoot.” (p 98)

This first quote can be explained by the rods in the eye only allowing the person to see only enough of shapes to avoid tripping, and not even enough then to see clearly what was underfoot.

“Houses loomed in the fog on all sides, houses strangely tall to Rand’s eye.” (p 176)

“A few more windows than before showed a light, but the thick mist turned most of them to dim patches, and as often as not that hazy glow, hanging in the gray, was all that was visible.  Other houses, revealing a little more, seemed to float on a sea of cloud or to thrust abruptly out of the mist…”  (p 178)

These quotes are regarding visual perception and illusion.  The houses appeared to be taller than what Rand would expect because of the fog obscuring the base of the houses.  They appeared to be hanging or floating even though he knew that they were not.  Rand used perceptual clues and experience to be able to determine that the shapes looming out of the fog were houses.

“Only the rush of air past his face and the gather and stretch of the horse beneath him told him he was moving at all.” (p 176)

This quote is not related to vision but to skin senses and kinesthesis.  Rand was able to feel the wind on his face and feel the horse he was riding to determine that he was moving.  He  could feel that the horses legs and flank were moving in such a way that told him that the horse was moving forward.  Putting these senses together allowed him to perceive that he was moving.

I find that details in stories are what bring the stories to life.  When I am reading a novel that has a lot of description, I get pulled into the book in my head.  Having descriptions such as these allows me to get a sense of what is going on, provides me with a better sense of what the character is seeing, feeling, and doing, and allows me to feel more like I’m right there in the middle of things.  I mentioned in my description of the book that many people find there are too many descriptive paragraphs and that they didn’t like that in a book.  Many people have told me that they didn’t enjoy the book because the descriptions took away from the story and the plot.  I feel completely the opposite.  Without descriptions that give our own senses something to perceive, it feels like just reading words on a page.

Cited:

Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World. Tor Books. The Wheel of Time. Tom Doherty Associates LLC: New York, 1990. 98+.

Assignment 1.3: Journal Entry

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **

For this assignment we were to observe children in some way and then give an example of the following:

  • Sensorimotor behavior: object permanence testing or purposeful action
  • Preoperational behavior: egocentrism, animism, artificialism, or objective responsibility
  • Concrete operational behavior: decentration or subjective moral judgments

In addition, we were to think back to our preteen years and list examples of behavior (from ourselves or our friends) that were consistent with the following developmental theories:

  • deductive reasoning
  • imaginary audience
  • personal fable
  • postconventional moral reasoning
  • ego identity and/or role diffusion

The past couple of days I’ve spent hanging out with my sister and her kids, ages 15, 11, and 11 months.  I was able to observe sensorimotor behavior with my 11 month old nephew, Oliver.  We were playing with his “learning table.”  This is a table that has a lot of objects on the top that he can play with such as colored buttons that squeak, places to attach big chunky toys, pieces to move around, and things like that.  One of the things on the table is a big hole that you can put toys into and they slide down into the table, out of sight.  Oliver demonstrated object permanence by holding the toy up to me and then putting it in the hole.  He would look up at me and giggle, then reach into the table and pull out the same toy to show me again.

Last week I was reading a post from a friend on Facebook where she was talking about her 2 year old son and a conversation they had while in line at the store.  The conversation seemed like an example of objective responsibility.  The woman in front of them had told her little son that if he didn’t behave then he would get a spanking.  My friend’s son overheard and asked why the other little boy would get a spanking.  His mom told him that that’s what that boy’s mother does as punishment when he isn’t behaving.  Her son turned around and asked who punished the momma for hitting.  After hearing the response, he said that the momma should get a time-out because hitting isn’t being nice.

An example of concrete operational behavior comes from watching my 11 year old nephew.  Recently he had been running around like crazy and not listening to anything my sister had been telling him to do, even ignoring her in favor of a computer game.  She eventually got mad and sent him to his room, at which point he burst into tears and stormed off, slamming the door on his way into the bedroom.  I went in to talk to him a few minutes later and found him still crying on the bed.  He said that he wasn’t doing anything wrong and that his mom hates him.  I (of course) said that’s not true… to which he responded “I know, she loves me, but she’s being mean!”  I’m sure he knows that she’s not just being mean, too, but this was a good example.

As an avid reader through my whole life, I think I had a good grasp on deductive reasoning.  I was able to read books that were above my reading level and understand them, maybe not on the level that an adult would have, but certainly on a level where I was able to deduce the problems going on in the plots.  When I was 10 I wanted to read “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott but the librarian at school wouldn’t let me check the book out, saying it was too old for me.  My mom took me to the local library and I checked it out there and did a book report on it.  I still have that book report and reading it over, I would say that my deductive reasoning skills were good at that age!

Going into my preteen years, I can remember thinking frequently that people were always looking at me, the concept of the imaginary audience.  I was overly concerned with every pimple that popped out, and I distinctly remember trying to walk differently because I was sure that everyone was looking at me and laughing at my funny walk.  Looking back, I’m sure I wasn’t even walking “funny” but something had gotten into my head that I did, and I remember actively trying to change my gait.  This also ties in with the personal fable concept when I tried to have a conversation once with my mother about babies and she looked at me and said “well, of course!”  I still remember the feeling of being annoyed that she wasn’t more proud of my profound comment!

An example of postconventional moral reasoning brings to mind a situation in which a group of myself and some friends had gone to a coffee house one weekend night.  We met some new people there who invited us to a party.  Everyone wanted to go to the party, so we did.  At the party, a couple of my friends were drinking but not all of them, and not me.  After the party one of my friends wanted to stay so the rest of us went home.  After a while, we decided that it wasn’t a good idea for her to be there so a few of us went back for her.  Nothing had happened at that point, but we dragged her home.  A few nights later we found out that a girl had be raped at the same party, later in the night.  We were glad we brought her home!

I can also distinctly remember at what point in my life I developed ego identity.  This was later than my preteen years, happening the summer after my freshman year in high school.  Up until that point I had been a follower, always trying to wear the same clothes and do my hair the same way as my friends at school.  It didn’t matter that the clothes didn’t look good on me at all (I was overweight), and it didn’t matter that my hair was too fine to hold the hairstyles everyone else was wearing (big poofy bangs).  During that summer, though, I somewhat suddenly gained the knowledge that I didn’t care what everyone else was doing, and that I didn’t necessarily like the things that they liked, and that I didn’t like those clothes or that hair style.  That summer, and into the school year that fall, I was almost a completely different person.  I stopped using hairspray on my hair at all, I changed my style of clothing to what I thought was “cool,” not what they thought was cool, and I started engaging in activities that I enjoyed, which didn’t include cheerleading like “everyone else.”  I gained a lot of new friends in that time and those friendships have stuck with me even now, whereas most of my old friends are just acquaintances now.

Assignment 1.2: Journal Entry

** Please note:  This blog post was written in whole or in part as an assignment for a class that I was taking.  If you decide to use some of my work in your own assignments, please give credit where credit is due and cite your source!  Thanks :) **

The questions posed for this assignment are:

  • What initially interests you most about psychology? Why?
  • Which of the six perspectives of modern psychology most appeals to you? Why?
  • Consider a scientific study that purported to identify the cause of autism. What are some critical thinking questions you might ask about the study to determine its scientific merit?

My first interest in psychology is the way that different problems can affect people.  The fact that the human mind can manifest issues in some people and not in others is fascinating to me.  To see someone handle something or react in ways that I don’t see in other people makes me really ponder what a vast place the mind is and yet so small, to have so many differences and have so many things capable of going “wrong” in an individual.

I think the most interesting of the psychological perspectives is the Cognitive Perspective.  I am a thinker and try to be introspective on what I’m doing and why, so I find it interesting to see the different ways that people process things that come at them and they way they handle them, as well as how they learn from things.

In a scientific study, such as one to identify the cause of autism, some critical thinking questions that might be asked to determine its scientific merit are:

  1. Is the hypotheses one that CAN be answered with the study?
  2. Will each participant or idea be presented with the same questions and same response choices?
  3. Will the same information be collected from each participant or regarding each theory?
  4. Will the conditions be the same for each participant, will each theory be presented in the same set of circumstances?
  5. Will the method of observation be the same across the board?
  6. Will the sampling be diverse enough to determine an answer?

In 1996 a study was done to determine if autism was more prevalent in children in US Metropolitan areas.  The study was done by people at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Battelle Memorial Institute Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation in Atlanta, GA.  The purpose of the study was to study increases in the prevalence of autism in populated areas.

Some of the questions that I would ask in relation to this study are:

  1. Does the study include an area with enough population to be considered a metropolitan area?
  2. Was the study group diverse enough to make a determination on the general population?
  3. Was the age group studied diverse enough to make a determination about autism in populated areas?
  4. Were the study participants taken from multiple different areas in the metropolitan area?

It appears that the study showed a diverse grouping of children between the ages of 3 to 10 years, including a good ratio of male-female, black-white, and a variety of IQ levels or developmental impairments.  About half of the children were chosen from educational sources, so this begs a question about whether or not a more diverse group could have been found by including other sources, or participants that may have been impaired to a degree that would not allow them to attend an educational institution.

Cited:

Boyle Coleen, Doernberg Nancy, Karapurkar Tanya, et al.  Prevalence of Autism in a US Metropolitan Area.  JAMA. 2003;289(1):49-55.doi:10.1001/jama.289.1.49.  http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/289/1/49.full.pdf+html?sid=c4678816-b52f-4fe9-bfa5-d8350dce7886