wagne856: October 2011 Archives

Parent Alienation Syndrome

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After reading in chapter 7 about how children are especially vulnerable to suggestibility and coercion, I became curious to know more about how this susceptibility may effect a child. I came across something called parent alienation syndrome which can be described as a parent conditioning his or her child to turn against or even become afraid of the other parent.
The controlling parent in this situation can be distinguished in many ways. The first thing a parent will do is try to discontinue contact with the child and the other parent. A child may be threatened with withdrawal of love, home, or support if he or she does not accept the views of the controlling parent. The controlling parent may also coerce the child to believe that the other parent has abused them. By continually repeating false stories of abuse a child eventually comes to accept them as true, consequently alienating the child from the innocent parent.
This syndrome is the result of a conditioned response. Imagine that a child sees his father who helps him with his homework and then takes him out for an ice cream. After this enjoyable day the child returns to his controlling mother who punishes him and treats him as if he was a possession as a result of the day he spent with his father. In this situation, the father would be the unconditioned stimulus, the enjoyable day would be the unconditioned response. Eventually, as the child continues to be abused by the mother as a result of seeing his father, the child will develop a conditioned response to the sight of his father and automatically become emotionally stressed.
This syndrome is a tragic example of how children can be controlled to become afraid of something that they would normally have no fearful response to. If a child can be coerced to become emotionally distressed at the sight of a parent, who is supposed to represent safety and love, what else can they be coerced to feel?


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If asked to describe the most frightening nightmare ever experienced, most people would be able to recall it, in detail, and might even get goose bumps. Nightmares are those dreams that bring up our worst fears, most pressing anxieties, and nerve pinching insecurities.
Although we are most likely to be plagued by these bad dreams as children, fifty percent of adults continue to be shaken by an occasional nightmare. Given that the textbook didn't talk much about nightmares I did some research online for some better insight. Nightmares occur most commonly during REM sleep, particularly in the later cycles towards the morning. This explains why it's so easy for people to remember the shaking nightmare that woke them up in the morning, but completely forget about that pleasant dream we had when we first fell asleep.
Although nightmares are often caused by nothing more than our busy minds, I did find some interesting things that trigger bad dreams. These include having a late night snack, certain medications, alcohol withdrawal, sleep deprivation, and certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
If you find yourself having more frequent nightmares than normal, have no fear; in my research I found several easy fixes to promote a safe and sound sleep. The website suggests keeping a consistent sleep schedule, exercising regularly, and making your bedroom a tranquil, relaxing place.
This last suggestion made me wonder a little bit about the kind of sleep that college students living in dorms (such as me) are getting. Does sleeping in the room associated with cramming for a stressful exam cause less restful sleep? Does the new environment and drastic change that comes along with starting college cause more nightmares? I've never had serious issues with nightmares, but I hope that the stresses of college do not make me prone to these terrors.

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