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Discussion Session Make Up

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I really enjoyed our unit in abnormal psychology. One topic I found especially interesting was the insanity defense. The insanity defense is when someone argues that a crime wasn't committed "of sound mind," and therefore the perpetrator is not responsible for his or her actions. As it was originally defined, someone arguing this defense had to satisfy one of two criteria: 1) The person could not remember doing the crime that took place, or 2) the person must not have been aware that what they were doing was wrong. As time has progressed, however, the guidelines for this defense have become steadily more hazy.

Today, the insanity defense is extremely controversial. Many believe the insanity defense is simply a way for criminals to off scot-free. On the other hand, others argue that a seriously disturbed person truly cannot be responsible for their actions. For example, someone who brutally murders a coworker because they believed their coworker to be Satan could potentially use the insanity defense.

The biggest problem I see with the insanity defense is that it's easy to fake. Someone could easily make up a story that qualifies them to be "insane," even if they weren't actually at the time. However, I don't think that's a reason to discontinue its use. If we want to rehabilitate criminals, sending the mentally disturbed to prison will not prevent them from doing harm again. If anything, it would just make it worse.

A classic case in the insanity defense is that of the Yates Trial. Andrea Yates, a mother of 5, drowned all of her children in a bathtub. This horrific story had the country in an uproar, but Ms. Yates was able to beat the charges on account of severe postpartum depression. This qualified her as not being "of sound mind." Because of the outcome of this case, many have questioned the insanity defense. The heinousness of the crime was too great for some to stomach, and the fact that Yates didn't spend time in jail as a result outraged many.

The jury is still out on the insanity defense. While it makes sense that someone not "of sound mind" should be tried differently than someone who is, the potential for abuse has many questioning its effectiveness. There are currently four states that don't accept it, including Idaho and Utah, but on the whole, courts still take it into consideration.

A World Without Displacement? ...World War III

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A World Without Displacement? ...World War III

Displacement is all around us. This world is filled with people who take their anger out in a plethora of different ways: whether it be punching a locker after a tough loss, throwing a club after a poor shot, or ripping the test you just received a D on into shreds. With this said, it begs the question, "what would the world be without displacement?" Speaking from personal experiences, when I or anyone I know is angry they want to take their anger out violently. This violence usually comes in the form of hitting a person; for example, when someone talks in your backswing during a round of golf and you slice the ball to the right, your first instinct is to turn around and hit the person in the face. Instead of lashing out in this completely non-socially acceptable way, golfers usually grunt, slam their club into the ground, then throw the club at their bag as if they were trying to slice the bag in two.
If people knew only to take their anger out violently with people, the world would be one filled with violence. This violence between people, and more importantly groups of people, would lead to battles being waged. To take this to a more broad perspective, one that includes entire countries who stand for entirely different ideals, this lack of displacement could lead to wars being waged between countries. These wars could then leak into other countries and potentially create a third world war. Some of this can be seen currently with the war on Iraq and people who share different values battling it out over petty issues. If the people of the world could better displace their anger into various outlets the world would become a more peaceful and understanding place.

As for a video, this is for viewing pleasure:

Dog Training and Classical conditioning

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Week Six- Behavior (out with mono)

In class when we learned about classical conditioning, my interest in its relation to animal training was immediately sparked. Before lecture, I had always been curious how people were able to teach their animals to do certain tricks, like ring a bell when they wanted to go outside, or do a flip. After the lecture on classical conditioning, I couldn't wait to learn more about this teaching style. An article published in Dog Star Daily states that "Simply

put, classical conditioning helps your dog form positive associations with all sorts of stimuli." Before attending psychology I operated under the assumption that dogs were able to learn because of repetition, like when I am trying to memorize a list of vocabulary terms for a test. Now I realize that the learning process has more to do with the association that the individual makes with a certain stimuli. When I get a dog when I am older, it is not through repeated actions that the dog will learn, but rather the reinforcement that it receives because of it's actions. It does not take long for an animal to learn that a given action will result in a specific response, especially if it is a reward. In comparisons between the way that a conditioned response is created, researchers have come to realize that it is best to do the reward spontaneously, rather than at intervals, if you want the conditioned response to last longer, because then the individual or animal that is learning will never know when the reward is coming.

Violence in Video Games

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Some people, including parents, worry that when their children play violent video games, such as fallout 3 in the Youtube video embedded below, they learn that being violent is okay. An article by CBS news discusses a particular situation in which a man, who played grand theft auto all the time, committed a crime which involved killing police officers. This is interesting because, in the video game, the player is forced to kill police officers all the time in order to escape and survive. In the attached article, the question is raised of whether a violent video game can actually teach people how to properly commit crimes. I have actually thought about this question before. Could someone who plays a lot of violent video games actually learn tactics from the game and perform them in real life? Well apparently they can.
However, I believe that someone only commits these crimes that they learn from video games at a conscious level. For example, if someone played video games and then went and committed a crime that is unrelated to the game, I would not think that they learned the violence from the video game. But, in the case of the article, the criminal admitted that he played video games and these were the source of his criminal techniques and mindsets.
With the issue of whether the violence of video games has gone too far, I believe it has. Watch the Youtube video that I attached and you can probably see what I mean.

Youtube Video- Fallout 3

CBS Article

Relationships with the Opposite Sex:

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What attracts people of the opposite gender to be in a relationship with one another? The answer, for the most part, is similar to what you might expect: the benefits of having friends of the opposite gender.

What kind of role does sex play in the attraction of people in relationships?
I know this is going to come as a huge surprise, but it actually plays a fairly large part. When it comes to attraction of females, friends or significant others, men often choose people that they are sexually attracted to, as they are looking for friends with benefits more often than females.

For women befriending men, this doesn't make as much of a difference, although, what might is whether or not they can provide protection, both physically and socially (Dr. Dylan).

Even more meaningful than sex, however, is the benefits that come from an opposite gender relationship. The most important things people want from a relationship are companionship, conversation, and kindness, all things that might be uniquely experienced in an opposite gender relationship.

It may not surprise you that people who share similar qualities, such as things that people value and personality traits, tend to be more attracted to each other. (Ever heard the saying, "Birds of a feather flock together"?) Implicit egotism, states that -simply put- people like themselves and that people extend that love of themselves to people and things that remind them of themselves. What's not to like about you? You do what you want because you want to, and as a result, if what you do is similar to what other people do, you're more likely to become attracted to them.

Something that might surprise you, however, is that people may actually become more attracted to people with the same initials as their own. (Dr. Dylan) Some psychologists argue that implicit egotism extends that far. It wouldn't be on a conscious level, but the attraction would be happening subliminally. Many psychologists have noted a correlation between the our own and our lover's initials, but, like mostly everything in psychology, there are also those that argue that this claim is lacking enough evidence to be considered true. Either way, it is interesting to note, as there are many examples of celebrities with similar initials, i.e. the recently split couple of Kris and Kim.

*(Make up for emotion discussion)
Dr. Dylan Selterman. "Science of Relationships - - - Sexual Strategies in Cross-Sex Friendships." Science of Relationships - Welcome to Web. 02 Nov. 2011. .

Classical Conditioning

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The subject of classical conditioning is something that sparked my attention from the start of the reading. It is also the subject of the discussion session that I was forced to miss haha. At first I was overwhelmed with all of the new vocab that applied to classical conditioning but as I continued the reading, the pieces sort of formed into a puzzle that began to make sense. What stuck out to me was the tale of baby Albert. It was a study about the acquisition of classical conditioning. Nine-month-old baby Albert was given a rat to play with then the psychologist would sneak up behind him and make a very loud noise, which scared baby Albert. After repeating this process baby Albert developed a conditioned response so that even after time had gone by when presented with the rat baby Albert would cry. Baby Albert even showed evidence of stimulus generalization meaning he would also cry when he saw a rabbit, dog, even a furry coat. This entire study seems so crazy to me. How could a mother put her baby through this and how could experimenters think this study was okay? I'm glad that experimental ethics have improved since then because some serious issues could have happened especially in situations like that. And who knows maybe something serious did happen to baby Albert from this study, we don't know because little is known about what happened after his mother drew him from the study. However, through this study we did gain new knowledge on conditioned responses and we discovered how we can treat defferent phobias. This is a link to a good video showing more about the "Little Albert Study"

Amphetamines: How They Work To Treat ADHD

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Chapter 5 of Lilienfeld includes a section about amphetamines. I have ADHD and know that one of the forms of treatments is medications that act as stimulants, so this section drew my attention.

Firstly, ADHD is formally called attention deficit hyperactive disorder. It is mainly characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. A lack of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain is believed to cause these symptoms of ADHD. These chemicals serve in focus, memory, and impulse control.

Next, Amphetamines are a class of stimulant (a drug that increases the activity in the CNS). Amphetamines increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine that is released. This means that more neurotransmitters are released from storage sites into the synapses.

For a person without ADHD, this results in a "rush".

It is rumored that militaries have used amphetamines to increase energy levels and motivation in troops. An example of the controversy surrounding this long time rumor is: in 2003 there was an incident where two American pilots bombed Canadian forces in Afghanistan. The pilots had been using amphetamines issued to them, and this factor sparked a mad debate.

For a person with ADHD, this results in increased focus, memory, and impulse control. This can be explained by the increased activity and communication in the parts of the brain that involve the two chemicals. In studies, the parts of the brain involved in executive functions, including the prefrontal cortex, specific subcortical regions, and the cerebellum, were shown to be more active with the use of amphetamines.

One quote I have liked since I was first learning about treatments for my ADHD is: "Taking stimulants is not like taking doses of an antibiotic to wipe out an infections; it is more like wearing eyeglasses that correct one's vision while the glasses are being worn, but do nothing to fix one's impaired eyes." This means that there is no cure for ADHD, but the symptoms can be alleviated. This factor is interesting because it allows us to look at the duration of the effects of certain chemicals/hormones/etc. in the brain.

Who is in charge of your conciousness?

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The final segment of Marcus de Sautoy's video was incredibly interesting. In this section of the video he focused on answering the question " Who is in charge of our decisions; our consciousness, or our neurons?"
In order to answer this question, Sautoy participated in an experiment where he had to randomly pick a right or left button, and there was a brain scanner that recorded his bran activity leading up to the choice that he made.
Although the experiment itself was not incredibly interesting, the results were shocking. Through examining the data that the brain scanner collected, neuroscientists were able to see what button Sautoy was going to press six seconds before he consciously made the decision to click the button on the remote.
When returning to the original question that was presented, "Who is in charge of our decisions; our consciousness, or our neurons?" The answer appears to be the neurons. This is incredible surprising. When we, as humans, make decisions, we tend to believe that we are making them ourselves, but this evidence seems to show a cause effect relationship between the subconscious and conscious mind. It is impossible to differentiate between consciousness and brain activity, because they are one in the same.
When I first saw this, I was kind of confused- if my subconscious mind is making all my decisions, what role does my conscious decision really make? but when the mind starts to wander like that, it is important to remember that the subconscious and the conscious mind are not at a duel, rather, they work together. They hold the same core values and goals. This area of research is really interesting to me, and I can not wait to learn more about the advancements that are being made.

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