Recently in Writing 2; Section 13 Category

Most of us have completely rational fears. I have a fear of spiders and needles. But what about those fears which seem to make a little less sense to those of us with seemingly "normal" fears? I decided to look further into these "strange" fears and found one that may sound irrational, but in theory, makes a lot of sense and is actually very common. This fear is cacophobia; the fear of ugliness and things that are ugly.

Usually, this fear, similar to most, is developed when someone experiences a traumatic even in their life. In this case, if someone is constantly told they are ugly or that they are not beautiful, this can trigger cacophobia.
Once a person in confronted about their fear, the symptoms they may experience include, but are not limited to;
1. Perspiration
2. Feeling uncomfortable or nausea
3. In extreme cases, people may feel anxiety or panic attacks.

While this fear may sound extreme, it really can be reflected in everyone's day to day life on one level or another. What are the first things girls do before school? Pick out a "cute" outfit, do our hair, put on makeup. Everything we do is strictly to impress. In some ways, this can be seen as a fear of ugliness.

What makes us think this way? How do we register these fears?
The parts of the brain associated with fear are the sensory cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and the hippocampus. This fear is brought on by a stressful stimulus (in this case, it may be an image of something that someone finds "ugly") and sets off a chain reaction that ends with the release of heart racing chemicals.
The thalamus starts this reaction with the sensory organs being used. In this case the eyes are responsible. The sensory cortex then is responsible for interpreting the data. This data is then sent to the hippocampus where the harmful memories are stored and retrieved. The amygdala is next. This is where emotions are decoded. It's where our brain decides "Yepp, I'm afraid of this." And finally, the hypothalamus is stimulated. This part of our brain activates the "fight or flight" response (


Why do people have fears?
In most cases, fears are developed to keep us from dangerous situations. In the case of cacophobia, this may not be the case. Cacophobia can become even more dangerous to those who suffer from it. It can cause people to become anorexic and bulimic and lead men and women to undergo unneeded plastic surgery. Cacophobia may be protecting from a painful experience such as teasing or abuse due to someone's looks. If a child, or even an adult, were repeatedly told they were "ugly" and this was then followed by further emotional or physical abuse, this could lead to a chain reaction where whenever someone sees something unappealing, they immediately flash back to the fear they had felt.

How is cacophobia diagnosed?
Usually, it is self-diagnosed. People realize their irrational fears and understand that there is something there.
Are there any treatments?
Yes, there are. Many people are referred to specialist who deals with irrational fears such as cacophobia. These therapists will often use hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, and traditional "talk" therapy. There are even specific support groups for those suffering from this condition. Only in severe cases, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.
I believe this is a fear that is so irrational; those who suffer from it may never be able to fully recover and get passed this fear. It is believed that if this fear goes undiagnosed, can develop into a debilitating condition that can interfere with not only one's personal life, but also their social life and other aspects of their life outside of their home (

Sleep Deprivation

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In modern society, time is limited and making the most of it is very important. As a result, people today aren't getting nearly enough sleep. Studies show that to be fully functional, teens need an average of 8-9 hours of sleep; children need 9 or more and that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. Despite this knowledge, only one in five adults today get the recommended amount of sleep.
Although there are many factors that can play into sleep deprivation, insomnia is one of them. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is classified by difficulties falling and staying asleep. Sleep deprivation and Insomnia results in excessive daytime sleepiness. Symptoms are classified under different categories.
People suffering from insomnia may notice changes in their mood including symptoms of Irritability, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and a lack of motivation. Changes in performance also occur in people with sleep deprivation including, lack of concentration, poor decisions, lack of coordination, and forgetfulness. Finally, sleep deprivation has plenty of negative effects including an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and obesity.
According to research, sleep deprivation can also have negative effects on cognitive function. MRI results comparing activity in subjects dealing with sleep deprivation versus their well-rested counterparts shows that there is more activity in the well-rested subjects. This is because during sleep the brain uses that time to replenish chemical/neurotransmitter levels and repair brain cell damage. Information like this makes a student wonder whether pulling that all-nighter to cram before the test may be doing more harm than good. It may just be a better decision to get the full nights rest and take the test on a fully functional brain.,r:8,s:0

Yesha Yismaw

Senses and Memory

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I've always wondered why I have such strong association between scents and different memories - why lavender always reminds me of the lavender bushes I used to pass on my walk home from elementary school, mothballs bring me back to hiding from my brother in the crawl space adjacent to an old bedroom, or saw dust reminds me of building my first birdhouse with my grandfather. I've heard numerous times that smell causes the most vivid memory recollection, so I assumed there must be some mind-blowing association between our olfactory senses and memory. Unfortunately, Psych 1001 failed to even mention the connection, but I still wanted to know for sure, so I figured I'd write a blog post on it!

Unfortunately, when I searched for "smell and memory" in Google, there weren't thousands of journal articles confirming my belief. However, I did find one article from Baylor College of Medicine that did indicate that scents might really be the hardest of the senses to forget. Instead of discovering the absolute proof I was hoping for, I was really surprised while reading the article to find out that images remain in our memories for one a brief period while scents can remain for up to a year, which in turn made me wonder how exactly photographic memories work (but I'll save that for another blog entry). Because I've always been jealous of people with photographic memory when it comes to exam-time, I think it would be interesting to try to associate complex processes that I need to know on tests with different, distinct smells and determine if that association would promote better recall and therefore better test results.

Deja Vu

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Jenny Vue

Remember the last time you feel like you've done that or seen that before even though you have not been there? If your answer is yes, then you have experienced déjà vu before. As Lilienfeld had stated, déjà vu is a French word meaning "already seen". It is define as the feeling of familiarity toward something new. It is like a movie that is replaying a scene from your memory to your present life; and in addition, I believe this is important. Déjà vu's ability to relive the memory is important because I believe it's like a future machine that shows you what is going to happen. For example, I remember talking with my little cousin at a birthday party and I have a familiar feeling inside of me. As I turned around to grab my drink and turned back, I took a look at the room and everything blurs for a few seconds then went back to normal. Right at that moment, my memories attacked me and I remember dreaming of this party.
I don't know how déjà vu can occur, but I think it is really a great way of telling the future. On the other hand, a problem about déjà vu is the ability to remember the action or scene. Why couldn't our memory remember the action or scene without hiding it?

This is a video of déjà vu:


Smoking has been a bad habit for many people in the United States that there are about twenty percents of the population smoke. There are many factors making people consume tobacco, such as they need something to help them release stress or just to be "cool" in front of other people. However, after a period of smoking, a great number of smokers want to quit due to the concern of their health as well as the health of people around them. Obviously, quitting smoking is not easy because it has became their daily routine for a long time. For this reason, in order to help smokers all over the world, a group of researchers from United Kingdom did an experimental study on quitting smoking by sending encouraging text messages.

There are 11,914 smokers volunteered for this program, and 2,915 smokers of the experimental group were chosen randomly by computers. This group received five texts per day in first five weeks and only three per week for following six months. 2,885 participants in the control group also received texts but these were all "placebo ones". According to the article, the result was "More than 10 percent of the text-message-aided smokers were still nicotine-free six months after "quit day," while only 4.9 percent of the control group were still off of cigarettes six months later". Even though this research appeared to be promising, but we still need carefully evaluate it by employing the principles of scientific thinking.

First of all, applying principle #1 of scientific thinking: "ruling out rival hypotheses", we can see that these British researchers did not mention other possible hypotheses, which could explain the success of people in the experimental group. For examples, the success of these people might due to the impact of the "placebo effect" that they successfully quitted smoking because they expected the result all along; or in the experimental duration, they might receive other treatments from different places.

Secondly, if we involve the scientific thinking principle of "correlation vs. causation", this trial might be mistaken. To be specific, even the researchers of this study had to admit that the text messages might not cause the smokers' quitting, because "for some, the messages were counterproductive, as they reminded them of smoking, which triggered cravings".

Finally, based on the fourth scientific thinking principle: "Replicability", we come up with a question that "can the result be duplicated in other studies?" The answer would be "we are not sure", since these UK researchers did not point out any related researches that produce similar results. Furthermore, the leader of this trial, Dr Caroline Free also stated "no one program will work for everyone" that suggested this test may not work on other people.

In conclusion, although this research achieved some significant result, however there are still many unclear points that need to be clarified in order to improve the study. For examples, they should explain more about the effect of the texts to support their hypotheses.

Thuc Huynh

I came across the article "Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted" by Benedict Carey on the New York Times website. The article acknowledges the fact that a once praised scientific finding in 2003 about the connection between genes and depression, does not satisfy the scientific thinking principles. Scientists who conducted the original study concluded through their observations that people who fell into depression after a stressful life experience did so because their brain obtained a unique gene in its serotonin process. When this discovery was announced to the public, ordinary people and psychologists were greatly influenced: psychologists conducted their studies and analyzed their data in a new manner while people being treated for depression took the news as a comforting excuse for their condition. This gene and depression connection was so sensational because it brought forth the first understanding of why some people react to stressful life experiences by going into depression and why others do not.

When the original experiment was questioned six years later by new researchers, it was concluded that it was not a gene variation that increased the risk of depression; it was a specific life experience itself. The way in which these new researchers came to this conclusion was by following the six scientific thinking principles. For example, they used Principle #2: Correlation Isn't Causation- the explanation that all experiments have three variables, not two, and they all must be considered- to acknowledge the fact that just because it was discovered that there is a correlation between genes and depression, it cannot be concluded that they are connected. The third variable must also be considered. Principle #3: Falsifiability- in order for a theory to be meaningful it must be apt to be disproved; it must be testable- was used by the new researchers as they tested the original theory of 2003 to find whether or not the results of similar studies were consistent to the first study. Another scientific principle used was Principle #4: Replicability- the duplication of an original study's findings. The studies that the new researchers conducted did have similar data as the original study, however the analyzing of the data differed. This resulted in a new conclusion: depression is caused by life experiences themselves, not a gene variation.

Link to article:

Kaya Allen
Section 13

Whenever I hear the word "hallucinations" I think back to 7th grade health class, where my class had to watch boring videos about the effects of drugs. Most drugs had one thing in common, and that was giving the user hallucinations. Hallucinations are defined as "realistic perceptual experiences in the absence of any external stimuli." This means that if a person is experiencing a hallucination, they are experiencing something that isn't really there. While many people believe that hallucinations are only part of hearing and seeing, it actually can occur in any sensory modality. Up to about 39% of the general population report at least one hallucination a day. Visual hallucinations can be a result of oxygen or sensory deprivation.

I used to believe that hallucinations only occurred in drug users, however, after reading the Lilienfeld textbook, I realized how inaccurate I was. Hallucinations can occur in anyone, not people who are drug users, and not just psychologically ill individuals. People who have fantasized a great deal of time and done imaginative activities since childhood are more prone to hallucinations. This is called the "fantasy-prone person."

In addition, not all cultures believe that hallucinating is bad. Some cultures in Africa actually value these illusions and believe they were gifts from Gods. People who are a part of these societies sometimes go out of their way to induce hallucinations by fasting or using hallucinogenic drugs. So while Americans have a more negative view of hallucinations, we cannot forget that there are other cultures out there that honor this vision.

To better get a feel of what it is like to hallucinate, I provided a video about new technology that allows people (usually cops) to better understand the world of a person who is hallucinating.

Virtual Hallucination Video

Hallucinations are as real as real, or as real as fake gets.

Joann Khong
Section 13

Sleepwalking, No Big Deal

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About thirty to fifty percent of people report having some sort of sleeping disorder. The sleeping disorder that I personally have witnessed is sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is walking while fully asleep. When a person sleepwalks, they act pretty much like a person who is fully awake; however, they tend to be a little clumsy. Sleepwalking typically occurs in non REM stage of sleep. There no found reason on why people sleep walk, but you are more likely to sleep walk if you are sleep deprived, have an irregular sleep schedule, or are on certain medications. About 15-20% kids and 4-5% of adults sleepwalk, and my friend Ashley was one of those kids.
When I was younger, I remember having sleepovers almost every weekend. However, one of my really close friends Ashley was never able to spend the night. Ashley's mom would always come over and pick her up when we were ready for bed. I started to wonder why, so I asked Ashley one day why she never was able to sleep over. She told me that it was because she sleepwalks. I did not see what the big deal was, but her mom would still always come and pick her up. About a year later, Ashley finally invited me to spend the night at her house. That night before bed, I remember her mom yelling up the stairs, "Don't forget to turn on your alarm." I watched Ashley as she went over to her door and flipped a switch on the inside of her door. I was confused and asked what that was for, she said it was just in case she sleepwalked out of the room then the alarm would go off and wake her parents up. She then proceeded to tell me all of her stories of when she sleepwalked. It was almost scary. She told me about how she has cooked, walked to the neighbors, scared her sister, fell down the stairs, and been found wondering around town. Some of these I laughed at, but others I found scary. Something bad could have happened to her, which is when I realized that this was a big deal.
Because of my friend Ashley's story, the topic of sleepwalking hits home. What if one day Ashley one night walked in front of a car? She would seriously have been hurt. Even though sleepwalking does not seem like that big of deal, it can have serious risks, so I think it is important for psychiatrists and psychologists to help these families in order for them to sleep more peaceful at night.

Morgan Dobberstein
Section 13

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is defined by Linfeild as a state of being unable to move just after falling asleep or right before waking up. It is a state in between consciousness of waking life and dreaming life. Other studies such as this link to an article in Wired magazine see sleep paralysis of being wake after falling into REM or Rapid Eye Movement dream state. REM is defined as a period of darting of the eyes underneath close eyelids during sleep. In REM dream hallucinations are possible. Subjects undergoing dream paralysis are awake, sometimes hallucinating and unable to move or speak.
During sleep paralysis subejcts cannot move or speak. Check out this youtube video of a woman undergoing sleep paralysis. In the video the woman is making noises trying to speak and her eyes appear open. The man on other end of the camera sounds worried and concerned.
Different cultures have traditional beliefs on sleep paralysis. In Thailand, sleep paralysis is said to be a ghost inhabiting your dreams and entering your life in an altered state. Similar in Canada's Newfoundland the phenomenomia is tied to a tale of an old hag. An old hag is an elderly witch that sits on your chest and could steal your soul. This out of body encounter has also been connected to alien sightings and abduction.
While there are strong cultural ties to these sleep paralysis stories I feel it is just sleep condition we do not fully understand. When we awaken in REM sleep this is a strange feeling that can bring out the fear in us. I can see how it could be confused with a ghost or some other horse tail. But there is a scientific explanation for sleep paralysis. I feel more research should be dedicated to it so people such as the woman in this video can receive medical help.

judgement day is not true

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Mao Xiong Judgment day sect. 13
There are so many unbelievable things in the world; from the extinction of the dinosaurs to human evolution from apes. But, one of the most ridiculous beliefs is the idea of Judgment day on May 21, 2011. Judgment day is a day believed to be the end of the world, which was predicted by priests using the text from the bible. The world will get hit by a large meteorite and the world/ everything will be burned away. Therefore, one will either go to hell or heaven (decided by god).
This is an extraordinary claim because the end of the world is hard to believe. How can there be a Judgment day when not everyone believes in god, no one could even prove if there is even a god and not everyone believes in god. This claim was proven to be falsifiable because today's date is 10/9/11 and the world did not die from fire. Judgment day was proven to be false; it was also proven false again when a priest changed the date to October 21, 2010. Don't forget that there was also another similar prediction in 2000 called Y2K. This kind of prediction is not healthy to the public and causes many people to commit felonies and suicides. According to the Fox9 news, there was a case where an elderly man beat up his wife to death with a bible because of his belief of the end of the world. Occam's rule is simple; the end of the world is hard to believe because the earth has been burning for millions and billions of years. In additional, scientists say that the earth will not die until the sun stops burning and there is no meteorite detected.

(I remember in 2000 my mom had my little brother and she was so scared of the rapture day; Y2K. I had no clue what it was, but I remembered my mom prepared and stored a lot of food in the house, while we waited. Now that i though about it, it is sad that she did no understood english or the bible, but she knew about the idea of a rapture.)

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