vikxx029: November 2011 Archives

009055-Speech-therapy-stroke.jpgIn five years, I predict that the psychology I've learned in this introductory course will be something I encounter daily. Currently, my major is speech language hearing sciences. My goal is to take the major into career that will allow me to work with both stroke patients and traumatic brain injury patients in an effort to reestablish their communication abilities. Most of the topics in the Psychology textbook will be useful at one time or another for this occupation, but the there are a couple of concepts that seem to be more relevant to speech pathology than others.
The most obvious concept studied in this course that will most likely be incorporated into my daily life is the concept of language and language acquisition. Similar to a child learning a new language, a majority of the patients I encounter will also be working to learn a language; the difference lies in the fact that both stroke patients and TBI patients are relearners of a language that they've known their whole life.
In addition to the language topic, the biological properties of the brain will also be resourceful in my future aspirations. The plasticity of the brain will be illustrated in the most miraculous ways throughout my career. As patients regain the ability to use language and communicate with loved ones in ways that were once possible only before the impairment, I will be witnessing the phenomenon of the brain's plasticity in a completely natural circumstance. I have a feeling it will be encouraging to see the exchanging of responsibilities among the brain regions in action.


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Genie.jpgAs college students, we complain about deprivation of many things during finals week. Sleep is generally the biggest concern, but social interaction, healthy meals, and personal hygiene are all details of our daily lives that seem to be put on the backburner when that dreaded week of each semester occurs. However, after the week is finished, we go home to home-cooked meals, time for sleeping and social events, and moms to take care of laundry and make sure we are washing our hair.

What if that week of deprivation, however, was more extreme and lasted for a total of 13 years? It sounds unbelievable, yes...but for the case of "Genie," a psychological research study that gave researchers an inside look at human development, the disastrous effects of deprivation are a reality. The information that follows comes from a program aired on PBS.

The story of Genie begins when Genie (a pseudo name given to the child of the study) was just an infant. Raised in isolation, Genie was kept in the confines of a bathroom for 13 years of her life. She was left alone and punished for making noise, depriving her of any sort of stimulation. When authorities found her in 1970 (at 13 years of age), she was extremely malnourished and unable to talk. Even her physical movements seemed off. Her walk was described as that of a bunny and she was still in diapers.

As one can see, the effects of deprivation are extremely detrimental to an individual, especially a developing child. Because the plasticity of the brain is a key component of proper development, it is critical that a child receives adequate stimulation while the brain is still malleable. Unfortunately for Genie, this lack of stimulation affected her lifelong success. Although she was put through countless hours of therapy, Genie was unable to communicate effectively even into her old age. She was eventually placed in a group home after the psychological experiments were called off. Controversy still remains as to whether or not the studies on Genie were ethical.

Binded, Tortured, and Killed

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In the beginning, Dennis Rader's neighbors referred to him as an "ordinary, unassuming man." To his family, the wThe BTK Killer Speaks (2005)1.jpgords "soft spoken" and "family man" were all words perfect in description. After a shocking investigation, however, both family and friends of Dennis Rader would come to realize that this ordinary member of society was also classified as a notorious psychopath, often referred to as the "BTK" because he binded, tortured, and killed his victims. Seemingly identical to the majority of the population, Dennis Rader and other serial killers like him, differ substantially in certain physiological functions. In an interviewwith the infamous BTK killer, the killer refers to the drive inside of him to murder as the "Factor X." He describes it as a feeling of a loss of control; he thinks he might have been dropped on his head as a child because the feelings inside of him are unnatural. Unintentionally, the BTK killer is suggesting that there is indeed a biological difference between the psychopathic brain and a typical brain. This idea is supported in an article written in Crime Times. The article suggests that most psychopaths differ in their reactions to fear-provoking stimuli. In addition, the fear-potentiated startle reflexes of psychopathic individuals is minor in comparison to non-psychopathic. Personality traits such as self-confidence, impulsiveness, and aggressiveness also play a crucial role in the make-up of a psychopath. So while Dennis Rader, may seem like a calm and collected individual, the "Factor X" inside of him may actually exist.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by vikxx029 in November 2011.

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