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Some mental disorders tend to be fairly heritable while others seem to be developmental. Among those that are categorized as highly heritable is bipolar disorder. A mood disorder causing the patient severe depression and manic episodes, bipolar disorder is very difficult to treat and to live with.


No parent would want their child to be at a heritable risk of this, and yet the chances of heritability are heartbreaking. If one parent has been diagnosed with bipolar, the chances of any of their children inheriting the disorder is around 15%-30%. If both parents have bipolar disorder, the odds jump to 50%-75%. The 2003 study that revealed these results showed why bipolar disorder tends to run in families; it is carried in our genes, so to speak. A twins study showed that if one identical twin had bipolar disorder, the other twin had an 85% chance of having it as well. Even if an adult manages to control their own bipolar disorder, the odds are against them when they have children.

When reading the final chapter in the textbook on psychological treatments, I came to find out that not all psychotherapists are actual licensed professionals. This brought me back to an episode of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, where the main character, Larry David, sees a therapist in an attempt to get his estranged wife back. Larry coaxes his therapist into playing a robber who Larry catches in front of his wife, as an act of heroism. The therapist gets arrested by the authorities and ends up in jail. I come to wonder how an unlicensed therapist comes to that occupation? What kind of qualifications makes that person an actual therapist? Wouldn't they just be a listener?

The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movies (it's not better than Batman Begins, despite what some say say). While I was watching it the other day I realized how closely the Joker's social experiment could be related back to the concepts we have learned about in psychology. For those who haven't seen the movie this is the Joker's 'experiment': there is one boat filled with inmates from a prison and the other boat has ordinary citizens from Gotham on it. The Joker tells both boats via loudspeaker that they each have a box with a detonator and that they have until midnight to blow up the other boat, and if they don't both of the boats will blow up at midnight. Spoiler alert: neither of them press the button and Batman stops the Joker from pressing the button to detonate them both. And now my question to you is, would you trust the other boat not to blow you up if you were an ordinary citizen? What if you were an inmate? Based off of what we have learned in psychology I would not trust the other boat to not blow me up whether i was the inmate or the regular citizen because they are so many things that can happen in stressful social situations like that. One example would be group polarization: the tendency for groups to make decisions that are more extreme than the original inclination of its members. Also, if social polarization did occur it is very likely that they would get worked up and deindividuation would occur causing someone to overreact and hit the button. I personally would not press the button in the hopes that there was someone else thinking the same thing as me on the other boat. But who knows!

A few months a go I read an article in the New York times that was urging parents to limit the time their young child watches tv. Their reason was that it has been studied that it affects children's development if they watch a lot of tv before the age of 2. The article also said that it's bad for the parent to watch tv around the child. Even if the child is playing with toys at a distance, the child glances at the tv about 3 times a minute. I'm not surprised to hear this because in fact I've heard it a lot and I know of parents who don't allow their young children to watch tv. But what surprised me is that the article said video games are okay. Games on consoles or smart phones do not pose the same threat because it forces the child to interact versus passively sit. This is what peaked my interest. I know everyone has seen that child who is just too young playing with mom or dad's smart phone or tablet. Considering these devices are relatively new and available more than ever before, it makes me think that there are few if any studies looking at how children's brains develop with the constant interaction with these phones. Or even if these studies see a difference between smart phones and video game consoles. While this article may be right about limiting children's tv viewing, I feel there isn't enough empirical evidence to say video games are okay at such a young age.

One important chapter that I read was chapter 12. It talked about being able to cope with stress. In the chapter they provided a lot of different ways to overcome stress. They also talked about a lot of ways stress can creep up on you and the different forms it can come in. Stress is defined as tension, discomfort, or physical symptoms that arise what a situation, called a stressor. The important thing that I will remember is to never let it get the best of me. Stress can cause many severe problems such as peptic ulcers or even suicide. Now I may not have that much stress at the moment but even the thought of it is kind of scary. Trying to remain calm and handle one thing at time seems to be the best way to do it. Finals just passed and that was a very stressful time especially when you are on the borderline of passing or failing a class. Worrying about one final at a time is the first thing you can do. You can even narrow it down further to just one problem at a time. Over complicating a problem or having a negative attitude just causes more stress. You dont want to bring more stress upon yourself if you dont have to. Managing all of this is something I will remember and continue to do.

Intelligence and IQ were something I hadn't thought much about before reading the chapter. There sere several things the chapter pointed out that I found interesting. I had heard the nature v. nurture debate on IQ/Intelligence but had never fully explored the multitude of factors that affect IG/Intelligence.
I was surprised to learn that birth order and being a "later born" child would affect anything with IQ/Intelligence. I was not surprised to learn that education plays a huge role in IQ/Intelligence.It showed that IQ lowers during summer vacations, which I think is exceptionally relevant as there was just discussion about the University of Minnesota considering switching to a full year schedule. Would the Intelligence/OQ benefits outweight the costs of a grueling full year schedule? Even though students would still be able to opt out of certain semesters for a break, if we ran on a full-year schedule I think most people would feel like they had to commit to a full year. I think a full year could potentially raise intelligence but I feel like there would be a high burnout rate, as well as less time for other activities and opportunities that primarily take place in the summer now. Would it make that much of a difference ro would it just be like now, except taking a semester off, instead of the summer like the majority of students do now?

For some, sleepwalking is a reasonably regular occurrence. 4 to 5 percent of adults and 15 to 30 percent sleepwalk occasionally. While some do mundane things like walk to the kitchen and ope the fridge or go to the bathroom, others go so far as to get in a car and drive or even to have sex with another person. This phenomena is referred to as sexsomnia.
I first heard about sexsomnia at the beginning of this semester when we read about in my criminal justice class. The article, "Sleep, Sex and the Law" by Jesse Bering was informative as well as intriguing. It brought up incidents where that had been rape or sexual assault that had allegedly occurred while asleep, and left the courts to deal with it. The most interesting case was of two French men. A straight employee had invited his homosexual boss over for dinner and after a gratuitous amount of wine, they both went to bed separately, the boss on the sofa and the employee to his bedroom. He woke up in the morning with anal lesions that suggested penetration and no recollection of anything happening. The boss said it was consensual, and after he spent two years in jail, the court agreed with him and he was released. What do you think? Is something like sexsomnia a farfetched scapegoat or a legitimate issue?

The most interesting part of the social psychology chapter to me was the section on prejudice and discrimination. I had always thought that prejudice and discrimination, especially based on race, ethnicity and whatnot, was something that children learned from the people around them over a significant period of time.
Jane Elliot's classic Brow eyes v. Blue eyes study put that notion to rest. Almost immediately after outlining the new hierarchy that whichever eye color was better, the children were hooked. They took almost no time at all debating whether to believe her or challenge it and started to treat it as fact. I was surprised at how easily the blue eyed children stepped up into the dominant role, but I was even more surprised at how passively the brown-eyed children fell into the submissive role. They put up no fight and accepted their "fate." It was also unsurprising, yet still very important to not the difference in performance of the two groups, with the dominant side performing better.
This makes me extremely concerned for the people who still face discrimination today. If we continue to treat some groups as second class citizens who are "lesser" than the white, privileged heteronormative ideal citizen, they may be hindered in their development and success throughout life by way of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we continue to shame certain people instead of encouraging them, who's to say that they have an equal chance at anything?

I'm very interested in the importance of REM sleep and what kind of effect it has on the body when it's restricted. Rats restricted of REM sleep seem to die within a few weeks, which would point towards it being an essential step in sleep. When humans are deprived of REM sleep, we tend to have an REM rebound--a noticeable increase in the amount of time we spend in the stage when sleeping.
When in REM sleep our bodies are basically paralyzed, and our minds are very active. Why is this so important to our survival? Why do our eyes flutter about? It has been related to the dreaming within REM sleep, one example being someone who's eyes were moving back and forth and later described his dream to be that of a ping pong match.
I've also read that some drugs such as marijuana inhibit REM sleep, and therefore chronic marijuana users should have a lack of REM sleep especially in consumption before bed. What kind of health effects does this have on those people? I do know that those users also have REM rebound after long periods of marijuana use, which isn't surprising.
Maybe someday we'll have a better understanding of how REM sleep functions.


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Memory is one of the greatest mysteries still to us. The full capacity of the human brain is something that humans do not use. We just a small fraction of its full potential. To think about what we could do and remember if we used 100% of our brains in crazy. Some people use more and have memories that remember everything they have ever done. While these are rare cases, even regular people that can experience, make sense of their experiences, and then store them in your mind is amazing to me. Memories react and behave in a way that can have physical and emotion effects on us. We remember things that we want to remember, but also things that we wish we could forget. There are things one can take to prevent bad memories from creating a larger more severe problem for people. Another very interesting thing is that people can create false memories. Just like the movie Inception, you can actually implant false memories into people. Not in the way the movie does, but people do it all the time with their childhood. In fact, most memories we have of our childhood are recreated and not really our own memories. Memories are fascinating and our understanding is constantly evolving.

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