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Addiction and Obsession

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Some people in this world need to have an addiction- they need to feel the pull and connection towards something to feel whole about themselves. Addiction has always been seen as a psychological or psychical dependence and involvement with something. Generally, that something is typically and socially perceived as negative, such as an illegal substance. However, it doesn't always need to be. Addictions can range from anything between work, certain behaviors, or God.

These compulsive needs generally form from the unconscious mind; they are very hard to avoid, and are almost always out of the person's control. These compulsions have extreme negative consequences on one's mental, social, psychical, or financial health. While one is obsessing with these compulsive needs, they generally cut out other activities and contact in their life. The root of addictions are more often than not directed towards a different purpose, an excessive purpose- one that isn't linked to the expected goal. For instance, a girl who feels like she doesn't get enough love and attention from her parents may develop a shopping addiction: the clothes and the shoes are always there for her when she needs them, they make her feel good about herself. She replaces the nourishment that she really needs with materialistic "love and attention." When she goes into a store and leaves without making a purchase she may feel empty inside, like she's missing part of herself. Not making a purchase causes her to have anxiety- this is exactly what happens with a behavioral addiction.
Subconsciously, addiction can arise in any form, affecting anyone. They all have different levels of severity and may require different levels of attention and support.


I personally feel, or know, that I have a "soft addiction" to my BlackBerry- I affectionately call it my "CrackBerry" ...But let's be honest addiction to a smartphone is nothing new in the twenty-first century. My BlackBerry is always by my side: I sleep with it, I eat with it, I even have it in the bathroom while I shower. I panic inside when I can't find my phone, and don't even get me started on when I accidentally leave the house without it. When I went on a mission trip this past summer, I brought my phone with even though it was advised that we didn't. But my heart sank when we reached our destination and I virtually had no reception. After our week was over and we started the trip back home, I had tears of when I was able to fully use my phone again. It isn't the actual physical cellphone that I have a fixation with, it's having all forms of instant communication at my fingertips.

A Journey Out Of This World

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At the age of 20, David Oakford traveled the solar system, met Jesus, got a tour from a God-like being, vacationed in Gaia, hung out with other spirits, and saw his own soul-all without dying. What David seemed to have experienced is Near Death Experience (NDE). His story is popular within the online media of blogs regarding similar experiences; however, after some critical review of his extraordinary claim, one may find an alternative explanation for his travels.
While reading David's first account of his NDE, I found his extraordinary claim lacked a significant amount of evidence. The only thing he brought back was his changed beliefs and expectations of the world around him and himself. Although this journey led him to find a peaceful purpose in life here on Earth, the actual account cannot be measured since it is a metaphysical claim experienced through his subconscious.
But there are possible alternatives that could have affected David's metaphysical experience regarding his life prior to his journey. According to the article, David was an unloved and restless child, who "turned to drinking and alcohol". The cause of his near death was due to an overdose of drugs. This leads to the possibility that his journey was a mere hallucination or conjured illusion memory due to psychedelic or anesthetic drugs which give off symptoms of hallucinations, low heartbeat, and low temperature-fairly close to that of a dying body.
The fact that he nearly died most certainly was due to overdose of drugs. But the reality of his near death journey is unknown. The detail of his account does make me wonder how humans can not only describe such experiences in full account, but also how such an experience can completely turnaround a person's beliefs. Luckily, David's experience influenced him in a positive way, giving him a spiritual purpose here on Earth.

Works Cited
Lilienfeld, Scott O. "Consciousness." Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2010. 179-80. Print.
Oakford, David. "Soul Bared: A Metaphysical Journey." Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife. Ed. Kevin Williams. 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. .

One test of the Pavlovian conditioning model of tolerance is whether conditional drug compensatory responses are engaged by predrug cues. In one experiment with rats, injections of alcohol in the context of one set of stimuli were alternated with injections of saline solution with a different set of stimuli for several days. Each day, the rats' body temperatures were measured. Alcohol lowered body temperatures the first time it was given, but this effect diminished over the course of the repeated alcohol administration. that is, tolerance developed to the "hypothermic" effect of alcohol. To determine if a drug compensatory CR was engaged by the usual predrug cues, the rats were given a placebo. In a placebo test, saline solution is used instead of the drug. The placebo CR test was given to some rats under conditions where they were expecting alcohol; that is, saline was administered with the usual predrug cues. For the remaining rats, the placebo CR test was given under conditions where there should have been no expectancy of alcohol. Rats given saline with the usual predrug cues had elevated body temperatures, while rats given saline without the usual predrug cues showed little temperature change. Thus, it was possible to directly observe the drug compensatory CR, in simple terms, going through your pre party (drinking) rituals literally makes you hotter in anticipation (of alcohol ;).
http://www.uvm.edu/~biopsych/outline/DrugsOutline.htm

Operant conditioning

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The two theories of classical- and operant conditioning are in every situation related to learning in our daily life. We always face those situations, weather it is working harder and more efficient in the office when we know our manager is around who might punish us for not working hard enough, in school with the grading system, in sportive activities or teaching our dog new abilities.
Every event that is mentioned is related to operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is always present either if we face a reward or a punishment for our behavior. We differentiate those in either positive and negative reinforcement or positive and negative punishment. Speaking of a positive reinforcer we tend to present a new stimulus that strengthens the probability of behavior. Where you remove a stimulus strengthens the probability of behavior. Negative doesn't have to mean that is a negative outcome for the person, just that a stimuli is removed. A positive punishment is administer a stimulus that one wished to avoid and a negative is a removed stimulus that one wished to experience. I my opinion punishment is more dominant if it comes to learning. I am not speaking of strong punishment, for me punishment is already burning the hand on the hot iron. After experiencing that one wants to avoid the experience. If a person knows that there will be a negative outcome for the person if he doesn't do it, this person will try even more to adjust to their learning goal, by putting more effort to either avoid it, or experience it. Either ways the learning process will show effort. But don't forget about the reinforcement, which is very important as well for a progressive in learning process. It is the same as the punishment: People want to pursuit rewards. But it might be dangerous that people might not notice that they might be influenced on their behavior by getting rewards for "good" and punishment for "bad" behavior, as it is demonstrated in a funny way in this video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euINCrDbbD4

Source:
Youtube
Psychology-From Inquiry to Understanding, Scott Lilienfeld

Long-Term Memory Retention

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Long-term memory is essentially the storing of information for an extended period of time. It is unfathomable how the brain can recall a brief distant memory instantly yet not be able to recall material that was studied for hours leading up to an exam. Aside from test scores and arguments about past events, long-term memory is also being linked to overall brain health. Recently it seems as though the belief that a healthy memory can lead to a healthy brain is becoming more of a topic of focus in the health field. The success of books like "How to Master Your Memory" and pills like "Brain Right" show that a vast population of people are buying into strengthening their memories in hopes of living healthier in the future and the prevention of brain diseases.
In a more personal way, the use of pills like adderall by college students is similar to these memory improvement practices as this pill is used to obtain a higher amount of knowledge/memory by being able to focus more in class. According to CBS's Popping Pills a Popular Way to Boost Brain Power article, "a surprising number of students are turning to drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, originally developed to treat attention disorders, to boost their brain power and help them make the grade." Here we see that the external support is being sought out by students to increase their focus in class and to ultimately increase their retention rates. The extent to which pills like adderall aid in student's grades and memory is hard to argue against. In fact, according to the article, nearly 50-60% of college students surveyed say that they use adderall as a aid in the classroom. Whether or not the success of these students is a correlation vs causation example is a different subject but I believe that, in time, these percentages will continue to rise. Since pills like adderall were originally developed to help people with ADHD focus, I wonder what pills scientists are currently producing that focuses more directly on memory. The abilities of the brain and memory retention combined with external aids will certainly continue to be linked as people search for that extra edge is this ever-competing world.

CBS article
http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-6422159.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody

10 ways to improve memory
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6pg7VEE69s&feature=related

This week I was particularly interested in a concept from the reading regarding the idea that there is a critical period for learning a second language. The age and or developmental stage at which you learn a language determines the parts of the brain that are later in life used to speak that language. The reading mentions a study done on critical periods for language learning involving testing of immigrants' grammatical skills. Results of the study identify that the highest overall language proficiency is held by immigrants whom arrived between the ages of one and seven, after which proficiency gradually begins to decline. The study also goes on to state that "Syntax and pronunciation are more vulnerable to effects of the age of exposure than is vocabulary" (Lilienfeld 294). I think that this concept is important because of many reasons including immigrant accents, and overall ability to fully learn a second language, which are personal attributes that are prone to judgment in today's society. This concept applies to my life because I immigrated to America at the age of six, and was able to learn and have enough exposure to the English language prior to this conceptual age seven cut-off. As far as I believe, I don't have an accent and can easily shift between two languages utilizing proper pronunciation, but my parents, who learned English at a much older age, cannot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DryHvm8-jxw

In this relative video, Norman Doidge, an author, psychiatrist, and researcher, speaks about the plasticity of the brain, and gives his reasoning behind why it gets harder to learn a second language at later stages in life. He doesn't necessarily agree with the concept of critical learning periods. He states that "It is hard to learn a second language not because the critical period for learning is over, but because we are truly getting better and better at our first language the older we get." I found it interesting that he particularly touches on the notion of accents in explaining that "Our brains are too rigid," and that accents result from the brain's competitive nature leading to "The more over learned activity (one's first language/familiarity with that language's pronunciation) always winning." Reflecting on the reading's concept in mix with Doidge's perspective, I wonder if studies have been done on how strong of a correlation there is (if one exists) between vocabulary recognition/ability to guess correct definitions of unfamiliar words and bilingual individuals.

Altoid Experiment

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http://www.break.com/usercontent/2009/11/the-office-altoid-experiment-1499823

In discussion last week when we were talking about learning and memory this video is the first thing that came to my mind. I was surprised that when I found this video they mentioned the experiment about Pavlov's discovery from the book in this video. This link provides perfect insight into how classical conditioning works. Basically classical conditioning is when a person reacts a certain way because of a certain condition. In the video link, Jim was giving altoids to Dwight whenever his computer made the windows noise. After doing this consistently many times, Dwight got in the habit of expecting an altoid when heard the noise from Jims computer. To break down the experiment, the computer noise was the conditioned stimulus (CS). The conditioned response(CR) was Dwight wanting an altoid when he heard the noise. The unconditioned stimulus(UCS) was Jim giving the altoid to Dwight whenever the noise rang. The unconditioned response(UCR) was Dwight reaching for the altoid when he heard the noise. This experiment was very similar to Pavlov's experiment with the dogs. I'm curious to try an experiment like this myself so see the effects for real. Obviously this video is staged by actors and I wonder how long it would take for this effect to take on humans compared to animals. I also have been more curious on if there are certain things I respond to that are similar to this.

False Memories

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Most of us, if not all, have had false memories ranging from mild to extreme cases at least once in our life. It's a "shame" to say I've had more than my share of false memories. I've also seen my friends aruging because each of them think they were right and both of them based it on their memories. Like earlier today, one of my friend, A, insisted that she already gave my other friend paperworks so she can get on with planning things. But my other friend, B, said that she "remembered" that she didnt get any paperworks so she have not done any planning. And they kept going back and forth trying to prove that they were right by using their memory. There could be two scenario to this sistuation. Maybe A really didn't give B paperworks, or B is just trying to make up an excuse so A wouldn't get mad and in doing so, B could be implanting false memory in B's head if she believe it. Does this sounds familiar? All of us have probably done something similar to this.

As I'm learning more about false memories and other factors related to it, I realized that if someone wants to plan false memory in my head, I would be an easy victim. I can be really gullible and forgetful sometimes. And when I dont remember something clearly in my head, someone could easily tell me otherwise and I would believe it. It's kind of scary to have that sort of realization, especially after the Paul Ingram article. It still blows my mind how he was fooled by his memory into thinking that he have done all those terrible things. Sometimes I would unintentionally implant false memories in my own head. For example, whenever I'm in a hurry to to leave the house, the last few minutes before I leave are blurry in my memory, because I would be rushing to do things and get ready. One time, after driving for a few minutes, I would stop and wonder if I had turn off the TV correctly. Since I can't remember clearly in my head, I try to make up false memories and reassume myself that I did turn it off.

False Memories

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Most of us, if not all, have had false memories ranging from mild to extreme cases at least once in our life. It's a "shame" to say I've had more than my share of false memories. I've also seen my friends aruging because each of them think they were right and both of them based it on their memories. Like earlier today, one of my friend, A, insisted that she already gave my other friend paperworks so she can get on with planning things. But my other friend, B, said that she "remembered" that she didnt get any paperworks so she have not done any planning. And they kept going back and forth trying to prove that they were right by using their memory. There could be two scenario to this sistuation. Maybe A really didn't give B paperworks, or B is just trying to make up an excuse so A wouldn't get mad and in doing so, B could be implanting false memory in B's head if she believe it. Does this sounds familiar? All of us have probably done something similar to this.

As I'm learning more about false memories and other factors related to it, I realized that if someone wants to plan false memory in my head, I would be an easy victim. I can be really gullible and forgetful sometimes. And when I dont remember something clearly in my head, someone could easily tell me otherwise and I would believe it. It's kind of scary to have that sort of realization, especially after the Paul Ingram article. It still blows my mind how he was fooled by his memory into thinking that he have done all those terrible things. Sometimes I would unintentionally implant false memories in my own head. For example, whenever I'm in a hurry to to leave the house, the last few minutes before I leave are blurry in my memory, because I would be rushing to do things and get ready. One time, after driving for a few minutes, I would stop and wonder if I had turn off the TV correctly. Since I can't remember clearly in my head, I try to make up false memories and reassume myself that I did turn it off.

Conditioning

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Classical conditioning is a technique of behavior modification, it uses two different stimuli, one which already causes a certain behavior, and the other which the experimenter wants to begin causing that same behavior. The first stimulus is presented along with the second stimulus, and after enough repetitions, the subject learns to engage in the behavior when the second stimulus is presented alone.
In class, when we were learning about the concept of conditioning, I kept wondering what the limits to this extraordinary method of behavior control were. In a way, it seems like almost all of our behavior is defined by conditioning (that is, almost all of our behavior seems learned), from walking and talking to reading and interacting with people. Even the way we deal with undesirable situations and our own shortcomings seem learned to some extent. For example, if we learn, early on, how to behave a certain way towards certain situations, could those behaviors be changed later on in life by using conditioning techniques? The concept of conditioning is extremely important, in that, it has countless practical implications and uses. One such use is (famously) discussed in the fictional book (and movie) A Clockwork Orange. In the movie, a brazen and habitual criminal is put in prison and is selected to be part of an experiment regarding conditioning and criminal behavior. He's put through a series of treatments that couple a deathly sick feeling with videos of rape and violence. After treatment, he cannot stand to hurt another person, even if that person is harming him. The conditioned response (sick feeling) always outweighs the potential benefits of engaging in rape or violence. Of course, the conditioned response does not need to be a punishment, but the example in A Clockwork Orange still a good example of using conditioning for practical purposes.
The idea of conditioning became even more interesting when I began learning about Oxytocin and Vasopressin (hormones associated with love and companionship) in my biology class. If conditioning is really as powerful as I've read, could someone hypothetically control the hormone balance while presenting specific stimuli to the subject in order to significantly encourage certain behaviors like helping others or working hard? If I wanted to love exercising, but didn't, would taking a Vasopressin supplement while exercising help?

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