March 2012 Archives

Haven't I Seen This Movie Before?

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Most of us have seen at least one movie that deals with a character's loss of memory. Some are more popular than others, like 50 First Dates, for example. In the movie, Drew Barrymore's character, Lucy, loses her ability to retain new memories after her father avoided hitting a cow in the road and crashed into a tree. Each night, her memory "slate is wiped clean," leaving her unable to retain new memories due to damage to her
Based on the information given in Chapter 7, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact flaw in Lucy's memory processing. According to this blog, Lucy suffers from anterograde amnesia, which, as defined by the textbook, is an "inability to encode new memories from our experiences"(263). The movie doesn't necessarily line up with everything we've learned. For example, Lucy supposedly suffers from short-term memory problems, however the short term memory is too short to retain memories for an entire day. Because she can't encode memories, the problem lies in the long-term memory processes, which are encoding, storage, and retrieval. If Lucy's memories aren't ever encoded, she can't store them, and thus shouldn't be able to remember them for an entire It just goes to show that we need to remember that popular psychology and scientific psychology differ more often than not.

Fun Memory Test

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Memory is a very interesting and complex part of the human brain. Made up into three systems that are called sensory, short term, and long term memory. This video that I attached will use your sensory memory, specifically iconic memory, when viewing. The information you see will then either be transferred into your short term memory storage or forgotten. From there you will use rehearsal to try and keep the images in your short term memory long enough to answer the questions. If you fast forward the video to about the 45 second mark that is where the strange guy stops talking and the test begins. You will view three short clips and then be asked three questions about them. Pay attention! I got 2 out of the 3, let me know how you did.
Fun Memory Test - YouTube.webarchive

What's Alzheimer's?... I forgot.

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First you forget what you had for breakfast, next thing you know you're forgetting your children and grandchildren's names. Your memories of the distant past are the last things you forget. 13 percent of individuals over the age of 65, and 42 percent of people over the age of 85 develop Alzheimer's. Many Alzheimer's patients are constantly disoriented, consistently forgetting where they are or what day or year it is. Alzheimer's occurs when the human brain loses the synapses and cells die in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Along with the loss of the synapses, degeneration and death of acetylcholine neurons in the forebrain occurs. Treatment of Alzheimer's consists of medication that will inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine. Unfortunately, this only slows down the process; it does not cure Alzheimer's. Researchers have discovered that being physically active helps reduce cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's. This disease affects more than just the patient; the families of these patients say their relationships completely change. As the disease progresses, the Alzheimer's patient begins living in their distant past because they are the only memories they have left. Families state that it is difficult being around their loved one who cannot recollect their name.


A story from a bilingual kid



First, I want to mention about an article about the advantage of bilingual kids.


In the article, Ellen Bialystok, a psychologist from York University in Toronto, argued that

"For a bilingual who really has two good languages that they use,

both of them are always active," because they have to separate the two languages in

their brain.

As I read this article as a bilingual kid, I realized that I had been using both Korean (first

language) and English(second language) to think.

I noticed that it's a lot easier to talk deeper in Korean, but it's hard to resist using English

as I speak. So English has been helping me a lot to fulfill my language skill.

In one of the summer vacations, (when I was in Korea), I found out that I was having a

hard time whenever I had to have a full conversation in Korean, especially with somebody

whom I don't know. Each time, I would mumble or stutter in front of them. Maybe I was

being little nervous, but it doesn't happen in the United States. Therefore I believe it's

a side effect of being a bilingual. It's just that English is the part of my main language

now because I have been living in the United States for a long time, and because I use

both English and Korean in my head even when I speak in English or Korean.

Both of them are probably being occupied in my mind all the time.

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before


One day, Mary Sue Campbell called her daughter very confused and disoriented, she could not remember what year it was and didn't recognize her own car that was parked outside her house. Her daughter brought her to the hospital and the doctors diagnosed her with Transient Global Amnesia. Doctors don't know what causes it, and it usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. With this form of amnesia, you can still remember who you are and recognize relatives, but you may forget recent events and are unable to make new memories (anterograde amnesia).
It was as if every 2 minutes or so, Mary Sue's memory reset itself, and she would have the same conversation with her daughter over and over again. Each time her memory reset, she would ask her daughter questions about the date, then about her recent birthday which she couldn't remember, then about what happened that morning. I found it fascinating that she would not only ask the same questions each time, but she often used the same wording, or very close to it. It shows how predictably we react in certain situations. The video below shows Mary Sue talking to her daughter, this was near the end of her episode of amnesia, so she was beginning to retain more of her memory. Mary Sue had the same conversation with her daughter for around 9.6 hours, and she had fully recovered from her amnesia after 26 hours.

For the full version of this story, listen to this podcast by WNYC's Radiolab.
Radiolab: Loops

Aspect of language



As an international student in United States, Chinese is my native language, but now I have to use English in everyday life: listening English in lecture, speaking English with friends, reading and writing when I doing the homework or daily trifle. Also I'm using Chinese with my Chinese friends and Skype with my parents.

I think the biggest advantage of being bilingualism is it helps to training my brain and my memory, with an others words, when I speaking with English-speakers, my brain is turning to "English thinking mode" (Thinking as an English-speaker to make sure I'm using a right pattern so people could understand) and keep recall the English words to complete a sentence. Speak a foreign language is requires me to keep response (processing translate) fast which training my brain, and keep remember new vocabulary I've learned to expanding my memory. It's very hard when I just getting started to study my second language-English, because it's very different from Chinese, so it's not help when I'm trying to study English by using a "Chinese thinking mode" but making errors in grammar. Yet, I found out I forget a lot of Chinese vocabularies just after I came to America about half year, I already used to speaking English in my daily life and I even have to using English to instead Chinese words because I really can't recall them sometimes, which is called retroactive interference In Chapter 7 (occurs when learning something new hampers earlier learning). I'm learning French this semester, because French is similar with English, it helps me a lot to learn faster than when I'm using Chinese to study English, which represents another interference: proactive interference (occurs when earlier learning gets in the way of new learning). but there are also some retroactive interference going on (I always confused by those similar words and using French word in English or opposite). To know three different languages is the limit of my ability, because human's memory has a limit, we can't keep absorbing new information without forgetting old ones. But if we aren't trying, we never know where our limit is.

Flashbulb Memories


We have all forgotten something at some point and time in our lives, some more than others. When tragic events happen, or something emotionally arousing, we seem to remember our feelings from that point and time in our lives. But there is some controversy on how much can we trust our memories. A multitude of studies have shown that our memory is not like a video camera, capturing everything play by play, but that it can change over time. Tragic events such as the Challenger (space shuttle) explosion, assassination of JFK and September 11th have impacted people's lives, but a few years after these events have occurred, peoples stories have changed on what they were doing and how they were feeling. Flashbulb memories deteriorate over time just like everyday memories. The only difference is that flashbulb memories come with great vividness and confidence although they can be very inaccurate. It has been documented that people who were involved in a flashbulb event have more accurate recollections compared to people that who were not involved in the event. Also, younger adults can form flashbulb memories more readily than older adults. Studies have also shown that flashbulb memories can also be created from non-surprising events. So how much can we actually rely on our memory?


The Forgetfulness Disease

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Alzheimer's is a form of dementia (certain diseases that cause a loss of brain function) that affects thinking, memory, and behavior. Based on autopsies of the brains of those affected by Alzheimer's, the diseases may be caused by plaques- deposits of the protein beta-amyloid that accumulate in the spaces between nerve cells and tangles- deposits of the protein tau that accumulate inside of nerve cells. Scientists are still unsure of how tangles and plaques are related to Alzheimer's, but one idea is that they kill nerve cells by blocking them from communicating with each other. Typically elderly people develop Alzheimer's disease. Nearly one of out every two people over the age of 85 has the disease. One's chances of developing the disease are increased if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has the disease. Two kinds of genes are linked to this: ApoE 4 and a deterministic gene that is extremely rare and only found in a few hundred extended families in this world. You can help reduce your risk of developing this disease by avoiding serious head injuries, not using tobacco, limiting your consumption of alcohol, and staying socially, physically, and intellectually active. Symptoms of those who develop the disease get progressively worse: loss of cognitive skills, perception problems, confusion, aggression/irritability, moody behavior, problems with language production, and short and long-term memory loss. (Remember how Allie completely forgot about her husband, Noah, and their children in The Notebook?) Eventually, bodily functions are lost, which results in death. There are no treatments that stop or prevent Alzheimer's, only treatments that help with the symptoms of this disease, which include medications.Tacrine, Rivastigmine, Galantime, Donepezil are acetylocholinesterase inhibitors, which reduces the rate at which acetylcholine (ACh) is broken down and results in an increase of the concentration of ACh in the brain. Memantine is a NMDA receptor antagonist, meaning it inhibits the receptors' overstimulation of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Those who suffer from Alzheimer's basically lose themselves as the disease progresses, forgetting their entire lives.The image below shows the lack of brain activity in someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease. alzheimer's.png

How Could You be so Heartless?


One American develops Alzheimer's disease every seventy-two seconds. (p. 268) Alzheimer's disease's signature is its detrimental memory and language loss. This is caused by a build up of plaque and tangles in the brain, which causes the deterioration of synapses in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, as well as the loss of a key neurotransmitter in the brain, acetylcholine, which has key roles in memory retention. (p. 268) I personally have had a great grandmother who was affected by this disease and watching the destruction it had on her memory was devastating. It began with a mild sense of forgetfulness in the beginning, but by the time of her death she could not even remember my name, her only grandchild. Through my own experience with my grandmother I agree with the clip below in its portrayal of the disease having as detrimental an effect on a person's family as the person themselves. According to the Alzheimer's Association, this disease cannot truly be prevented, due to it being expressed through genetics and brought about by aging, but can be slowed by the adoption of healthy habits for your brain. Eating well, and staying physically, mentally, and socially active are just some brain healthy tricks which may seem mundane, but in the end could make all the difference in the halting of this heartless disease and preserving your memories for years to come.

Being in the dementia ward


My grandpa lived and passed away with Alzheimer's Disease. This was a very moving experience for me to be able to watch the disease take its slow progression. I learned so much from watching this process. I was able to watch all the individual stages as they appeared and became stronger. The forgetfulness, the paranoia, the loss of muscle control. For the most part my grandpa was on a trolly car in Omaha Nebraska where he grew up. This goes along exactly with the statement made in the book that they will forget the most recent memories first versus the memories of when they were younger. Like his music, my grandpa had a doctorate degree in music and was a professor at the U at one point. He was always able to recall his organ pieces flawlessly, well until the very end, but with out any sheet music at all. Thus demonstrating the incredible power of the memory. So, Alzheimer's is a devastating disease that ravages the brain and it is called "the long goodbye" for good reason. This seems the most painful for the family...for the most part the one who has Alzheimer's generally regresses to a pleasant past memory. Then you just go along with it, riding along the trolly car in Omaha.


While reading chapter 10 of the textbook, I was specifically intrigued by the last section that deals with our social and moral development. It was especially interesting to learn about all the different temperament styles and attachment styles

It's fascinating how babies differ in their social interaction styles, but I wonder what the underlying cause is for these differences. For example, any parent wouldn't want their child to have high levels of behavioral inhibition, since it leads to shyness and anxiety disorders later in childhood. So is there anything parents can do to decrease this? Or is it all genetic?(102)

Since I have a 2-year old cousin, I can definitely set him in a specific attachment style. However, this varies depending on the relationship with the person leaving. For example this past weekend I went to visit, and when we were about to go he would refuse to let us leave. He would hold my hand and ensure that I stayed with him, until I really had to leave. He started crying and got very fussy as I ran out the house to meet my mom in the car. I now know that he has a secure attachment with me, but it hurts that I have to see him cry so much each time I leave.


All in all, reading chapter 10 has provided me with better knowledge with how we psychologically develop. It's really fun to watch all these changes with younger children I'm close to!

Social development in infants


While reading chapter 10 of the textbook I thought the part about social development in infants and children was interesting. It talked about how at first infants are very interested in other people's faces and tend to look at faces more then anywhere else. Very soon after birth children will be happy with complete strangers and don't mind who they are with. As they age and get to around the 8 month mark they may scream or cry when approached by a stranger which is known as stranger anxiety.

Another thing that is interesting about infant social development is the large differences in how infants react to the same things. Some infants are very happy and adapt to whatever they are presented with. Other infants are difficult and tend to be fussy and are frustrated easily. Another group of infants are upset at first but when the same thing is presented over and over they get used to it and eventually they don't really mind the stimuli at all.
happy sad.jpg
This difference in social reactions is very interesting to me. I never knew that babies reacted so differently to the same things. Another thing I realized is this stage is very important in someone's life because the babies are constantly looking at their parents and are heavily influenced by how they act and if they are happy often or upset about something.

What Catches My Mind: Autism

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Thinking back through chapters, one concept we covered was children and adults who are autistic. I have somewhat know only two people, one male and one female, who are autistic. The male was bound to a wheelchair, although very friendly, he had a temper and it was very hard to tell him right from wrong. As for the female, she is very smart. She is almost the type of autistic child that if among other children, and without knowing/talking to her, you would barley be able to tell her apart. She does get excited very easily, and she looses attention quickly as well, her speech isn't the best, but she is very understandable and can easily hold a conversation; she remembers names and places very well also.
From the video's we watched in class, the reading(s), and the information from the lectures, and knowing those two kids, it is just amazing to me how a person can begin with almost no ability to keep attention to learn to being almost as smart (IQ-wise) as a regular student of their age. There are an unlimited amount of "autistic miracles" that have been shared on the news, on youtube, and of course, all over the internet in general. Of course, there is no cure and doctors do not know exactly the cause of it, but some children are considered completely recovered from austism since their actions, language, and mind work the same as any other average child.
Below is a video on youtube I found of one mother (Lori) and her child (Daniel) who she considers to be completely recovered from the diagnosed "mild form of autism". In the video, there is also another child who has begun the same treatment who has begun to improve; the parents hope that their son will be just as normal as the first child who seemed to have fully recovered.

The Bright Blue Lights of Insomnia


I am always tired at the end of the day. I go to school and work several jobs. When I get home I have to eat dinner and settle in to do some hard core studying. By all intensive purposes I should be able to put my head on the pillow and sleep. A few times that has not been the case.
I was reading an article in the February, 2012, Psychology Today, magazine, when I came upon an article on insomnia. Some researchers have noticed a possible correlation between the amount of sun we get everyday and our ability to drop off to sleep. They attributed the need for sunlight because it is the blue light in the solar spectrum which triggers our brains into knowing it is time to sleep or it is time to stay awake. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population suffers from insomnia. There is no substitute for actual sunny rays. Artificial lighting won't cut it. That lighting cannot fool our circadian clocks. So next time you want to go outside for class, be sure to tell your professor you'll learn better if you do.

Why do we try to find the ONE parenting guidebook?



When it comes to what type of parenting is best, there is much attention zoned in. There are books, researchers, critics, etc. that are all spending their time on "How could you be a better parent?" It makes sense; everyone has parents so we all know the feeling of bad and good parenting, we all wonder how our childhood and home life affected us today, and we all are hoping for one sure-fire answer.

I personally think that it doesn't matter what type of parenting one uses, or how "good" a parent is. I believe we are very good at finding faults and flaws in people that matter to us, with parents at the top of our list. My parents are great and mostly understanding, but I still get frustrated in my mother's lack of reaction to some things and my father's misunderstanding of "normal" youth matters. When something happens, my mother will say, "Just one more thing to talk to a therapist about when you grow up."

Very few people can find perfection in their parents, or perfection in anyone. That's because humans are not perfect and everyone is different. We react to things differently. I'm sure if my mom worried more on my appearance, I would wish she looked at "the real me." But my mother instead has a passive opinion on matters of fashion, so I feel like she doesn't care about something that I put some thought in to.

Also, when it comes to parenting skills, it's just like every other activity. We all have our own way of doing things and are difficult to change so why should this be any different? Most of the time, people won't change their ways unless some traumatic experience happens.

Does Parenting Styles Shape Us as Individuals?


Diana Baumrind's work on parenting styles is useful because it serves as a basis to understanding a particular child's behavior or social state. When trying to understand why a child displays certain behaviors the first thing that should be evaluated is that child's relationship with their parent(s). I say that because a relationship between a child and their parent(s) is usually the most influential and plays a major role in how that person will interact with others socially and emotionally.
I can say that Diana's learning styles hold some truth because of my own personal experiences. I come from a two parent household where my parents raised me using the "authoritative" parenting style. The parenting style that my parents used has made me the person I am today. I grew up having a healthy relationship with both of my parents, which remains the same as I am in my adulthood. My parents raised me in a household that was similar to a democracy between parents and children. My brother and I knew our place as children and respected our parents and their house rules, but our parents also respected us as children and we were allowed to voice our opinions and concerns. The way our household was ran allowed there to be a healthy and strong relationship between children and parents. The way I was brought up has made me a strong individual that can advocate for myself. I know that Baumrind's work is based off of a specific race and class, but I am an African-American woman from a lower-middle class background and her findings on parenting styles still relate to me.
Is there any association or link between personality traits of children and parenting styles used by that child's parent(s)?

Riddle Me This...


The spa is busy today. Employees bustle about with towels and cleaning supplies, women walk carefully, with freshly pedicured feet. You have an agenda today, as well - a relaxing spell in the hot sauna before you head home for the night. You make your way through the crowded locker room, over to the steamy double doors, and you push your way through, into a cloud of hot fog. 59671.jpeg
Lying on the floor of the sauna is a man, face down on the tile floor.
The man has died of what appears to be a stab wound to the back. There is one other man in the sauna with you, and it becomes clear that this is the man who has committed the crime. He has blood on his hands, and on the thermos he carried into the sauna with him. However, the man has no weapons on or around his body. Since you know that the man in the room is guilty, how can you prove his guilt? How did he manage to kill the man in the sauna and get rid of the weapon, all without leaving the sauna and before anyone else discovered the body?

This question, written by the authors of the game Mind Trap, stumps almost everyone. In reality, the answer to the question is actually quite simple; why, then, do most people have a hard time answering this riddle?
In writing this question, the authors of Mind Trap are exploiting a very common cognitive bias- functional fixedness. Functional fixedness limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used. This concept originated in Gestalt Psychology, a movement that emphasizes holistic processing, or considering a situation and all it's components as a whole. For example, a person experiencing functional fixedness may not consider a hammer to be useful for anything except for pounding nails. Similarly, we may not immediately think that a thermos can be used to house something solid - like ice - or that icicles can be used in a similar fashion to knives and other sharp objects, rather than just for cooling drinks.
Aaaah. So that's how he did it.
One thing I found really interesting about functional fixedness is that children under the age of five often exhibit no signs of this cognitive block (according to various studies). This is because these children often think more about the problem than about the fact that the problem must be solved with a particular object. So, they may ponder how they can make two pieces of wood stick together, rather than the fact that regularly, people use a hammer and nails to make the two pieces of wood stick together. However, by age 7, most kids have acquired functional fixedness. This is according to a study done in 2000 by German & Defeyter. Check out this link for a little more info:

Is there any way to combat functional fixedness? It seems that if we keep this concept in mind when problem solving, it is easy to work around it consciously. However, if anyone knows a little more about functional fixedness and who it affects, I'd love to hear some comments! Thanks!

Have you ever stared blankly, with eyes glazed over, at a particular problem in your calculus textbook and then walked away frustrated and bored because you just can't make heads or tails out of it? Well, then George Polya may be your savior.

When faced with a problem, scholarly or otherwise, we are often faced with impediments that prevent us from arriving at a solution. Professor Fletcher had lectured on the differences of how an expert versus a layperson approaches a problem. Consider this silly question from famed mathematical educator George Polya's book "How to Solve It:"


A bear, starting from the point P, walked one mile due south. Then he changed direction and walked one mile due east. Then he turned again to the left and walked one mile due north, and arrived exactly at the point P he started from. What was the color of the bear?

If you happen to be an expert on bears or navigation perhaps the answer is obvious and a proof of your answer is trivial. As evidenced in Fletcher's research, an expert is already familiar with the narrative and can easily progress down a solution path.

The layperson may have a rough time. A naïve problem solver may go through a lengthy parameter search over a potentially large solution space. George Polya had developed an algorithm for applying a set of heuristics that has proven to be useful Roughly the steps are:

1.) Understand the Problem
2.) Devise a plan
3.) Execute the plan
4.) Review and reflect on what worked and didn't work

In each of these steps we may employ any number of strategies or heuristics from devising simpler analogous problems, drawing diagrams, backward chaining, restating the problem in your own words, making a list, and etc. What he has assembled is a method for a layperson to construct a narrative; that an expert may do intuitively.

I have found these steps useful in avoiding some of the pitfalls I encounter in solving certain kinds of problems. I become more aware of when and where I may be fall prey to focusing too much on surface similarities, functional fixedness, or mental sets. Polya's algorithm fails where all algorithms fail: if we can't satisfy a particular step then our solution path falls apart. If I just don't know anything about bears how can I possibly hope to figure out what color a bear is?

All in all, Polya's book is a great read and offers insight into the nature of reasoning from one of the great mathematicians and educators of the 20th century. So, what color is the bear?

It seems everyone is 'dying to be thin' these days...


Because of the nature of Anorexia nervosa, it is one of the most life threatening psychological conditions out there according to our textbook. When I read that, I was shocked. I also didn't quite know the specifics that went along with the disorder. One of my close friends has Anorexia - she is obsessed with eating and congratulates herself when she skips a meal. Recently I've heard of more and more boys being diagnosed with Anorexia. Boys are also pressured to be lean, muscular, and fit just like girls are. This MSNBC video gives great detail as to why this disease affects boys too.

The video describes the young men who end up with this disorder as straight-A students who usually are athletes; all in all, they are outstanding kids. I feel like this disorder probably affects more males than is recorded because men are so afraid to let anyone know. It's up to the family and friends of that person to tell them and get them help. That can be an extremely hard conversation to have but it needs to be said.

What I wonder is what initially triggers the obsessiveness with food? Every little kid I've ever met enjoys food. Every middle school aged kid I've ever met absolutely adores junk food. Most high school aged kids love having the freedom of taking the car and going out to eat. So, what triggers it?

"In A Complicated Relationship...With Food"


If you've had your eyes open in the last month in the twin cities, you have probably noticed this title posed as a question on a billboard or city bus. It's part of the Emily Program's (Eating Disorder Treatment Services) latest campaign offering help, and any one of the estimated 10 million females and 1 million males battling Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder (Crowther et al., 1992; Fairburn et al., 1993; Gordon, 1990; Hoek, 1995; Shisslak et al., 1995) have an all too painful answer to that question. I have a very personal experience with this issue, and while I could write a book about my experience and healing, I'll use this post to share a couple brief thoughts from my point of view and a few research findings that are new to me and what questions these leave hanging.

1. Brain Chemistry.Once you've been entangled with an eating disorder, it never fully goes away. Even after doing the work of challenging psychological distortions and maintaining 'healthy' eating habits over a long enough period to be considered 'recovered', you will never have an unaffected relationship with food. While I'm able to look back and acknowledge the period of wasted time and unhealthy coping mechanisms as a closed chapter in my life, reading about hunger, eating, and eating disorders brings up emotions and re-analyzing the motivations of control, fear, and self esteem that cycled, evolved, and even transformed disorders up until the point of therapy.

One of the documented affects of both anorexia and bulimia are changes in brain chemistry. Does this reverse after recovery? A 2005 University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Study reported increased Dopamine and Serotonin in recovered anorexic and bulimic people. Chemicals related to reinforcement, reward, appetite, mood, and impulse control. This study also found increased activity in a specific serotonin receptor in recovered bulimia type anorexia, and receptor overactivity strongly associated with Harm Avoidance Anxiety in restrictive type anorexics. Hormones also differed from those who had never had a eating disorder. Elevated levels of the neuropeptide Y and peptide YY in former anorexics and low levels of hormone of cholecystokinin (which seems to cause satiation) in bulimics.

Beyond brain chemistry, culture's obsession and constant discussion of diets in everyday light conversation will never let you avoid it like alcoholics can avoid the bar.

2. Western Culture to blame? Because most eating disorders take their hold during the ages of adolescence/young adulthood, the popular belief is that magazines, media, and cultural standards are to blame. Are they? I don't know if media alone can be causal of a true eating disorder. I think there are those who deliberately 'diet' themselves underweight, but know they are doing it. Research supports though that the belief that being thin is the answer to all problems is prevalent in Western Culture, and there is a focus on body image as a way of improving lives, getting better jobs, etc. Still, the fact that disordered eating behaviors have been documented throughout most of history calls into question the assertion that eating disorders are a product of current social pressures.

Here's an article with more on culture and eating disorders

3. Prevention. Imagine that included in the routine teen-age doctor visit was a brain scan that identified whether a teen was at risk for an eating disorder?Would this knowledge be empowering? Would a teen given this predisposition guard themself against falling into an eating disorder? Would it make a difference? Can the medical field and/or parents do a more vigilant job of acknowledging the beginnings of disorder?

When I was 16, my concerned Mom made a doctor appointment without my knowing, when she knew my period had stopped. The doctor asked me questions, I lied. I sat there and said I ate whatever wanted (which was true, but I just didn't want to eat anything but 1/4 C. cereal and lettuce/cucumber in a day at the time). The doctor did nothing but tell me I needed to eat more or workout less. She offered me birth control, told me I could go to Dairy Queen, and sent me on my way. This only fueled me. I sometimes think adults, even doctors, can be in denial or exercise judgement toward young females with eating disorders, especially anorexia if it's not yet medically dangerous. Years later I wondered what might have happened differently had someone asked genuine questions of motive rather than focus on food.

If you or someone you know is struggling, I recommend talking to a therapist because there is healing. Recommended reading for understanding what your friend might be experiencing, Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

Here's the full articles on Biochemical Correlates of Anorexia and Bulimia

Sorry for the long post, if anyone's still reading.

The Temptation to Touch


In the past, people used to believe that animals tended to create bonds at such a young age with those that provided nourishment for them. In 1950, Harry Harlow created an experiment to test this. He found that baby rhesus monkeys actually preferred to create bonds with the fake mother that was softer that he could cuddle with, rather than the fake mother that provided nourishment, but wasn't comfortable. He termed this contact comfort, observing positive emotions associated to touch. This phenomenon is very much observed with younger humans. If an adult is with her child when she comes across an old friend that the child hasn't met yet, it is very common that the child will hug tight to its mother's legs, burying its face. It has been agreed that this contact comfort is pretty much a basic need. This has been noticed that in orphanages filled with many kids: kids tend to become underdeveloped, get sick, and even die when this need has not been met. Apart from possibly keeping the child alive, soothing touches such as gentle back rubs, according to Linda Sonna, can help build trust between the infant and its caregiver. She then goes on to say that caregivers ought not to try to hold an embrace if the infant is trying to get away, unless the initial embrace was in an attempt to calm them down, otherwise it may result in the infant growing weary of the touch of another.

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