Psychological Disorders and Treatments

by Tabetha Cooper

Part 1:
Investigating the Relationship between Alcohol and Violence

Asch conformity experiment
Asch conformity experiment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been assigned to do an investigative study to find the relationship between alcohol and violence.  Out of all of the methods I have studied that are used to observe human behavior, for this particular study I believe I would select both the naturalistic method and the experimental method.  I would use the naturalistic method (observing people in their natural environments without their knowledge) in order to find out what kinds of alcoholic beverages as well as the amount estimated that needed to be consumed to become violent.  I would sit in bars throughout the course of a few weeks.  I would find which nights were more likely to have violence erupt, what drinks were consumed, and the average amount of drinks it takes to get to the point of violence.
 I would then conduct an experiment using the experimental method using the data I had collected.  I would set up two experiments running simultaneously.  In both experiments I would have a control group which would consist of participants that were served nonalcoholic beverages, a second group that would be served lighter drinks such a beer and wine, and a third group that would be served harder drinks such as bourbon and vodka.  As I stated earlier the exact drinks that I would serve would depend on the drinks that were consumed when the most violent episodes resulted during my naturalistic observation.  Both experiments I would run would be set in a bar type setting where people would mingle, listen to music, and dance.  The difference in the two experiments would be a provocation.  In the second experiment (for my own curiosity), I would make the environment more hostile.  The server would be rude, the music would be more aggressive, and I would have a person in each of the groups starting little arguments.
I believe that by using these two methods simultaneously with the additional hostile environment experiment that my results would be fairly accurate.  I would have the data collected during the natural observation which would give me detailed criteria to use in order to get maximum results in my experiments.  I would also be studying whether an aggressive environment contributes more to violence when consuming alcohol instead of just the effects of alcohol on violence in itself.  I would have to be aware of the dangers of extreme violence erupting and I would have to inform my participants of this as well.  I would have to be sure that all of my participants were over the age of twenty one with no health problem and not substance abusers to minimize the risks of something going seriously wrong.  I would have to make sure that my pool of subjects consisted of alcoholics, those who drank on occasion, those with violent pasts, those with no blemishes on their record, and a few people from each cultural background.  This would ensure that I have collected a random sample that would accurately represent the general population.
Even very young children perform rudimentary e...
Even very young children perform rudimentary experiments in order to learn about the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Upon the start of the actual experiment I would need to get have each participant sign an informed consent that states that they have been informed of all the risks that may be involved in my study.  I would have to be sure that each participant is entering the study of their own free will and not doing so because one of my researchers or a friend that wanted to join the study didn’t coerce them to participate.  I would have to put precautions, such as bodyguards, into each of my created environments to make sure the risk of someone getting hurt was minimal.  Once all the data from the experiments has been collected and analyzed I would then sit each participant down for a debriefing, to let them know all the details of the experiment.
Part 2:
            Let’s discuss negative and positive reinforcement for a moment.  According to Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner (2009), a reinforcer is any stimulus or event that functions to increase the likelihood of the behavior that led to it.  So based on this definition, negative reinforcement is where something that is wanted is taken away so that the likelihood of a particular behavior will increase, in order to get the wanted thing back.  A positive reinforcement is just the opposite; it is where something wanted is given to a person to ensure that a desired behavior will reoccur, in hopes of receiving more of the wanted thing.
            I will give insight on this with using examples from my own life.  A few years ago, I had been in a car accident where I did not have car insurance.  State law says that any car on the road must have a valid insurance policy.  Upon my first visit to court over this incident I was informed that I may lose my driver’s license.  Fortunately for me, I had a spotless record and other means of punishment was given, but taking my driver’s license would be an example of negative reinforcement.  I need my driver’s license and cherish my possession of it.  The state wants everyone to carry a car insurance policy for precaution of such an event as my car accident.  The state taking away my driver’s license would have been perfect negative reinforcement.  They would have taken away something that I wanted in an attempt to make sure that once I got my license back I would from that point on always carry car insurance so that I didn’t risk losing it again.  Even though I never did actually lose my driver’s license, it did teach me a valuable lesson.  My license mean too much to me to lose over something as stupid as the lack of car insurance, since that day I never get behind the wheel of a car unless I know for a fact that that car has an active insurance policy.
            My mother’s method of ensuring that I did my chores is a perfect example of positive reinforcement.  My mother always worked full time and was away many hours throughout the week.  She couldn’t keep up with all the housework on her own.  She would give me an extended weekend curfew if I did all of my chores in a timely manner throughout the week.  Therefore, she gave me something that I wanted, more time with my friends, in exchange for me doing what she wanted, keeping the house clean.  In the process of her having me to do what needed to be done, I learned that even though I don’t get extra time with my friends for keeping the house clean that if I just keep the house clean it does free up time later to do things that I want to do.

Part 3:
My Thinking about Psychology

I have had an internal debate over and over trying to figure out which theory of psychological thought fits best with my own thinking.  The way I personally think about psychology pulls bits and pieces from about every form of psychological thought that is a part of and has ever been introduce to the science.  I have had a hard time picking just one or two thoughts that have the most influence on me. Upon careful consideration I have selected Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory as the psychological thought that fits me the most. Although my thinking of psychology goes beyond and may differ slightly from this theory, I think this is the best theory to overall express my thinking of psychology.
The psychoanalytical theory is an approach that attempts to understand human behavior. Freud thought that feelings, thoughts, and behaviors where shaped by a person's subconscious mental process. In his opinion, if you could reveal the forgotten happenings of early life you could better determine why a person thinks, feels, and acts the way they do in the present (Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner (2009) pg. 15).  My attachment to the psychoanalytical theory was strengthened when I learned about Freud’s psychosexual stages and how they develop personality.  I happen to agree his thinking.  As defined by Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner (2009), psychosexual stages are “distinct early life stages through which personality is formed as children experience sexual pleasures from specific body areas and caregivers redirect or interfere with those pleasures.”
The stages are oral, anal, phallic, and genital.  The oral stage takes place during a child’s first year and a half of life. During this stage they experience the pleasures of mouth such as feeding and sucking.  This stage influences a person’s talkativeness, dependence, addictive, and needy parts of personality.  The anal stage takes place between a child’s second and third year and is when they experience the pleasures of the lower body through toilet training.  This stage affects the orderly, controlling, disorganization, and sloppy parts of a person’s personality.  The phallic stage takes place between a child’s third and fifth year and is when a child starts to experience the pleasures associated with their penis or vagina, depending on the sex of the child.  Our textbook states that this is when a child starts to experience the pleasure of masturbation, although I only partially agree with this.  I think that this is when they child starts to realize that touching themselves in those areas can feel good but I don’t believe it is much has much to do with masturbation but more to do with discovering their own sexuality.  This stage influences the flirtatious, vainness, jealousy, and competitive aspects of a person’s personality.  The next stage is the latency stage which takes place between ages five and thirteen, where child’s pleasure discovery is at a standstill and they develop their intellectual, athletic, creative, and interpersonal skills.  The last stage is the genital stage that takes place in adulthood and when a person develops the personality traits that makes them successful with work, in their love lives, and in relationships in general.  Since I personally think that a person becomes who they are through their past experiences, whether or not they consciously remember them, this is the theory that holds the strongest bases for psychology in my opinion.

Part 4:
Psychological Disorders and Treatments
As a counselor working with my first client, I feel that he may have a severe anxiety disorder.  The first thing I will have to do is determine what symptoms he presents.  Based on the information that was gathered when his appointment was made, my initial thought is that I may be looking for symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD.  This is a disorder that plagues a person with intrusive, repetitive thoughts and ritualistic behaviors that are designed to keep a person mind off of those thoughts and it tremendously interferes with a person’s ability to function in their day to day activities.
            According to the DSM-IV-TR fourth edition (2000), the symptoms I should be looking for include obsessions or compulsions that are time consuming and cause significant impairment to the patients day to day functioning, the patient has recognized that the obsessions are unreasonable, the patient is not a substance abuser, and the patient doesn’t have a medical condition that could be the reason for the compulsions.  I want to find out what the obsession and/or compulsions are.  For example is the patient concerned with contamination, have repeated doubts, have needs for things in a certain order, have aggressive impulses, or compulsively thinks about sex or sex related things.  I want to be sure that these thoughts are not just simply a result of real problems and are just in the patient’s head. 
            If I determine that my patient does present with enough symptoms of OCD then I would first want to refer them to a physician to be put on a serotonin increasing drug, in order to help to reduce the patient’s obsessions, thus controlling their compulsions.  I would then schedule a series of visits with me where we would try to figure out the basis of the obsessions through psychodynamic psychotherapies.  After the patient’s specific obsessions and compulsions have been established, through psychotherapy and exposure therapy, I am going to have them face their problems.  For example if my patient can’t leave the restroom without washing their hands three times I am going to encourage them to use the restroom and I am going to only allow them to wash their hands once before returning to my office.  After my patient has some control over their obsessions and compulsions I will use cognitive therapy in order to get them to realize that just because they feel they have to complete the compulsion doesn’t mean that their thinking is right.  Using cognitive restructuring I want to help my patient be able to step back and ask themselves if they have to really fulfill their compulsion or worry about their obsession or if this just a waste of time.  My end goal would be to have my patient to be aware of their obsession and/or compulsion, be able to stand back and realize that it is irrational, and be able to get their mind on something constructive, such as cooking something or going grocery shopping instead of giving in to the obsession or compulsion.

Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner (2009) Chapter 1
Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner (2009) Chapter 2
Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner (2009) Chapter 6
Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner (2009) Chapter 12
Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner (2009) Chapter 13
Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner (2009) Chapter 14
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) fourth edition by the
American Psychiatric Association Pg. 456-458

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1 comment:

  1. Too many variables. Violence knows no race, gender, nationality, social standing or state of being (sober/drunk).


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