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Introduction to Psychology

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Introduction to Psychology
What I Have Learned in Introduction to Psychology
In Introduction to Psychology we touched briefly on a lot of the components of psychology. It is an introduction class, so it does not go deeply into any one category, instead just skims most of them. I learned what qualifies psychology as a science, the brain and how it is important in the science of psychology. I learned about sensation and perception and then did a project on how psychoactive drugs alter them. We talked in depth about learning, classical conditioning specifically, and covered operant conditioning quite thoroughly as well. Freud was discussed quite often, since he is seen as the founder of psychology. The psychodynamic theories on development, personality, and psychological disorders as well as other theories are some of the subjects I will be going into depth in this paper.
What is Psychology?
The textbook describes psychology as “the scientific study of behavior and mental processes (Ciccarelli & White, p. 4, 2009)”. In class, the definition of psychology we used is “the scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external state (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010)”. The four goals of psychology are to describe, understand, predict, and modify why behavior is happening (Ciccarelli & White, p. 5, 2009). Psychology is a social science, focused on the individual, which is related to sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010).
What Are the Models of Psychiatry?
There are seven models of psychiatry mentioned in the textbook: psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, sociocultural, biopsychological, and evolutionary (Ciccarelli & White, p. 13-16, 2009). In class we also discussed the feminist perspective (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2009). The original psychoanalytical theory was based on Freud and he believed that sex and sexual motivations were behind a person’s behavior. Modern psychodynamic theory focuses on childhood experiences and unconscious thoughts in relationship to a person’s behavior (Ciccarelli & White, p. 13, 2009). The behavioral perspective is the idea that people’s actions and behaviors are based on what they have learned. Watson and Skinner were both important people in the behaviorist field (Ciccarelli & White, p. 14, 2009). Humanistic approach to psychology is a newer approach than the other two and the most famous founders of the approach are Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow. The humanistic approach emphasizes free will and human potential to change. Gestalt started the cognitive perspective on psychology with his studies of thought. “Cognitive perspective with its focus on memory, intelligence, perception, thought processes, problem solving, language and learning has become a major force in psychology (Ciccarelli & White, p. 15, 2009)”. Sociocultural psychology tries to explain the context of behavior and how it is influenced by society (Ciccarelli & White, p. 15, 2009). The idea that behavior is caused by genetics, hormones, and body chemistry is biopsychiatry. Biopsychiatry is becoming an extremely important field, because of the possibility now to find mental illnesses with brain scans. (Ciccarelli & White, p. 16, 2009). Darwin is the most famous evolutionary psychiatrist. Evolutionary psychiatry is the study of the evolutionary basis of human behavior (Ciccarelli & White, p. 16, 2009). The last psychiatric theory is not mentioned in the text book but it is the feminist theory. The feminist theory explores gender roles, and gender bias (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010). It is important to know about the different perspectives on psychiatry because they have different beliefs and treatment models. If a person is planning on going into the psychiatric field they would need to know the different types of psychiatry and which one meets their personality and belief system.
What Does the Brain Have to do With Psychiatry? The brain is where thought processes happen and has always held mystery. Scientists are discovering new things all the time. We now know that 10% of the brain is made up of neurons, and the remaining 90% is made up of glial cells. Glial cells hold things in place, insulate the paths for electrical currents, provide the neurons with nutrients and clean up the dead neurons (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010). Neurons are made up of different parts. The soma is the body of the cell; dendrites branch off the soma and receive messages. Axons are tubes that transmit messages to other cells; the axon is covered by myelin to help insulate the axon and speed up the messages. The synaptic knobs, also known as the axon terminals, store the neurotransmitters that carry the messages (Ciccarelli & White, p. 49, 50, 2009). The left side of the brain deals with the right half of the body, language, math, logic, analysis and reading. The right hemisphere of the brain handles the left half of the body, nonverbal communication, visual-spatial perception, music, art, emotions, recognition, process, pattern, and facial recognition (Ciccarelli & White, p. 78, 2009). The cerebellum is located in the back lower part of the brain. It controls balance, muscle coordination, learned reflexes, and habits (Ciccarelli & White, p. 69, 2009). The Cerebral cortex is the outer covering of the brain. It controls complex thoughts (Ciccarelli & White, p. 68, 2009). There are four lobes to the cerebral cortex. The frontal lobe is located in the front of the brain and controls planning, personality, memory, decision making, and language. The parietal lobes are in the top and back of the brain. The parietal lobes process information from the skin and help to recognize where your body is in relation to things. The occipital lobe is in the rear of the brain and identifies information from the eyes (Ciccarelli & White, p. 73, 2009). In the text, neurologist, Oliver Sachs’ patient that had a tumor in his occipital lobe could see things and describe them, but could not identify them. “Sacks once gave him a rose to look at. The man turned it around and around and began to describe it as a “red inflorescence” of some type with a green tubular projection. Only when he held it under his nose (stimulating the sense of smell) did he recognize it as a rose” (Sachs, 1990 as cited in Ciccarelli & White, p. 73, 2009). The temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex are located behind the temples. They contain the auditory and auditory association areas (Ciccarelli & White, p. 74, 2009).
Sensation and Perception Sensation is the activation of receptors in sense organs; i.e. eyes, ears, skin, nose, taste buds (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010). Perception is the way in which the brain interprets the information and forms it into logical functions (Ciccarelli & White, p. 116, 2009). The process of changing sensation to perception is called transduction (Ciccarelli & White, p. 92, 2009). I found habituation and sensory adaptation to be interesting. Habituation is the ability to tune information out from the ears. You still are hearing the noise, just not paying attention to it (Ciccarelli & White, p. 94, 2009). Sensory adaptation is blocking out the smell, sight, touch or taste after no changing stimuli. Sensory adaptation is different than habituation because the senses themselves become familiar with the stimuli and no longer send signals to the brain instead of the brain not paying attention to the signals (Ciccarelli & White, p. 94, 2009).
Psychoactive Drugs Psychoactive drugs produce altered states of consciousness. They alter sensation, perception and memory. There are four types of psychoactive drugs; stimulants, depressants, narcotics, and hallucinogens (Ciccarelli & White, p. 158, 2009). Stimulants the sympathetic and or the central nervous system to increase in their levels of functioning (Ciccarelli & White, p. 158, 2009). Depressants slow the central nervous system down; the most known and used depressant is alcohol. Narcotics are all opium based and suppress the sensation of pain. They bind to endorphins and cause the body to release more (Ciccarelli & White, p. 164, 2009). Hallucinogens cause the brain to change the way it reads information, they can cause the brain to read sights as smells, “colors have sound, and sounds have smells, and so on (Ciccarelli & White, p. 165, 2009)”.
Classical Conditioning The brain is needed in order to learn, act, and live. Classical conditioning is a type of learning that was started by a Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov identified elements that had to be experienced repeatedly and in an order for classical conditioning to happen (Ciccarelli & White, p. 179, 2009). The naturally occurring stimulus is called the unconditional stimulus. The unlearned response to the unconditioned stimulus is the unconditioned response. A stimulus that has no effect on the unconditioned response is called the neutral stimulus. The neutral stimulus is eventually turned into the conditioned stimulus if it is presented often and on a strict pattern. Once the unconditioned response begins to happen when the conditioned stimulus is presented, it is then the conditioned response (Ciccarelli & White, p. 181, 2009). Extinction is the losing and eventual absence of the conditioned response to the conditioned stimulus if it is repeatedly presented without the unconditioned stimulus (Ciccarelli & White, p. 182, 2009), Spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of the conditioned response for a short while when the original conditioned response appears (Ciccarelli & White, p. 182, 2009). Higher order conditioning is getting response to other stimuli based on the original conditioned stimuli. In the textbook they theorize about what would happen if after Pavlov succeeded in getting the dogs to salivate at the bell ring, what would happen if he snapped his fingers right before he ran the bell (Ciccarelli & White, p. 183, 2009)? The theory is that after enough times the dogs would salivate at the finger snap.
Why is Learning Important? There are five types of learning; classical conditioning, operant conditioning, observation/vicarious learning, latent learning, and insight learning. Besides being able to set up experiments to test the types of learning, why is it important to know about the ways humans and animals learn? It is important to know how you learn best, why people are doing certain things, and what works to teach animals and children how to do things. For instance children learn a lot of their actions through observational learning (Ciccarelli & Whit, p. 209, 2009). Children learned how to act towards a doll based on how others treated the doll, in an experiment (Bandura, et al., 1961 as cited in Ciccarelli & White, p. 209, 210, 2009).
“Human development is the scientific study of the changes that occur in people as they age, from conception until death (Ciccarelli & White, p. 310, 2009), Personality, cognition, biological development, and social connections are all considered to be part of developing (Ciccarelli & White, p. 317, 2009). There are four argued theories; nature versus nurture, continuity versus stages, stability versus change, individual versus universal (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010). Continuity versus stages was the most interesting aspect of development to me. I believe that people change throughout their lives but I don’t necessarily believe that a stage needs to be completed 100% in order to successfully reach maturity. Piaget’s stages of cognitive development include four stages that a person must complete in order to be at their highest potential. From birth until 2 years old a child is considered to be in the sensorimotor stage. In the sensorimotor stage a child uses their senses and motor skills to explore and learn about the world. By the end of the sensorimotor stage the child will understand that when a person or object disappears it still exists (Ciccarelli & White, p. 326, 2009). From ages 2 until 7 a child is said to be in the preoperational stage, in which they can ask questions about their environment and do not have to rely on their senses alone. They are only able to focus on one object at a time and cannot understand that by changing the appearance of something it does not mean that the thing itself has changed (Ciccarelli & White, p. 327, 2009). The third stage of Piagnet’s stages is the concrete operations stage. During the concrete operations stage, age 7 to 12, a child can think logically but is lacking in the ability to understand abstract ideas (Ciccarelli & White, p. 328, 2009). The last of Piagnet’s stages is the formal operations stage. The formal operations stage is generally from the age of 12 onward. During this last stage a person is able to understand abstract thoughts and can have hypothetical thinking (Ciccarelli & White, p. 328, 2009).
Personality is how a person acts, think, feels, and presents themselves, it is a constant and originates within the individual (K. Hoecker, class lecture, 2010). There are four goals of personality theorists: figure out the components of identify, find out the structure of personality, and find out how people are motivated and the dynamics of personality, and how personality varies from person to person.
Psychodynamic Theory of Personality Sigmund Freud split a person’s personality into three main components, the Id, the ego, and the superego. They are explained as, “Id: If it feels good, do it (Ciccarelli & White, p. 520, 2009”,”Ego: The executive director (Ciccarelli & White, p. 520, 2009), and the “Superego: The moral watchdog (Ciccarelli & White, p. 521, 2009). Freud theorized that we develop in stages, which he called psychosexual stages. The first stage is the oral stage, the main focus is oral pleasure and if a person has difficulty in this stage are effected by problems with “ability to form interpersonal attachments, basic feelings about the world, tendency to use oral forms of aggression, such as sarcasm, optimism or pessimism, tendency to take charge or be passive (Ciccarelli & White, p. 525, 2009)”. The second stage is the anal stage. The anal stage is focused on bowel and bladder control. The third stage is the phallic stage is focused on the genitals and is when a child identifies themselves physically with the same sex parent (Ciccarelli & White, p. 525, 2009). From age 6 years to puberty is called the latency stage because not much is going on psychosexually. From puberty to death is the genital; stage in which people focus on sexual behavior. I don’t agree with Freud on his theory of personality. To me it seems like he watched people develop and wrote a list based on what he saw in order to explain a difficult adulthood. I know from experience that if you turn potty training into a power struggle it makes for a hellish experience but I don’t think it is going to affect a child later on in their adulthood.
Why Is This Important? I knew people learned in different ways but I didn’t know that there are five different learning types and in those types, different styles. I am the mother of a young child and since we covered Chapter 5 (Ciccarelli & White, 2009), I have found myself looking back on the chapter in order to “trick” my daughter into learning new things. She now makes her bed every day because she modeled my action, and that same behavior worked towards putting dishes in the sink after dinner and picking up messes. I use to ask and then tell her to do something many times and get frustrated that it wasn’t getting done, now that I model the behavior when I know she is watching she is doing everything I had asked of her before without the power struggle. Knowing the different models of psychiatry is important to me and will be used in my life after I get my degree. I am in the behavioral health and human services program and am planning on being a licensed alcohol and drug counselor soon. I will have to choose what theorist I most agree with and what style to work with when dealing with patients. I know that I will be working with an agency and will have to follow their guidelines but I will still need to understand the theory behind the practice.
Global Citizenship Different cultures experience the same thing in different ways. In some cultures someone with schizophrenia may be looked on as having special powers in our culture they are viewed as sick. Cultures also have different psychiatric disorders, based on their own belief systems and structure. In America is not common that a person will fear their genitals are going to shrink or fall off but in China they have a disease name for it, Koro (Ciccarelli % White, p .559, 2009). People act differently according to where they were raised, what they were taught and what resources available to them. I have an entirely different way of thinking and feeling about some things then even my sisters do, because they were raised with their father in a house while I grew up with my mother in a family shelter for a lot of my childhood. I am able to deal with some things better than them and other times I get panic stricken at things that don’t affect them. Even though we grew up in the same country, the same state, we grew up in different economic levels and with different parents. Being raised in a different location, region, time, economic class, culture in general makes it difficult to relate to other people. If the people have different experience they may not be able to understand where a person’s belief system is based and may not be able to validate that person’s beliefs. As discussed in the textbook people identify themselves. The social identity theory describes how a person develops an identity inside a group. Social categorization is how a person identifies them and where they place themselves into the group; to help determine the role they should play (Ciccarelli & White, p. 495, 2009). Identification is how the person sees themselves in the group, and social comparison is when a person compares themselves to others in order to feel better about their role (Ciccarelli & White, p. 495, 2009).

Ciccarelli, S. K., White, J. N., (2009). Psychology (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

References: Ciccarelli, S. K., White, J. N., (2009). Psychology (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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