holy orbitofrontal lesion, batman

I read an interesting post on Brain Waves yesterday.

The post was regarding recent findings* that the orbitofrontal cortex, a particular area of the prefrontal cortex, controls the emotion of regret. The subjects with lesions in that area did not experience the consequences of their behavior in the same way compared to those who didn’t have lesions. They did not experience regret for their decisions.
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psychological interests

As some of you know, I have a really strong background in psychology with the aspiration of going on to be a physical therapist. Some people believe I should just stay in the field of psychology. None of them have convinced me to change my mind yet, but there are some specific areas of psychology which interest me greatly.
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Ron Jeremy Pushing Drugs? No way.

That title ought to at least get you interested in the article I’d like everyone to read.

…First came Rosie OíDonnell, then Wayne Brady, and now a schmuck of the likes of Ron Jeremy has his own talk show. Apparently, if a person has the ability to talk, then they can also have their very own television forum, regardless of any deficiencies in their intelligence.

Although this article starts out very humorously, it very quickly turns serious about a topic I also believe is plaguing our nation.

When I took a biopsychology course at the University of Texas, one of the psychology research teams had just completed a study that found that only 2-3% of the population had ADHD, despite the fact that about 13-15% of the population were being treated for ADHD. I wish I had the figures here, but I suspect that the actual number of people who have ADHD now has not changed radically from that study. I also suspect that the number of people treated for ADHD has most likely increased. There is a reason for this.

I believe that our society has decided to opt out of the more difficult, but hands on approach to getting through challenging times, and instead turned to any one of the many “miracle” pills on the market today to make it all better.

It leaves one to question whether this really is advancement. Certainly, we are leaving more about how pharmacology affects the human body, and there are many wonderful drugs which have been introduced in the recent past for some pretty severe health issues. But I just fear that people will rely upon the fashionable drugs to cope with something that they really should be working through.

Tolerance & Stereotyping

Approximately one year ago, I attempted to host a distinctive program for new moms, including myself, that encouraged health. Originally, it began as a weight loss support group, but I used some of my clinical learning experiences to present unique ideas in order to help the women add awareness to their programs.

Each week I would pick a new topic with 3 parts which included definitions, past experiences and new experiment with an additional follow-up. The theory was exciting, but I forgot my golden rule; know your playing field. The program lasted a mere few weeks, but I learned a great deal from the process. There is one particular way I keep learning from this.

One week I decided to find a personality test for the women to use to access how they best interact with the world. I found a test that gauged behavioral style, called The Platinum Rule. I found this test on Dr. Tony Alessandra’s website. Dr. Alessandra does not have his PhD in psychology, but rather marketing. If you really think about it in terms of relationships, are they so different?

While I was there taking the test, I also signed up for his 52 week email series offering self-improvement tips. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and helpfulness offered in these emails. At the very least, they have brought topics back into focus.

I received one today entitled, Tolerance. Tolerance means you’re open to acknowledging, allowing and respectful of opinions and practices that are different from your own, as it is defined in the email. The email then goes on to talk about how stereotyping influences tolerance. Here is an excerpt, including some questions about stereotyping based on a training program developed by Barbara Walker, a prior manager of international diversity at Digital Equipment Corporation.

I’ll try a few of the questions with you. I’ll start a sentence and you finish it with three or four descriptive adjectives. Just let the words come. Don’t try to censor them. Ready?

Native Americans are ________
African Americans are ________
White people are ________
Hispanics are ________
Asian Americans are ________
People with a Texas accent are ________
People from California are ________
People who don’t finish high school are ________
People with AIDS are ________
People who stutter are ________
Men with long ponytails are ________

Did you discover that you’re holding some negative stereotypes about certain groups of people?

I actually answered these questions with very little stereotyping except the question concerning Asian Americans, to which I answered “smart.” Sure, it’s not a negative stereotype, but it IS a stereotype.

Stereotypes affect our decision making process, and can be destructive in building relationships. A positive stereotype could project a characteristic that is not accurate, creating a barrier to authenticity. Therefore, I believe that even positive stereotypes can affect tolerance, though the effects are at the other end of the spectrum.

The remainder of the email concentrates on how to overcome negative stereotyping by first recognizing that stereotyping comes from past behavior, and from being taught about other people and their differences apart from ourselves. What’s important to realize is that even though negative stereotyping may affect relationships that more negatively, positive stereotyping can also be an obstruction in building relationships.