Information

Explanations of responses to real graphic harm

Explanations of responses to real graphic harm


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

I want to know answers to the following questions :

  1. Why do I feel curious sometimes to check out sites of "real accidents" such as "Documenting Reality" or "Live Leak" ?

  2. Why do I feel nauseous when I have seen a few of these events, such as videos / images of real motorcycle accidents ?

I am confused that I feel both occasionally (every 3 months say) curious to see what really happens to people in these accidents as well as feel physically ill once I have seen that.

I suppose this is somewhat similar to the reason people slow down to "take a look" at a motor vehicle accident while driving past on the highway.

I guess what I am also interested in is -- how is it possible for people to feel turned on by this same content -- such as "self harmers" or psychopaths? Is there a "causal emotional chain" that could be explained the reactions of such people as compared with the feeling of aversion… or is such arousal just random and unexplainable?


I'm not an expert in social cognition and this may be considered somewhat speculative, but I wouldn't be surprised if the literature found a link between shocking images and their high informational value (along the lines of a delta in reinforcement-learning models).

Intuitively, one would expect that visual representations of potentially dangerous situations would be extremely informative and therefore extremely salient. Indeed, emotion-induced blindness studies suggest that gory stimuli benefit from the deployment of massive attentional resources, to the point that they may exclude other salient stimuli.

Where this gets speculative is why this is experienced as something pleasurable. I'd suggest that highly-informative stimuli might be pleasurable in general. On the pure social psychology end of things, a search for "morbid curiosity" is bound to turn up some relevant results (as suggested by @medica).

I'll leave it up to you to explore these three bibliographic trails. =)


Though there is just one-third the quantity of metallic elements at the galaxy's edge compared to where we are, life could still have arisen and evolved in much the same way. However, gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn would not be able to exist, and the lack of such planets might spell doom for Earth by allowing more frequent asteroid impacts. [Get the full explanation]

The four-limbed body plan that dominates higher-order animals dates back to the time when lobe-finned fish made the transition to terra firma. They could have just as easily had six fins, and if they had, scientists think life would have stayed low to the ground, and large, intelligent animals might never have evolved. [Get the full explanation]


The Symptoms of Anxiety

There are common symptoms of anxiety that people experience in terms of feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and physical sensations. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that anxiety is a highly subjective experience. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, nor will each person experience the same intensity of a symptom. Still, it is helpful to provide some examples of the common physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

The physical symptoms of anxiety refer to how we experience anxiety in our bodies. Examples include:

  • A feeling of restlessness, feeling "keyed up," or "on-edge"
  • Shortness of breath, or a feeling of choking
  • Sweaty palms
  • A racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Muscle tension, trembling, feeling shaky
  • Nausea and/or diarrhea
  • "Butterflies" in the stomach
  • Dizziness, or feeling faint
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Numbness, or tingling sensations
  • An exaggerated startle response and,
  • Sleep disturbance and fatigue.

These symptoms are caused by the physiological changes that occur in the body during a fight-or-flight response. Unfortunately, our bodies do not distinguish between a real and present danger in the environment (fear), and an imagined or anticipated danger in the future (anxiety). For more information about why these symptoms occur, please refer to section on Biological Explanations of Anxiety

For people who experience panic attacks, the above symptoms are all too familiar. However, as previously stated, a person does not need to develop a full-blown anxiety disorder to be able to relate to any of the above symptoms. For these symptoms to be considered a "disorder" they must reach a certain level of intensity, duration, and frequency such that the symptoms cause significant distress and interfere with someone's functioning.

Behavioral symptoms of anxiety

The behavioral symptoms of anxiety refer to what people do (or don't do) when they are anxious. Behavioral responses reflect attempts to cope with the unpleasant aspects of anxiety.

Typical behavioral responses to anxiety may include:

  • Avoidance behaviors such as avoiding anxiety-producing situations (e.g., avoiding social situations) or places (e.g., using the stairs instead of an elevator).
  • Escaping from an anxiety-producing situation (like a crowded lecture hall).
  • Engaging in unhealthy, risky, or self-destructive behaviors (such as excessive drinking or drug use to deal with the anxiety).
  • Feeling compelled to limit the amount and scope of one's daily activities to reduce the overall level of anxiety (e.g., remaining in the safety of one's home).
  • Becoming overly attached to a safety object or person (e.g., refusing to go out, away from home, to school, or to work in order to avoid separation).

Ironically, these coping strategies often worsen and maintain an anxiety disorder. This is discussed in more detail in the section, Maintenance of anxiety disorders: Maladaptive coping strategies

Emotional symptoms of anxiety

As we mentioned earlier, anxiety in its most basic form is an emotion. However, this emotion produces a set of feelings. Common words used to describe the feelings of anxiety include:

  • apprehension,
  • distress,
  • dread,
  • nervousness,
  • feeling overwhelmed,
  • panic,
  • uneasiness,
  • worry,
  • fear or terror,
  • jumpiness or edginess.

Some individuals, especially children, may not even be able to describe their feelings and may at times simply answer, "I don't know what I feel." Interestingly, many people find the emotional component of anxiety most distressing. However, the other symptoms of anxiety, such as thoughts, behaviors, and physical responses cause the greatest disturbance in terms of their daily functioning.

Cognitive symptoms of anxiety

Finally, there are the cognitive symptoms of anxiety. Whether we realize it or not, it is often quite common to have thoughts running through our mind when we feel anxious. Even when we do not feel anxious, we have thousands of thoughts every day! The thoughts people experience when anxious are commonly referred to as worry (Bourne, 2000). Although the content of the thoughts may vary depending on the person and situation, common themes include:

  • "What if _ happens?"
  • "I must have certainty."
  • "I can't possibly tolerate not knowing_."
  • "What do these physical symptoms mean?"
  • "People will laugh at me."
  • "I won't be able to escape."
  • "I am going crazy."
  • "Oh my God, what's happening to me?"

Depending on the nature of the specific anxiety disorder, and a person's own unique anxiety history, the possible worrisome thoughts may vary.

The psychological symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Problems with concentration, or difficulty with staying on task
  • Memory difficulties and,
  • Depressive symptoms such as hopelessness, lethargy, and poor appetite.

Notwithstanding, what is often found at the heart of pathological anxiety is an inaccurate cognitive appraisal of a situation. This usually means overestimating the amount of threat in a given situation, while at the same time underestimating one's ability to cope with these threats. These concepts are discussed in more detail in the Psychological Explanations of Anxiety Disorders section.

The cost of anxiety

These physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional symptoms of anxiety can certainly take their toll.

The "cost" of unidentified and/or untreated anxiety can be quite high:

1. Lost social and professional opportunities because of excessive shyness or social anxiety
2. Dysfunctional relationships because of a fear of asserting oneself
3. Increased risk for cardio-vascular disease and suicide
4. Other health-related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, teeth grinding, and other jaw-related disorders
5. Drug and alcohol problems and,
6. High rates of absenteeism, reduced work performance, reduced productivity, unemployment, under-employment, and disability.

In more concrete terms, the WHO has reported that mental illnesses are the leading causes of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide, accounting for 37% of healthy years lost from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The new report estimates the global cost of mental illness at nearly $2.5 trillion (two-thirds in indirect costs) in 2010, with a projected increase to over $6T by 2030.

Clearly, the cost of untreated anxiety disorders, which fall into these categories, is very high. This is particularly disturbing since there are highly effective treatments for anxiety disorders.


Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn? Trauma Responses

Most of us are already familiar with the concept of the ‘fight or flight’ response to perceived danger, namely that when presented with a threat our bodies respond by preparing us to fight against it or run from it. This response served our ancestors if they came face-to-face with a dangerous predator or encountered a similar emergency.

However, there are two other responses to a threat that are less well known. These are the freeze response and the fawn response (Walker M.A.) I will explain what these are in due course.

Walker M.A.. refers to these responses to threat as the 4F responses and each of them represents a different response that modern-day humans can display if they have been subjected to sustained and repeated trauma during their childhood.

If we have suffered problematic relationships with our main caregivers during our early life, it is likely that we will grow up to be very suspicious about forming close relationships with others during later life. The conscious or unconscious reasoning behind this is that if we can’t trust and rely upon our parents, whom can we trust and rely upon?

On top of this problem, any relationships we do form, with their inevitable ups and downs, are prone to remind us of similar relationship problems we had in our early lives with our caregivers. This can trigger upsetting and painful flashbacks.

NON-TRAUMATIZED CHILDHOOD VERSUS TRAUMATIZED CHILDHOOD :

Those lucky enough not to have experienced a significantly disrupted childhood only utilize the 4F responses appropriately or, in other words, only when they are faced with real danger. However, those who were exposed to serious, ongoing trauma during childhood, adversely affecting their mental health, frequently become FIXATED with one, or perhaps two, of the 4F responses and these become DEEPLY INGRAINED and REFLEXIVE.

Unlike those who did not experience a traumatic childhood, these individuals will also tend to over-rely on these responses and use them inappropriately, i.e. when there is no serious threat. These responses upon which they have become fixated, learned as a defence mechanism during childhood, tend to remain on a hair-trigger and are therefore easily activated.

Let’s look at each of the 4F responses to childhood trauma in turn:

1) THE FIGHT TYPE – The individual who has become fixated, due to his childhood experiences, on the ‘fight’ response avoids close relationships with others by frequently becoming enraged and by being overly demanding. It is theorized that he is largely unconsciously driven to behave in this way because he has a deep-rooted need to alienate others so that an intimate relationship cannot develop. The largely unconscious reasoning behind this is that such a relationship would make him intolerably vulnerable because it would carry with it the risk of rejection, similar to the rejection experienced in childhood, which would be psychologically catastrophic for him.

2) THE FLIGHT TYPE – It is theorized that this type of individual, for the same reasons as above, avoids close relationships with others by immersing himself in activities (for example, by becoming a workaholic) which do not leave him the time to build deep, serious relationships with others.

3) THE FREEZE TYPE – This type avoids serious relationships with others by not participating with them socially. Often they will become reclusive and increasingly take refuge in fantasies and daydreams.

4) THE FAWN TYPE – According to Walker M.A., the fawn type will often go out of their way to help others, perhaps by performing some kind of community service, but without building up emotionally close, or intimate, relationships, due to fear, like the other three types detailed above, of making himself vulnerable to painful rejection which would reawaken intense feelings of distress experienced as a result of the original, highly traumatic childhood rejection. The fawn response also involves constantly feeling one has to please others as a way of avoiding conflict and those who habitually display the fawn response tend to lack a sense of identity and can feel awkward expressing their own opinions. Because such individuals find it hard to say no they may be exploited in their relationships and take on extra tasks whilst already feeling under severe pressure and so, beneath the surface, develop (unexpressed) feelings of resentment and anger towards their partner. However, rather than express such anger towards their exploitative partner they may, instead, occasionally displace such anger onto unwitting strangers apropos very little (and then, of course, feel guilty about it). Therapy for those who feel trapped in a habitual pattern of acting according to the fawn response will frequently focus on helping the individual to set clear boundaries within their relationships.

THE ‘SUBMIT’ AND ‘APPROACH’ DEFENCES:

Some researchers describe five defence strategies an individual may develop depending upon his/her unique, traumatic childhood experiences, rather than the traditionally quoted three (fight, flight, freeze) or four, as described above (fight, flight, freeze or fawn).

We are already familiar with how individuals may fight, flee, freeze or fawn as an unconsciously learned response to childhood trauma but let’s also briefly consider what has been termed the SUBMIT and APPROACH.

THE SUBMIT DEFENCE

This involves becoming submissive and compliant in an attempt to prevent further harm, this defence might involve going into a state of dissociation.

THE APPROACH DEFENCE (ALSO KNOWN AS THE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT DEFENCE)

This often takes the form of a ‘cry for help”, or example, regressing to an infantile state and crying in an attempt to appeal to the protective instincts of others or it may involve trying to ‘win others over’ for example, using charm and humour to try to placate another’s anger.

Walker, P., Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood. Trauma. Publisher Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. 1492871842, 9781492871842


Instances of Anecdotal Evidence

Like we said earlier, we form many of our opinions, or tend to base our actions, on anecdotal evidence in our daily lives. While it is true that most of us don’t actually have the time or patience to gather scientific evidence to support any claims, it is also true that we don’t look for reliable or expert advice, but make-do with whatever we see or hear instead. Given below are a few instances of anecdotal evidence.

Example 1

John is a 22-year old guy inflicted with stubborn acne. No matter what diet he follows, he’s prone to acne every now and then. John is fed up with his problem, when a friend advises him to turn to a certain herbal treatment for help. John’s friend is neither an expert on herbal medicines, and nor does she know anything about alternative therapy. Yet, John concludes that this particular herbal treatment is going to help him get rid of his problem. His opinion is based on hear-say, and not scientific evidence or any reliable statistical data. He does not know that the treatment might not be authentic, or might be unsuitable for him. He just bases his opinion on his friend’s narrative, and goes ahead with considering the therapy.

Example 2

Lisa wants to go on a vacation to Barbados, but does not know anything about the place. She wants to know what to see there, what to do, where to stay, etc. Lisa asks her colleague whose friend has been there before to recommend a few places in Barbados where she can stay comfortably. Lisa’s colleague confidently gives her a list of places to see, things to do, and where she can stay when in Barbados, and Lisa plans her entire trip based on her colleague’s advice. Lisa’s colleague is not a travel expert, and nor does she have any clue about what Lisa’s idea of a comfortable stay is. Yet, Lisa plans her trip according to her advice, instead of referring to a travel company who is an expert in these matters. Making a conclusion based on the colleague’s advice, “If she has a friend who has been there, she knows what she’s saying. It must be good.” is an example of anecdotal evidence.

Example 3

Anecdotal evidence is popularly used in advertising and marketing of goods and services, as research suggests that viewers are more likely to remember certain extraordinary examples rather than a generalized example. Hence, advertisers use anecdotal evidence to promote their products. Clubs advertise the time when a celebrity partied there to attract customers, even though that celebrity is probably never going to come there again. Casinos and lotteries promote instances of people who win something, though winning something in both cases is very rare, and losses are almost guaranteed. Diet supplement companies give instances of people who were on the heavier side earlier and who changed dramatically after using their products, even though the people in the promotion are probably just models, and that the supplement is actually a waste of time and money.

Example 4

A woman looking for a good anti-aging cream comes across a brand that her friend has said is very effective. Her friend is not a beauty expert, but has read a good review about this brand on some website, and has based her claim on this non-concrete evidence. The woman too, bases her conclusion about the effectiveness of this cream and goes ahead and buys it for herself. The woman has no idea whether the cream will suit her skin or not, and if it will even make any difference to her skin or not. There is no scientific claim or evidence to prove the effectiveness of that cream, and nor is there any reliable data claiming its authenticity. Yet, the woman, her friend, and probably, many other people rely on the anecdotal evidence of this particular cream.

There are several more instances of basing actions on anecdotal evidence, such as deciding which doctor to see, which brand of toothpaste to buy, which babysitter to hire, and which gym to join, to name a few. Most people make these decisions based on the recommendations of people who are not experts in that field. Nobody really bothers supporting these claims with proven and reliable data. It is not necessary that anecdotal evidence is incorrect or is wrong, it is just that what might be correct in one case does not necessarily have to be correct in other cases.

Anecdotal evidence may prove to be a harmless base for decision-making in many cases, but it can actually take a turn for the worse in others. Sometimes, hearsay spreads wild rumors about many things, such as a particular food being a cure for a deadly disease. This form of anecdotal evidence might be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and may seriously harm someone who is suffering from an illness and who chooses to use that food as therapy instead of medical help.

Basing actions on anecdotal evidence may or may not make a serious difference in our lives. However, it is very important to focus on what decisions we base on what kind of evidence. It is best to not take any risks when it comes to health, finance, and relationships based on anecdotal evidence, and take decisions solely and completely based upon reliable evidence, be it scientific or by an expert.


What is an ethical dilemma?

An ethical dilemma is a conflict between alternatives where choosing any of them will compromise some ethical principle and lead to an ethical violation. A crucial feature of an ethical dilemma is that the person faced with it should do both the conflicting acts, based on a strong ethical compass, but cannot he may only choose one.

Not choosing one is the condition that allows the person to choose the other. Thus, the same act is both required and forbidden at the same time. He is condemned to an ethical failure, meaning that he will do something wrong no matter what he does.

When people encounter these tough choices, an ethical failure rarely occurs because of temptation, but simply because choosing any of the conflicting actions will involve sacrificing a principle in which they believe.

Truth vs. Loyalty

Conforming to facts or reality sometimes stands against your allegiance to a person, corporation, government, etc. Truth is right, and so is loyalty.

Individual vs. Community

Individualism assumes that the rights of a person must be preserved since social goodwill automatically emerges when each person vigorously pursues his interests. However, &lsquocommunity&rsquo means that the needs of the majority outweigh individual interests. It is right to consider the individual, but also right to consider the community.

Short term vs. Long term

Most people think it&rsquos obvious to plan for the long term, even if it means sacrificing things in the short term. However, it gets tough to choose when short-term concerns demand the satisfaction of current needs to preserve the possibility of a future. Thus, it is right to think about both short-term and long-term concerns.

Justice vs. Mercy

Justice urges us to stick to the rules and principles and pursue fairness without giving personal attention to given situations. Mercy urges us to seek benevolence in every possible way by caring for the peculiar needs of individuals on a case-by-case basis. Both justice and mercy are right.

When faced with an ethical consideration, we need to be clear about which values are at play. We need also to realize how easy it is to discard one of the values or to justify dishonesty because we want to avoid unpleasant confrontations. We do this by thinking things like &lsquoEverybody does it&rsquo or &lsquoI will do this one last time&rsquo.


7 - Harmful Effects of Exposure to Media Violence : Learning of Aggression, Emotional Desensitization, and Fear

This chapter focuses on individuals' television viewing habits and examines the amount of violence on American television. It discusses what the research community has concluded about the effects of exposure to media violence and the theoretical mechanisms that account for the impact of exposure to violence on television. The chapter outlines the contextual features of violence that have been found by empirical research to either increase or decrease the risk of harmful effects on both child and adult viewers. It portrays the possible solutions to mitigating the harmful impact of exposure to television violence. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 1982, conducted a follow-up investigation to review and integrate research that had been undertaken since the Surgeon General's report in 1972. The NIMH 1982 report concluded that exposure to television violence contributes to aggressive behavior in children, completely supporting the conclusion reached in the Surgeon General's study. The chapter explores the ways in which exposure to media violence contributes to aggression, desensitization, and fear. Two specific developmental differences in cognitive skills or information processing capabilities make younger children more vulnerable to learning aggressive thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors from certain types of violent depictions than older children.


There’s a Scientific Reason Why Self-Harm Makes Some People Feel Better

It's likely that everyone knows somebody—or they were the person, or they still are the person—that hurts themselves. Self-harm, through self-inflicted burns, cuts, or other means, is surprisingly common, practiced by roughly 20 percent of women and 14 percent of men, says science journalist Carrie Arnold in a story for Aeon.

Most people have a strong aversion to deliberately injuring their bodies. But for some people, writes Arnold, an odd connection in human brains means that bodily injury provides a sort of temporary relief from emotional turmoil:

When it comes to sensing physical and emotional pain, our brains use the same two areas: the anterior insula, a small patch of neural real estate that’s part of the cerebral cortex behind each ear, and the anterior cingulate cortex, a hook-shaped piece of brain tissue towards the front of the brain. These are the areas in the brain that process pain, regardless of whether we’ve felt the sting of rejection or the sting of a bee.

Pain relievers also act on these two areas, regardless of whether someone is experiencing emotional or physical pain. A 2010 study in Psychological Science revealed that the pain relievers such as Tylenol or paracetamol (acetaminophen) helped to relieve the distress associated with social rejection and also decreased activity in the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. This doesn’t mean that Tylenol is the next Prozac, but it does show just how intertwined emotional and physical pain are in the brain.

People who self-harm, writes Arnold, have “learned that, while the pain peaks with self-injury, it then comes down the other side. The physical pain lessens – as does the emotional pain.”

That doesn't mean self-harm is a healthy way to combat emotional distress. It's often used by those who've suffered trauma or been the victim of bullying or other personal attacks, and the UK's National Health Service recommends people see a therapist to help them learn to understand and cope with the underlying distress. After all, self-harm can cause serious damage, or even death.

In Arnold's own experience with self-harm, through self-inflicted cutting, she found that the relief offered was only temporary:

The problem was that the embarrassment of cutting, the knowledge that these marks would become permanently tattooed into my skin, and the fears that someone would discover my secret, meant that any relief was short-lived. All too soon, I was feeling worse than before, leaving me vulnerable to repeat episodes of psychic pain, followed by even more cutting.

It's often difficult for people who don't self-harm to understand why anyone would. But knowing about this bit of neuroscience might help make self-harm a little less mysterious: whether it's a good idea to exploit it, the connection—the physical wiring of the brain that ties emotions to physical sensation—is real.


Liberals and conservatives don’t just vote differently. They think differently.


(Koren Shadmi for The Washington Post)

“Follow the money.” As a young journalist on the political left, I often heeded this well-worn advice. If conservatives were denying the science of global warming, I figured, big fossil-fuel companies must be behind it. After all, that was the story with the tobacco industry and the dangers of smoking. Why not here?

And so I covered the attacks on the established scientific knowledge on climate change, evolution and many more issues as a kind of search for the wealthy bad guys behind the curtain. Like many in Washington, I tended to assume that political differences are either about contrasting philosophies or, more cynically, about money and special interests.

There’s just one problem: Mounting scientific evidence suggests that this is a pretty limited way of understanding what divides us. And at a time of unprecedented polarization in America, we need a more convincing explanation for the staggering irrationality of our politics. Especially since we’re now split not just over what we ought to do politically but also over what we consider to be true.

Liberals and conservatives have access to the same information, yet they hold wildly incompatible views on issues ranging from global warming to whether the president was born in the United States to whether his stimulus package created any jobs. But it’s not just that: Partisanship creates stunning intellectual contortions and inconsistencies. Republicans today can denounce a health-care reform plan that’s pretty similar to one passed in Massachusetts by a Republican — and the only apparent reason is that this one came from a Democrat.

None of these things make sense — unless you view them through the lens of political psychology. There’s now a large body of evidence showing that those who opt for the political left and those who opt for the political right tend to process information in divergent ways and to differ on any number of psychological traits.

Perhaps most important, liberals consistently score higher on a personality measure called “openness to experience,” one of the “Big Five” personality traits, which are easily assessed through standard questionnaires. That means liberals tend to be the kind of people who want to try new things, including new music, books, restaurants and vacation spots — and new ideas.

“Open people everywhere tend to have more liberal values,” said psychologist Robert McCrae, who conducted voluminous studies on personality while at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

Conservatives, in contrast, tend to be less open — less exploratory, less in need of change — and more “conscientious,” a trait that indicates they appreciate order and structure in their lives. This gels nicely with the standard definition of conservatism as resistance to change — in the famous words of William F. Buckley Jr., a desire to stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’ ”

I call myself a liberal, so this description of openness resonates with me. But I think it’s vital for everyone to understand, and it needn’t be seen as threatening or a put-down it seems to be part of the nature of politics.

We see the consequences of liberal openness and conservative conscientiousness everywhere — and especially in the political battle over facts. Liberal irrationalities tend toward the sudden, new and trendy, such as, say, subscribing to the now largely discredited idea that childhood vaccines cause autism. This assertion was tailor-made for plucking liberal heartstrings, activating a deeply felt need to protect children from harm, especially harm allegedly caused by big, rich drug companies.

But the claims about vaccine risks happened to be factually wrong. And how do we know? Scientists — who themselves lean liberal — debunked them. Over time, so did many other liberals. And in significant measure, it worked: There are still many people who cling to this inaccurate belief, but it is much, much harder these days to defend it, especially in the news media.

Compare this with a different irrationality: refusing to admit that humans are a product of evolution, a chief point of denial for the religious right. In a recent poll, just 43 percent of tea party adherents accepted the established science here. Yet unlike the vaccine issue, this denial is anything but new and trendy it is well over 100 years old. The state of Tennessee is even hearkening back to the days of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, more than 85 years ago. It just passed a bill that will weaken the teaching of evolution.

Such are some of the probable consequences of openness, or the lack thereof.

Now consider another related trait implicated in our divide over reality: the “need for cognitive closure.” This describes discomfort with uncertainty and a desire to resolve it into a firm belief. Someone with a high need for closure tends to seize on a piece of information that dispels doubt or ambiguity, and then freeze, refusing to consider new information. Those who have this trait can also be expected to spend less time processing information than those who are driven by different motivations, such as achieving accuracy.

A number of studies show that conservatives tend to have a greater need for closure than do liberals, which is precisely what you would expect in light of the strong relationship between liberalism and openness. “The finding is very robust,” explained Arie Kruglanski, a University of Maryland psychologist who has pioneered research in this area and worked to develop a scale for measuring the need for closure.

The trait is assessed based on responses to survey statements such as “I dislike questions which could be answered in many different ways” and “In most social conflicts, I can easily see which side is right and which is wrong.”

Anti-evolutionists have been found to score higher on the need for closure. And in the global-warming debate, tea party followers not only strongly deny the science but also tend to say that they “do not need any more information” about the issue.

I’m not saying that liberals have a monopoly on truth. Of course not. They aren’t always right but when they’re wrong, they are wrong differently.

When you combine key psychological traits with divergent streams of information from the left and the right, you get a world where there is no truth that we all agree upon. We wield different facts, and hold them close, because we truly experience things differently.

The political psychological divide goes beyond science. Factual disputes over many issues feature the same dynamics: Does the health-care reform law contain “death panels”? Did the stimulus package create any jobs? Even American history is up for debate: Did the founders intend this to be a Christian nation?

However, there only is one reality — and we don’t get to discount it forever. And liberal-conservative differences are part of reality, too inescapable, and increasingly difficult to deny.


Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment

In 1961, the Canadian-American psychologist, Albert Bandura (1925-) conducted a controversial experiment examining the process by which new forms of behavior - and in particular, aggression - are learnt. The initial study, along with Bandura&rsquos follow-up research, would later be known as the Bobo doll experiment. The experiment revealed that children imitate the aggressive behavior of adults. The findings support Bandura&rsquos social learning theory, which emphasises the influence of observational learning on behavior.

Bandura also conducted a number of follow-up studies during the 1960s which examined how witnessing a third party being rewarded or punished for behaving in a particular manner can influence a bystander&rsquos own actions. He concluded that vicarious reinforcement, as well as direct rewards and punishments, can impact on an observer&rsquos behavior.

Prior to Bandura&rsquos experiments, conditioning dominated the behaviorist view of learning. During the 1890s, t he influential Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov had found that dogs would learn new behavior through classical conditioning . When a single stimulus was repeatedly paired with a particular event, such as the ringing of a bell with feeding time, salivation would begin to occur in response to the sound. Behaviorist B. F. Skinner further developed Pavlov&rsquos theory, and proposed operant conditioning , whereby reinforcements lead to new forms of behavior being learnt.

Bandura viewed such conditioning as being reductionist in its understanding of human learning as a simple process of acquiring new &lsquoresponses&rsquo to stimuli. Instead, he turned his attention to the imitative behavior of children who watch, and then attempt to copy, the behavior of others.

Bandura et al (1961)

Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961) devised an experiment in which participants would observe an adult behaving in a violent manner towards a Bobo doll toy. The toys, which were popular during the 1960s, feature an image of a clown and were designed to self-right when pushed over.

The experiment took place at Stanford University, where Bandura was then working in a teaching position as a professor. The participants - children who attended the Stanford University nursery - were divided into groups. Children in one of these groups were placed in a room in which they witnessed an adult hitting a Bobo doll in an aggressive manner. They were later given the opportunity to play with the dolls for themselves.

The researchers found that the group of children who had observed an adult behaving violently towards the toy were more likely to act aggressively towards it themselves when given the opportunity. These findings indicate that learning takes place not only when individuals are rewarded or punished for their own behavior, but also when they observe another person exhibiting violent behavior - a process called observational learning .

In 1963, Bandura conducted a second experiment which replicated many aspects of the previous study. However, instead of observing an adult&rsquos violent behavior firsthand, they watched a video of the Bobo doll being struck. As in the 1961 experiment, those participants who watched the film of a person being aggressive were more likely to behave violently towards the toy than participants in a control group. The study indicates that indirect exposure to violent behavior through film or television may lead to actions being imitated in a similar way to behavior observed in person (Bandura et al, 1963).

In a third study, Bandura tested whether the types of reinforcement that Skinner had used to encourage and discourage behavior (operant conditioning) would influence the behavior of an observer who witnessed a third party being rewarded or punished for his or her actions.

Bandura shows a film to participants in which a person again beat the toy. One group watched as the person&rsquos behavior was reinforced by way of a food reward, whilst a second group saw a video in which the person was criticised for their violent behavior. The researchers found that the children who watched the video in which positive reinforcements were given were more likely to subsequently behave violently themselves (Bandura, 1965). This process of vicarious reinforcement suggests that learning takes place not just through direct observation, but also through the media that a person consumes.

Social Learning Theory

In 1977, drawing on his previous experimental research, Bandura outlined his social learning theory , which attempts to explain the effect of social interactions on learning. According to Bandura's theory, a person may observe the behavior of people around them.

At an early age, such people primarily consist of the parents or primary caregiver, siblings and later, classmates. A child may also observe the behavior of fictional characters on television and in films. Bandura argues that through observational learning, an individual may imitate the behavior of others. Furthermore, when a person sees another individual being punished or rewarded for their actions, their evaluation of the behavior will be further influenced, even if their own behavior has not been reinforced directly.

Aggression

One area of focus of the Bobo doll studies was the way in which children imitate the aggressive behavior of an adult. However, as the dolls were designed to be hit and pushed, and to rebound after being knocked over, some have suggested that the participants were not exhibiting aggressive behavior, but merely playing with the toy as it was intended to be used. This has led critics of the study to consider its experiment design to be flawed, as its participants were conforming to the demand characteristics of the situation.

Nonetheless, studies carried out in the decades since Bandura&rsquos initial research have lent further support to his observation that violent behavior on-screen can influence the actions of those viewing it. Heuessman, Lagerspetz and Eron (1984) studied children&rsquos behavior after they had watched television programs containing violence. The researchers found that the participants, and in particular males, were more likely to behave in an aggressive manner if they had seen such behavior on television.

Criticisms

The findings of Bandura&rsquos Bobo doll experiments remain influential in the study of learning and aggression. His research furthered our understanding of how children learn from their parents, siblings and friends through imitation. It also provided early evidence that violence in films and other media can negatively influence viewers' behavior.

However, the Bobo doll studies have also drawn criticism for the methodology that Bandura and his colleagues used:

Selection bias : The sample that Bandura used in his studies attended the nursery school at Stanford University, and so the study has been criticised for its selection bias. Participants may be expected to be from a more privileged background in terms of family education and income than the general population. Therefore, it is difficult to generalise Bandura&rsquos findings to individuals from more diverse backgrounds.

External validity : As the age of participants in Bandura&rsquos experiments were in a narrow range (i.e. nursery school age), the findings lack high external validity. Whilst the observational learning that he identified may occur in children at an early age, it may be the case that the imitation of adults ceases as a person grows older. As a result, findings may not apply to the wider population.

Critics have also raised question regarding the ethics of the methodology used in the Bobo doll experiments. A sample of children observed an adult behaving aggressively towards an anthropomorphic toy, whilst the researchers would have been aware that this behavior might be imitated by at least a proportion of the participants.


What is an ethical dilemma?

An ethical dilemma is a conflict between alternatives where choosing any of them will compromise some ethical principle and lead to an ethical violation. A crucial feature of an ethical dilemma is that the person faced with it should do both the conflicting acts, based on a strong ethical compass, but cannot he may only choose one.

Not choosing one is the condition that allows the person to choose the other. Thus, the same act is both required and forbidden at the same time. He is condemned to an ethical failure, meaning that he will do something wrong no matter what he does.

When people encounter these tough choices, an ethical failure rarely occurs because of temptation, but simply because choosing any of the conflicting actions will involve sacrificing a principle in which they believe.

Truth vs. Loyalty

Conforming to facts or reality sometimes stands against your allegiance to a person, corporation, government, etc. Truth is right, and so is loyalty.

Individual vs. Community

Individualism assumes that the rights of a person must be preserved since social goodwill automatically emerges when each person vigorously pursues his interests. However, &lsquocommunity&rsquo means that the needs of the majority outweigh individual interests. It is right to consider the individual, but also right to consider the community.

Short term vs. Long term

Most people think it&rsquos obvious to plan for the long term, even if it means sacrificing things in the short term. However, it gets tough to choose when short-term concerns demand the satisfaction of current needs to preserve the possibility of a future. Thus, it is right to think about both short-term and long-term concerns.

Justice vs. Mercy

Justice urges us to stick to the rules and principles and pursue fairness without giving personal attention to given situations. Mercy urges us to seek benevolence in every possible way by caring for the peculiar needs of individuals on a case-by-case basis. Both justice and mercy are right.

When faced with an ethical consideration, we need to be clear about which values are at play. We need also to realize how easy it is to discard one of the values or to justify dishonesty because we want to avoid unpleasant confrontations. We do this by thinking things like &lsquoEverybody does it&rsquo or &lsquoI will do this one last time&rsquo.


7 - Harmful Effects of Exposure to Media Violence : Learning of Aggression, Emotional Desensitization, and Fear

This chapter focuses on individuals' television viewing habits and examines the amount of violence on American television. It discusses what the research community has concluded about the effects of exposure to media violence and the theoretical mechanisms that account for the impact of exposure to violence on television. The chapter outlines the contextual features of violence that have been found by empirical research to either increase or decrease the risk of harmful effects on both child and adult viewers. It portrays the possible solutions to mitigating the harmful impact of exposure to television violence. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 1982, conducted a follow-up investigation to review and integrate research that had been undertaken since the Surgeon General's report in 1972. The NIMH 1982 report concluded that exposure to television violence contributes to aggressive behavior in children, completely supporting the conclusion reached in the Surgeon General's study. The chapter explores the ways in which exposure to media violence contributes to aggression, desensitization, and fear. Two specific developmental differences in cognitive skills or information processing capabilities make younger children more vulnerable to learning aggressive thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors from certain types of violent depictions than older children.


Liberals and conservatives don’t just vote differently. They think differently.


(Koren Shadmi for The Washington Post)

“Follow the money.” As a young journalist on the political left, I often heeded this well-worn advice. If conservatives were denying the science of global warming, I figured, big fossil-fuel companies must be behind it. After all, that was the story with the tobacco industry and the dangers of smoking. Why not here?

And so I covered the attacks on the established scientific knowledge on climate change, evolution and many more issues as a kind of search for the wealthy bad guys behind the curtain. Like many in Washington, I tended to assume that political differences are either about contrasting philosophies or, more cynically, about money and special interests.

There’s just one problem: Mounting scientific evidence suggests that this is a pretty limited way of understanding what divides us. And at a time of unprecedented polarization in America, we need a more convincing explanation for the staggering irrationality of our politics. Especially since we’re now split not just over what we ought to do politically but also over what we consider to be true.

Liberals and conservatives have access to the same information, yet they hold wildly incompatible views on issues ranging from global warming to whether the president was born in the United States to whether his stimulus package created any jobs. But it’s not just that: Partisanship creates stunning intellectual contortions and inconsistencies. Republicans today can denounce a health-care reform plan that’s pretty similar to one passed in Massachusetts by a Republican — and the only apparent reason is that this one came from a Democrat.

None of these things make sense — unless you view them through the lens of political psychology. There’s now a large body of evidence showing that those who opt for the political left and those who opt for the political right tend to process information in divergent ways and to differ on any number of psychological traits.

Perhaps most important, liberals consistently score higher on a personality measure called “openness to experience,” one of the “Big Five” personality traits, which are easily assessed through standard questionnaires. That means liberals tend to be the kind of people who want to try new things, including new music, books, restaurants and vacation spots — and new ideas.

“Open people everywhere tend to have more liberal values,” said psychologist Robert McCrae, who conducted voluminous studies on personality while at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

Conservatives, in contrast, tend to be less open — less exploratory, less in need of change — and more “conscientious,” a trait that indicates they appreciate order and structure in their lives. This gels nicely with the standard definition of conservatism as resistance to change — in the famous words of William F. Buckley Jr., a desire to stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’ ”

I call myself a liberal, so this description of openness resonates with me. But I think it’s vital for everyone to understand, and it needn’t be seen as threatening or a put-down it seems to be part of the nature of politics.

We see the consequences of liberal openness and conservative conscientiousness everywhere — and especially in the political battle over facts. Liberal irrationalities tend toward the sudden, new and trendy, such as, say, subscribing to the now largely discredited idea that childhood vaccines cause autism. This assertion was tailor-made for plucking liberal heartstrings, activating a deeply felt need to protect children from harm, especially harm allegedly caused by big, rich drug companies.

But the claims about vaccine risks happened to be factually wrong. And how do we know? Scientists — who themselves lean liberal — debunked them. Over time, so did many other liberals. And in significant measure, it worked: There are still many people who cling to this inaccurate belief, but it is much, much harder these days to defend it, especially in the news media.

Compare this with a different irrationality: refusing to admit that humans are a product of evolution, a chief point of denial for the religious right. In a recent poll, just 43 percent of tea party adherents accepted the established science here. Yet unlike the vaccine issue, this denial is anything but new and trendy it is well over 100 years old. The state of Tennessee is even hearkening back to the days of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, more than 85 years ago. It just passed a bill that will weaken the teaching of evolution.

Such are some of the probable consequences of openness, or the lack thereof.

Now consider another related trait implicated in our divide over reality: the “need for cognitive closure.” This describes discomfort with uncertainty and a desire to resolve it into a firm belief. Someone with a high need for closure tends to seize on a piece of information that dispels doubt or ambiguity, and then freeze, refusing to consider new information. Those who have this trait can also be expected to spend less time processing information than those who are driven by different motivations, such as achieving accuracy.

A number of studies show that conservatives tend to have a greater need for closure than do liberals, which is precisely what you would expect in light of the strong relationship between liberalism and openness. “The finding is very robust,” explained Arie Kruglanski, a University of Maryland psychologist who has pioneered research in this area and worked to develop a scale for measuring the need for closure.

The trait is assessed based on responses to survey statements such as “I dislike questions which could be answered in many different ways” and “In most social conflicts, I can easily see which side is right and which is wrong.”

Anti-evolutionists have been found to score higher on the need for closure. And in the global-warming debate, tea party followers not only strongly deny the science but also tend to say that they “do not need any more information” about the issue.

I’m not saying that liberals have a monopoly on truth. Of course not. They aren’t always right but when they’re wrong, they are wrong differently.

When you combine key psychological traits with divergent streams of information from the left and the right, you get a world where there is no truth that we all agree upon. We wield different facts, and hold them close, because we truly experience things differently.

The political psychological divide goes beyond science. Factual disputes over many issues feature the same dynamics: Does the health-care reform law contain “death panels”? Did the stimulus package create any jobs? Even American history is up for debate: Did the founders intend this to be a Christian nation?

However, there only is one reality — and we don’t get to discount it forever. And liberal-conservative differences are part of reality, too inescapable, and increasingly difficult to deny.


Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment

In 1961, the Canadian-American psychologist, Albert Bandura (1925-) conducted a controversial experiment examining the process by which new forms of behavior - and in particular, aggression - are learnt. The initial study, along with Bandura&rsquos follow-up research, would later be known as the Bobo doll experiment. The experiment revealed that children imitate the aggressive behavior of adults. The findings support Bandura&rsquos social learning theory, which emphasises the influence of observational learning on behavior.

Bandura also conducted a number of follow-up studies during the 1960s which examined how witnessing a third party being rewarded or punished for behaving in a particular manner can influence a bystander&rsquos own actions. He concluded that vicarious reinforcement, as well as direct rewards and punishments, can impact on an observer&rsquos behavior.

Prior to Bandura&rsquos experiments, conditioning dominated the behaviorist view of learning. During the 1890s, t he influential Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov had found that dogs would learn new behavior through classical conditioning . When a single stimulus was repeatedly paired with a particular event, such as the ringing of a bell with feeding time, salivation would begin to occur in response to the sound. Behaviorist B. F. Skinner further developed Pavlov&rsquos theory, and proposed operant conditioning , whereby reinforcements lead to new forms of behavior being learnt.

Bandura viewed such conditioning as being reductionist in its understanding of human learning as a simple process of acquiring new &lsquoresponses&rsquo to stimuli. Instead, he turned his attention to the imitative behavior of children who watch, and then attempt to copy, the behavior of others.

Bandura et al (1961)

Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961) devised an experiment in which participants would observe an adult behaving in a violent manner towards a Bobo doll toy. The toys, which were popular during the 1960s, feature an image of a clown and were designed to self-right when pushed over.

The experiment took place at Stanford University, where Bandura was then working in a teaching position as a professor. The participants - children who attended the Stanford University nursery - were divided into groups. Children in one of these groups were placed in a room in which they witnessed an adult hitting a Bobo doll in an aggressive manner. They were later given the opportunity to play with the dolls for themselves.

The researchers found that the group of children who had observed an adult behaving violently towards the toy were more likely to act aggressively towards it themselves when given the opportunity. These findings indicate that learning takes place not only when individuals are rewarded or punished for their own behavior, but also when they observe another person exhibiting violent behavior - a process called observational learning .

In 1963, Bandura conducted a second experiment which replicated many aspects of the previous study. However, instead of observing an adult&rsquos violent behavior firsthand, they watched a video of the Bobo doll being struck. As in the 1961 experiment, those participants who watched the film of a person being aggressive were more likely to behave violently towards the toy than participants in a control group. The study indicates that indirect exposure to violent behavior through film or television may lead to actions being imitated in a similar way to behavior observed in person (Bandura et al, 1963).

In a third study, Bandura tested whether the types of reinforcement that Skinner had used to encourage and discourage behavior (operant conditioning) would influence the behavior of an observer who witnessed a third party being rewarded or punished for his or her actions.

Bandura shows a film to participants in which a person again beat the toy. One group watched as the person&rsquos behavior was reinforced by way of a food reward, whilst a second group saw a video in which the person was criticised for their violent behavior. The researchers found that the children who watched the video in which positive reinforcements were given were more likely to subsequently behave violently themselves (Bandura, 1965). This process of vicarious reinforcement suggests that learning takes place not just through direct observation, but also through the media that a person consumes.

Social Learning Theory

In 1977, drawing on his previous experimental research, Bandura outlined his social learning theory , which attempts to explain the effect of social interactions on learning. According to Bandura's theory, a person may observe the behavior of people around them.

At an early age, such people primarily consist of the parents or primary caregiver, siblings and later, classmates. A child may also observe the behavior of fictional characters on television and in films. Bandura argues that through observational learning, an individual may imitate the behavior of others. Furthermore, when a person sees another individual being punished or rewarded for their actions, their evaluation of the behavior will be further influenced, even if their own behavior has not been reinforced directly.

Aggression

One area of focus of the Bobo doll studies was the way in which children imitate the aggressive behavior of an adult. However, as the dolls were designed to be hit and pushed, and to rebound after being knocked over, some have suggested that the participants were not exhibiting aggressive behavior, but merely playing with the toy as it was intended to be used. This has led critics of the study to consider its experiment design to be flawed, as its participants were conforming to the demand characteristics of the situation.

Nonetheless, studies carried out in the decades since Bandura&rsquos initial research have lent further support to his observation that violent behavior on-screen can influence the actions of those viewing it. Heuessman, Lagerspetz and Eron (1984) studied children&rsquos behavior after they had watched television programs containing violence. The researchers found that the participants, and in particular males, were more likely to behave in an aggressive manner if they had seen such behavior on television.

Criticisms

The findings of Bandura&rsquos Bobo doll experiments remain influential in the study of learning and aggression. His research furthered our understanding of how children learn from their parents, siblings and friends through imitation. It also provided early evidence that violence in films and other media can negatively influence viewers' behavior.

However, the Bobo doll studies have also drawn criticism for the methodology that Bandura and his colleagues used:

Selection bias : The sample that Bandura used in his studies attended the nursery school at Stanford University, and so the study has been criticised for its selection bias. Participants may be expected to be from a more privileged background in terms of family education and income than the general population. Therefore, it is difficult to generalise Bandura&rsquos findings to individuals from more diverse backgrounds.

External validity : As the age of participants in Bandura&rsquos experiments were in a narrow range (i.e. nursery school age), the findings lack high external validity. Whilst the observational learning that he identified may occur in children at an early age, it may be the case that the imitation of adults ceases as a person grows older. As a result, findings may not apply to the wider population.

Critics have also raised question regarding the ethics of the methodology used in the Bobo doll experiments. A sample of children observed an adult behaving aggressively towards an anthropomorphic toy, whilst the researchers would have been aware that this behavior might be imitated by at least a proportion of the participants.


Though there is just one-third the quantity of metallic elements at the galaxy's edge compared to where we are, life could still have arisen and evolved in much the same way. However, gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn would not be able to exist, and the lack of such planets might spell doom for Earth by allowing more frequent asteroid impacts. [Get the full explanation]

The four-limbed body plan that dominates higher-order animals dates back to the time when lobe-finned fish made the transition to terra firma. They could have just as easily had six fins, and if they had, scientists think life would have stayed low to the ground, and large, intelligent animals might never have evolved. [Get the full explanation]


The Symptoms of Anxiety

There are common symptoms of anxiety that people experience in terms of feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and physical sensations. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that anxiety is a highly subjective experience. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, nor will each person experience the same intensity of a symptom. Still, it is helpful to provide some examples of the common physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

The physical symptoms of anxiety refer to how we experience anxiety in our bodies. Examples include:

  • A feeling of restlessness, feeling "keyed up," or "on-edge"
  • Shortness of breath, or a feeling of choking
  • Sweaty palms
  • A racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Muscle tension, trembling, feeling shaky
  • Nausea and/or diarrhea
  • "Butterflies" in the stomach
  • Dizziness, or feeling faint
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Numbness, or tingling sensations
  • An exaggerated startle response and,
  • Sleep disturbance and fatigue.

These symptoms are caused by the physiological changes that occur in the body during a fight-or-flight response. Unfortunately, our bodies do not distinguish between a real and present danger in the environment (fear), and an imagined or anticipated danger in the future (anxiety). For more information about why these symptoms occur, please refer to section on Biological Explanations of Anxiety

For people who experience panic attacks, the above symptoms are all too familiar. However, as previously stated, a person does not need to develop a full-blown anxiety disorder to be able to relate to any of the above symptoms. For these symptoms to be considered a "disorder" they must reach a certain level of intensity, duration, and frequency such that the symptoms cause significant distress and interfere with someone's functioning.

Behavioral symptoms of anxiety

The behavioral symptoms of anxiety refer to what people do (or don't do) when they are anxious. Behavioral responses reflect attempts to cope with the unpleasant aspects of anxiety.

Typical behavioral responses to anxiety may include:

  • Avoidance behaviors such as avoiding anxiety-producing situations (e.g., avoiding social situations) or places (e.g., using the stairs instead of an elevator).
  • Escaping from an anxiety-producing situation (like a crowded lecture hall).
  • Engaging in unhealthy, risky, or self-destructive behaviors (such as excessive drinking or drug use to deal with the anxiety).
  • Feeling compelled to limit the amount and scope of one's daily activities to reduce the overall level of anxiety (e.g., remaining in the safety of one's home).
  • Becoming overly attached to a safety object or person (e.g., refusing to go out, away from home, to school, or to work in order to avoid separation).

Ironically, these coping strategies often worsen and maintain an anxiety disorder. This is discussed in more detail in the section, Maintenance of anxiety disorders: Maladaptive coping strategies

Emotional symptoms of anxiety

As we mentioned earlier, anxiety in its most basic form is an emotion. However, this emotion produces a set of feelings. Common words used to describe the feelings of anxiety include:

  • apprehension,
  • distress,
  • dread,
  • nervousness,
  • feeling overwhelmed,
  • panic,
  • uneasiness,
  • worry,
  • fear or terror,
  • jumpiness or edginess.

Some individuals, especially children, may not even be able to describe their feelings and may at times simply answer, "I don't know what I feel." Interestingly, many people find the emotional component of anxiety most distressing. However, the other symptoms of anxiety, such as thoughts, behaviors, and physical responses cause the greatest disturbance in terms of their daily functioning.

Cognitive symptoms of anxiety

Finally, there are the cognitive symptoms of anxiety. Whether we realize it or not, it is often quite common to have thoughts running through our mind when we feel anxious. Even when we do not feel anxious, we have thousands of thoughts every day! The thoughts people experience when anxious are commonly referred to as worry (Bourne, 2000). Although the content of the thoughts may vary depending on the person and situation, common themes include:

  • "What if _ happens?"
  • "I must have certainty."
  • "I can't possibly tolerate not knowing_."
  • "What do these physical symptoms mean?"
  • "People will laugh at me."
  • "I won't be able to escape."
  • "I am going crazy."
  • "Oh my God, what's happening to me?"

Depending on the nature of the specific anxiety disorder, and a person's own unique anxiety history, the possible worrisome thoughts may vary.

The psychological symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Problems with concentration, or difficulty with staying on task
  • Memory difficulties and,
  • Depressive symptoms such as hopelessness, lethargy, and poor appetite.

Notwithstanding, what is often found at the heart of pathological anxiety is an inaccurate cognitive appraisal of a situation. This usually means overestimating the amount of threat in a given situation, while at the same time underestimating one's ability to cope with these threats. These concepts are discussed in more detail in the Psychological Explanations of Anxiety Disorders section.

The cost of anxiety

These physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional symptoms of anxiety can certainly take their toll.

The "cost" of unidentified and/or untreated anxiety can be quite high:

1. Lost social and professional opportunities because of excessive shyness or social anxiety
2. Dysfunctional relationships because of a fear of asserting oneself
3. Increased risk for cardio-vascular disease and suicide
4. Other health-related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, teeth grinding, and other jaw-related disorders
5. Drug and alcohol problems and,
6. High rates of absenteeism, reduced work performance, reduced productivity, unemployment, under-employment, and disability.

In more concrete terms, the WHO has reported that mental illnesses are the leading causes of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide, accounting for 37% of healthy years lost from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The new report estimates the global cost of mental illness at nearly $2.5 trillion (two-thirds in indirect costs) in 2010, with a projected increase to over $6T by 2030.

Clearly, the cost of untreated anxiety disorders, which fall into these categories, is very high. This is particularly disturbing since there are highly effective treatments for anxiety disorders.


There’s a Scientific Reason Why Self-Harm Makes Some People Feel Better

It's likely that everyone knows somebody—or they were the person, or they still are the person—that hurts themselves. Self-harm, through self-inflicted burns, cuts, or other means, is surprisingly common, practiced by roughly 20 percent of women and 14 percent of men, says science journalist Carrie Arnold in a story for Aeon.

Most people have a strong aversion to deliberately injuring their bodies. But for some people, writes Arnold, an odd connection in human brains means that bodily injury provides a sort of temporary relief from emotional turmoil:

When it comes to sensing physical and emotional pain, our brains use the same two areas: the anterior insula, a small patch of neural real estate that’s part of the cerebral cortex behind each ear, and the anterior cingulate cortex, a hook-shaped piece of brain tissue towards the front of the brain. These are the areas in the brain that process pain, regardless of whether we’ve felt the sting of rejection or the sting of a bee.

Pain relievers also act on these two areas, regardless of whether someone is experiencing emotional or physical pain. A 2010 study in Psychological Science revealed that the pain relievers such as Tylenol or paracetamol (acetaminophen) helped to relieve the distress associated with social rejection and also decreased activity in the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. This doesn’t mean that Tylenol is the next Prozac, but it does show just how intertwined emotional and physical pain are in the brain.

People who self-harm, writes Arnold, have “learned that, while the pain peaks with self-injury, it then comes down the other side. The physical pain lessens – as does the emotional pain.”

That doesn't mean self-harm is a healthy way to combat emotional distress. It's often used by those who've suffered trauma or been the victim of bullying or other personal attacks, and the UK's National Health Service recommends people see a therapist to help them learn to understand and cope with the underlying distress. After all, self-harm can cause serious damage, or even death.

In Arnold's own experience with self-harm, through self-inflicted cutting, she found that the relief offered was only temporary:

The problem was that the embarrassment of cutting, the knowledge that these marks would become permanently tattooed into my skin, and the fears that someone would discover my secret, meant that any relief was short-lived. All too soon, I was feeling worse than before, leaving me vulnerable to repeat episodes of psychic pain, followed by even more cutting.

It's often difficult for people who don't self-harm to understand why anyone would. But knowing about this bit of neuroscience might help make self-harm a little less mysterious: whether it's a good idea to exploit it, the connection—the physical wiring of the brain that ties emotions to physical sensation—is real.


Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn? Trauma Responses

Most of us are already familiar with the concept of the ‘fight or flight’ response to perceived danger, namely that when presented with a threat our bodies respond by preparing us to fight against it or run from it. This response served our ancestors if they came face-to-face with a dangerous predator or encountered a similar emergency.

However, there are two other responses to a threat that are less well known. These are the freeze response and the fawn response (Walker M.A.) I will explain what these are in due course.

Walker M.A.. refers to these responses to threat as the 4F responses and each of them represents a different response that modern-day humans can display if they have been subjected to sustained and repeated trauma during their childhood.

If we have suffered problematic relationships with our main caregivers during our early life, it is likely that we will grow up to be very suspicious about forming close relationships with others during later life. The conscious or unconscious reasoning behind this is that if we can’t trust and rely upon our parents, whom can we trust and rely upon?

On top of this problem, any relationships we do form, with their inevitable ups and downs, are prone to remind us of similar relationship problems we had in our early lives with our caregivers. This can trigger upsetting and painful flashbacks.

NON-TRAUMATIZED CHILDHOOD VERSUS TRAUMATIZED CHILDHOOD :

Those lucky enough not to have experienced a significantly disrupted childhood only utilize the 4F responses appropriately or, in other words, only when they are faced with real danger. However, those who were exposed to serious, ongoing trauma during childhood, adversely affecting their mental health, frequently become FIXATED with one, or perhaps two, of the 4F responses and these become DEEPLY INGRAINED and REFLEXIVE.

Unlike those who did not experience a traumatic childhood, these individuals will also tend to over-rely on these responses and use them inappropriately, i.e. when there is no serious threat. These responses upon which they have become fixated, learned as a defence mechanism during childhood, tend to remain on a hair-trigger and are therefore easily activated.

Let’s look at each of the 4F responses to childhood trauma in turn:

1) THE FIGHT TYPE – The individual who has become fixated, due to his childhood experiences, on the ‘fight’ response avoids close relationships with others by frequently becoming enraged and by being overly demanding. It is theorized that he is largely unconsciously driven to behave in this way because he has a deep-rooted need to alienate others so that an intimate relationship cannot develop. The largely unconscious reasoning behind this is that such a relationship would make him intolerably vulnerable because it would carry with it the risk of rejection, similar to the rejection experienced in childhood, which would be psychologically catastrophic for him.

2) THE FLIGHT TYPE – It is theorized that this type of individual, for the same reasons as above, avoids close relationships with others by immersing himself in activities (for example, by becoming a workaholic) which do not leave him the time to build deep, serious relationships with others.

3) THE FREEZE TYPE – This type avoids serious relationships with others by not participating with them socially. Often they will become reclusive and increasingly take refuge in fantasies and daydreams.

4) THE FAWN TYPE – According to Walker M.A., the fawn type will often go out of their way to help others, perhaps by performing some kind of community service, but without building up emotionally close, or intimate, relationships, due to fear, like the other three types detailed above, of making himself vulnerable to painful rejection which would reawaken intense feelings of distress experienced as a result of the original, highly traumatic childhood rejection. The fawn response also involves constantly feeling one has to please others as a way of avoiding conflict and those who habitually display the fawn response tend to lack a sense of identity and can feel awkward expressing their own opinions. Because such individuals find it hard to say no they may be exploited in their relationships and take on extra tasks whilst already feeling under severe pressure and so, beneath the surface, develop (unexpressed) feelings of resentment and anger towards their partner. However, rather than express such anger towards their exploitative partner they may, instead, occasionally displace such anger onto unwitting strangers apropos very little (and then, of course, feel guilty about it). Therapy for those who feel trapped in a habitual pattern of acting according to the fawn response will frequently focus on helping the individual to set clear boundaries within their relationships.

THE ‘SUBMIT’ AND ‘APPROACH’ DEFENCES:

Some researchers describe five defence strategies an individual may develop depending upon his/her unique, traumatic childhood experiences, rather than the traditionally quoted three (fight, flight, freeze) or four, as described above (fight, flight, freeze or fawn).

We are already familiar with how individuals may fight, flee, freeze or fawn as an unconsciously learned response to childhood trauma but let’s also briefly consider what has been termed the SUBMIT and APPROACH.

THE SUBMIT DEFENCE

This involves becoming submissive and compliant in an attempt to prevent further harm, this defence might involve going into a state of dissociation.

THE APPROACH DEFENCE (ALSO KNOWN AS THE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT DEFENCE)

This often takes the form of a ‘cry for help”, or example, regressing to an infantile state and crying in an attempt to appeal to the protective instincts of others or it may involve trying to ‘win others over’ for example, using charm and humour to try to placate another’s anger.

Walker, P., Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood. Trauma. Publisher Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. 1492871842, 9781492871842


Instances of Anecdotal Evidence

Like we said earlier, we form many of our opinions, or tend to base our actions, on anecdotal evidence in our daily lives. While it is true that most of us don’t actually have the time or patience to gather scientific evidence to support any claims, it is also true that we don’t look for reliable or expert advice, but make-do with whatever we see or hear instead. Given below are a few instances of anecdotal evidence.

Example 1

John is a 22-year old guy inflicted with stubborn acne. No matter what diet he follows, he’s prone to acne every now and then. John is fed up with his problem, when a friend advises him to turn to a certain herbal treatment for help. John’s friend is neither an expert on herbal medicines, and nor does she know anything about alternative therapy. Yet, John concludes that this particular herbal treatment is going to help him get rid of his problem. His opinion is based on hear-say, and not scientific evidence or any reliable statistical data. He does not know that the treatment might not be authentic, or might be unsuitable for him. He just bases his opinion on his friend’s narrative, and goes ahead with considering the therapy.

Example 2

Lisa wants to go on a vacation to Barbados, but does not know anything about the place. She wants to know what to see there, what to do, where to stay, etc. Lisa asks her colleague whose friend has been there before to recommend a few places in Barbados where she can stay comfortably. Lisa’s colleague confidently gives her a list of places to see, things to do, and where she can stay when in Barbados, and Lisa plans her entire trip based on her colleague’s advice. Lisa’s colleague is not a travel expert, and nor does she have any clue about what Lisa’s idea of a comfortable stay is. Yet, Lisa plans her trip according to her advice, instead of referring to a travel company who is an expert in these matters. Making a conclusion based on the colleague’s advice, “If she has a friend who has been there, she knows what she’s saying. It must be good.” is an example of anecdotal evidence.

Example 3

Anecdotal evidence is popularly used in advertising and marketing of goods and services, as research suggests that viewers are more likely to remember certain extraordinary examples rather than a generalized example. Hence, advertisers use anecdotal evidence to promote their products. Clubs advertise the time when a celebrity partied there to attract customers, even though that celebrity is probably never going to come there again. Casinos and lotteries promote instances of people who win something, though winning something in both cases is very rare, and losses are almost guaranteed. Diet supplement companies give instances of people who were on the heavier side earlier and who changed dramatically after using their products, even though the people in the promotion are probably just models, and that the supplement is actually a waste of time and money.

Example 4

A woman looking for a good anti-aging cream comes across a brand that her friend has said is very effective. Her friend is not a beauty expert, but has read a good review about this brand on some website, and has based her claim on this non-concrete evidence. The woman too, bases her conclusion about the effectiveness of this cream and goes ahead and buys it for herself. The woman has no idea whether the cream will suit her skin or not, and if it will even make any difference to her skin or not. There is no scientific claim or evidence to prove the effectiveness of that cream, and nor is there any reliable data claiming its authenticity. Yet, the woman, her friend, and probably, many other people rely on the anecdotal evidence of this particular cream.

There are several more instances of basing actions on anecdotal evidence, such as deciding which doctor to see, which brand of toothpaste to buy, which babysitter to hire, and which gym to join, to name a few. Most people make these decisions based on the recommendations of people who are not experts in that field. Nobody really bothers supporting these claims with proven and reliable data. It is not necessary that anecdotal evidence is incorrect or is wrong, it is just that what might be correct in one case does not necessarily have to be correct in other cases.

Anecdotal evidence may prove to be a harmless base for decision-making in many cases, but it can actually take a turn for the worse in others. Sometimes, hearsay spreads wild rumors about many things, such as a particular food being a cure for a deadly disease. This form of anecdotal evidence might be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and may seriously harm someone who is suffering from an illness and who chooses to use that food as therapy instead of medical help.

Basing actions on anecdotal evidence may or may not make a serious difference in our lives. However, it is very important to focus on what decisions we base on what kind of evidence. It is best to not take any risks when it comes to health, finance, and relationships based on anecdotal evidence, and take decisions solely and completely based upon reliable evidence, be it scientific or by an expert.



Comments:

  1. Sadiq

    Now all is clear, thanks for an explanation.

  2. Kapono

    Valuable information

  3. Yehonadov

    It is a simply magnificent phrase

  4. Gusar

    This topic is simply matchless :), it is interesting to me.



Write a message