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Blank slate Essay

It seems that Tom’s belief that children are born with neither good nor bad thoughts, desires, or character traits, is not a unique thought or belief. John Locke believed the same thing. He postulated that the mind was a “blank slate” or “tabula rasa. ” He said that persons are born with no pre-existing ideas and thus, knowledge is determined by the person’s experiences in life (Baird, 2008). Charles Darwin, on the other hand, studied man as being one who was not a finished product that could not progress.

Man always has the possibility of change with progression towards the better. This kind of thinking then is an argument against Tom’s belief concerning children since man, through the process of evolution and natural selection, already has something inherently good about him (Huxley, 1992). Plato would also argue with Tom. According to Plato, the human being bears the ideal world within himself, independent of any external experience. In one of his dialogues (Meno), he showed how mathematical truth is not acquired already existent (Dilthey & Betanzos, 1998).

In my opinion, children are both inheriting certain character traits from both their mother and father making them already present even before birth. Studies have shown that traits are shared by siblings, especially twins, even when they are raised apart. On the other hand, not all character traits are inherited since studies have also shown that some character traits are learned. For example, kindness that is shown by all siblings in a family may be a trait taught by either or both mother and father early on and thus, learned by all siblings. It seems that personality is shaped but only by heredity alone or by experience alone.

It cannot be said then, that a child is born without any thoughts or traits. It cannot also be said that a child is born already possessing knowledge of what is good and what is bad. On the contrary, children have to be shown and taught what is good for them and bad for them. Thus, personality is influenced and shaped by both heredity and experience.  According to Gigerenzer, gut feeling, intuition, or hunch are interchangeable and refer to a judgment that appears quickly in consciousness, whose underlying reasons we are not fully aware of, and, is strong enough to act upon.

Psychologists, though, “attack intuition as being systematically flawed because it ignores information, violates the laws of logic, and is the source of many human disasters” (2007). Some researchers, though, hypothesize that in intuition one must have attended to all information and weighed them automatically without conscious thought, thus, the result still being the right one. Gigerenzer believes that intuition is actually the result of unconscious mental processes that apply rules of thumb that we’ve derived from our environment and prior experiences (2007).

Contrary to this thinking though, using intuition as basis of decision can lead to failure or error. It may be an error of commission wherein the person responds where they should not or it may be an error of omission, where the person fails to respond when they should (Krinsky, 1982). The best example for this would be when taking an examination. I can commit either error. If I were posted a question as to what the color of the apple is, and I answered yellow, that would be an error of commission. If I answered with an “I don’t know,” my error would be one of omission. Psychology is a study into behavior that has scientific basis.

In other words, psychology utilizes the scientific method, utilizing it underlying principles that characterized scientific inquiry in its studies. Careful observation of data and its meticulous recording while testing different hypotheses help those who do research to arrive at conclusions that can be repeated over time (Papalia, 1995). Thus, psychology is actually not just common sense or intuition, but more than that since whatever the cause or basis for the intuition can be tested, twisted, and turned, in order to find reason or associations behind the so-called “common sense. ”

#3: Sigmund Freud believed that one’s personality is formed during the first few years of life when children deal with conflicts between their biological and sexual urges and what is supposed acceptable behavior. He believed that all humans have an id, ego, and superego. When one is born, he or she is governed by the id, which is the source of one’s motives and desires and is driven by immediate satisfaction or what is know as the pleasure principle. As the baby grows, he begins to develop his ego in the first year of life. The ego represents reason or common sense and operates under the reality principle.

Thus, the ego tries to find realistic ways of satisfying the needs of the id. The superego, on the other hand, develops around age 5 or 6, and is what we know as our conscience. It is the superego which incorporates the acceptable behaviors in society into his or her own system of values. Since anything that disturbs the ego or self can cause anxiety, Freud postulated that the person develops certain defense mechanisms to cope with the anxiety and thus, prevent the ego or self from being overwhelmed. In simpler terms, defense mechanisms help oneself from losing self-esteem (Papalia, 1995).

It is not pathological behavior but an adaptive behavior that helps one cope in a stressful or anxiety-ridden situation. If these defenses though, become a style of life and only results in the individual’s avoidance of facing reality, it may become pathological (Papalia, 1995). All defense mechanisms have two characteristics in common: they either deny or distort reality, and they operate on an unconscious level. Here are some defense mechanisms: Repression is when one blocks from consciousness, feelings and experiences that cause anxiety.

It is considered to be one of the most important Freudian processes and is a basis of many other ego defenses and of neurotic disorders. Freud considers repression as an “involuntary removal of something from consciousness” (Corey, 2008). The best example is our inability to remember much about our early childhood years, since according to Freud, this is our repression of disturbing sexual feelings towards our parents. Reaction formation is when one says the opposite of what one really feels. By doing this, people do not have to face the anxiety that results from recognizing an unwanted picture of themselves.

For example, a stepmother who does not love her stepdaughter showers her with excessive hugs and kisses to hide from the truth that she really does not love the stepdaughter. Projection is when one attributes unacceptable thoughts and feelings to another person. For example, a little boy tells her mother that his friend is angry with his baby sister when in reality it is he who is angry with his baby sister. Displacement is another defense mechanism wherein one directs energy toward another object or person because the original object or person is inaccessible.

This is like trying to find a “safer target” for one’s anger or anxiety. The classic example of this mechanism is the man who gets scolded severely at work and comes home, kicks his pet dog, and scolds his children for no reason at all. Lastly, rationalization is when one manufactures “good” reasons to explain away a bruised ego. This mechanism helps to justify certain behaviors or aids in softening the blow connected during disappointments. A good example is when two best friends both apply for a job where only one person will be hired.

When one of the two is hired, the other who was not hired will tell the one who was hired that he did not really want the job anyway (Corey, 2008). #4: Attachment is an active, affectionate reciprocal, enduring relationship between two people. In the study dubbed as the Strange Situation which was done by Ainsworth and her colleagues, they observed that in 1-year-olds there are three main patterns of attachment: secure attachment, avoidant attachment, and ambivalent (or resistant) attachment. In their study, securely attached babies cry or protest when their mother left but then when she comes back, they greet her happily.

These babies used their mother as a base whom they could leave to go off exploring but they could always return to from time to time for reassurance. These babies were usually cooperative and free of anger. The second group of babies was made up of the avoidant babies who rarely cried when the mother leaves, and avoid her on her return. These babies did not reach out when they were in need and seemed to be very angry. They disliked being held, and yet, disliked being put down even more. The last group, ambivalent or resistant babies become anxious even before the mother leaves. They are very upset when she does go out.

When she comes back, they show their ambivalence by seeking contact with her while at the same time resisting it by kicking or squirming. Resistant babies do little exploration and are hard to comfort. In their studies, Ainsworth and her colleagues hypothesized that secure attachment thrives when the mother is affectionate, attentive, and responsive to her baby’s needs and signals. Mothers of securely attached babies were usually the ones who were most sensitive to their infants throughout the first year of life. Research has also shown that there are long term effects of attachment.

In fact, the more secure a child’s attachment is to a nurturing adult, the easier it is for the child to leave that adult and were not clingy to their mothers. They were also more comfortable with the unfamiliar. They were also enthusiastic, persistent, and cooperative as toddlers. They also more likely to know their own names, identify their mother’s things and know not only his or her sex, but the mothers’ as well. They are also more likely to be independent in preschool. On the other hand, while the mother-child attachment is important, it is not the only meaningful tie that babies form.

Other people can also comfort and play with them and give them a sense of security (Papalia, 1995). #5. One big concern with the use of diagnostic label is that categorizing an individual with a mental health diagnosis can result in a psychiatric label that is difficult to remove. It can thus cause some stigma for the person being labeled as such. An example would be if a child were given the diagnosis of having a Conduct Disorder in youth, he will most likely continue on into adulthood as having a mental condition known as Antisocial Personality Disorder (Dziegielewski, 2002).

Not only that, diagnostic labels may give these people and their loved ones a sense of hopelessness which may lead into other mental disorders since this can be traumatizing to the individual and may add to his negative view of himself. Thus, it would not be helpful but may even be harmful. On the other hand though, the DSM-IV is “essentially a psychiatric manual and thus should be most relevant to the practice of the professional who develop and use it since the diagnosis must direct practitioners’ interventions.

If it does not, then the diagnosis becomes irrelevant (Dziegielewski, 2002). ” Besides, the DSM-IV, like its predecessors is and will always be a work in progress. #6 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression knows no age, gender, and race (2009). It is also not a rare disorder but a common one. People who suffer from depression usually have a low opinion of themselves, are always feeling guilty, and show little or no interest at all, in their surroundings. They are usually unhappy, tired, and listless. Their eating and sleeping patterns are altered (WHO, 2009).

In the DSM-IV-TR, major depressive disorder (MDD), is defined as depression of at least 2 weeks with no instances of “manic, mixed, or hypomanic episodes. ” In the same period, he or she find it difficult to do the usual daily routine and feels unable to function. The person who suffers from depression may be thinking of or attempting suicide (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Although there has been no specific cause as to the cause of depression, currents views support the theory around the monoamine receptor sensitivity.

Research has come up with results showing that there are abnormalities in neurotransmission and receptor numbers. Not only that, there is a change in the responsiveness to monoamines such as noradrenaline and 5-hydroxytryptamine in the limbic system that somehow underlie the disorder. Evidence shows that reduced serotonergic neurotransmission is involved in depression. In simpler terms, it is hypothesized that the following occur in depression: low levels of monamine transmitters, upregulation of postsynaptic monamine receptors, and upregulation of the presynaptic and somatodendritic autoreceptors that control monamine release.

Thus, the reason for giving antidepressant drugs is based on the correction of these abnormalities (Waller et al, 2001). Treatment with medications though, is not enough. Studies have shown that antidepressants and psychotherapy together was more effective than medications (Raeburn, 2004). Thus, there is a biological basis for the use of antidepressant drugs in cases of major or severe depression. Although, as was pointed, drugs alone are inferior to drug therapy combined with psychotherapy. REFERENCES American Psychiatric Association (2000).

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association. Baird, Forrest E. ; Walter Kaufmann (2008). From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 527–529. Corey, G. (2008). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Therapy. USA: Wadsworth Publishing, 63-64. Dilthey, W. and Betanzos, R. (1988). Introduction to the Human Sciences. USA: Wayne State University Press, 190. Dziegielewski, S. (2002). DSM-IV-TR in Action. USA: Wiley, 7-13. Gigerenzer, G. (2007). Gut feelings. USA: Penguin, 16-17.

Huxley, J. (1992). Evolutionary Humanism. Buffalo, N. Y. : Prometheus. Krinsky, R (1982). The Feeling-of-Knowing: Errors of Commission Versus Errors of Omission. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association. USA: Albuquerque, New Mexico. Papalia, D. and Olds, S. W. (1995). Human Development. USA: McGraw-Hill, Inc. , 25-26 Raeburn, P (2004, September). The Pill Paradox. Psychology Today 37(5). Waller, D. , Renwick, A, and Hilillier, K. (2001). Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. USA: Elservier Health Sciences, 252.


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