When we first began our class in the summer I was already pretty excited about all the different types of things we were going to learn and talk about over this semester. I have always found the subject of psychology to be very interesting and now I was getting the chance to actually take a psychology class. Here was my oppertunity to get a closer look into how our brains work and find out a little bit more about why we act the way we do. I think just about everyone would be at least slighty interesting in learning about these things. It not only helps you understand other people, but it also opens up a little window into your own head and helps you understand yourself that much more. As generally curious humans we always want to know more about ourselfs and others so the study of psychology is something just about everyone might be, at the very least, slightly interested in.
So I am going to talk about a few of the things that I found most interesting in this class. It is sort of hard to narrow it down to 6 specific things when I find most everything we talked about worth mentioning, but then I’d just be re-writing the entire book. ***************
The first thing I want to talk about is a little bit of the neuroscience aspect. This part of psychology is more on the scientific side, and for somereason we I started this class I did not think there would be very much talk about anatomy ans science. I had imagined that the class would be all about the things we studied in the last chapters, mood disorders and therapies. But if you want to learn about those things it only makes sense that you have to have a basic understanding of how your brain works on a biological level. So I have learned about neurons before in other classes but it is a little odd to think something so tiny has control over us. Without these tiny little things we could no exsist. They are what allow our brain and body to function. It is a little mind blowing to try and picture the millions of neurons in your own brain all firing and sending messages. If you think about it too much it almost makes your head hurt.
It is not only the neuron itself that is so interesting, but all of the chemicals that have such a big impact on us too. These neurotransmitters have everything to do with how we feel and act. Just by having too much of one, or not enough can change a person drasticaly. When you talk about endorphins for instance, the opiatelike neurotransmitter, you often end up talking about drug addicts who have become addicted the the feeling you get from endorphins and find the same affect through narcotics. And then there is serotonin which is linked to depression. If a person does not have enough serotonin they may be depressed but it is interesting that you can give them medication to increase their levels and help their depression. I like this part of psychology because it is interesting to see how chemicals play an important role in a person’s mood and personality.
Another, more scientific, part of this class that I liked was talking about the different structures of the brain and what they do. Not only do we have all these chemicals floating around influencing us, but we all have different brain structures that, when stimulated, will make us act and feel in different ways. Since the brain has so many complex parts I cannot really talk about them all here. One part of the brain I though was pretty interesting was the hypothalamus. This structure is so small but plays a huge role in life. The hypothalamus has a part in hunger, thirst, body temperature, and pleasure. These are pretty much the basic things you need to survive. Some of the things I found most interesting about the hypothalamus were the stories of reactions to having it stimulated. Like the rat who would walk over a painful electric grid to press a lever, and the neurosurgeon who implanted electrodes in violent patients’ brains to calm them down.
Another section of psychology that we talked about and I found pretty interesting was the life span. I was particularly interesting in the stage of fetal development. That is the stage where you go from being almost nothing, two tiny cells, to a fully developed human. That is a massive change and it is also interesting how some of that development determines some part of your personality and temperment aswell. You get half of your genes from mom, half from dad so you are getting their biological as well as some of their psychological traits. I find it very interesting because we think of ourselves as being very unique, but the truth is a lot of what makes us ‘us’ was determined long before we were born and had any say in it.
A small bit in the sensation and perception chapter that I thought was really interesting was the bit about the little girl named Ashley that could not feel pain. At first when you read that you are thinking well that is not that bad. You actually start to think that not being able to feel pain is probably an advantage. I imagined that you can go do whatever you wanted without the fear of hurting yourself. But then it talks about how easily you can get a small cut, and not even know, that could become infected and make you very sick. So it is something of a very scarey thought. You have to constantly be on the lookout for small things that could potentially create big problems. Imagine if someone who could not feel pain became diabetic. If that person were to step on something sharp and be unaware they cut their toe it could lead to death. Most people see pain as bad and would assume not being able to feel it would be a plus. But to then appreciate my own ability to get hurt and feel it was kind of odd and interesting.
The chapter on memory was also a part of the class I liked. I happen to have something if a bad memory so I liked learning about it and the different ways we remember stuff. I also liked it because it points out and labels stuff we already know. Like the 30 second processing or the 5 +/-2 . Most people encounter these things everyday but never think twice about it. I really liked when we did the tests with the numbers and lists. I think I did pretty normal when we did those but I certainly could not remember a whole lot of things. I do still remember ‘john,golf,bird and jane,yellow,grass’ which I thought I would have forgotten a long time ago.
The last thing I found really interesting was also the last thing we talked about. Personality disorders really interest me because it is sort of the abnormal. These are sort of the things that go wrong somehow. Why do some people end up with OCD and others turn into killers? That brings me to the video we watched about ‘the iceman’. I always find watching documentaries like that to be really interesting. These are the cases that go absolutely wrong and I want to know why. What in the life and biology made them into the people they are. How was Richard able to kill and butcher so many people without even flinching. It kind of amazes me how different people can turn out to be. I do wish we could have spent more time on these last few chapters.
Overall I really enjoyed this class. I feel like I did learn a lot and I liked most of everything we taled about. I think it is kind of hard to not like psychology because it is like learning about yourself and your abilities. I think it is very likely that I will take another psychology class in the future because the brain and humans in general are so complex and intreiging that I want to know more. I want to understand people better.
Courtney from Study Moose
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