The most challenging revision of my essay was deciding that the best route was to argue the opposite point. Based on my previous personal beliefs, I may have been biased in my initial research, and I quickly found I had run out of plausible ideas to argue against positive thinking. Much of the research against positive thinking revolved around the definition of positive thinking, and at the end of the day, there is no official definition because everybody thinks positively in a different way. When I reassessed my original thesis after the draft, I used the Argumentative Logic Checklist from Chapter 4 to help me solidify my exact argument. This helped me reevaluate what specifically I wanted to encourage with positive thinking, and also what points were worthy counterarguments. My final thesis ended up encouraging positive psychology but only as an additive to treatment and not as the sole treatment for cancer patients. One challenge I had when revising my thesis was attempting to avoid an ethical perspective, as some psychologists believe it is unethical to encourage positive thinking for terminally ill patients. To address this issue, I specifically noted the psychologist who believes this, and also mentioned two positive psychology figureheads: Dr. Seligman and Louise Hay. I wanted to discuss these two people in particular because Dr. Seligman represents the scientific community, and Hay represents a societal perspective of positive psychology. With this comparison, I believed it would be easier for the layperson to relate to my argument with significant figures’ perspectives. Another challenge was in strengthening my arguments and counterarguments. Because I changed my perspective of the essay, many of my original main points because counterarguments that further proved my point. Using my sources like Figure 4.6 uses sources in Chapter 4, I was able to successfully use my research to argue and refute my main points. During the revision process, I struggled with clarification; mainly, I needed to return to the original experiments and clarify how the conclusions were made from them. This process overall strengthened my position because I could use the quantitative data to make my own conclusions as well as support the experiments’ conclusions. In the later stages of revision, I needed to adjust the structure of my essay to help establish my arguments in the best order. This helped my sources tell a story, as described in Chapter 4. I felt my first draft helped me put my points into more specific terms, but when I changed my perspective and reviewed my draft, a better story was told changing the structure. More specifically, I made the role of optimism the first section rather than the second. Originally, this was the second section because I wanted to establish the origins of positive psychology. However, in hindsight, the role of optimism in cancer helped establish the story of a cancer patient’s journey in discovering positive psychology.
Major revisions infographic:
My infographic proved a challenge because I had to condense my huge paper into few words and images. I had previous work in an internship with creating similar infographics to market the company, and I enjoyed this assignment the most. Because of my previous experience, much of the assigned reading did not help me so much with the data itself, but rather helped me establish the best flow and organization of ideas. During the last class work session, I had a peer review my infographic and help me better organize the flow. Ultimately, the issue was simply clarifying the thesis and reworking my graphics to be more relevant to the overall idea. I used the main sections of my essay as a basis for the main section of the infographic. I also did not use Google Drawings, as encouraged, but rather used Canva because I was most familiar with it. While Canva has a small learning curve, I enjoy the free graphics and the templates it provided to create an organized, clean infographic.
The biggest challenge I faced with this assignment, understandably, was the choice to reverse my thesis and encourage positive thinking rather than discourage. I worked with Dr. Marx to help me reorganize my essay. Ultimately the challenge was more toward reorganization than new research, as I had plenty of research from my synthesis matrix to still construct the essay. If I had to do this course again, I would have chosen a different topic. In the past, I have always focused essays like this on psychology, and I wish I had chosen a different field to explore. I felt that my previous biases influenced my choice to argue a certain way initially that proved to only create more work for myself in the long run. I also believe that while I attempted to create a logical argument, positive psychology is too complex a topic to truly cover within the word count. I did not think I improved significantly as a writer. I rather found that the process this course encouraged hindered my usual writing process of organizing ideas. Specifically, the synthesis matrix was challenging because I would only include information related to specific points when we were not supposed to have a stance taken yet. In the past, I would research and take in all important information, and then use the research to organize my points. Perhaps I was simply not used to researching this way, or perhaps this was just not helpful for me. I did enjoy the Research 101 session with the librarian at the Cabell Library. I had not known of all the wonderful resources previously, and it was a huge help especially when I had to do extra research or return to previous research for more information. As a critical thinker, I believe I improved my skills. I had never approached an argument with fallacies in mind, and while I found some of the philosophy challenging and confusing, it overall helped me view a counterargument from different perspectives. I was grateful we spent a week discussing solely the arguments and returned to the conversation during the revision process to implement those skills we had learned. To future students, I would urge them to always work ahead and not necessarily wait until the work sessions. I would also encourage students to put in 100% effort into each assignment given because they are all related to the final paper and will help immensely if each step is done to the best ability.
UNIV 200 – 11 AM MWF
State your topic: Correlations between positive thinking and cancer patients
What is the position you are taking? (Don’t identify your topic; identify the opinion you plan to defend.)
Positive thinking is more detrimental than beneficial to individuals diagnosed with cancer because it confiscates their ability to grieve freely.
Outline a number of major reasons that you take to support your position. List as many as possible without grasping at straws. Based on our reading and discussions about audience-based reasons and writer-based reasons, indicate which reasons you list are which.
- Positive thinking adds undue pressure on cancer patients to cope with their illness a certain way.
- Audience-based reason: cancer diagnosis involves many emotional psychological processes to work through
- Some individuals naturally have the “fighting spirit” personality trait allowing them better coping skills in the event of a major diagnosis like cancer.
- Writer-based: assumes the audience knows what a fighting spirit is and that it can help an individual’s coping skills
- Positive thinking cannot heal patients of their cancer.
- Audience-based: positive thinking has an effect on individuals diagnosed with cancer
- Contrary to popular culture’s urges from the self-help community, positive thinking has not been confirmed to help cancer patients.
- Writer-based: the research from several studies is correct
Establishing and Maintaining Ethos and Pathos (review pp. 155-157 of TCR to revisit these concepts)
Write a paragraph where you acknowledge persons (you can be specific or hypothetical about these persons) who might resist your position. Think about what you can say to “reach out” to that unsympathetic audience. Can you acknowledge them and some of their major concerns? What could you say to win their trust or attention?
Those from the self-help and positive psychology community may find it challenging to address the possibility that positive thinking overall does more harm than good. However, I urge you these individuals to consider the perspectives of loved ones with cancer. Many well-known figures from the self-help community once suffered from cancer or another life-threatening illness. While many of these individuals had an innate fighting spirit, their diagnosis was no doubt a perplexing time full of emotional trauma. Positive thinking’s pressure, whether from loved ones or the diagnosed patient putting pressure on themselves, can result in anxiety, depression, and other similar mental disorders. We should support healthy grieving processes instead of only advocating positive thinking. However, there are indeed benefits to positive thinking while patients are actively receiving treatment. Hope is powerful, however, depending on the severity of the diagnosis, hope may also be dangerous. Moreover, when individuals are first diagnosed, attention should be paid to allow them to cope using healthy mechanisms and not solely positive thinking.
List several things you would avoid saying, for fear of alienating this audience. What would you avoid doing or saying to avoid alienating a more general audience?
To avoid alienating a general audience, I would avoid questioning individuals’ abilities to reason. I would also avoid attacking or criticizing too harshly the logic of those who support positive thinking. Many supporters of positive thinking have gained some celebrity status among popular culture, and I would not want to make a general audience feel gullible for believing. Using experiments to support my reasoning, I would avoid emotional arguments and solely focus on scientific ones. Because positive thinking is difficult to measure, I would address positive psychology with as many quantitative measures as possible. For example, I would inform the audience of the various scales and inventories developed by psychologists.
Write a paragraph where you address disinterested (no bias one way or another) and uninterested (bored) audiences (if these sound like the same thing to you, look up each term to see the difference!). What could you say to these audiences to demonstrate that the topic is important and that your position should matter to your audience?
Most individuals know someone who is affected by cancer. While a cancer diagnosis is always considered a tragedy, certain preventions should be taken to ensure the cancer patient’s experience is not made worse by their loved ones. If you had a friend or family member diagnosed with cancer, you may first respond with shock, then sadness, and lastly, acceptance. While your cycle for grief may be short compared to theirs, it is important to observe where they are in their cycle of grief and act accordingly. For individuals first diagnosed, they may not naturally turn first toward hope, and it would be wrong to force them in that direction. As time goes on and the individual begins to cope with their disease, it may then be appropriate, if intervened in a healthy way, to introduce positive thinking into their life. However, it is wrongful to force this attitude upon them upon initial diagnosis.
Think about aspects of your writing that might tend to weaken ethos. Is there anything about your style, word choice, approaches to argument, etc., that might undermine your credibility and trustworthiness as a writer?
With this topic, it would be simple to introduce ideas that are too strongly worded. Many popular figures within positive psychology have become beacons of hope for those who are sick. It would be wrong to simply dismiss their ideas, so caution must be taken to ensure arguments remain logical and avoid entering an emotional realm. Furthermore, as positive thinking is more qualitative than quantitative, measures should be taken to avoid oversimplifying the topic as “positive thinking is wrong” because there is so much more to this idea. Rather, positive thinking as its time and place, and finding the appropriate time to intervene with a coping patient is key.
Discussing and Addressing Objections
Try to come up with at least three significant challenges to key points you plan to make in your paper (or to the underlying reasoning that supports them. For each of them, outline the following:
- Each how exactly the objection challenges your side.
- Explain why we need to take the objection seriously.
- Discuss how you think you can overcome the objection, or what would happen if you concede the objection.
Objection 1: Programs such as the Hope Intervention Program (HIP) helped 38 first-time cancer patients regain and maintain hope through their treatment.
- Quantitative data was anonymously measured four separate times to measure an individual’s long-term benefits from the program.
- Every patient found at least one session helpful.
- Every patient found at least one of the learned exercise or activities helpful.
- Take objections seriously:
2. A cancer diagnosis takes a psychological toll on individuals. It is important for them to learn healthy coping mechanisms to face their cancer. Through this program, patients were taught important coping skills that helped them develop hope during this emotional and tragic time. In another study of patients with GI cancer, they also concluded that cognitive behavioral intervention help patients coping with cancer.
3. Overcoming the objection:
While this experiment provided data, it did not provide analyses or improvements for the program. It also went into detail about what each particular session entailed, but it did not give enough detail as to how the specific activities were supposed to help foster hope. Furthermore, the sample pool was a convenience sample of individuals with first-time cancer. It was not addressed the severity of their diagnoses; an individual with a stage one cancer would have a different level of hope than an individual with stage four cancer. Although a definition of hope was established in the initial explanation of the experiment, more analysis was needed as to why this definition was chosen as the basis of hope for cancer patients. Lastly, only one measurement was taken to evaluate the success of the program, and it was not a commonly recognized assessment by the psychology community. If the experiment had included an inventory for hope in cancer patients or even measuring levels of hope, the experiment could be more reliable.
Objection 2: Optimism is a predictor of recovery.
- Optimism is hereditary and also a learned environmental trait.
- Using the LOT, or Life Orientation Test, we can test patients’ propensity toward optimism in different situations.
- Optimists have better coping mechanisms than those who do not think optimistically.
2. Take objections seriously:
When it comes to health, especially with life-threatening illnesses like cancer, hope is powerful. Those who are optimistic tend to be more hopeful, and a positive attitude has been proven to lead to healthier overall well-being. In an experiment on men having coronary artery bypass surgery, those who scored more optimistically on the Life Orientation Test had less recovery time and returned to their normal lives more quickly.
3. Overcoming or Conceding the Objection:
Based on experiments and the Life Orientation Test, optimism seems like a propensity developed through hereditary factors or learned behavior. However, there may be timing involved with optimism, as optimism itself is idiosyncratic. For example, patients recently diagnosed with cancer, however optimistic, may need time to process and grieve before seeing hope. Also, levels of cancer can affect the optimism of those diagnosed. Optimism may play its role in confirmation bias where a patient remains falsely hopeful despite a failing health condition. It is not necessarily our medical professionals’ responsibilities to diminish hope or optimism, but rather ensure patients understand the severity of their situations.
Objection 3: Group therapy is related to less distress in cancer patients because it creates a sense of community.
- Cancer patients in support groups were less likely to suppress their emotions.
- Programs like the CONNECT program and the Hope Intervention program invite family and friends to complete the group therapy sessions with the individual with cancer.
- A community helps foster hope in cancer patients.
2. Take objections seriously:
Once again, a cancer diagnosis is psychologically distressing. Many patients experience mood disturbances leading to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. These side effects can affect whether or not a patient chooses treatment and to what extent.
3. Overcoming the Obstacle
When a patient is first diagnosed with cancer, they need time and space to grieve. The pressure to have hope in a community of other patients may only work if the patient still has a chance at surviving their disease. This sense of hope may also simply prepare patients for disaster if they are experiencing false hope. People often mirror one another, and a patient may waste energy trying to seem cheerful and positive when in reality it only further drains them.
In the words of Bob Marley, “don’t worry, be happy”. This mantra echoes throughout Western popular culture particularly when life goes wrong. In the medical field when health begins to fail, the reflexive action is often to encourage the patient to think positively. In my investigation, I explore the relationships between positive thinking and cancer patients in particular. Two fallacies within the argument are the bandwagon appeal to popularity and hasty generalization.
The bandwagon appeal to popularity is a fallacy of pathos where popular culture agrees with an idea (Ballenger, 2018). In relation to cancer and positive thinking, many people make assumptions that positive thinking helps patients become more hopeful. In reality, several studies have concluded that positive thinking may instead be detrimental to cancer patients as it puts unwarranted pressure on patients to remain positive in cases of possible imminent death. Within my sources, this fallacy is disproven through quantitative experiments. However, my initial investigation was inspired by one of the founders of this particular bandwagon: Louise Hay. Through her book Heal Your Life, she inspirited the idea that positive thinking cured her cancer and could work for others, too. While that idea itself moreover represents the post hoc, post ergo propter hoc fallacy, this idea of correlating positive thinking and cancer has become a popular encouragement.
Another fallacy related to positive thinking and cancer is the hasty generalization theory. Many individuals assume that positive thinking is the best route simply because they cannot imagine why it would not be. After establishing the positive thinking should be what they do in everyday life, they also apply this attitude when things to wrong, particularly when sickness occurs. For many cancer patients, they are told to think positively to help them stay hopeful about their case. However, after several experiments used quantifiable data to test the effects of positivity, the hoax is nothing more than wishful thinking. While positive thinking has been proven to improve overall well-being, this is not necessarily the same case for when someone is diagnosed with cancer or another life-threatening illness.
In my investigation, there are myriad fallacies to be found that I would like to disprove. Primarily, many individuals jump on the bandwagon of believing positive illness can cure their cancer and make hasty generalizations without any background information. While this wishful thinking may seem like a good idea, in reality it may be detrimental to the patient’s mental health due to the pressure it causes to be positive.
Ballenger, B. (2018). The Curious Researcher: Inquiry and the Craft of Argument UNIV 200. New York: Pearson Education Inc.
In my Inquiry Proposal, I mentioned various possible topics to explore within the realm of correlating mental health with physical health. Upon further exploration, my developed inquiry question is:
To what extent are positive mental attitudes detrimental to cancer patients’ overall well-being?
Arguability: While the extent mental health’s role in physical health can be debated, several studies seem to contradict each other. In the medical realm, this topic seems to evoke powerful arguments in this controversy. By answering this question, I can state the extent of a positive mental outlook on cancer patients while still addressing all relevant perspectives.
Complexity: The task of addressing this topic is large and ever-growing. Because this topic is so controversial, studies have been published in recent years with quantitative data. Previously, claims of positive thinking’s effects have been based on personal stories. Today, especially through the development of the positive psychology field, there are quantitative ways to measure the effects of positive outlook on physically sick patients.
Specificity in Language: I attempted to create an inquiry question that invited multiple perspectives without necessarily suggesting bias. By exploring the extent of the positive outlook method, I can also address counterarguments and experiments. This specificity in cancer patients originates from the multitude of experiments of this nature that focuses on cancer patients. Cancer is one of the most prevalently deadly diseases in our society, so many studies focus on this disease because there are many patients affected.
Clear and Concise: Relating back to using specificity in language, this inquiry question eliminates bias and focuses on a specific type of physical sickness. Not only will this inquiry explore correlations between mental and physical health, but it will explore specific mental health practices’ effects on the physical disease of cancer.
After submitting my Inquiry Proposal Paper, I met with two individuals to review my work and advise revisions: a classmate in UNIV 200 and an outside individual. Lastly, I also had a brief consultation with Dr. Marx who gave some helpful feedback, too.
While my classmate and I only briefly read over each other’s drafts, we were able to conclusively decide that the biggest revisions were in terms of more concise phrasing of the project. Sometimes ideas were too often repeated using different wording, so this could easily be cleaned up and better explained in a revised draft. In addition, my classmate found some easily overlook grammatical errors that can be easily fixed. Another point of interest was revising APA format. As this project did not require formal research, I had a number of sources without authors. In a revised version of this paper, I would use my newly learned resources to access better information and ensure proper citation according to the APA format. Lastly, we discussed my abstract. Neither of us had written an abstract before, so we researched together what an appropriate length and content was. In my revisions, I would shorten my abstract and summarize my paper’s points more concisely.
My second revision source provided even more in-depth revision suggestions. He went through my paper in minute detail and commented on areas that were not clear. In particular, there was no specific explorative idea until the very end. While my topic of mental health and physical health’s relationships is rather vague, it took me until the conclusion to point this out. In a revision, I would introduce this topic much sooner. In addition, I also utilize the word “various” too often in my writing. In a revised paper, I would use a thesaurus to help create more variety in my language.
Finally, I met with Dr. Marx briefly after class to discuss the direction of my paper. The biggest advice I received was to establish a more exploratory tone throughout the paper rather than simply writing a research paper authoritatively. As Dr. Marx mentioned in class, this was a new type of expository writing for many students, and it proved challenging, indeed. In a revised version of my paper, I would work even more to establish a more commentarial tone throughout.
1. Positive thinking cures illnesses like cancer
Based on the #1 biggest self-help publishing company, Hayes publishing, the founder believes that positive thinking cured her cancer. I watched a PBS video on her, and I was amazed that such a huge portion of the self-help literature industry is based on pseudoscience. It caused me to really reflect on whether self-help books are reliable methods of improving well-being. For this topic, I would research further into more usage of other cases how a change in attitude can affect well-being in cases of near-death, but they cannot cure a life-threatening disease.
2. Effects of deep meditation same as usage of hard drugs
On the podcast The Science of Happiness, sponsored by Berkley, one of the hosts talked about an experiment where those who deeply meditate had the same MRI response as those on hard drugs. I am intrigued by meditation and how to train our minds to be emptied, so I am curious to carry this further to see what other experiments have been done and see their findings.
3. Weight of a soul
There was an experiment done where a person was weighed near-death and after death, and their mass changed the moment they died. This finding was concluded to be the weight of the soul. Soulmates, soul searching, and soul-finding are so important in our culture and society, so it would be interesting to dive deeper into whether there is scientific proof the soul.
4. Powers of the acai berry
The acai berry has been nominated as the latest “super food”. However, I am curious to see what empirical evidence proves the acai berry better than other fruits. I believe there have been experiments conducted that disprove and prove the acai berry’s powers, and it would be interesting to dive deeper into what makes a food “super”.
I recently learned that phrenology, or the study of handwriting, originated from palm readers. As palm reading is considered pseudoscience itself, I would like to learn more about how phrenologists came up with their methodology when profiling individuals.
For the ultimate historical Irish experience, please play the above track while viewing this project.
Of Beauty and Bloodshed
|History can change a place. To me, this is what makes history so incredibly important. St. Stephen’s Green is a place where the history’s magic is tangible. People commute through this city park daily, enjoying their moment of the often dreary Dublin outdoors before locking themselves in a cubicle for the remaining eight hours of their workday. Students come out here to complete assignments, mothers come with their children to feed the ducks. St. Stephen’s Green is a refuge for many today to momentarily exit life and enjoy a moment of nature in a bustling city.