9/25: Health-related Variables, Academic performance Amongst 1st Yr College Students

This article referenced several different studies, toying with and moderating certain factors such as aptitude, previous academic performance, and study habits in relation to whether one eats breakfast regularly, wake-up times, etc.

Weekday and weekend wake-up times had the largest relative effects on semester GPA, the reality being for each hour of delay in the reported average weekday wake-up time, the predicted GPA decreased by a little more than 0.13–that really struck me, personally.

I think that it’s telling that Perko observed that the lower the GPA, the more likely it was that college athletes would ‘engage in poor lifestyles and health-threatening habits’, because it relates to Haine’s report that measures of depression in college students were ‘negatively correlated with academic performance.’ So in my mind, in a way, those with poorer GPAs are more prone to be disheartened and to give in when it comes to upcoming assignments.

What I took away from the article and these studies is that there are an infinite number of potential control groups and elements that could be experimented with. But ultimately, those with consistent habits, consistent sleep cycles, consistent diet, and a healthy social support system succeed in college.

 

9/11: Positive Psychology, An Introduction

Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi preluded their research into Ryan and Deci’s theory of self-determination by asking the question—how, during the war, did those few maintain their integrity and purpose in spite of the chaotic times—and why were they not the individuals one would have anticipate to be unharmed? Where were these people drawing their resilience?

By reading the article, I learned that the theory of self-determination analyzes through which state personal well-being and social development can be established. Ryan and Deci claim that a total of three related human necessities exist. Firstly, there is a need for competence—the ability to do something efficiently, success in one’s capabilities. Secondly, belongingness—to feel a sense of unity with one’s fellow man, to have a kind of tribe, to belong to a pack of a social group, at least to some degree. The last need is autonomy, a word that I needed to look up in order to understand the meaning—a sense of independence, freedom of external influence.

When these needs are met, Ryan and Deci believe that social development, as well as personal well-being, result. I think this is absolutely true, but I’m not sure if these are the three pillars that lead to complete contentment—just the ability to carry on, to establish some semblance of stability and long-term stamina. I also thought it was interesting that an imbalance of one of these pillars could throw the the whole theory off. For example, Barry Schwartz was  concerned that the emphasis on autonomy in American culture can lead to, as the article phrased it,  a kind of ‘psychological tyranny’: basically, that too much independence would lead to depression.

9/18: Silver Lining For Patients With Depression

This article was for me, an emotional read, just due to the fact that they used Robin William’s name and story in a portion of it–a man and an actor who I really loved, and with whom I related. I do not suffer from bipolar disorder. However, major clinical depression runs rampant in my family and this is something I have grappled with my entire life and continue to grapple with, on medication and through therapy.

I always feel a little disoriented whenever I hear that depression is a deadly disease, like cancer, and that suicide is simply the ‘fatal symptom’, or inevitably what happens to bipolar people and depressives. The other reaction to suicide, according to the article, that it’s an act of free will ‘designed to escape an unbearable situation’ hit me like a ton of bricks because it almost makes the act sound as though it is a coherent, selfish choice, which is an attitude towards suicide I think is confused and incorrect.

The segment that explains British psychologist Oliver James’s argument with regards to the root of depression really caught my attention, and I think it’s something I ultimately agree with–that it’s a mix of “affluenza” —  the ‘combined effects of consumerism creating unreasonable desires and inequality frustrating them.’

But I also think there’s something to be said about a lack of personal fulfillment in first-world countries. Populations are taught not to seek fulfillment, but to chase happiness, and the two are not mutually exclusive. I feel like its an abstraction that desperately needs to be differentiated.

Towards a Positive University

This article splits five activities with regards to well-being across five key contexts within universities. Classroom, social, local community, faculty/administration, and residential in correspondence with positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.  Predictably, in the end, they found that increases in well-being are likely to produce increases in learning, due to the fact that a more positive mood creates more concentrated attention—more creative and holistic thinking (which means understanding the interconnectedness of several important ideas and lessons).

A quote that further accentuates this and that that stuck out to me was  “The original idea of a university was to not only to produce knowledge, but also to disseminate knowledge, and not only in the classroom.” Meaning, the differentiation of attending a university versus other settings expands on the concept of ‘social capital’ enriching one’s educational experience; as interactive spaces on university campuses such as sports arenas, bars, religious sites, academic clubs, and bookstores, are places where students can apply and further cement one’s knowledge. According to Oades, this setting enhances  educational culture and the student experience and leads to better academic outcomes.

I agree with the general conviction of the article, that being confined to various social venues in correlation to one’s classrooms and professors is profoundly healthy and stimulating and can lead to the reduction of clinical depression. However, I also think it’s important to take one’s susceptibility to stress and anxiety into account.  I know that I personally have a lot of trouble juggling academic and social life and tend to separate the two very distinctly; sometimes I desperately need to separate my personal life with my academic life and it would be unhealthy to apply my academic life to my personal ventures. My own social venus tend to be concerts, house shows, and art exhibitions, in which academic subjects are discussed amongst art students—I however am not an art student, I am majoring in international studies. It all completely depends on what exactly one’s major/concentration is, how invested they are in their education, their predispositions, etc., but the main point of the article still stands—when one’s educational experience is being amalgamated into their social and personal life, it tends to stick and stimulate the mind and I think the attitude and the spirit.

9/16 Conrod: On the Developmental Neuropsychology of Substance Use Disorders

This article reminded me of an article Russell Brand–a former addict–wrote about addiction, after the death of Amy Winehouse (a death attributed to drinking): Addiction is not character flaw, but a complicated, chemical restructuring of a healthy, connective brain, a genuine illness that worsens over time as the mind trains itself to react to the fulfillment and the chase of the said drug, all, as mentioned in the article, due to one’s backgrounds, past traumas, and genetics–environmental (so access, social norms, and parental, peer or cultural influences), individual (personality, psychopathology, cognitive ability) and genetic/biological factors.

Brand said, “All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they’re not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but unignorable veil…they have about them the air of elsewhere, that they’re looking through you to somewhere else they’d rather be.  And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief.”

I think it’s almost frightening that, according to this article, one can apparently spot whether or not a child will have a sensitivity to addiction based on their reaction to rewards, that a  human beings’ predispositions could possibly be so obvious at that young an age even without a cross-examination of their genetics.  This is really because the majority of addicts have psychological disturbances, whether it is minor depression or anxiety, or something much more significant.

I also found it difficult to believe that the effects of cannabis use seem to suggest that marijuana does one of two things–does not incidentally cause reward-processing problems, or it actually causes blunted responses in nonreward conditions.

The analyzation of the initial three-step process of drug addiction obviously struck me as accurate; beginning first with ‘voluntary and controlled’ social drug use, to consistent, compulsive, and consumption. The three temporal stages listed in the article are: firstly, experimentation with drug use, secondly, transition to regular and frequent use, and thirdly, transition to irresistible use/relapse.

 

 

9/4: Genetic influences on Adolescent Behavior

I think it’s crucial to understand that it is fundamentally important to understand how predispositions with regards to genetics tend to merge with environmental factors—because it affects pathways of risk and resilience. Comprehending the combinations in which these the two combine can result in an attempt to better prevention and intervention.

Also: It’s noteworthy to me that one’s environment can moderate the significant of predispositions with regards to genes. It makes me question my own personal adolescent experience and what predisposition I and my sister have, and how our teenaged interests and exploits were a result of them.

I think substance abuse educators often broach the topic of substance abuse incorrectly–I think it is really essential that educators stress that genetic factors with regards to teenage alcohol use heavily corresponds with genetics. I think they ought to encourage pupils to delve into their family’s genetic history to see whether or not a predisposition might be present–though obviously environmental influences (friends, location, etc) tend to be the decider. 

Sandstrom and Dunn

The conclusion that I drew from this article is that  we should not brush aside the importance of having acquaintances, because these exchanges, the weak ties, really do tie into our feelings of unity and overall contentment.

I am always preoccupied with thinking about what kind of brief interactions can have on one’s mood, as my mood is fairly changeable due to an anxious temperament (obviously it is different for everyone because as human beings, we have varying experiences and various things may trigger one person’s bad day versus someone else’s).

As stated in the article, I have noticed that my mood is significantly, drastically lower on days in which I do not interact with anyone socially, therefore it doesn’t surprise me at all that people feel a greater sense of belonging with an additional increased positive effect, after simply having a social interaction with a clerk at the grocery store–because I think it’s possible that  having positive and fleeting interactions can easily fool the brain that these specific encounters are significant and fulfilling.

I think it is possible that people are happier on the days in which they experience more weak ties than the days in which they socialize and have more significant interactions–the article does state that the effect of each additional weak tie interaction was more significant on days when people had fewer daily weak tie interactions or fewer daily strong tie interactions.

 

Forgiveness

It is not surprising to me that forgiveness reduces depression, anxiety,  and stress in individuals, because though this article defines forgiveness as sort of a paradox–it doesn’t include ‘reconciliation with the offending person even though reconciliation might accompany it’ and that is not ‘forgetting, condoning, or excusing’ the misbehavior, nor is it ‘simply the opposite or absence of bitterness and vengefulness.’

I think the primary reason why forgiveness serves to alleviate all of the tension and anxiety that comes with conflict simply because it offers closure and acknowledgement of pain or suffering.

Often times, I think the root cause of feelings of shame or anger or general negativity stems from feeling as though ones emotions or ones experience are not valid. And forgiveness validates and recognizes emotions on both ends.

Differences in Character Among U.S. College Students

It makes complete sense to me that the the strengths  most chosen by the candidates in the research are social intelligence, kindness, humor, love, and integrity–and that the least often chosen were spirituality, love of learning, self-regulation, modesty/humility, and prudence, as college students’ priorities (though they happen to be enrolled in a educational institution) tend to be very obsessively focused on their social connections.

This is not necessarily in a bad way: by social connections, I’m referring to the fulfillment that comes with romantic relationships and close friendships, the fun and eventually the lessons learnt and the wisdom that comes with impulsivity and novel experiences, obtaining material wealth and popularity. I think these are shared priorities regardless of relationship status,  ethnicity, age, years of education, and work status. I think at this particular stage of life, it makes sense that college students are more focused on the outward state of things rather the more internal, transcendent aspects of life. Self-regulation certainly isn’t many college student’s strong suits, neither is modesty or cultivating a subdued nature, as college students are often trying to find a mate or forge new connections through impressing others, or finding common ground.

Week 8-Mindfulness

I enrolled in this class, to begin with, to become more conscious and more cognizant of how exactly I can change my routines and my habits in order to further my happiness, overall contentment, and my level of fulfillment, and this article emphasized a few points to me. Fredrickson mentions that negative emotions narrow the momentary thought-action repertoire and positive emotions broadened it –I found it amazing that the speech task–‘why you are a good friend’–induced the subjective experience of anxiety in such solid ways (increased heart rate, peripheral vasoconstriction, stysolic and diastolic blood pressure).

However, I almost wonder if becoming more mindful might make  me more anxious. I’m aware that it sounds like that would defeat the point, and I’m also aware that mindfulness doesn’t result in the boosting of stimuli or making ones nerves more sensitive, more that one trains their mind to become tranquilly aware of their environment and the real significance of the ‘threats’ that exist around them–but I’m still a little wary of anything that sharpens one’s view of the everything around them, especially if they suffer from anxiety. Does it sharpen, or rather rationalize the world?

 

Broad-and-Build

In the reading, Fredrickson discusses and elaborates upon the broaden-and-build theory. The broaden-and-build theory is one that I appreciate, because it encourages one to pause and acknowledge the good events and relationships one has forged.

The theory explains how positive experiences with emotion– and the reactions to these emotions–strengthens one’s ‘thought-action repetoires’, meaning that these positive experiences develops one’s ability to to respond well to a variety of situations, and one’s overall attitude can change from a neutral one to an overall optimistic one.

Better choices are also a result of experience positive emotions, and ultimately, these better choices lead to a more satisfying, fulfilling life.

Silver Linings for Patients with Depression?

This article was for me, an emotional read, just due to the fact that they used Robin William’s name and story in a portion of it–a man and an actor who I really loved, and with whom I related. I do not suffer from bipolar disorder. However, major clinical depression runs rampant in my family and this is something I have grappled with my entire life and continue to grapple with, on medication and through therapy.

I always feel a little disoriented whenever I hear that depression is a deadly disease, like cancer, and that suicide is simply the ‘fatal symptom’, or inevitably what happens to bipolar people and depressives. The other reaction to suicide, according to the article, that it’s an act of free will ‘designed to escape an unbearable situation’ hit me like a ton of bricks because it almost makes the act sound as though it is a coherent, selfish choice, which is an attitude towards suicide I think is confused and incorrect.

The segment that explains British psychologist Oliver James’s argument with regards to the root of depression really caught my attention, and I think it’s something I ultimately agree with–that it’s a mix of “affluenza” —  the ‘combined effects of consumerism creating unreasonable desires and inequality frustrating them.’

But I also think there’s something to be said about a lack of personal fulfillment in first-world countries. Populations are taught not to seek fulfillment, but to chase happiness, and the two are not mutually exclusive. I feel like its an abstraction that desperately needs to be differentiated.

Silver Linings for Patients with Depression?

This article was for me, an emotional read, just due to the fact that they used Robin William’s name and story in a portion of it–a man and an actor who I really loved, and with whom I related. I do not suffer from bipolar disorder. However, major clinical depression runs rampant in my family and this is something I have grappled with my entire life and continue to grapple with, on medication and through therapy.

I always feel a little disoriented whenever I hear that depression is a deadly disease, like cancer, and that suicide is simply the ‘fatal symptom’, or inevitably what happens to bipolar people and depressives. The other reaction to suicide, according to the article, that it’s an act of free will ‘designed to escape an unbearable situation’ hit me like a ton of bricks because it almost makes the act sound as though it is a coherent, selfish choice, which is an attitude towards suicide I think is confused and incorrect.

The segment that explains British psychologist Oliver James’s argument with regards to the root of depression really caught my attention, and I think it’s something I ultimately agree with–that it’s a mix of “affluenza” —  the ‘combined effects of consumerism creating unreasonable desires and inequality frustrating them.’

But I also think there’s something to be said about a lack of personal fulfillment in first-world countries. Populations are taught not to seek fulfillment, but to chase happiness, and the two are not mutually exclusive. I feel like its an abstraction that desperately needs to be differentiated.

Promoting and Protecting Mental Health As Flourishing

What really spoke to me was the fact that the pervasiveness of flourishing is barely 20% when it comes to the adult population–the article mentions how badly this points to our need for a national program on mental health promotion to accompany current efforts to prevent and treat mental illness, and I couldn’t agree more. This article encapsulates what exactly the benefits of a society full of ‘flourishing’ individuals are, what the mental health continuum looks like, the research supporting the two continua model of mental health and illness.

Mentally healthy adults are defined, according to the article, as individuals free of a 12- month mental disorder; they are essentially on a near-constant cycle of flourishing, they announced that they had missed the fewest amount of work days, they did not feel helpless,  they maintained clear goals in life, high resilience, and high intimacy, they had a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, the list continues.