Famous December Psychologists: Albert Bandura

Psychology has reached its success and popularity today thanks to the brilliant minds Image result for Albert bandurathat have scrupulously researched human behaviour and contributed to our understanding of the influential factors on our thinking, emotions and behaviours. Without such in depth research into the workings of the mind, we would have had a lesser understanding of the influence and importance of childhood experiences on the development of adult behaviour, and the effectiveness of counselling as an aid to recovery in cases of mental disorders including depression.

The first psychologist to be celebrated this month is Albert Bandura!

Born on 4 December 1925 in the town of Mundare, Northern Alberta, Canada, Albert Bandura is the fourth most cited psychologist of all time, after B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Jean Piaget. He is renowned for his experiment conducted in 1961,“Bobo Doll.”  where he demonstrated that behavioural patterns are learned by children through direct observation and imitation of others’ actions.

In this experiment, he attempted to explain that aggressive behavioural patterns can be, at least partially, understood through his theory of social learning. It was one of the first experiments in behavioural psychology at the time, followed by many other psychologists who researched the effects of violent scenes through visual media on children’s behaviour.

Bandura’s Education History

1949– graduates from the University of British Columbia with a degree in psychology
1952– obtains his PhD degree in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa

1953– begins teaching at Stanford University.
1973– Bandura becomes the president of the American Psychological Association

1980– receives the APA Award for Special Contributions

Some of Bandura’s Important Publications

Bandura, A. (1956). Psychotherapists’ anxiety level, self-insight, and psychotherapeutic competence. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 52, 333-337.

Bandura, A. (1957). Review of case studies in childhood emotional disabilities (Vol. 2) by G. Gardner. Contemporary Psychology, 2, 14-15.

Bandura, A. (1958). Child-rearing patterns associated with adolescent aggressive disorders. In Physical and Behavioral Growth. Columbus, OH: Ross Laboratories.

Bandura, A. (1961). Psychotherapy as a learning process. Psychological Bulletin, 58, 143-159.

Bandura, A. (1962). Social learning through imitation. In M. R. Jones (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Bandura, A. (1963). Behavior theory and indemnification learning. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 33, 591-601.

Bandura, A. (1963). The role of imitation in personality, The Journal of Nursery Education, 18(3).

Bandura, A. (1969). Social learning of moral judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 11, 275-279.

Bandura, A. (2009). Cultivate self-efficacy for personal and organizational effectiveness. In E. A. Locke (Ed.), Handbook of principles of organizational behaviour. (2nd Ed., pp. 179-200). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Bandura, A. (2009, April). Science and theory building. Psychology Review14(4), 2-3.

Bandura, A. (2009). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 94-124). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bandura, A. (2010). Self-efficacy. In The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology (4th Ed. pp. 1534-1536). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Bandura, A. (2011). Social cognitive theory.  In P. A. M. van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.). Handbook of social psychological theories. (pp. 349-373). London: Sage.

*Albert Bandura has published over 100 research papers

7 Traits of Intelligent People

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking that it is stupid”-Albert Einstein. 

Undoubtedly, there is no standard definition of intelligence as every individual possesses qualities that make them unique.

However, throughout the past decades, personality psychologists have identified few characteristics that set certain individuals apart and help them overcome challenges easier:

  1. They Adapt To Any Circumstance

Steven Hawkins once stated that “intelligence is the ability to adapt to changes”. And indeed it is! Being flexible and open-minded when changes occur can be essential not only to your self-development but also to your journey. No matter how uncomfortable or scary a new situation may appear, it may actually be the chance you need to evolve.

2. Night Owls

Personality psychologists recognized that intelligent individuals have a tendency of being more productive/active at night. This may be due to their attention span which seems to be alert for long hours, but also due to other aspects such as personality type that may highly influence work behaviour.

3. They Know They Do Not Know

“The more you know, the more you know you do not know”-Aristotle 

It is impossible to store so much knowledge about what surrounds us and intelligent people know that. Although they acknowledge their qualities and can confidently discuss any subject, they are fully aware of their weaknesses and realise that they need to learn more or improve their existent skills. Thus, they are always hungry for more information and more details. This is why you will never hear an intelligent person bragging about themselves.

4. Diplomacy over Impulsivity 

Bad situations are inevitable, but the difference between intelligent and ordinary individuals is given by their response to stressful stimuli. They have a great control over their reactions and never allow emotions to interfere with actions. Instead, they opt for strategic/critical thinking, aiming to resolve a situation in the most peaceful and polite way.

5. Independent Individuals

As mentioned earlier, intelligent people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and this is a strength that actually builds their confidence. In other words, they know what they have and what they need. They do not necessarily depend on others for support in moments of crisis.

6. Procrastinators

Procrastination is a sign of intelligence when the individual attempts to resolve other issues or completes other smaller tasks with the purpose of preventing them to interfere with important targets. And since intelligent individuals do not impulsively react to new challenges, they would much rather wait for a while and develop new unconventional solutions as opposed to following traditional ways.

7. Empaths 

Due to their curiosity for life and their flexibility in handling situations, intelligent individuals can understand the sorrow, pain, happiness or joy of other people. Although they may have never experienced a similar situation, they are able to relate to someone’s emotions and be a great support.

Do you recognize yourself in any of the 7 personality traits?

In the Mind of a Procrastinator

Inspired by the TED speech of Tim Urban, the purpose of this article is to discuss a few of the characteristics and thoughts that make procrastinators procrastinate.

Although we may think that they are only a small group of individuals who may lack the motivation to complete their tasks. In fact, each one of us has been or is a procrastinator. It is a familiar and a common avoidance of completing or achieving our goals. So….

How Does A Procrastinator Behave?

A procrastinator will postpone their main activities or tasks while doing odd jobs around. And I guess each student may relate to this statement. Despite the amount of writing/studying they have, most of them are more likely to engage in activities that are completely unrelated or irrelevant to their current situation. In the worst cases, procrastinators will do nothing at all. They will simply watch how the time goes by against them and enter into a “hypnotic” state where they do not take action, which is commonly known as the passive procrastination.

Interestingly though, a procrastinator is always aware of their avoidance and often attempt to control and impose deadlines in order to motivate themselves.
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Why?

There could be various reasons why people have their priorities mixed up, but some of them are quite common:

  1. Costs and Benefits of the Activity

A task requires dedication and effort. Depending on the complexity of the activity, one can feel stressed or overwhelmed by the responsibility that comes with it. Sometimes the simple thought of the process can cause anxiety, worry and as a result, the individual will seek activities that will help them reduce the tension.

On the other hand, a procrastinator will postpone the major task in order to finish all the other duties that may interfere with the former one. This is commonly known as an active procrastination and it may be beneficial as it allows more space and dedication for the target.

2. Fear of Success 

Not everyone joyfully reacts to the success that comes with the accomplishment of a goal. As odd as it may sound, some people experience anxiety when they think of the enthusiasm they will experience. What also contributes to the anxious state is also the idea of not knowing what happens after the completion of the goal.

3. Fear of Failure

Looking at the other side of the coin, people may lack self-confidence and doubt their ability to successfully finish a given task. Consequently, they postpone the activity in the hope that a better and easier solution will be found. Sometimes, they may seek enjoyment in other activities due to the fear of responsibility, or just refusing to deal with the challenge.

Therefore, is Procrastination Harmful?

To a certain degree, yes, it is! The thought of having to finish a task while postponing it can double the stress, cause confusion and disorientation. Regardless of the presence of other distractions, the thought of an unfinished task is constantly “hunting” the mind as well as create a sense of agony or emptiness. Moreover, when avoiding dealing with a situation, the result of it may be disastrous due to the increased pressure caused by the approach of the deadline, which will affect the decision-making skills: the more pressure is felt, the higher the likelihood of making mistakes.

Needless to say, a negative outcome will only affect one’s self-esteem, trust in own skills, and satisfaction which may lead the individual to repeat the same procedure in the future.

Now looking at the bright side of procrastination, new research data indicates that such approach triggers creativity. Although a procrastinator may be busy with other activities, s/he will subconsciously develop creative ideas and solutions that could effectively resolve the main task. This may be explained by the Zeigarnik effect, whereby our memory can remember more details about an incomplete task than those that had been completed, and subsequently become more motivated to meet the target.

Furthermore, a certain type of individuals perform much better under pressure or close to deadlines. Researchers explain that as the pressure increase so does the arousal and attention, but only up to a certain point.

Anti-Procrastination Strategies

  1. Identify Why You Procrastinate

Procrastination is often compared to laziness, but the two states are different. The former one involves an active process where an individual choose one activity over another, whereas laziness is represented by a lack of action, apathy, and disinterest.

Nevertheless, it is essential to understand the reason why you postpone deadlines or targets. Although there are many genuine reasons that could force you to briefly delay an important task, sometimes procrastination may be influenced by underlying psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, stress or fear of responsibility.

2. Fight The Feeling

Once you identified the cause of your procrastination, adopt a strategy that could help you fight against it and boost your performance. It is normal not to have the energy or the motivation to start a new task, but do not allow this to happen for longer than two days.

3. One Step At A Time

Generally, deadlines are an estimation of a task’s length and the time it may require to be successfully completed. Instead of perceiving it as a pressure, divide your time into smaller chunks and complete the small bits of the task every day. It will not only make you feel more confident, but it will also switch your brain on, forcing it to engage in the search for solutions. Besides, every effort you put into the task will speed up its completion.

4. Reduce Distractions

Life is unpredictable, but try to prioritize your goals and tasks. If there are situations that can be handled later on and do not require an urgent implication, then do not lose your focus. Practice self-discipline and ensure that you channel your attention in the right direction.

5. Reward Yourself

Every work can leave us mentally/emotionally/physically exhausted and the reward may not always be as high as the effort we have given. This is why you should reward yourself with a mini holiday or any treat that will help you relax once that you have accomplished your goals. In the end, you deserve it!

How do you avoid procrastination?

What Makes Us Happy?

 Happiness is a subjective emotion and often correlated with the quality of life of individuals as each person has different goals and values. As a matter of fact, happiness has been defined as a “cognitive evaluation of one’s life, positive emotions (joy, pride) and negative emotions (pain, sadness)”. Therefore, each individual perceives and measures his/her happiness differently; there is no universal measurement of happiness.

Yet, it can be presumed that there are multiple factors which equally influence people’s emotional state: physical well-being, financial and social position, as well as age. On the other hand, recent studies suggest that genetics would also be a part of the big “puzzle” and it can have a significant effect on an individual’s happiness level. In order to have a better insight of how much genetics can determine one’s happiness, statistical data indicates that 50% of people’s happiness level is determined by genes. The remaining 50% is structured by 10 % of external factors (e.g. life experiences, age, religion, etc.) and 40% of cognitive and behavioral activities (personal choices, career, attitudes etc.). But since subjective well-being (aka happiness) involves multiple factors, different researchers reject the concept that 50% of people’s happiness is due to their genetics as it is believed that genetic variations have only 8.4% impact on people’s happiness.

The reason why researchers had been focusing on understanding the role of genetics in emotions is due to the difference of the cross-national subjective well-being; in other words, some populations are happier than the others. Although developed countries like United States of America, Denmark, France or the United Kingdom do not present a low economic situation like Vietnam or Panama, the level of happiness within the Western countries is notably reduced than the one within the populations of the less developed countries. This might indicate that external factors like finances, social position and education are not always the reasons for one’s happiness.

As such, researchers wanted to understand what really determines happiness and it seems that the explanation resides in the brain. De Neve and his colleagues’ research (2012) aimed to investigate if there is a particular gene which might have an influence on the subjective well-being (aka happiness). The results indicated that the serotonin-transporter gene 5-HTTLPR, as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin, are involved in the activation of negative emotions such as depression or stress, but at the same time, an increased level of serotonin can influence the positive emotional state of an individual. Moreover, the changes in serotonin’s neurotransmission can influence the mental health and personality of people. However, De Neve and his colleagues stressed the idea that genetics might play a small role as far as life satisfaction is concerned.

Similar data, reveal another gene which might be responsible for the emotional level changes. Apparently, individuals who self-reported as being very happy or unhappy presented different percentages of the A-allele gene in the anandamide substance which increases the sense of pleasure and decreases the sense of pain.

Although these results indicate a notable change at the biological level, it is difficult to attribute genetics a major influence (50% as it was suggested) when there is a wide range of external factors which can highly have an impact on one’s happiness. Regardless of the suggestions made about genetics’ role in people’s emotions, different researchers debate the theory and stress the importance of religion and social support as being few of the main factors that build people’s happiness.

Statistical data from 2016 indicates a significant difference between religious and non-religious people where the religious individuals registered a higher level of life satisfaction and happiness than atheists  The underlying reasons of happiness of religious people is the social support and social activities within the religious communities which apparently seem to improve people’s self-esteem and their perception about their life quality. The influence of such elements like social support and activities only highlights the fact that happiness can highly be reinforced by social skills and friendships rather than by genes.

Furthermore, sociologists suggest that the quality of the social relations can improve or affect individuals’ mental health, physical and emotional well-being. Additionally to these findings, the young public claims that “friends, satisfied basic needs, family and no problems” are considered as essential elements of happiness.

Other factors that might influence a person’s happiness are finances and age, yet it cannot be said that they have a major influence since nor a successful career nor age can highly affect the emotional well-being of people.

 

The Mysterious Function of The Unconscious Mind

We are often reminded of our unique ability that makes us different from other species on Earth: the power of logical reasoning. We consciously choose what, when and how to behave/talk. In other words, we are in control of ourselves. Yet, we are not.

Although we like to believe that our behavior is an outcome of our conscious choices, researchers claim that 95% of our reactions are determined by the unconscious forces. Popularized by Freud’s psychoanalysis work, the concept of an unconscious mind intrigued many psychotherapists and scientists, trying to understand its influence on our daily behavior.

The Difference Between The Unconscious and The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind is known as the guardian or the filter of human’s mind. Its main function is to select the best information that matches your needs and personality. It ensures that only empowering data is stored for the purpose of protecting you and developing a good function of the self. Nevertheless, human’s mind is far more complex and vast information slips through the net, allowing the unconscious mind to learn, record, store and retrieve data even when we do not pay attention. So, do we have two minds with similar functions?

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Not really. It could be said that the conscious side of our mind has a quite limited capacity and little influence on the unconscious mind since the former one develops in time. As a matter of fact, for the first ten years of our lives, we learn in an unconscious mental state. This may happen due to the fact that children have not yet developed a great reasoning ability as adults, therefore they cannot logically select information.

Additionally, a prominent difference between the two minds is given by the means through which they record data. The conscious mind is entirely attached to the information received through speech, thought, physical movement or writing, while the unconscious mind absorbs information through emotional experiences and spatial-visual perception.

The Root of All Fundamental Knowledge

The unconscious mind is similar to a database with unlimited storage space: it records every information about our habits and surroundings since we are born. With all the stored information, the unconscious mind creates a behavioral pattern that fits our personality, thinking or needs, allowing us to navigate through experiences and remain consistent with our programmed identity. As a matter of fact, there are various activities that we generally consider as our second nature, while the truth is different. Think of driving, which is an activity that employs nearly 30 skills at once without us being consciously aware of them. Some will say that driving is learned through practice, which is true, but having a look at the rule “seven plus or minus two”, we understand that our brain can consciously hold between five to seven bits of information for a short period of time.

The same dexterity and efficiency are applied in other situations when we randomly experience the gut feeling. That sensation is nothing but the unconscious mind retrieving stored data/experience and suggesting us a possible solution.

As noticed above, I mentioned that we have a programmed identity. Although the word “programmed” may sound technical, our identities are indeed determined by the past and present experiences. Habits, beliefs, values and learning processes are all influenced by two major factors:

a) Modeling- the way our parents or close family members used to react or behave have influenced our perception of how we should communicate our emotions/thoughts. Similarly, we unconsciously learn new ways to communicate by observing people who have a certain influence on us. For example, fans who imitate their idol’s fashion style, manners, etc. Moreover, if you will pay close attention to some of your twitches or moves, you will recognize that they are not mere natural reactions, but imitations of someone else’s behavior.
b) Words-If an information you heard/hear is repeated enough times, it will sink into the mind and become part of your behavior or thinking pattern. For example, children are being told from an early age that Santa Claus is real. Being constantly told stories about the character, children accept them as the truth and even begin to associate words with experiences, building up “memories”. In other words, the more an information is repeated, the higher the chance to be perceived as part of the reality.

Thus, in certain situations, we find ourselves automatically reacting or saying words that we do not purposely choose as they are subconscious’ impulses or instincts learned/developed over time.

 

Conscious versus Unconscious 

The best metaphor to describe human’s mind has been given by Freud, comparing it with an iceberg, where the largest part is unseen (unconscious mind) and the small amount of ice is at the surface (conscious mind). Similarly, the most powerful part of our mind is the unconscious one. Besides being a source of knowledge and a tracker of our habits, it also regulates our body’s operating systems such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration or digestion. Although these systems may automatically function, the unconscious mind is actively ensuring that our body maintains an equilibrium.

Take as an example the panic attacks. When an individual experiences a panic attack, the immediate sensation is the one of fear and threat. Usually, the feeling is intensified by the conscious thoughts/questions such as “What if I faint?” “Oh, no I am losing control of myself!” or “I am breathing heavily, why is that?”. Consequently, this leads to agitations and an increased heart rate since the conscious is aware of a problem and tries to identify the cause and a possible solution.

However, the way to break out of a panic attack is simple when we stop generating thoughts and view the situation just as an uncomfortable experience instead of a threat. Once we stop the flood of worries, the unconscious mind will begin to balance our breathing and heart rate. Therefore, the less we think of what may happen or how we breathe, the easier will be for the unconscious mind to help us.

Certainly, the influence and power of the unconscious mind extend beyond the above-mentioned features, which will be discussed in further articles.

The Emotional Impact of a Miscarriage

Becoming parents and creating a family is one of the achievements that some couples consider as their ultimate step to reach happiness or fulfillment. Any mother you ask would tell you how much she loves her children, how life has changed since they arrived in her life despite the tantrums or toys they occasionally throw.

Motherhood does not begin after the childbirth, but since the child has been conceived and starts developing in the womb. The emotional connection between the mother and the child begins from the first signals of pregnancy, from the first moment a woman finds out that someone will soon call her “mommy”.

Joy, excitement, hope, happiness, and ecstasy invade a woman’s soul and mind thinking of the journey ahead. But what happens when this dream is crashed by, what every future mom fears, a miscarriage?

Also known as the spontaneous abortion, a miscarriage is the natural death of the fetus before it is able to survive independently in the womb. However, speaking from an emotional standpoint, a miscarriage is the loss of a beloved child whom a mother will never meet. As dramatic as it may sound, this is the thought or the feeling that most women experience when their pregnancy does not develop. All the joy and happiness are instantly replaced with sadness or anxiety.


Although miscarriages are considered common early pregnancy complications, the experience of such trauma can emotionally affect a woman. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy and process of the abortion, a woman could also develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a matter of fact, research suggests that 40% of women who miscarried suffer from PTSD and as such, they seek professional treatment. (If interested to read a true story on the emotional impact of a miscarriage, please read Kate Evan’s article “Miscarriage: The Loneliest Grief of All“)

Doctors, nurses or family members would try to offer their best emotional support and reassure the woman that there are more opportunities to conceive or that nature sometimes can play tricks, but while words of comfort are benevolent, the suffering does not disappear within days. Doubt, worry and unanswered questions run through a woman’s mind as she tries to balance her emotions. When a miscarriage occurs, most women tend to judge themselves thinking that they must have done something to cause the abortion, such as eating the wrong food or performing difficult activities. Thus, sense of guilt is another emotion that deepens the sadness and the despair.

The causes of a miscarriage are not always clear and not necessarily a result of one’s actions. although there may be some health issues that could affect the development of the fetus:

  • Ovarian cyst
  • Uterine & hormonal abnormalities
  • Immune system responses
  • Medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, thyroid, etc)

This is why it would be worth undergoing medical investigation before conceiving in order to begin a possible treatment if necessary and as such, reduce the risk of early pregnancy miscarriage. Additionally, boost your metabolism through a detox diet and a healthier lifestyle as it will benefit your fertility and provide your body with the essential nutrients to support the pregnancy.

If you have experienced a miscarriage, do not be disheartened! There are available support and steps you could follow that will increase your fertility.

Teenage Drug Abuse

The appearance of drugs on the international market started at the beginning of the 1900s, but then slowly decreased in popularity by 1940. However, they regained attention in towards the beginning of the 1970s, when drugs were glamorized by the media as being recreational substances since little was known about their toxic effect at the time.

As such, the use of drugs was somehow encouraged by writers and newspaper articles that were claiming that drugs like cocaine do not cause physical dependence, perhaps only psychological. The curiosity of experiencing euphoria and novelty combined with a lack of knowledge increased the number of drug users year after year by at least 12%.

If before 1980 the Western nations were seeing drugs as unharmful, they soon started to recognize the problem and its effects. Consequently, drugs became a concern for public’s health, especially for the young generation.

The Use of Drugs on The Rise

Due to the increased use of drugs, scientists started to notice deviant behaviors in drug addictive individuals, pushing researchers to investigate the correlation between the substances and the brain. Subsequently, they soon identified a multifaced problem with severe impacts on the neurological and emotional functionality:  mood disturbances, anxiety and panic attacks, irrational thinking accompanied by psychotic episodes. 

The war against drugs has then become a priority on governments’ list as well a target for schools that aimed to prevent drug misuse.

Despite the effort and emphasis on the long-term effects of drugs on mental health, the number of adolescent addicts continues to dramatically increase with no signs of abating. Reports and official statistics indicate that approximately 10 million children around the world have possessed or tried drugs such as marijuana, cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy, at least once.

More worryingly, around 68% of Western teenagers claim that they do not see drugs as being harmful, which may indicate that they are not fully aware of the adverse short and long-term effects of toxic substances. It could possibly be assumed that such perspective is encouraged by opinions which suggest that drugs do not necessarily cause addiction or by a precarious education on the subject. As a matter of fact, surveys indicate that toxic substance users generally start consuming soft drugs and then slowly increase the dosage or replace them with hard drugs.

What Are The Influential Factors?

In most of the cases, the main factors that lead to drug consumption are lack of knowledge and attraction to risk. Although schools provide information on drug abuse, a broader approach should be applied in order to put a greater emphasis on the harmful effects. Perhaps more intense teaching on the subject, as well as a close collaboration with the local authorities, could create effective prevention strategies.

Risk Taking

Forbidden and dangerous activities seem to be teenagers’ attraction. Although it is commonly known that males are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviors, data indicates that females display similar interest in risky activities. This may happen as a wish to be socially accepted or a desire to gain attention and recognition from their peers. Usually, the hidden reasons of these desires are a low self-esteem or confidence.

Emotional Dysfunction

Sometimes teenagers are aware of the negative effects of drugs, but they choose to ignore them and instead, they focus on the euphoric mental state that drugs create. This could happen as a desire to escape reality, suppress fear, anxiety or other emotional issues in order to achieve a peaceful state of consciousness. As a matter of fact, teenagers who live in a hostile environment or are deprived of parental attention/affection are more prone to use drugs.

Family 

Teenagers whose parent/s use drugs are predisposed to drug misuse, whether because they wish to experience the “thrill” or due to external pressure. If they grow into an environment that reinforces such choices, children believe that it is normal to consume drugs or alcohol.

Media

Sadly, more celebrities or rap singers have been encouraging drug use through songs and videos in the past decades. While TV programmes give little attention to the consequences of drugs, famous celebrities exercise a significant influence over teenagers’ lifestyle choices since they are perceived as role models.

Prevention Programs

Researched-based programs are composed of a variety of prevention strategies with the purpose of reducing drug abuse in adolescences. The programs demonstrated their effectiveness over time as young participants presented improved habits and behavioral outcomes.

Based on the sample of participants, the programs contain 3 categories:

  • Universal Program-discusses the protective & risk factors within schools and communities to a larger number of children/teenagers
  • Selective Program-the targets are children/teenagers whose factors may influence their tendencies of drug abuse
  • Indicated Programs– it is addressed to children/teenagers who have already used drugs

Although these programs continue being available and effective, communities should explore additional options that could highlight the problem and stress the importance of protective factors.

While education plays a major role in preventing drug abuse, families are equally responsible and influential on children’s decisions. It is highly necessary that parents build quality relationships with their offspring, based on trust, care, affection, and openness. Otherwise, children are prone to search for guidance and validation in activities that will hinder their development.

*If you are a parent and your child displays a strange behavior, do not simply blame it on his personality, nor regard it as an act of disobedience. Remember that teenagers go through a transitional phase and they have difficulties in adapting/expressing their emotions. Take your time to patiently discuss and listen to what they have to say without criticizing what you hear. A burst of anger from you will only make the child be less open with you. 

Any advice and suggestion should be detailed and explained, so the child can understand the mistake, the consequences, and the solution. 

Stop The Domestic Violence !

“Stop the domestic violence” is a message that worldwide campaigns try to convey, with the purpose of raising awareness as well as educating the public about specific negative consequences of abusive behavior.

Unfortunately, the message is not well understood by everyone. Global statistics present dramatic figures: 35% of women have experienced physical/emotional/sexual abuse by a non-partner at least once in their lives, whereas 70% of women experience more than once a form of abuse either from their partner or family members. Certainly, these percentages are only a collection of the reported cases as it is estimated that the number of domestic abuses is higher than the official data.

Causes of Domestic Violence

I would assume that we could all agree that a lack of common sense, humanity, and respect are the main reasons that lead an individual to physically, emotionally or sexually abuse another person.

But understanding the issue from different perspectives,  one can identify alternative causes:

  • Culture: Sadly, in the 21st century, there are still cultures that do not see a problem with abusing a woman and in fact, such behaviors are socially accepted. Due to the cultural norms, violence is promoted and encouraged as a form of resolving conflicts or as a usual form of emotional expression. Consequently, such acceptance and tolerance of violence is transmitted to the next generations, who are prone to adopt the same form of “communication”
  • Conformism: Most of the cases of domestic violence remain unknown as a result of women’s conformism to their cultural norms. Thus, they feel that by reporting the abuse, they may actually violate the norms. Nevertheless, conformism is not always related to the fear of breaking the norms, but also a result of external and internal pressures. The fear that one could be socially rejected or stigmatized, lead many women to accept violence as part of the tradition.
  • Toxic Personality or Psychological Disorders:  Low-self esteem, extreme and unjustified jealousy, a desire for control and domination are few of the traits that abusers hold. Either they have been a victim of abuse in the past, they witnessed or lived in an environment that promoted violence or they have an undiagnosed psychological disorder, domestic violence is practiced as a consequence of individual factors.
  • Alcohol and Drugs: A constant misuse of toxic substances can significantly affect judgment and neurological activity. As such, a person under the effect of alcohol/drugs has poor control on his/her violent impulses and awareness of his/her unpredictable behavior.

Effects of Domestic Violence

The ultimate effect of domestic violence is death. The statistic data is as worrying as the above-mentioned ones, suggesting that half of the global deaths amongst women in the half-decade were a result of domestic violence.

Yet, the long-term effects of domestic violence are as disastrous as death.

  • Depression & Anxiety are directly linked to the severity of the abuse. Often a woman who experiences abuse does not openly discuss the conflict. Thus, she isolates herself mostly due to the fear of what may successively happen if she reports it.                                                                                                                                    The second factor that triggers depression is the inability of seeing a solution and accepting abuse as the only way of living. Most abused women do not receive support from families or community, especially in a culture where women are expected to obey their husbands. Nevertheless, even when support is available, women do not report the abuse as they live in denial. They tend to blame themselves for being the cause of the conflict between them and the partner, refusing to see the gravity of their situation. It often happens when the victim is emotionally controlled and feels that a possible breakup would only worsen her situation.
  • Low self-esteem, Self-doubt: Generally abusers tend to minimalize victim’s qualities through threats and verbal abuse, which makes the victim feel vulnerable and fearful. As mentioned above, the victim sees no solution or way out of the situation as her confidence in her ability to live separately and independently from the abuser, diminishes.
  • Physical Changes: Besides bruises, an abuse can have a great impact on body’s functions. Thus, insomnia or constant fatigue, poor cognitive and memory functions, shortness of breath, uncontrollable shaking and menstrual dysfunction are only the main and perhaps, the common physical effects of domestic abuse.

Preventing Domestic Violence

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It is essential that the governments work closely and effectively with organizations that specialize in preventing abusive behaviors. By implementing stricter laws, creating more supportive centers, women would perhaps have more courage to leave a toxic relationship sooner.

Additionally, schools play an important role in forming future adults by shaping students’ intrapersonal skills since education can be a powerful organization that could challenge harmful beliefs, and motivate individuals to form healthy relationships or recognize the abusive ones.

A second influential mean that could address domestic violence is media. Radio, television, and booklets accompanied by informational programmes could promote safe dating and prevention of violence to a larger population.

Last, but not least, domestic violence is a matter that regards us all. No human being deserves being mistreated, deprived of freedom or offended in any possible way. If you identify any of the above signs as being a result of domestic abuse, report it! Remember that victims of abuse are afraid or in denial and therefore, they may have been abused longer than you may be aware.

If you think that you can approach the person and discuss their concerns, give your support and guide them to local professionals that will further investigate the case.

Be part of the campaign, even if you do not sign up with any organization, by talking to others about domestic violence. Every shared information can save someone from abuse.

The Development of Psychology Throughout History

Prompted by an acceleration in science discovery, there is an increasing appetite from the scientific community as well as the general public to research and explore the workings of the mind; as such psychology as a science is in a process of being demystified allowing a wider community of interest to explore the mind and its effect on behaviour. Besides this increasing fascination and curiosity in human behavior, recent developments in psychology discovery have greatly contributed to the realization of the profound effect that mental health has on our well being, as well as on the impact that a socio-economic environment has on children’s mental development.  This growth in knowledge has resulted in bringing about advances in new skills and procedures to applied mental healthcare.

Psychology’s Origins
People in general associate the origins of psychology with Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, when therapeutic disciplines became recognized as a science.  This is a false conclusion as the first attempts in understanding human cognitive functions and behavior are attributed to the Ancient Greeks.
The physician Hippocrates proposed that people’s temperaments are highly influenced by the four bodily fluids, i.e. blood, phlegm, yellow, and black bile which when balanced, result in normal health, whereas a disequilibrium of these fluids would precipitate mental diseases.  Such valuable introspection can be considered as the first theory of biological influences on mental health.
Subsequently, Hippocrates associated blood with a sanguine temperament (i.e. enthusiastic, restless, sociable, compulsive talker, etc.), phlegm with phlegmatic personality (i.e. patient, calm, indecisive, shy, etc.), yellow bile with choleric temperament (i.e. dynamic, leader, impatient, unsympathetic, strong-willed, etc.), and black bile with a melancholic personality (i.e. moody, analytical, philosophical, creative, etc.).
Of course, Hippocrates’ systematization of temperaments drew recognition and criticism from upcoming philosophers and theorists, but he laid the foundation for further research by raising a conceptual awareness of body-mind connection and mental health.
The 1800s: An Era of Enlightenment
Although Hippocrates insights on personality and mental health were revolutionary at the time, not much more progress followed in terms of focused research and analysis for many millennia to come. In fact, if one is to examine the theories and methods applied to treat mental disorders in the past centuries, we could say that the approach to psychological and emotional issues in society was majorly reliant on, and influenced by spiritual and religious dictates, with people who were not conforming to ‘norms’ as dictated by religious authorities simply considered as being demonised regardless of the actual mental state of the accused. Those who suffered from diminished mental health and actually needed therapy faced the same brutal treatment as those who simply did not conform to the religious norms

Interest and progress aligning psychology to science began during the Enlightenment era, more specifically towards the late 1800s.  It was then that the physiologist Wilhelm Wundt separated the study of psychology from philosophy in 1875 by creating the first experimental laboratory with the purpose to examine and to record thoughts and resultant sensations, in order to better understand the mind’s functions, state of consciousness and its influence on behavior. Thanks to his experimental methods and his first textbook “Principles of Physiological Psychology, 1873”, psychology became recognized as a valid science and Wilhelm Wundt became “the father of the modern psychology” by publishing his works on the foundations of what we know today as cognitive psychology.

The 1900s: Psychology’s Accelerated Ascension in Times of War 
The 1900 millennium brought about accelerated growth in the systemic study and discovery of psychology as a science which many agree is the foundation of the success and the recognition it enjoys today amongst other scientific fields. With the rapid increase of interest and progress in science and experimental laboratories, many theorists and researchers saw psychology’s potential in understanding, treating and improving public’s mental health. But since humans and life experiences are complex, the fast-expanding field of psychology has embraced multiple theories, such as functionalism, behaviorism, and humanism. Every subdiscipline of psychology aimed to examine the vast range of factors that were affecting the disadvantageous members of society and subsequently, their target was to eradicate social injustice as well as generate knowledge amongst high and low social classes.
As theories and experiments were gaining attention and success for managing social issues, researchers’ psychological expertise was highly required and respected. Yet, psychology, as a scientific discipline, received its valuable place in academics after the two World Wars.

The cruelty of the wars left profound scars and traumas behind them, causing more social and emotional issues. This was the period when people needed guidance and healing more than ever. As a result, the professional organization American Psychology Association(APA, initially founded by 31 members in 1892), has encountered a rapid growth by 1970s as over 30,000 psychologists united in order to extend their work, skills, and theories with the purpose of treating contemporary human issues in all aspects: law, social warfare, and education.

Thanks to the newly developed rating scales, theories, interpretations of personality and the apparition of the concept “conscious vs unconscious mind”, psychologists were finally able to offer answers to multiple enigmatic concepts such as motivation, racism, marital issues, the causes of misbehavior in adolescence, the major stages of human’s life and so much more. The boom of information that psychologists were gathering through their research caused a mania among populations, transforming psychology into a dominant “interpretative tool”.
With a welcoming public and an increasing popularity, the psychological organizations began to share information with the public via books and articles, not only through their academic writings. Therefore, psychological information was no longer formal.
Psychology Today
After the end of the Second World War, psychology has systematically expanded its area of expertise in education, healthcare, law, sports, neurology, business and social services through research and continuous training of professionals.
Today, psychology does not only diagnose and treat patients but it also develops interventional strategies that could contribute to a better and healthier function of society.
Yet, this does not mean that psychology’s evolution will stop here. Due to the advances in technology and science, experts suggest that psychology will have a better understanding of the molecular processes in mental disorders, which will greatly improve the diagnosis process, the pharmaceutical treatments as well as possible preventions. The refined results of research in neuroscience will expand their benefits in multiple fields such as affective science and cognition. The implications will allow psychologists to prevent and determine what could affect/benefit children’s academic development, what people choose to remember, develop better procedures to improve memory, understand the biological basis of emotions and so much more.
It could be concluded that psychology as a science has a bright future.

Is Depression The Enemy of The Modern Society?

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 350 million people around the world affected by depression and it is suggested that we will all experience at least one episode of depression throughout life. Making a rough comparison between depression and other mental disorders, it could be assumed that depression is the most common disorder affecting people of all ages.

When Did it All Start?

Depression is considered the disorder or “the plague” of the 21st century, which may imply that depression has occurred concomitantly with the development of modernity and society.

However, mental disorders such as anxiety and depression affected previous generations as well. Since little was known about the correlation between emotions, brain, and behavior, these disorders were profoundly ignored, misunderstood and mistreated.

Therefore, it could be said that the acknowledgment of depression has only begun in the 21st century, but not it is development.

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How Does it Manifest?

The effects of depression usually affect and alter the quality of emotions, and thoughts, which are ultimately reflected in deviant behaviors:

  • Sadness, restlessness, mood swings, sense of hopelessness, fatigue
  • Insomnia, lack of concentration on normal/easy tasks, social isolation, loss of energy and sex drive, agitation

Certainly, the above symptoms are only a few and perhaps the most prominent ones. In some cases, the symptoms cannot be notable and as such, it slowly affects an individual’s state of mind and quality of life.

What Causes Depression?

There are multiple answers to this question. Some research data indicate that neurochemical imbalances may have a determinant role in depression, while other opinions suggest that genetic vulnerability has an influence of 40% on depression’s development. Yet, the complexity of the mental disorder cannot be discussed or understood by only looking at these two factors.

Some psychotherapists strongly believe that depression is highly determined by environmental factors. Although neurological scientists demonstrated that individuals whose parents or siblings suffered from depression are more likely to become depressed patients themselves, it is assumed that depression, under such circumstances, is learned. This does not mean that other factors may not cause depression, but behavioral psychologists believe that every dysfunctional behavior is learned when there is a combination of external stressors and lack of personal skills.

For example, when positive reinforcements of healthy behavior stop being present in an individual’s life (i.e. loss of a job or a loved one, etc.) depression may appear. If the individual lacks personal or social skills that could allow a better and quicker adjustment to alternative reinforcements, then maladapive behavior increases (i.e. social isolation, unhappiness, low self-esteem, etc.)

However, the behaviorism concept does not fully explain the multiple causes of depression as physical/emotional/sexual abuse, chronic stress, rejection or traumatizing life events can significantly affect an individual’s emotional and mental state.

Is Modernity to Blame?

If we were to understand depression from a social perspective, yes.

The past century can be described as a transitional phase for humanity, passing from sovereignty to nationalism, or from strict rules to more liberal views. Of course, such transformation has brought numerous advantages: freedom, equality, open society and a great emphasis on individual development. Taking solely these aspects into consideration, we could assume that the past generations may have suffered from depression due to the multiple restrictions and poverty. But we no longer face those challenges (at least not at a high level), yet the number of depressed patients continues to increase.

In a society ruled by trends and less by the real motives of individual’s development, people strive to reach a standard, which may not be imposed but somehow induced as being the definition of success.

Luxury, expensive goods, exotic trips, perfect relationships in perfect careers or in other words, a life with no stress seems to be the main standard of our modern society. Although people may not consciously wish to achieve it, they have a tendency of questioning themselves, their abilities to deal with life and their worth: “Am I doing it right?”, “If they can do it and it works, why can’t I do it?”. These are only a very very small part of the self-doubting questions that almost every individual thinks of.

What Can Be Done?

It is highly essential to remind people of pursuing goals that are determined by personal views, and not by society’s trends as they come and go, which means that there is an inconsistency. Fluctuation of emotions and goals can cause confusion and a sense of detachment from the self. When there is no consistency or guidance, depression and disorientation slowly, but surely appear. Therefore, defining self-identity in a society of trends is important in order to avoid depression.

*Regardless of the reasons why you may feel depressed, remember that there are solutions and professionals ready to listen to you and offer the best support so you can overcome any obstacle.