Love and the Socially Awkward

This topic is very unusual for me to discuss, not because I’ve endured some traumatic heart-break that will scar me for the rest of my life, but because I’ve simply never felt love. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, my annoying siblings, my uncoordinated friends, and my beautiful baby dog and bird. However, I have never quite felt this passionate love that two people find and marry each other for. Now, that doesn’t worry me. I’m not looking for love, if it finds me, wonderful! If it doesn’t, I’m sure it will one day. As someone who has never experienced love, you could imagine I give my friends terrible advice when they ask me about the subject. I do try to be as objective about it as I can. For example, if the person I loved ever cheated on me, I’d like to say I’d have to courage to kick him in the groin and throw him out like a sack of garbage. Realistically though, if I truly am in love with him, will I make excuses for his behavior? Will I accept his apology and take him back? Most likely, I mean love makes people crazy. Don’t confuse this post as an announcement that I’ve found love because I haven’t, not yet. But, the events of the last few days have made me really think about what love is. Is it an opposites attract situation? Is it a first sight situation? Or is it different for everyone (my bet is on that last one)?

I used to believe many things about love (with no personal evidence, of course). I used to believe love at first sight existed. Perhaps I wanted to believe that when I found the man of my dreams, I would know instantly. I scratched that idea off the board when I became socially awkward and got butterflies in my stomach when any person approached me to talk. My mom would always say “hunny, do you really like him, or do you like that you have him?” Well mother, I ask myself this every time I think I like someone. Every time, I say “well I don’t know.” Perhaps it is that uncertainty that confirms the lack of attraction with that person (and by attraction here, I mean emotional, not physical).

I used to believe that you couldn’t just fall in love with someone you’ve never met before. What are you falling in love with? Their bright sky blue eyes, their pearly white teeth, or their Calvin Klein body? They say the eyes are the window to the soul, could it be possible to find love with a mere glimpse into someone’s soul? Sounds comforting doesn’t it? No more worrying about finding the one because you’ll know the second you lock eyes, right? That just seems hopeless to me. Are we not capable of controlling our own destiny? Are we not capable of finding love where and when we want it?

Of course, both those polar opposite opinions have developed throughout watching people in love. Take my neighbour for example. She met the man of her life 10 years before they even started dating. It was only after an incredibly rare outing that put them in the same place at the same time, that they found love. Fast forward to now, my neighbour has been happily married to that incredible man for many years and have two gorgeous kids. Another neighbour found love at first sight. She peered over across the bar, linked eyes with a hot, young fellow, and the rest is history. He walked over, asked for her number, and they have been dating ever since.

Sounds easy right? Then how come I haven’t found love? Because the truth is, it never is that easy. Only in the movies (we need to stop watching so many Nicholas Sparks movies). Here’s the thing, I’ve met guys. Some good ones, some bad ones, some great ones, some horrifying ones. Of course, I haven’t met them very long (I’m the buy her dinner first kind of girl if you know what I mean), they usually don’t find what they’re looking for and jump ship. However I’ve recently come across a new fish, very different from what I’m used to. Actively trying to impress me, gives the greatest back massage without me even asking, pays for the dates (which I’m not totally happy about. If you invest, I invest), always makes sure I have what I need, and most importantly, doesn’t pressure me into doing anything I don’t want to do. Yet, I don’t feel fire works when I’m with him, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and enjoying it like no other, but there’s no extra umpfh. Do keep in mind we’ve only met two weeks ago, perhaps I just don’t know him well enough to make that call, perhaps he truly is not “the one.” how could I know? It’s not like I know what to expect, after all this is my first rodeo.

Physician Assisted Suicide

In my previous post, I discussed termination of life before it begins. Not death, since these terminated organisms are not technically alive (that depends on who you ask), but rather, depriving life before it begins. This topic is of great controversy, the two opposing sides fighting for either the right to life or the right to choose. Each party is heavy willed and march for their beliefs to become law. As a democratic society, we elect members to govern us the way it benefits us most. We vote for the party that better suits our needs and beliefs, and we’re certainly not willing to compromise our well-being for someone elses who doesn’t agree with us. Politicians represent the people, which makes it difficult when the people can’t come to an agreement. But how could they? The society they represent is torn between pro-life and pro-choice. Maybe they justify their actions by believing life doesn’t start until birth. Then technically there would be no wrong with “killing” something that isn’t alive, right? (kill – to cause the death of a person, animal, or other living thing). However, this is not the only tough decision politicians have to make and it certainly is not the most recent (however ongoing it is).

March 1st, 2016. 1:56 PM Eastern Standard Time. CBC releases an article of a very important woman who proceeded to change Canada’s stance on physician assisted suicide (also known as physician assisted death). Physician assisted suicide refers to a physician providing the means for death to a patient. The patient uses these elements to take their own life. Unlike euthanasia (which refers to the physician directly ending the life of a patient), the physician provides the means but does not commit the act of execution. Both euthanasia and physician assisted suicide were illegal in all provinces of Canada (except Quebec), until a woman went to court and fought for her right to death.

That Calgary woman, under the pseudonym Ms. S, was the first person in Canada (excluding Quebec) to undergo physician assisted suicide. Diagnosed in 2013 with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Ms. S had contemplated taking her own life for three years before seeking a court ordered exemption for doctor-assisted death. In order for the Alberta judge to grant exemption, Ms. S had to meet 3 criteria:

  1. The patient in question must be a competent adult
  2. The condition the patient is suffering from must be terminal
  3. The patient in question must consent to the termination of their own life

Ms. S met all three criteria and a team of two doctors aided her in taking her own life. In her last moments, Ms. S clarified: “I would like to pass away peacefully and am hoping to have physician-assisted death soon.”

This historical event has since created quite a debate. Those in favour typically argue pro-choice. We have the right to do what we want, when we want, given that we are competent enough to make the decision. We have the right to end the pain and suffering that is making our life so miserable. We also have the right to seek assistance, rather than harm ourselves further trying to find the fastest way out. Those against typically argue pro-life or based on religious beliefs. God gave us our lives and it would be selfish to end it. Suicide is murder, how could you murder yourself? No one should make the decision against my life except me (given, I don’t think the last two quite understood what suicide means). Healthcare attorney Tracey Miller said:

“The two most common reasons that lead people to think about or to commit suicide, whether they are terminally ill or not, are untreated pain or depression. Given treatment for pain and depression, most patients, even those with AIDS or cancer, choose to live longer, not to kill themselves.”

While Miller’s point is quite compelling, not all pain or diseases can be treated (take Ms. S and her diagnosis of ALS). There are however, precautions in place. The criteria clearly state that a person needs to be in the right mind (capable of giving informed consent), and suffering from a terminal illness (in which case, getting better is not possible). Is it so wrong to allow someone suffering from a terminal illness the freedom of death?

Ms. S left quite a mark in Canadian history. Just three months later, on June 17th of 2016, new federal legislature came into force allowing for medical assistance in dying. Of course, there are numerous criteria that have to be met:

  1. Patient in question is eligible for health services funded by the government
  2. Patient is at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health (in the right mind)
  3. Patient is suffering from irremediable (impossible to cure) medical conditions
  4. Patient makes a voluntary request for medical assistance, not made by external coercion
  5. Patient must give informed consent

To further clarify, the patients condition must meet the following criteria to be irremediable:

  1. Condition is serious and incurable
  2. Condition is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability
  3. Condition decline causes the patient intolerable prolonged physical and psychological suffering
  4. The patients natural death has become forseeable, taking into account their medical condition

Once the patient requests medical assistance, a medical practitioner must ensure the patient meets all the criteria and that the request was made in writing, dated, and signed by the patient. Medical practitioners must also make it clear to the patient that a withdrawal from the request is possible at any moment. Once the process has been completed, the medical practitioner must wait a minimum of 10 days from the moment the request was made, to provide the assisted suicide. One final withdrawal request is asked by the medical practitioner moments before the aid is given to the patient. It is then solely in the hands of the patient to decide to go through with the suicide.

Fundamental Right to Choose

Life. A precious experience. 

Existence. An objective reality. 

This experience seems taken for granted. Do you ever just stop and think for a just a second, I’m alive. In this very moment, I was given the opportunity of existing. I know I don’t. Except for now, writing this post. Of course everyone, at least once in their life, has thought, what in the hell am I going to do with my life. But those are incredibly different thoughts. One, you’re thinking about your existence as a living, breathing, being on this planet. The other, you’re thinking about your future. At what point do we become lively organisms? At what point in our creation is it determined that we have life? This particular question is hot off the debate table and is still a prominent topic of discussion. 

Depending on who you ask, life may begin after birth, at the moment of conception (fertilization of the egg), or at some point in between. Although the Canadian and American Government (in some states) have agreed to legalize the practice of abortion, they’re just as conflicted in determining the moment one is alive.

In America, abortion is legal in most states. It was in 1973 that the US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide. There are however some states that are currently in the works to criminalize any practise of abortion. Furthermore, The United States enacted a law in 2004 called the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. This law recognizes that a fetus in gestation is a legal victim. Therefore, if in the unfortunate circumstance that a pregnant woman is killed, the suspect would be charged with a double homicide. The potential for that woman to give life has been taken away without her consent. Additionally, if a pregnant woman winds up in the hospital with an illness or injury, it is not one patient, but two who are admitted.

In Canada, abortion is legal throughout any point of the pregnancy. However, it wasn’t always legal. Before 1969, all abortion was illegal, until Pierre Trudeau’s liberal government legalized abortion under strict conditions: a committee of doctors had to have signed off that it was necessary for the well-being of the mother. In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled all existing abortion laws to be unconstitutional, leaving Canada with no criminal laws governing the subject. Contrary to the American Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Canada has no such law in place. In 2007, a member of the conservative party introduced the Unborn Victims of Crime Act that seeks justice for crimes against victims of all ages. However when an election was called in 2008, all unpassed bills were cancelled, and the UVoCA was lost.

Of course, because a government chooses to legalize this practice, doesn’t necessarily mean the people who the government represents stand behind their decision. Many religious groups believe life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore believe abortion to be murder. Certainly, you don’t need to belong to a religious group to believe this. Many people believe that life begins the moment of birth, when the baby gives its first breath. Others believe life begins the earliest moment a baby can be born, and still survive. Also known as the age of viability, is the age at which a fetus can be born prematurely and still survive outside the uterus (being approximately 22-26 weeks and only under ideal medical conditions). All of these differing beliefs leads to everyone’s own reason to be a part of either the pro-life or pro-choice group.

pro-life. pro-choice. The two polar views of the abortion debate. Pro-life being against the practices of abortion, and pro-choice being in favour. That seems rather black and white. Having to choose one, with no compromise. Yesterday, I spoke to my brother about the topic. Of course, there was a difference in opinions but we ended up agreeing in the end. He believes that a baby is given life as early as conception and any act against the fetus is wrong. I, on the other hand, cannot be sure at which moment in time a person (or fetus) is alive. My belief is simple. I may never get an abortion, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t. I’m not going to restrict someone because of my uncertainty. What someone else wishes to do with their body, is their own prerogative. I believe in life. I also believe in the human right to choose the way we live it.

A Fountain Full of Lillypads

As a student, I can’t help but use my new acquired knowledge of concepts to analyze events of past for a more accurate understanding. I study psychology and within psychology, there is so much to learn about the mind and the intricate ways in which it processes events, experiences, people. But more than that, how our mind uses specific processes that we aren’t even aware of, to stop us from behaving in a certain way. Our subconscious. What Freud would argue to be the holy grail of our existence. So much data analysis occurs at the subconscious level and at a whopping three times as fast as our active consciousness. Our subconscious perceives information for everyday actions that we aren’t aware of. For example, you go see a movie, say Wonder Woman (can’t wait to actually see this, the excitement is real). We all know those awesome previews before the actual movie. You know, that show the trailers of all the other cool movies soon to come out that you would have never seen had you not gone to see Wonder Woman? Well let’s say, for experimental reasons, in between two frames of a trailer, there was a single frame that read “HUNGRY? EAT POPCORN.” This frame passed by so fast that you didn’t actually see it but your mind did. A now widely known market researcher known as James Vicary actually attempted this tactic, known as Subliminal Advertising. His particular study yielded results as grand as 50% increase in sales of popcorn. Although he later admitted that he falsified his data, many future studies have shown that subliminal messages can in fact change behavior in very small ways.

However, the subject of this particular post is not about subliminal messages (it could fill up an entire blog post though). You see, subliminal messages are not the only methods to activate our subconscious to pass along a message. If you have heard of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung or you have taken a course in psychology, than you definitely have heard of something called Dream Analysis. Dream Analysis is exactly what you may think it is, but not nearly as easy as you may think it is.

There are 2 parts to a dream according to Freud. The manifest content and the latent content. The manifest content represents the actual dream. What you see. The latent content is the meaning behind the manifest content. What you think. If you dream of buying a dog, you may come to belive that your subconscious is telling you, you want a dog. Sounds simple right? It’s not. The latent content is much harder to analyze than simply determining what the manifest content means. The subconscious follows a set of operations to hide the true meaning of the latent content. In other words, the manifest content is distorted to hide the true meaning behind it. Dreaming of buying a dog may not actually mean your subconscious wants a dog. There are many operations the subconscious can perform.

  • Displacement – desire for a person or object is symbolized by someone or something else (for example your desire to buy a dog may be shown by your manifest content illustrating a cat)
  • Projection – a person’s personal desires are placed onto another person (your desire for buying a dog may be shown by your manifest content illustarting your friend buying a dog)
  • Symbolism – a symbol may replace a person, place, or action (your desire to buy a dog may be shown by your manifest content illustrating a paw print)
  • Condensation – the feelings of the dreamer are hidden by minimizing its content (your desire to buy a dog may be shown by your manifest content failing to illustrate any dog or animal related content)
  • Rationalization – a dreamers attempt to organize incoherent information into something logical

Doesn’t seem so simple now does it? Well, understanding the subconscious isn’t suppose to be easy. However, learning about these techniques made me reflect on past dreams I’ve had when I was a young girl. There is one particular dream of mine that stands out, and i’ll be honest with you, it was quite traumatizing.

This dream was about a pair of shoes. A very particular pair of shoes. A pair of shoes that were my favourite pair of shoes. However, they were not my pair of shoes, not at first. I had a friend in elementary school, I was maybe around 8 or 9. This friend, we’ll call her Sam, had the nicest pair of purple shoes that I had ever seen in my 8 years of living. She grew out of the shoes and, knowing how much I loved them, she gave them to me. Now, don’t get the wrong impression, I did not come from a poor family, I just really loved those shoes. I went home wearing the shoes and didn’t take them off until it was bed time. That night was the start of a very torturous dreaming experience. I was in a park soccer field. You know, the kind where they have goal psots but no actual net? My parents were at the sidelines of the field, and my brothers and I were in the field, kicking around a ball. My older brother kicks the ball my way. I kick it back to him but its not the soccer ball that takes air, but my right shoe. I watch it land a few meters from the soccer field under a very large water fountain. Not one of those drinking water fountains, or garden fountains. I mean an incredibly large, fancy, expensive water fountain. What that water fountain was doing in the middle of a park is beyond reason, but dreams are beyond reason. I ran over to the water fountain and saw my shoe so gracefully lying under its base. I laid down on the grass, reached my leg under the fountain, and kicked the shoe out from under the fountain. Immediately after, my entire body magically turns into a pile of lillypads. Scary right? This dream was persistent. I had it every night, until one night. I had grown so terrified of my dream becoming reality that I did the one thing my rational 8 year old mind could think of. Defeated by my favourite pair of purple shoes, one month after getting the shoes and inturn the dreams, I threw them away. That night I slept like a baby, or rather, I just slept (babies are known to dream much more frequently than any other age group).

How odd that a pair of purple shoes could influence my subconscious enough to create what felt like a nightmare. How odd that by ridding myself of these shoes, could I experience dreamy freedom. I’m no Freud, so I’m not going to begin to interpret what the latent content of my dream meant, but I’m definitely not going to deny the obvious. Those shoes had a bad omen. 

When Does No Mean Yes?

I think I made myself very clear, but no one is coming forward to stop me.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ve probably noticed a brand new controversy in the world of TV shows. The hit new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why debuted on March 31st. Based on the novel of the same name, the show follows the unfortunate suicide of a teen girl. Tormented by her school mates, Hannah Baker creates a series of tapes that illustrate and describe the very reasons she took her own life. Of course, following the shows premiere, many people spoke out about the shows themes and perspectives. The shows reviews were quite polarized. Either people loved it, or they hated it. Many viewers quite enjoyed how much awareness the show shed onto topics such as bullying, mental illness, and suicide (just to name a few). However, other critics were disappointed with the way the show presented many of its “controversial” topics. Displaying graphic content with no warning was seen as “triggering.” Some critics even discussed the possibility of a potential contagion effect in which a televised suicide leads to an increase in suicides or suicidal behaviour. Each person can interpret the show the way they wish and this article is only one interpretation of the show. Specifically, mine.

Some of you care, none of you cared enough.

The show revolved around a set of tapes recorded by Hannah Baker. Each tape reflects an event that occurred between Hannah and a classmate that impacted her life for the worst. 13 reasons translated into 13 tapes, but it doesn’t end there. After Hannah records the final tape, and moments before she takes her own life, she drops the tapes off with a friend with special instructions: Listen to the tapes and then pass them onto the next on the list. Simple right? As expected, it wasn’t. With each tape came a secret that neither Hannah nor the subject of the tape could live with. With the tapes circulating progressively through the 10 subjects, tensions rose as dark secrets came to light. You may be asking yourself why this is controversial and if you haven’t noticed yet, then perhaps this is just some silly idea created by “hypersensitive teens.” However you should consider that suicide is unfortunately an everyday occurrence, and one cannot begin to understand what follows unless you have been personally affected by it. That being said, it seems insensitive to portray teen suicide as vengeance seeking. For someones last dying wish to be to bring misery and guilt to others only illustrates a lack of understanding towards a topic so heavy like that of suicide and bullying. The theme of vengeance overpowers the creators efforts to illustrate the impact people make on one another. People who struggle with suicidal ideations may feel helpless in their situation without the added negative stigma of a mood disorder like depression (which is most commonly associated with suicide). In other words, painting a picture of suicide as revenge may do more damage than good to those who are currently facing suicidal thoughts and wish to seek help. The way the tapes were “recorded” could have been handled in a more appropriate manner.

You want to believe there are good guys in this world. I knew there were. I believed it.

Towards the end of the show, the content got quite serious and therefore much more graphic. Depictions of rape, self-harm, and suicide were a prominent topic in the remaining few episodes. These episodes were met with strong opinions. Many viewers thought it was necessary to display these events to show that rape happens and bullying leads to suicide. Perhaps this show is an educational TV series that brings awareness to such important topics. To teach kids that forcing yourself onto a girl, even if they don’t say no, is rape. To teach kids that bullying isn’t just calling someone names, but also indirect actions. Perhaps, that is too unrealistic to expect. We couldn’t possibly be aware of our indirect actions that may bring harm to someone. What if what we think what we are doing is not a big deal, but to someone else is life ruining? What if when we try to ask for help, we are dismissed because of the repercussions it poses for another person? Rape happens. Suicide happens. It’s important that young people are aware of the repercussions of such actions and the aid available. However there are more appropriate ways to show these heavy topics. My mother and I just finished watching the show last night. My mother is a doctor. She witnesses all kinds of clients: clients suffering from diseases, car accident victims, drug addicts, subjects of suicidal attempts, the list could go on. It really sank in just how shocking Hannah’s suicide scene was when even my mother, a medical professional, could not bear to watch. Yet, this show is available to the public on Netflix. My eleven year old neighbour is watching this show. Perhaps the creators of the show should have taken into consideration the target audience when debuting their show.

I couldn’t take knowing I’d make it worse. And I couldn’t take knowing it would never get any better.

There is one particular tape that is not like the rest. Tape 11. The tape that corresponded to Clay Jensen. He didn’t belong on the tapes because he didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t hurt Hannah they way the others did. He simply needed to be on the tapes for her to tell her story. I have a particular problem with this episode and maybe I’m the only one. Lets cover what happened in that episode. Clay attends the party of Jessica Davis, where he runs into his school crush Hannah. With many interruptions throughout the night, Clay takes Hannah upstairs to Jessica’s bedroom to talk in a more quiet environment. One thing leads to another and before they know it, they’re getting intimate. All of a sudden, Hannah becomes overwhelmed by memories of the past and associates all wrong doings to Clay Jensen instead of the respective bullies. Hannah, panicked, yells at Clay to leave the room and her alone. However in her tapes she makes it clear to the listeners that she was wrong. She didn’t want Clay to leave. She said go, but she meant stay. She said no, but she meant yes. I may be over thinking this, but that seems like the opposite of what we should be advocating. Teens should know by now that assault of any kind is inappropriate because they’ve been taught it growing up. But unfortunately, teens are not the only viewers of this show and young people, including my 11-year-old neighbour, will understand that in some cases, no means yes. Younger people haven’t been conditioned for long enough to know that a certain behaviour is wrong. Younger children are not even exposed to sex until they reach a certain level of maturity that a parent deems appropriate. When one of their earliest exposures to sex or intimacy is “no in some cases means yes,” we’re painting a horrible picture of what our society deems as acceptable behaviour. Even in the show, Hannah attempts to get help and the first questions they ask is “did you say no?” It was clear that what happened to Hannah was non-consensual and yet it was so easily dismissed by a school counselor. We shouldn’t act until people say no, we should wait until people say yes.

When does no mean yes? Never.


8 Alternative Facts of What a Psychology Student Wants to Share With The World

If you’re like me and have an internet addiction unlike any other, than you probably often find yourself lurking through the depths of the internet while Netflix plays in the background. It seems no matter what show I watch, I can’t help but have to do something else while it plays in the background. I used to mock my father when I saw him browsing on his phone through ebay while watching a TV show. Is it not cognitively enough to pay attention to the story line of a TV show without the need of playing sudoku on your device or shopping online? Even now, writing this piece, I have 13 Reasons Why playing in the background (a post of how controversial this show is will come in the near future). Perhaps my need to understand why it seems that our cognitive load is only expanding, or why people of all ages are becoming attentively defective, is a psychology student thing. But is it? Browsing through the internet, I always come across those articles that share titles like: 10 Facts About Psychology Students or, 10 Thing Only Psychology Students Will Understand. As much as I would like to say these articles are accurate, the words would choke me. To say all psychology students share particular qualities is an overgeneralization, but also because most of them can be applied to all people. Not just students, and not just those studying psychology. So instead of giving you a generic 10 Facts About Blah Blah Blah, I’m going to give you 8 Alternative Facts About Psychology Students (alternative here meaning fake).

1. We analyze everyone we make contact with

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This one is probably my favourite as its listed on every 10 Facts article I have ever read thus far. As a third year psychology student I can tell you, I have no interest in analyzing anyone. Why? Because that’s a Therapists job and frankly, you don’t pay me enough. Studying psychology is more than analyzing people and determining what is wrong with them. Abnormal Psychology is what you’re thinking of and that is only a small branch of what psychology even is. Cognitive Psychology is about higher order functioning like thinking, attention, memory stores. Developmental Psychology is about how we as humans grow up, motor milestones, linguistic milestones, at what point in our development we develop depth cues. Psychometrics is the development of psychological tests. There is so much more to psychology than abnormal behaviour. Additionally, in my three years of psychological study, I have yet to meet one person who even wants to be analyzed by me.

2. Anything we learn, we are crazy about applying it to literally everything

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Now this one is just silly. It doesn’t take a psychology student to want to learn and then apply what they learned to their everyday life. What kind of intellectual species would we be if we didn’t change the way we performed everyday events? Learning and applying is fundamental for survival. Even in ancestral times if you didn’t learn from your mistakes, you didn’t survive. If anything, it sounds selfish to say that psychology students are the only group of people who are capable of applying new techniques to their way of living.

3. We cannot stop labelling others with a disorder

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I don’t even know what to say about this one. Sure, there are people out there who diagnose their friends with Bipolar Disorder because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or tell themselves they’re so “depressed” because their crush didn’t ask them to the senior prom. If anything, I have done this less now that I actually studied the different disorders than before when I didn’t have a clue. Mental illness is complicated, it’s contextual, and unless you have all the pieces of the puzzle, it’s quite hard to solve. You really don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives. What you think are signs of depression may really be signs of grieving for a loved one. What you think are signs of bipolar disorder may really be signs of frustration from a failed test (don’t you dare say menstruation). You really don’t know what is going on in a person’s life so lets not add any unwanted diagnoses.

4. We know we have all the disorders in their simplest form

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This is just a knock of Medical Student Syndrome. If you haven’t heard of this, Medical Student Syndrome is a condition reported most frequently by medical students. Since starting their long journey into medicine, they learn about new problems and diseases. These students perceive themselves to be experiencing the symptoms of the disease they’re studying. Sounds like an initiation than anything else. In any case, thinking you have some illness or disorder is not solely a psychology student thing, if anything, we stole it from the medical students. But you should also not forget that there are people out there who suffer from hypochondria which is the belief that a person is constantly suffering from a disease or illness, despite medical reassurance. In other words, psychology students aren’t the only ones.

5. We hate people who confuse psychologists and psychiatrists

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Hate is a strong word that I cannot bring myself to apply in this scenario. In all honesty, I didn’t learn until last year what the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is. People don’t confuse the two out of ignorance or spite, but because they have simply never been told. Allow me to clear up any confusion. A psychologist is someone who specializes in studying psychology (psych – means mind, ology – means study of). A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. The only difference really is one went to medical school and the other didn’t. If anything, as people who with post-secondary critical thinking skills, we understand that you may not know the difference between certain psychological professions. Can you name every single medical specialty without getting any two confused?

6. We can read people’s minds

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You have been watching too much x-men. I think everyone can agree that people are not that, for lack of a better word, stupid enough to think psychology students are telepaths. Although that would be quite the gift, it is just not feasible.

7. Everyone turns to you for therapy sessions

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Overgeneralization. There seems to be a consistent theme across these 10 Facts articles: how to make things about yourself. Anyone who has a close friend knows that people ask for advice. Boy troubles? Ask a friend. School troubles? Ask a friend. You don’t need to know someone who studies psychology to approach someone about an issue close to you.

8. Psychology is only taken by girls

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Are you seriously going to sit there and try to convince yourself that a particular occupation is run by only one gender? Come on now, you should know better. Sigmund Freud, Carl Yung, Jean Piaget, Wilhelm Wundt, Erik Erikson, Carl Rogers, Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, John Watson. Getting the picture?


Maisha: Swahili for Survival

It’s very adrenalizing to be attracted to the mysteries of life. Wanting to seek out the answers of lifes greatest questions, looking for adventure, travelling the world. It’s all very fascinating. I have been traveling the world for as long as I can remember. I used to say “it’s easier to ask me where I haven’t been, than where I have been.” One of my favourite trips was a family safari trip to Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. Beautiful is an understatment. Fascinating is an understatement. It was incredible to see just how natural that world was. A world so different from the one I come from. The world’s fearcest predators, live and in the flesh, right before my eyes. I saw a pack of female Lions attack a hoard of unsuspecting Zebra. The hoard was in chaos, one unfortunate victim was wounded. A gaping hole in its back, bleeding. It seeked refuge within in its hoard but was sadly rejected by its peers. The unscathed Zebra would kick the wounded until it had no choice but to separate, leaving it alone, injured, and vulnerable. Eventually the Lions returned to its victim, and the rest is history. Just a few minutes and kilometers later, another natural event. A large, very pregnant, Impala struggles to walk. At first I thought it had been injured and was trying to make its escape to recover. However as I squinted my eyes trying to get a clearer image, I noticed the Impala was not alone. Pushing itself through the rear end of the Impala was a beautiful calf. Within seconds of being born, the calf was up on its feet, trusting his mother with his life, guiding him to safety. Within only a few moments, I was able to see the opposite spectrums of life: birth and death.

My parents love to travel. They have been traveling the world, together, for as long as they can remember. You’d think after having kids, they would have settled down. We did. We moved to Canada when I was only three but that didn’t stop my family from pursing adventure. They took my brothers and I along with them on their travels. We never stayed in resorts or beaches, we stayed in hotels in the main cities. My parents wanted us to learn about the countries cultures and ways of living. It’s truley eye opening to see just how differently people live.

As we continued along our safari adventure throughout the days, our Safari guide told us about a very interesting tribe. They lived in villages with huts made of dirt, rocks, and branches. Around the villages were thorny bushes to keep out predators. In this tribe, as well as many others in all of the continent, the people of this tribe live much like our ancestors used to. These tribes are known as hunter and gatherer tribes. They hunt during the day so that they may feast at night. Wild animals pose a threat unlike any I could possibly imagine. Those who are spared the terror of an animal’s attack, may not be spared the infection of an untreated wound. People who are fortunate enough to have access to health care probably couldn’t imagine just how lucky they are. These villages have coming of age ceremonies, in which boys become men. A right of passage for boys starting at twelve years of age. A tradition, in which young boys shave their heads, paint their faces white with chalk, and wear black cloaks. The boys are then released into the wild and must not return to their village until they have hunted a lion. Those who return are men, and those who do not are mourned.

It’s hard to grasp the reality that many societies still live like this, in hunter-gatherer tribes like the ones I learned about in school. Our ancestors, who lived thousands of years before us, would hunt for the food of the day and those who did not succeed, did not eat. Today, people eat out of bordem, people eat to drown sorrows or anxiety.  It’s hard to understand a mothers capability to release their child into the wilderness not knowing whether he will return. Of course they don’t do because of a lack of affection, it is their culture. How are boys to survive in a fearsome society if they have not been taught the ways of the land? Onlookers may not understand that these tribes people are part of the food chain. They don’t have the luxury of walking out to fetch resources knowing nothing can harm them along their journey. Even a luxury such as modern medicine is out of reach, instead the tribes have an appointed member known as the Medicine Man. A healer who uses faith, spirituality, and tribal practices to heal the ill. For the people of this tribe, living is surviving.

via Daily Prompt: Survive

Time Travel: It’s Easier Than It Sounds

No, I’m not some sort of mechanical engineer or brilliant mastermind that has created the only piece of machinery that every single person on the planet would want. What do we want? Time Travel! When do we want it? That’s irrelevant! I’m also not some kind of psychic that can show you your past, future, or whether your celebrity crush will ever notice you on twitter. When I think of time travel, a few movies come to mind; X-Men: Days of Future Past, Looper, The Terminator movies. Although these movies are purely fiction (not just because of the time travel but because of the killer machines and mutants), they all share the basic premise that a person, or robot, can travel forwards or backwards in time to relive history, change history, or pave history. How time travel works is up for discussion. The butterfly effect is often used to describe how significantly and immediately things in the future can change with only the smallest, minor changes of the past. Many comic book writers depict time travel as something much more concrete. Only when the person who traveled backwards returns to when they came from do the effects of time travel become evident. I promise you that if you are open minded, time travel can actually be much easier and doesn’t require you to actually go anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, the first place I’m going when time travel is indeed possible is to attend Woodstock in all of its glory. But since time travel, in present time, is not yet possible, we’ll have to settle for more feasible alternatives.

When we think of time travel, we often think of the actual travel. The physical move from one point in time to another. We think about visiting places that might not exist anymore, visiting people who may not be around anymore (a relative or perhaps a famous celebrity), experiencing a prior event (like Woodstock), stopping a genocide (or a suicide). Perhaps we think about traveling to the future to reassure ourselves that the path we take is indeed a successful one. However, we are more than beings of just experience. We crave experience for the emotion. Without emotion, life is neutral and boring. Even a negative emotion motivates us to seek pleasure, closure, or anything at all. If that presence or experience of emotion is a step into the direction of time travel, than you wont have to look much farther.

Many of my friends have told me that if they could travel back in time they would save their favorite musicians from their fateful demise. Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Prince, George Michael, Michael Jackson, the list could go on forever. Musicians are powerful. They have the ability to elicit emotion by stringing together the right words in the right rhythm. Mastermind musicians are not just able to create a groovy track, but also, create emotion that resonates deep within the listener. Songs are a work of art, they are stories that illustrate wishes, desires, visions, and events, either real or fabricated by the mind. Real stories. Real events. Real experiences that happened throughout history. Sure, you could open up a history book and read all about the moment in history that women started working. Or you could open a youtube tab and play 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton to really feel just what it meant to her when women started working back in 1980. While your history book is still open, why not read all about the events of the 50’s, 60’s, 70′, and 80’s. Then again you could also go back to your youtube tab and play We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel. A beautiful song that illustrates all the historical headlines from 1949 to 1989. 40 years of history so beautifully expressed in four minutes and five seconds. Are you seeing a trend? Sublime’s April 29, 1992 refers to the riots of Los Angeles. Riots and acts of violence including arson and vandalism broke out in response to the acquittal of four LAPD officers accused of beating an African American motorist. Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising released in 2002, is one of two songs that he dedicated to the firemen who risked their lives saving innocent people on September 11. Even John Lennon’s beautiful Imagine asks listeners to envision a future in which there is world peace and unity between all people.

The beauty of time travel, you haven’t even noticed you’re doing it. If you’re like me, than listening to these songs is not just about the sing along, the dancing, the rhythm. It’s about more than that. It’s about the emotion, the flashbulb memories. Time travel is not just about the physical travel, it’s also about the emotional travel. Understanding the feelings people experienced throughout these events. Feeling how they feel when you listen to these songs. Putting yourself in their shoes through music. Real time travel may not yet be possible, but music is as close as we’ll get for now and I am totally ok with that.

An Irrational Theory of Personality 

Before you start reading this roller coast ride of a theory I thought of while on dangerously low levels of sleep, I must warn you. If you’re some kind of sicko that doesn’t believe in something as fundamental to life as the human soul, than you should just stop reading right here before you waste anymore of your time. If you choose to continue reading this because you are a soul believer, than by the end of this post you will realize you too have wasted your time reading this. You can skip right to the theory in paragraph 5 of this post.

I’m a psychology student. The uncertainty of what I plan to do with that in the future could fill an entire post on its own. However, opening your mind to the mind really gets your gears turning. One of my favorite courses was abnormal psychology. It never seizes to amaze me just how complex the mind of a person is and just how damaged it can get. Something as simple as a lack of a chemical messenger could cause disturbances so huge, a person would no longer be able to live a normal life. Although there are so many disorders to chose from to study, one that continues to amaze me is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

This particular disorder is not actually a personality disorder as one might think. Personality disorders include borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, as well as many more. However DID is actually a Dissociative Disorder, like amnesia. A person has large gaps in memory and time that can’t be explained by “forgetfulness.” These gaps in consciousness are explained by a person being over come by another entity (or personality) within the same body. If you’ve seen the movie Split with James McAvoy you’ll know what I’m talking about. Other personalities or “alters” share the body of one main personality. Confusing? Tell me about it.

There are theories behind what causes these alters to form in the first place. One prominent theory is that alters form as a defense mechanism. When a person undergoes an emotional or physical trauma, the main creates an alter to block that memory from existing. When the main experiences a moment in which the trauma is re-experienced, an emotionally stronger alter presents itself. This theory is hard to prove since many people who experience trauma don’t develop alters. Many people don’t actually believe DID to be a real disorder. I however have created my own theory to explain DID. Now I can’t tell you there is any truth or evidence behind my theory, it’s just a sort of revelation I had one night when I deprived myself of sleep.

As I mentioned at the beginning, if you don’t believe in the human soul, i’m afraid this theory wont be feasible for you. For my theory to make any sense, I had to assume that a person is given a soul at the moment of conception. This is where the roller coaster begins so just bear with me.

When an egg and a sperm join to create a zygote, that later turns into a fetus and is born into a human being, it has a soul and a personality. But when a zygote splits in two to create mono-zygotic (identical) twins, the twins are born with their own soul and personality. According to the assumption that I made previously, this means that, like a zygote, a soul can also split in two giving each fetus a soul and personality. Simple right? If it is possible to split a soul when a zygote splits, than perhaps it is possible for a soul to split on its own, without the split of the zygote. That would mean that one single fetus could have two souls or personalities. Are you still with me? This could explain why identical twins are so alike in nature and behavior, as well as why the alters of a person with DID are also themselves so similar in nature and behavior. Is it possible that identical twins once shared a soul? Is it possible that a person with DID has a broken soul? I can’t be certain as this is only a theory, but I would like to believe that one day, in the not so distant future, we possess the technology to answer such questions.

The Name Behind The Blog

It’s 11:40 pm on a Tuesday night. It’s summer vacation and it looks like I have nothing better to do. I’m split screening my computer screen so that while my inattentive butt decides what to do, I have Family Guy playing in the background (Family Guy > American Dad). My friend had always told me that she wanted to start a youtube channel to create a sort of “video” blog in which she could share her beautiful experiences of travel across the world, with the world. I thought it was a wonderful idea, however she doesn’t actually travel much so what she would blog about I don’t know, but it gave me an idea to start some sort of project to keep me busy throughout the summer. I was actually contemplating starting a youtube channel myself, a “beauty blog” where I would do my makeup on camera, although I don’t personally trust my makeup skills enough to advertise it to the world (I’m no Jaclyn Hill or Jeffree Star). So I scratched that idea and did my makeup in my room, alone, casually doing a voice over in my head as if someone were watching. Later I came across a website, while split screening Netflix (Family Guy as per usual), that had a post discussing how easy it was to create a blog and just “talk.” Since i’m not only not a makeup professional but also incredibly socially awkward (excuse my double-not), I decided I would trade in the “video” blog for an “old school” blog on the internet. I figured i’d give it a try since I had nothing better to do. So here I am, now 10 minutes after midnight (30 minutes after starting this post in the first place, got distracted watching Family Guy, oops), and i’m typing some text post that no one will ever see, to post on a blog no one will ever visit (and i’ll probably forget about tomorrow). The website mentioned 5 easy steps to creating a blog. Step one: creating a domain name. Something that will identify this blog. Something that will allow a hypothetical person to talk about this very blog to their hypothetical friends in a hypothetical basement while they hang out smoking hypothetical pot (I’m not really sure where I am going with this anymore). I knew that the name for this blog had to be unique. Not necessarily a name that my friends could recognize if they ever stumbled across this page, but a name in which, if later revealed that I was the owner of this blog, they would go “ah I should have known that was you!” I needed to come up with the perfect name to identify me as the owner, but also to keep me hidden from the world. Then it hit me.

When I was young, I was known to have quite the temperament. My mother loves to tell a signature story that illustrates how much of a little devil I was. I was 5, my brothers were 7 and 9. My mother had the day off and my father was at work. For a reason that my family and I can just not remember, I was incredibly angry and out for blood. It was a nice sunny, hot summer day. My brothers and mother were outside enjoying the beautiful weather. That was my opportunity. For revenge. I went to the back door of my house (which is a large glass door), made sure my family was attentive to what I was doing inside, and locked it. I quickly ran to my front door and locked it. I ran to the garage door and locked it. I had done it. I had taken the house for myself. I was the Queen of my two story kingdom. After a long day of diabolical locking of doors, the Queen was tired and decided to take a nap. That’s right. I locked my family out of our house out of sheer anger and went straight to bed. My mother had to call my father, who was of course busy at work, to come home and unlock the doors of the house. After that day, I was quite known in my family as having the animal like-blood thirsty angry temperament that they were hoping was just a phase (I would just like to make clear that I am no longer quite as diabolical as my younger self). Years after this incident, and many more piled on top, my brother bought a very special road sign and hung it up on his bedroom door. Do Not Feed The Bears. My family thought it was fitting considering they were living amongst an animal (not my dog, me). My nick name in the family was already Cuca (pronounced [coo-kah]) so why not add that -bear ending to it. Cucabear. That’s my nick name, don’t wear it out.

There it was. My blog name. I had the pieces in front of me I just had to make something with it. All I want to do is attempt to make the very best blog that I can for myself. Or shall I say, the beary best blog that I can make for myself.

Welcome to my side of the woods.