Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Passion Project Update #2

For these past 2 weeks, I made some insightful progress.  Being the roots of obsession, I did a little research into fear.  Through research in the form of a video and an informal survey, fear can condition others into obsession and/or phobia.  Conditioning can occur through constant repetition of something.  To make someone avoid a "thing", that "thing" will have to be associated with something threatening to a person, and the exposure must take place at a very young age (including infancy).  To me, this makes sense.  As humans, we evolved through the "fight or flight" response causing us to react to threats regardless of age.  However at a very young age, we subconsciously learn that the threat is something we want to avoid for the rest of our existence.  If its something we want to avoid, something we were conditioned to through childhood, we develop an obsession to do something in order to avoid the threat (whether that threat really exists).  Having a nightmare as a child can leave a phobia to haunt someone for the rest of his/her life, and that nightmare could have arisen from anything.  For example, one may have a crippling fear of dogs because this person was exposed to vicious dogs as a child.  And this person may not even realize it.  I think this analysis is fairly accurate; so, I think this was good progress.  For next week, I am anticipating on either looking into obsession not rooted in fear or exploring my own fears.
Also, I dipped into the neuro-chemical aspect of this a little bit.  I came at the concept of proper serotonin balances from how medicine regulates the balances.  I came across SSRI's which slow down the passing of serotonin through synapses.  This treats panic attacks and obsessive behavior through limiting the serotonin that can pass through.  To me, I think this means that obsession occurs in a short burst of serotonin.  To be obsessive calls for the transaction of the neurotransmitter.  This analysis and research seems very accurate, especially based on how it feels for me when I freak out.  For next time, I would like to go deeper into the chemical processes of how SSRI's work and how the neurotransmitter serotonin works in its balances.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Passion Project Log 1

Well, it's that time of the year again! For my passion project, I'm researching the psychological and neuro-chemical aspects of obsession in humans.  So far, I watched a video detailing what is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how obsession can be rooted in fear and conditioning as a child. For the next week, I learned the basics of neuroscience, and the various neurotransmitters that relate to behavior and emotion.  These past 2 weeks set the foundation of what I need to know.  I have been using this with myself and my character David from the play David and Lisa.  I noticed that fear is a strong contributor psychologically to obsession.  It also relates to serotonin, relating to depression and anxiety.  As it stands, I think I made good progress in taking on the foundation.  I will be focusing more on fear and how conditioning works for next week and the balances for serotonin to manipulate emotions.  Till next time!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Who was Right? Obama or Alfred?

President Obama calls Americans to order (back in 2011) for a more empathetic society.  In reference to the Arizona shootings, the President made a heartfelt speech addressing the nation on building empathy.  Various articles and experts, much like Obama, agree that humans need to focus on a global empathy.  But is this realistic?
First, let me explain that empathy is a GOOD thing and it is very necessary in our society.  Do we as humans suffer a lacking of it in our present society? Absolutely. Can we improve our empathy as a society? ...I don't know... Now, empathy is something within all of us that is controlled by all of us as individuals. One can not simply pull the empathy out of someone.  That person needs to be ready to share and let their empathy prosper.  Usually, it takes a struggle or some amount of pain to build empathy.  After all, empathy connects us as humans through our shared suffering.  Being so, Obama used the pain of the shooting to bring out the empathy. A valiant and good-hearted effort, but I don't think it affects enough people personally.  Also, it takes more than the eloquence of a speaker to invoke empathy.  The human mind processes thoughts on an incredibly higher level than speech can provide.  The pain must take place on a personal level, and the human needs to process the situation to build empathy, not misplaced hate and anger.  Being that said, that's how empathy can be built.  However, that needs to happen to EVERY person in America (at least) to build a better society.
Obama is not by any means wasting his time in addressing the nation as such, but he can better apply himself in more effective action for gun control and mental health as opposed to giving a speech that will hopefully cause all Americans to become good citizens.
In my own personal experiences, I have come to realize that not all people are capable of empathy.  Various students I know have no consideration what-so-ever for anyone else's feelings.  Bullying is a true issue, and most often it is behind people's backs.  In my experiences, the only form of bullying that people are up front about are homophobic comments and racism.  When I say racism, it happens on all aspects.  White people are discriminated against just as much as any other minority group.  If you have an ethnicity, you are now considered the scum of the Earth by a different ethnic group in my school.
According to research, Frontiers in September 24, 2013, the defining psychological characteristic of psychopath is a severe lack of empathy. In a test group, people with a very severe form of psychopathy were tested for empathy. When imagining pain for themselves, they reacted in a normal neurological response, they didn't like it.  However, when they reacted to the thought of other people getting hurt, they reacted with pleasure.  Lower level psychopaths typically feel nothing; thus, there being a lack of empathy. But there does exist people that have an "anti-empathy", reacting in opposite of the expected empathetic reaction.
Can we build empathy in everyone?  Day by day, exposed to the cruelties of humanity, exposed to the bleak consciences of high school students, I lose hope that an empathetic global community can exist.  At least I think of it as; if I don't care, who will? Now, I close with what I fear is true.

"Some men, just want to watch the world burn." -Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight