Thursday, March 1, 2018

Blog Dump

I have a folder thing on Evernote with various notes, clippings, etc. of either things I want to write posts about or posts I began to write but never got around to fully developing for various reasons. I decided to just 'dump' all of it here, on this post. I will try to provide some context for each one but can't really even guarantee that. If you would like further explanation/elaboration on any of them, please reach out to me! I'm posting them in chronological order, beginning with the oldest.


I think I had an idea for a post associated with this that was going to be something along the lines of "It's Not Just Me!":

Okay. I literally chuckled to myself when I saw this one. It's literally just an idea for a title of a potential post:

"What is that purple-ish ring she is always wearing?"

And another. Same day. You're welcome.

"Yeah, I used to do Pointe, and I'm Cecchetti level 1 certified" *Z-Snap*

Ugh. I'm pretty sure I have a draft for this somewhere. All you get right now is the potential title:
"The lowest grade I've ever received on a paper"

Yep. Same day. Guess I was in brainstorming mode.

Oh, lucky you. I found the draft:

I am finally sharing the essay that earned me a failing grade at Cal. It was so difficult, so shocking, because all through high school I had been told by multiple teachers that I was a good, maybe even excellent, writer. In the eighth grade, I won first place for a district-wide UIL writing competition. During my Junior year of high school, my English teacher passed on an essay I wrote (which also just so happens to be the first post on this blog J ) to the school district’s curriculum development department. This teacher told me that the assignment I turned in was going to be used as a sort of model when developing writing curriculum in order to try to help students produce similar writing. I was extremely surprised and humbled to discover this. Did I enjoy writing? Yes. It was an outlet for me. Did I think I was some kind of genius or even an innovative writer? No. By the time I graduated high school, I had decided that I was a “proficient writer.” Then, I took Berkeley’s R1B course in the fall of 2010. It was a required class since I didn’t score a 5 on my AP English Exam (see, by no means a perfect writer). I was pleased to find that there were a number of choices when it came to the required course and decided to take a Comparative Literature course that focused on magical realism – a concept I was first introduced to during my freshman year in high school. It was an extremely interesting and enjoyable class. I earned a B on my first essay, a “diagnostic essay.” I think I was slightly disappointed with this grade but after overhearing some of my other classmates discussing that they had received similar grades felt more secure in my work. Then came what turned out to be a pretty trying essay, the comparative essay. I chose to compare the setting of Baudeliare’s “Correspondences” to the setting depicted in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It appears that I no longer have the first copy of the essay. I imagine at some point I deleted it in the hope that it would erase the negative memories and feelings associated with it. If I remember correctly, my thesis in the first draft was something to the effect of “these two works of literature both take place in nature and there are similarities and differences between the two.” Yeah, not exactly revolutionary. Based on my previous English classes, simply acknowledging that two different pieces have a similar setting and then thinking to compare and contrast the two would be more than sufficient. Professor Dimova informed me this was not the case. I met with her during office hours to discuss my paper and the “disgraceful D” (I just came up with that :p) I earned with it. During the entire meeting, I unsuccessfully fought back tears. I was quite distraught. If I wasn’t a “good” writer, what was I? Was I good at anything? Had my entire education prior to Cal been a joke? Had it not prepared me for the rigors of the education at Cal? Was I doomed to fail? Professor Dimova explained that I needed to further develop my thesis and come up with some kind of argument/stance. She explained that what I had turned in was essentially a good starting point, but by no means, a finished, analytical product. I believe the essay below was my second attempt at the assignment. Reading it now, I feel it isn’t worth a whole lot either. It’s not very well developed. It doesn’t include anything particularly interesting, radical, or revolutionary. I think I earned a B/B- on it. I feel that was an overly kind grade. I have always had difficulty with organizing my thoughts in writing and especially explaining my personal thoughts/beliefs/ideas thoroughly to allow the reader to gain some kind of mutual understanding. That’s something I still struggle with. Whenever I have an essay assignment in one of my classes, I go to the student writing lab and work with a tutor in an attempt to get my thoughts/ideas into some kind of semblance that makes sense.

Erin Dion
Professor X
Comparative Literature
October 8, 2010
“Naturally Human”
            In Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Baudelaire’s “Correspondences” Nature is characterized as an otherworldly place that often leads humans into confusion. This setting, distinct from the “real world” and its cruel, imposing responsibilities and challenges, forces humans to face fantastical subjects and ideas they would never encounter in their “normal” daily lives. Ideas that seem bizarre in the normal world seem more logical when presented in a natural setting. The forest in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a mysterious place where the characters are open to relationships they would not think of participating in while they inhabit the city. Puck’s use of the love potion on the characters results in chaos. This chaos is not necessarily negative as it reveals new ways of thinking and possibilities. The fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” act as intermediaries between Nature and humans. Baudelaire characterizes Nature in “Correspondences” as a sacred creation that man can no longer understand, resulting in man’s confusion. This is a reflection of man’s rejection of the natural world as he turns to the concept of modernity. The lack of a liaison between man and Nature in “Correspondences” only substantiates the rift between the two. In both of these pieces, Nature has an overwhelming influence on humans who are unaware of this interaction.
            In “Correspondences”, Baudelaire describes Nature as a living being. In the first stanza, Nature’s “living colonnades / Breathe forth a mystic speech in fitful sighs” (Baudelaire 1-2). The idea of Nature being alive is also present in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – the fairies are essentially a part of the forest. These creatures are very lively and their power to manipulate humans makes them godlike. The Nature in Baudelaire’s work is made up of many symbols, both literally and figuratively. The first stanza mentions, “Man wanders among symbols in those glades” (Baudelaire 3). Man’s inability to understand Nature causes him to see everything in symbolic form. Some of the poem’s more figurative symbols include the “dwindling echoes,” “scents and sounds and colors,” and “infinite pervasiveness” (Baudelaire 5, 8, 12). These figurative symbols mirror the symbolism man sees in Nature and initially leave the reader in a similar state of confusion. These symbols are analogous to the complex relationships in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” because the relationships represent:  jealousy, conflict between love and reason, and rejection. These characterizations of Nature create a complex setting that houses deep, inner processes surrounding humans that they can only realize when in this setting.
            The forest in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a place that civilized peoples do not visit often and the home of the fairies. This characterization of Nature makes events that would seem strange in the civilized world rational and normal. The forest is first mentioned in the play when Hermia and Lysander devise a plan to pursue their forbidden love. Hermia explains the plan to Helena:  “Before the time I did Lysander see, / Seemed Athens as a paradise to me. / O, then, what graces in my love do dwell / That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell!” (I.i.204-207). Hermia later continues, “And in the wood where often you and I / Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie, Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet, / There my Lysander and myself shall meet, / And thence from Athens turn away our eyes / To seek new friends and stranger companies” (I.i.214-219). This quote reveals the important distinction between the city and the forest. In the forest, Athenian law is not applicable and Hermia and Lysander are free to practice their love. Hermia’s speech also shows that the forest has the ability to make things happen that are not possible in the city (new ways of thinking, relationships, etc.). Hermia and Lysander’s relationship represents a concept very intrinsic to humanity:  true, inescapable, love. The fact that Hermia and Lysander can only obtain this love in the forest suggests that the setting itself has a strong connection to humanity in that it is a basic form of life. The forest is also the home of the fairies. This presence of mystical beings contributes to the forest’s mystical quality but also gives humans a direct connection to Nature. This direct connection allows the characters to feel more confident about the actions and decisions they make while in the forest.
            Throughout the play, Puck, the servant to Oberon, the King of Fairies, speaks in a charm-like manner, making his speech difficult to understand. For example, rather than simply recounting the effects of the love potion on Titania, Puck chants to Oberon “My mistress with a monster is in love. / Near to her close and consecrated bower, / While she was in her dull and sleeping hour, / A crew of patches, rude mechanicals / That work for bread upon Athenian stalls, / Were met together to rehearse a play / Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial day. / The shallowest thickskin of that barren sort, / Who Pyramus presented in their sport, / Forsook his scene and entered in a brake. / When I did him at this advantage take, / An ass’s nole I fixed on his head” (III.ii.6-17). Puck’s speech is very elaborate and enchanting. His speech also rhymes, giving it a hypnotic and charm-like quality. Puck is also very mischievous and uses the love potion on Demetrius and Lysander. This results in a reversal of the relationships:  now both men fight for Helena’s love rather than Hermia’s. Puck, a creature of the forest, controls these humans’ lives, unbeknownst to them. This suggests that Nature possesses an influential power beyond human understanding.
            Baudelaire’s “Correspondences” describes man’s complex relationship with Nature. At some previous time in history, man had the ability to understand and easily interact with nature, but when industrialization occurred, resulting in a turn towards modernity, man no longer could understand or communicate with Nature. The first stanza begins with a powerful metaphor and gives human-like life to Nature:  “Nature is a temple whose living colonnades / Breathe forth a mystic speech in fitful sighs; / Man wanders among symbols in those glades / Where all things watch him with familiar eyes” (Baudelaire 1-4). The opening metaphor compares Nature to a temple, implying that Nature is sacred and should be honored in a reverent manner. This metaphor is also an oxymoron because temples are manmade creations. This could refer to the idea that God (the creator of Nature) is human-like since man was made in His image. The personification of Nature in this first stanza also refers to Nature’s power. Nature is able to act on its mystical and spiritual characteristics, and it also possesses omnipotent human qualities. The mystique surrounding Nature’s “speech” represents man’s inability to interpret Nature and its attempts to communicate with man. This lack of understanding is the effect of man’s distancing from nature and preference of mechanization of the world. It is also apparent that Nature is frustrated by man’s inability to understand its communications because it sighs fitfully. Also, man only sees symbols in Nature rather than their underlying meaning. Since Nature is constantly watching man, Nature has a much greater understanding of man than man has of Nature. The second stanza continues “Like dwindling echoes gathered far away / Into a deep and thronging unison / Huge as the night or as the light of day, / All scents and sounds and colors meet as one” (Baudelaire 5-8). These echoes represent the comprehensive communications man used to have with Nature. They are “far away” in time and space, and since they are echoes, man can hear them but not understand what they are recounting. Baudelaire then describes the environment:  “Perfumes there are as sweet as the oboe’s sound, / Green as the prairies, fresh as a child’s caress, / -- And there are others, rich, corrupt, profound” (Baudelaire 9-11). These similes compare the unknown environment of Nature to images that humans are more familiar with, and two of these similes directly compare Nature to human/manmade things. Baudelaire’s use of metaphor, personification, and similes illustrates the complicated relationship between Nature and man and Nature’s mystical qualities, which give man the possibility to communicate with his Creator.
             Shakespeare and Baudelaire’s characterization of Nature as a mystical and otherworldly setting give the authors the ability to explore unconventional and deep themes such as love, relationships, and the basis of humanity. The setting’s natural quality inundates the eccentric concepts discussed in the two works, resulting in rational thoughts. Shakespeare achieves this by using fairies to mix up the relationships in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” causing the characters to question their true desires. Baudelaire uses metaphor, similes, and personification to portray Nature as a sacred setting that man can no longer comprehend because of his choice to separate himself from the natural world and become engrossed with his own ability to create. The fact that man is still drawn to Nature indicates that Nature possesses some inexplicable quality that is greater than anything man could ever create. Nature, as presented in these two works, shows its power over humans and its ability to alter their lives, often without the human’s acknowledgement.   

3/23/2017 Continued
Titled: "I have nautrally bleach blonde eyebrows"
My mom thinks I look like a bunny...
She also told me my face looked like a baseball mitt when I woke her up the night after getting my braces because I was in a considerable amount of pain

Love you, Mom!!!


Simply titled: "irony"
The irony of college graduates not knowing/understanding the differences between alumni, alumnus, and alumna.

"My (extremely extensive) thoughts/feelings on marijuana"
I voted to legalize pot when I was in California in 2010 in the hope that tax from buying marijuana would significantly contribute to state's income, eventually leading to a decrease in tuition

The 2 Bs:  Balance and Boundaries
This is what a lot of the work/therapy I've been doing the past eight *sigh of exasperation* years has been centered around.


I get knixwear and shethinx confused

I also mix up numbers all the time - anecdote from AP Calc AB Class wrote the answer wrong after doing all calculations correctly and coming up with correct answer but wrote wrong numbers in blank space for final answer

Saved on 4/6/2017

"4/5 Revalations"

around 10pm i ordered a dress online for easter
while in the shower about an hour later, i decided i wanted to cancel the order so that i could spend a little extra on my next trip to trader joe's #priorities
don't worry, i will definitely bring this up in my next therapy session

This was an "interesting realization"

apparently when my dentist recommended an orthodontist who would be able to make new retainers for "a less expensive price," that meant FREE, compared to the quote his office provided me $750


"blog ideas"

1. Results of quiz - linguistic thinker - the emphasis I put on words and what people say - if you say you are going to do something and it relates to me, you better do it
2. The saying "life is too short so..." What is short? Some people die young, some people die old, I think the saying "life is full of surprises, so...." Is more accurate/appropriate


"these are a few of my favorite things" I forgot about this after writing down the first one, so it should really be "this is one of my many favorite things"

inspired by jonathan swift's a modest proposal. if you haven't read that work, you NEED to. 

1. When a scholarship is detailed on a university's website and then you go talk to a financial aid rep about applying for the scholarship and bring the material(s) that will make you eligible for the scholarship. The person accepts the material(s) and even consults a higher up financial aid employee to make sure your material(s) are acceptable to qualify you for the scholarship. Then, about a week later you receive an email from the financial aid office stating they do not have funds to provide you the scholarship, even though you qualify.

I want to say a second one had something to do with driving on I-75. Oh!!! I remember!!!!!!! The fact that most people drive around 50mph on that highway for some reason when the speed limit is 70mph...or at least I think it is. I know it's higher than 50mph, and it always upsets me greatly when people are driving significantly under the speed limit for no apparent reason. SO THERE!

"annoyance add to my favorite things list"

i have not had any assignments graded for my upper-level psychology class since 3/10. it is now officially 4/7. I submitted an assignment on 3/17 and another on 3/19. We have also had a major test about a week and a half ago

So this was titled "Size Doesn't Matter OR Size Doesn't Matter" I THINK it was supposed to be "Size Doesn't Matter OR Size Does Matter"

Size Doesn’t Matter OR Size Doesn't Matter
You know that saying, “Life’s too short to….*insert stupid/meaningless activity*” Yeah. I don’t like it. Plus, it’s not accurate. Is life really short? You don’t know. It’s different for every person.
SO….here’s my proposal:  Let’s change the saying from “Life’s too short to…” to “Life’s too full of surprises to…” This change is based on own life experiences. At the age of thirteen, I thought I had my entire life planned out, but life threw me a “little surprise” in February 2011 that changed everything.
I’m trying to say:  Life is too full of surprises to not have a huge smile on your face everyday J


blog idea: pronouns, feminism, and the power of words

Women can't be a Mrs. If they keep their maiden name. Why do women have Miss, Ms., and Mrs. When men simply have Mr.? Unnecessary confusion. At what age is it appropriate to begin addressing a female as Ms. Rather than Miss? Men have the word guy, I guess the equivalent for females would be gal, but that isn't widely used and I think would be considered southern slang. Women just have girl and woman. There is a bit of hesitancy and maybe even negativity about being referred to as a woman rather than a girl, but, if anything, it's the opposite for males - they would rather be referred to as a man than a boy.

had a possibly disappointing experience today, 4/5. went to orthodontist, got lost. called office. the first female who answered the phone transferred me to another female who said something to the effect of she was thought of the person in the office w/ the best sense of directions/ability to give directions but didn't i think i had to admit that it was really necessary to have/use gps - i got the impression that she either said/indicated that this was particularly/only true for women - who i guess are thought to have a poor sense of direction

Disgust: Second Wives Club on E! 

Even that made ME laugh, so I hoped it made you laugh.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


So, remember when I asked y'all if you would be okay with me allowing/adding ads to my blog in the hope of making a bit of money? Well, up until this point I (not so shockingly) have not made any money off the ads. BUT I just checked, and I have somehow managed to make a WHOLE FREAKIN' PENNY!!!! And then I looked somewhere else, and I can't receive any of my 'income' until I meet the payment threshold of $100. That is okay. I don't need the penny. I don't really understand how this whole ad thing works - it was, and continues to be, more of an experiment. I am kind of happy/excited/proud of myself/confused/wondering if a mistake was made, it's only a penny, right?

The Rest of the Reflections for my Independent Study Course Last Fall

Well, seeing as the Fall 2017 is, and has been, over, I guess I can and should post/share the remaining reflections I wrote for that course. This is a 'dump' of sorts, so please do not in any way feel obligated to read all of it. Thank you all for your support with this course/journey:

Week 9 Reflection:

The Noonday Demon, Chapter X, “Politics”
            This chapter begins with “Politics plays as big a role as science in current descriptions of depression” (Solomon 361). If politics affects the descriptions of depression, I would think it would affect the DSM and the changes in each of its new editions. Politics is a fundamental part of the treatment and ‘medicalization’ of mental illness as that APA votes to decide what should and should not be included in each edition of the DSM, and although the APA probably does not seem intrinsically political, I am sure that each member of the APA is affected both directly and indirectly by more evident government and politics when making decisions and interpretations regarding mental illness.
Solomon continues: “The vocabulary of depression, which can be enormously empowering to marginal people who have no way to describe or understand their experiences, is endlessly manipulable” (Solomon 361). This vocabulary seems to be a double-edged sword – depending who is doing the manipulating of the vocabulary, and by manipulating vocabulary, you also (are at least able to) manipulate the entire situation/process (of depression, how it is viewed/classified/categorized, and, thus, treated).
“Definitions of depression strongly influence the policy decisions that in turn affect the sufferers. If depression is a ‘simple organic disease,’ then it must be treated as we treat other simple organic diseases – insurance companies must provide coverage for severe depression as they provide coverage for cancer treatment. If depression is rooted in character, then it is the fault of those who suffer from it and receives no more protection tan does stupidity. If it can afflict anyone at any time, then prevention needs to be taken into consideration; if it is something that will hit only poor, uneducated, or politically underrepresented people, the emphasis on prevention is in our inequable society much lower. If depressed people injure others, their condition must be controlled for the good of society; if they simply stay home or disappear, their invisibility makes them easy to ignore” [emphasis added] (Solomon 361). It is understandable that people want and need to understand depression in terms of other illnesses (i.e. depression being cause by a biological chemical imbalance), but based on my previous readings, it is clear that there is a lot more to the cause(s) of depression than chemical imbalance. By only looking at a chemical imbalance as the cause of depression, it may be easier to think that “lower” people, people who are less educated and/or live in poverty, are more prone to depression. Also, although the chemical imbalance explanation is relatively simple and easy to understand, it deemphasizes the complexity of depression and the many other ways depression can be treated besides, or in addition to, antidepressants. If the government that is making laws regarding insurance companies policies regarding depression does not have a full or complete understanding of depression, how will their laws ever be truly beneficial to those suffering from depression? Solomon later explains: “Like all political movements, this one [fight for insurance coverage for mental illness, more specifically, equal coverage as compared to other diseases] depends on oversimplification [chemical imbalance as the explanation for depression]” (Solomon 370). If those who research and treat depression admit (at least sometimes and on some occasions) that they do not have a full or complete understanding of depression, how can we expect lawmakers to have a true understanding of depression?

Finally, there is the issue of mental illness and violence. It comes up nearly every time there is a mass shooting in the United States, and politicians and lawmakers discuss gun control, once again, but little change is ever put into effect. The fact that at least for some period of time after open carry laws were enacted in Texas mental health patients were allowed to bring a gun into a state/county mental health hospital is absolutely absurd. If I remember correctly, the law was relatively quickly changed so that patients were not allowed to have a gun but those working in the hospitals could still carry a gun on them in their workplace. If someone is desperate enough to end their life, and being committed to a mental hospital against their will could easily be the final straw to make them end their life, they should not have any kind of access to a firearm. Mental health hospitals have rules against allowing things like clothing with zippers or shoes with shoestrings in their facility; why on earth would a firearm be allowed? Solomon states: “The focus on mentally ill people who are dangerous increases stigma and reinforces negative public perception of people suffering from mental illness. It is, however, extremely effective for fund-raising; many people who will not pay to help strangers will gladly pay to protect themselves, and using the ‘people like that kill people like us’ argument enables political action. A recent British study showed that though only 3 percent of the mentally ill are considered dangerous to others, nearly 50 percent of all press coverage of the mentally ill is focused on their dangerousness” (Solomon 373). It is sad that it takes an act of violence and fear for one’s own life to cause others to supply help to those who are mentally ill, and desperately need, and often, want that help. I wonder if depression generally results in a greater number of homicides or suicides. Neither is good. They are both terrible, but should we really characterize the mentally ill as a threat to others or more as a threat to themselves, and, ultimately, maybe that initial view that they are a threat to others is fundamentally a threat to themselves as a hidden desire for someone else to end their life for them by doing something drastic and terrible that would warrant their own death by the hands of a law enforcement official.

Week 10 Reflection:

Darkness Visible by William Styron
            This has been, by far, the easiest and most enjoyable reading I have encountered so far for this course because it is a personal account of an individual’s experiences with depression. I also truly appreciated this reading because Styron as a talented author, very eloquently, and with great description, depicted depression. This can be so difficult to accomplish as it is a rather abstract disease/experience. I also appreciated the fact that Styron had done fairly extensive research on his own into depression, reading up on the DSM and the Physician’s Desk Reference.
            Towards the beginning of Styron’s description, he states “Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self – to the mediating intellect – as to verge close to being beyond description. It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it in its extreme mode, although the gloom, ‘the blues’ which people go through occasionally and associate with the general hassle of everyday existence are of such prevalence that they do give many individuals a hint of the illness in its catastrophic form” (Styron 7). The idea that depression can be both “painful” and “elusive” is not only extremely relatable but also feels incredibly insightful. Yet, I feel that those who have not personally experienced depression would not really be able to make sense of this combination, which seems at odds with one another. How can pain be elusive? Don’t you just feel pain in the body and can point to a doctor where it hurts? This is one of the many reasons why depression is so incredibly difficult to describe to others. As Styron says, “Depression is…so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self…” (Styron 7). If it is difficult for even the individual to become aware of what is happening to him/herself, how can that individual possibly describe what is happening to them to another? I think what Styron is describing can also relate to how depression has a tendency to seemingly ‘sneak up’ on individuals. Only once someone is in the throes of depression can an individual say, “Wow there were so many signs and triggering events that led to this downward spiral.” Looking back, everything is apparent in 20/20 vision, right?
This is why it is so necessary for all medical professionals to have knowledge of mental illness so that they can detect any early signs of it in order to prevent a major break down in an individual. Of course, the stigma associated with mental illness does not help either. If an individual is beginning to feel “off,” they certainly will not seek out immediate help from a mental health professional. So often, help is only sought out, or provided, when an individual is experiencing extreme symptoms. By that point, it may be too late. So many diseases, like cancer, have protocols for early detection and treatment. Conversely, with many mental health disorders, detection of any kind can be nearly impossible. Treatment only occurs when the patient is at a point similar to stage 4 of cancer. It is known that the earlier cancer is treated, the more likely the patient will have a full recovery and not encounter a relapse. Why, then, do we wait so long to intervene when it comes to mental illness?
The following is perhaps my favorite descriptor Styron provides of depression: “…the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely over-heated room. And because no breeze stirs this cauldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion” (Styron 50). As soon as I read this description comparing depression to being stuck in a sort of furnace it struck me as being so accurate. Yet nothing that I would ever have been able to put together on my own. Accordingly, I sent the description to a friend who also suffers from mental illness. He immediately responded that he, too, wholeheartedly agreed with this description. It comforted me to know that someone who also experienced depression had the ability to articulate this so well. In addition to me and the writer, another peer who also suffers from this horrible disease also agreed with the description. This ability to articulate such a specific description comforted me. What I experience and have experienced is not simply something that “is all in my head” – though to an extent it is. If someone else can put words to this abstract experience and multiple people agree that it is accurate, then there is more realness/validity to the experience. It’s as empirical as we can get to describing the feelings we experience with this incredibly abstract and often nuanced disease.

Week 11 Reflection:

Endogenous versus Nonendogenous Depression
            Endogenous Depression is generally defined/categorized as depression that is rooted in biological causes, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Nonendogenous depression is defined as depression that is caused by some external event/conflict. If nonendogenous depression does not have a biological component is it really a “disease”?
            In the first article by Feinberg, he argues that depression is not a “homogenous illness” and that it is necessary to recognize the different types of depression (which cause it to be a nonhomogeneous illness) and separate the subtypes when researching treatment as the different types respond differently to various treatments (Feinberg 670). Feinberg’s article begins with sharing the “history” of naming endogenous depression and shares that this type of depression has been referred to as “endogenous, endogenomorphic, psychotic, or melancholic” (Feinberg 670). The presence of multiple names for one recognized type of depression only contributes to the confusion and misunderstandings related to mental illness, and, specifically, depression. Has a consensus been reached on which name should be used to refer to this type of depression? Feinberg also states that this type of depression (endogenous depression), “[is] likely to respond to somatic treatments for depression (antidepressant drugs and electroconvulsive therapy)” (Feinberg 670). If patients respond to somatic treatments, it makes sense that these patients would also experience somatic symptoms such as physical pain. Because this type of depression has a biological cause and responds to treatments that can be explained biologically, it is easier to understand in terms of a disease.
            Feinberg goes on to discuss other studies that researched endogenous and nonendogenous depression to further identify the differences between these two types of depression. One study Feinberg cites tested endocrine function. This study, conducted by Carroll and colleagues (1981) “found that one half to two thirds of endogenous depressed patients had abnormal DSTs [dexamethasone suppression tests – a standard test of endocrine function], whereas less than 10% of nonendogenous depressed patients had abnormal tests” (Feinberg 672). This is another indicator of biological ‘malfunction’ in the body for patients with endogenous depression. If a patient’s endocrine function is abnormal, could their metabolism also be negatively affected – explaining the appetite and weight changes many depressed patients experience?
            Feinberg concludes his article by citing another example of research that highlights the differences in response to various treatments between patients with endogenous and nonendogenous depression. Patients with endogenous depression can be found to have normal DSTs and are referred to as “escapers or nonsuppressors” because people with endogenous depression generally have abnormal DSTs. This abnormal result can be overcome if a patient is able to “resume corticosteroid synthesis in less than 24 hr” (Feinberg 672). Essentially, these patients have the ability to ‘outsmart’ the DST, and, although their DSTs are normal, this does not mean they do not have endogenous depression (Feinberg 672). Feinberg also discussed a study of REM latency as well as other indicators of sleep disturbance, such as REM density. It found that patients with endogenous depression have abnormal results from these types of tests, which are an indicator for endogenous depression (Feinberg 671-672). In a study conducted by Rush and colleagues (1982), patients with both endogenous and nonendogenous depression were studied using DST and EEG tests. It led to the conclusion that “of five patients with endogenous major depressive disorder…, about normal (nonsupressor) DSTs, and shortened REM latencies, not one responded to cognitive therapy. In contrast, eight of nine patients with nonendogenous depression, normal DSTs, and normal REM latencies responded well” (Feinberg 672).  Those with endogenous depression did not respond to cognitive therapy, indicating something on the biological level needed to be altered. How long were these patients in cognitive therapy? Maybe these patients would have responded if they participated in therapy longer, allowing for a biological restructuring/reorganization of the brain via neuroplasticity.
            The second article I read this week on endogenous and nonendogenous depression by Harkness and Monroe led to the conclusion “…severe levels of childhood adversity were significantly associated with severe endogenous depression. These results may enlarge thinking about the traditional etiological distinction between endogenous and nonendogenous depression and are consistent with emerging research outlining the neuropathological consequences of childhood adversity” (Harkness and Monroe 392). This conclusion is very interesting because it shows that a traumatic event can lead to endogenous depression. Although in most cases the event occurred years before this research was conducted and a diagnosis of depression was made, it challenges the view that endogenous depression is a solely biological event and nonendogenous depression relies only on external events.
            This article begins by stating: “The last decade has seen a surge of interest in the role of childhood adversity in the onset of major depression” (Harkness and Monroe 387). The types of childhood adversity researched in this article included “…parental neglect, antipathy, and physical and sexual abuse…” (Harkness and Monroe 387). I found it very interesting that this research also highlights the significance of childhood adversity as a factor in the onset of depression in comparison to Styron’s statement in Visible Darkness that the death of a close loved one in childhood is generally a precursor for depression later in life. Although both argue and show evidence that difficult events in childhood can lead to depression, Harkness and Monroe’s article and research does not include a major loss of a loved one early in life as one of their factors/definitions of childhood adversity.
            Monroe and Harkness follow this discussion of childhood adversity with a helpful definition/distinction between endogenous and nonendogenous depression: “Kraepelin originally characterized endogenous depression by 1) a distinct pattern of symptoms (e.g., anhedonia, morning worsening, psychomotor disturbance), 2) a presumed biogenetic etiology, and 3) an absence of precipitating stressors (4, 5). By contrast, the more loosely defined nonendogenous subtype was traditionally conceptualized as a reaction to environmental adversity” (Harkness and Monroe 387). Two things from this distinction/definition caught my attention: 1. That the second characterization of endogenous depression includes the word “presumed” in context with endogenous depression having a biological origin. 2. That nonendogenous depression is so “loosely defined” that even its name indicates that there is no distinct indicators other than it being ‘nonendogenous.’ It seems that there is less knowledge about nonendogenous depression than endogenous depression as any type of depression that does not fit the qualifiers for endogenous depression falls into the nonendogenous category.
            The results of this study of childhood adversity and depression “….examined more fine-grained distinctions in the severity of childhood adversity…while nonsevere levels of childhood adversity were indeed associated with a higher risk of nonendogenous depression, severe childhood adversity was consistently associated with at least double the risk of endogenous depression” [emphasis added] (Harkness and Monroe 391). I found this result very interesting because it seems to indicate that severe childhood adversity led to some kind of biological change in individuals, leading to endogenous depression. Childhood adversity that is considered ‘nonsevere’ would most likely not lead to a biological change in the child/victim, or, at least not as significant of a biological change as compared to the biological change that can/could result from severe childhood adversity.
            Harkness and Monroe discuss a possible explanation for their results: “Endogenous depression has traditionally been associated with a neurobiological etiology, and it is compelling to find it here preceded by severe environmental adversity. However, a large body of research suggests that severe, prolonged, and uncontrollable stress, such as that inherent in severe sexual abuse and poor parental care, has enduring effects on developing brain networks…prolonged and uncontrollable stress has been proposed as an animal model of anhedonia, provoking behavioral signs analogous to the symptoms of endogenous depression” (Harkness and Monroe 391). These arguments make sense in that a traumatic event in childhood could easily have a long term psychological effect on the individual as well as a biological effect as the brain is in various critical stages of development throughout childhood. It would be interesting to see if individuals who sustained similar types and levels of adversity at later ages would also experience endogenous depression or if age was the main factor in the diagnosis/cause of endogenous depression. I would also be interested to see whether these individuals with endogenous depression also experience abnormal/heightened levels of anxiety in their day to day lives; I’m very interested in links between anxiety and depression because they are so often polarized. There are the popular explanations that ‘depression is a result of looking at the past, and anxiety is the result of looking too closely at the future.’ In my opinion, the two conditions are not that simple, and, often, are linked to one another and can feed off of one another.

Week 12 Reflection:

Touched with Fire
            Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, examines the seemingly inescapable relationship between manic-depressive illness (aka bipolar disorder – I have no idea why there are multiple names for one illness) and creativity. Jamison emphasizes the significance of manic-depressive illness and its characteristics versus ‘simply’ depression; the symptoms that distinguish manic-depressive illness from ‘just’ depression are the ‘highs’ or ‘manias’ an individual experiences in addition to the melancholic lows of depression. These manias may be qualified as ‘hypo-‘ or ‘hyper-‘ depending on their severity. In Jamison’s introduction, entitled “That Fine Madness,” Lord Byron – one of the most notable creatives diagnosed with manic-depressive illness (Jamison later devotes an entire chapter to Byron) – is quoted “Some [creatives/artists] are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched” (Jamison 2). Jamison goes on to explain “This book is about being “more or less touched”; specifically, it is about manic-depressive illness…” (Jamison 2).
            Jamison examines the argument that “all poets are mad” as Robert Burton asserted in the seventeenth century (Jamison 4). Jamison states “A common assumption, for example, is that within artistic circles madness is somehow normal” (Jamison 4). Jamison then uses an excerpt from the biography of the poet Robert Lowell: “…they could see no reason to think of Lowell as ‘ill,’ indeed, he was behaving just as some of them hoped a famous poet would behave” (Jamison 4). If an ‘ordinary’ person were to behave in a similar, outrageous manner, this person would most likely have been sent to an asylum. Artists, however, are praised for their outlandish behavior as it is thought/believed that this exact behavior will lead to some kind of great, creative work, and the more extreme the behavior, the greater the work/creation.
            In Jamison’s third chapter, entitled “Could it be Madness – This?” the evidence and controversy surrounding the notion of madness in artists is examined. The title of this chapter is a quote from Emily Dickinson. The entire excerpt presented at the beginning of the chapter follows as: “And Something’s odd – within - / That person that I was - / And this One – do not feel the same - / Could it be Madness – this?” (Jamison 49). Directly above this quotation is an excerpt from Joyce Carol Oates presenting an argument that Dickinson was not afflicted with any kind of mental disease (Jamison 49). It is almost disorienting to see these two antagonistic views on the same page, directly following one another. Dickinson’s testimony to her personal experience seems painstakingly obvious that she, herself, felt ‘mad,’ and was seeking some form of help, or, at the very least, some perspective, and, yet, Oates vehemently argues that nothing was ‘wrong’ with Dickinson.
            Jamison opens this chapter with the sort of ‘history’ of this concept of madness and artistic genius and follows its sort of ‘rise and fall’ throughout history. For example, “…the Renaissance [accompanied] a renewed interest in the relationship between genius, melancholia, and madness” (Jamison 51). In contrast to this time period and its interest, and maybe even support of this concept, “The eighteenth century witnessed a sharp change in attitude; balance and rational thought, rather than ‘inspiration’ and emotional extremes, were seen as the primary components of genius” (Jamison 52). This ebb and flow of different time periods either supporting or fighting this concept is followed through until current times (this book was published in 1993). A particularly interesting notion is presented by Charles Lamb in the nineteenth-century (Jamison 53). Lamb’s argument “for a balance of faculties” went against others, who, at the time, “emphasiz[ed] the mysterious, irrational, and overwhelming forces that gave rise to genius…” (Jamison 53). Jamison utilizes an excerpt from Lamb’s The Sanity of True Genius; in this excerpt, Lamb states “Madness is the disproportionate straining or excess of any one [faculty]…The ground of the mistake is, that men, finding in the raptures of the higher poetry a condition of exaltation, to which they have no parallel in their own experience, besides the spurious resemblance of it in dreams and fevers, impute a state of dreaminess and fever to the poet. But the true poet dreams being awake. He is not possessed by his subject, but has dominion over it” (Jamison 53). This quote/excerpt made me think of Mark Twain’s assertion that “truth is stranger than fiction.” If an individual experiences something during a period of madness that he “[has] no parallel in their own experience” (except for when in an abnormal/not fully conscious state), why is it wrong or bad or unrealistic? Just because this experience may not be possible or replicated in “real life” does not mean there is some level of ‘truth’ or even ‘nobility’ to it.
            Jamison goes on to compile the arguments of past views that it is important to distinguish the extremes of madness and that, essentially, only a ‘mild madness’ can lead to great productions of art and creativity, and, also, true creative/artistic genius is achieved when madness is accompanied by “…discipline, rationality, and sustained effort in the execution of lasting works of art and literature” (Jamison 54-56). Jamison also compiles arguments that madness can only lead to creative genius in an individual with a high intellect; people with relatively low intellects will not experience an ability to create masterful works if they experience madness of any kind (Jamison 54-56).

Week 13 Reflection:

Mad Travelers by Ian Hacking
            One of the concepts I found most interesting in this reading was Hacking’s discussion of a “transient mental illness.” The discussion of Albert’s fugues, which led to him traveling in an obsessive and not entirely conscious manner. Hacking defines a “…’transient mental illness’…[as] an illness that appears at a time, in a place, and later fades away” (Hacking 1). He further explains “I do not mean that it comes and goes in this or that patient, but that this type of madness exists only at certain times and places” (Hacking 1). These illnesses are “…transient, not in the sense that they come and go in the life of a single person, but that they exist only at a time and a place” (Hacking 13). I cannot help but think there is some kind of unintentional connection. There is something also more than mere coincidence, between the term ‘transient mental illness’ and the illness Albert experiences which involves physical movement and travel. Hacking uses the words “come and go,” and, although he uses these words in context of defining what a transient illness is NOT, I think these words can be connected to the rest of his explanation in which he defines what a transient illness truly IS. Hacking very clearly explains that a ‘transient mental illness’ is not some kind of contagious epidemic and only comes and goes in the sense that it only presents itself under certain conditions. Hacking uses a fantastic metaphor of a required “ecological niche” that allows the ‘transient mental illness to occur and thrive – it seems necessary to me to make the connection between the traveling Albert accomplishes and this idea of a non-permanent illness that appears in various parts of the world based on the current conditions found in any certain specific area.
            I also found the use of the term “fugue” very interesting in describing Albert’s illness. Hacking defines fugues as “…strange and unexpected trips, often in states of obscured consciousness…” (Hacking 8). When I first encountered this term in this text, my first thought was of its use in the realm of music – the only time I had seen this word prior to this reading. When I looked up the word “fugue” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first definition is: “a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts” (Merriam-Webster). The second subset of this first entry for the definition of “fugue” emphasizes “interweaving repetitive elements” (Merriam-Webster). The second definition for the term “fugue” describes Hacking’s use of the word. The music definition of fugue made me think of the concept of two themes in Hacking’s first chapter. One, the relationship between Albert and his doctor, Philippe Tissié, and secondly, Tissié’s supervisor, also a man named Albert (but distinguished from the patient Albert by the use of his last name in conjunction with his first – Albert Pitres). Hacking states “ Tissié did not choose Albert by chance. The man and his doctor were made for each other, opposite but parallel” (Hacking 14). The doctor and his patient were similar in the sense that Tissié  “…was always close to movement,, keeping books at night in the train station, that center of all movement, or delivering, or on the good ship Niger whose very name is redolent of colonial travel and adventure in darkest Africa” (Hacking 14). There is an element of destiny for this doctor and patient to come together. Perhaps the doctor would not have been able to understand his patient or treat him as successively had he not had his own characteristics that led him to travel and understand the need and/or compulsion to travel.
The second instance of a sort of ‘repetitive’ theme in Hacking’s first chapter is presented with the idea of “double consciousness” (Hacking 26). Albert was thought to have almost two separate identities. It did not quite qualify him for the diagnosis of multiple personality or dissociative identity disorder, yet, unquestionably contributed to the characterization of Albert’s illness. One of Tissié’s colleagues, Azam, argued “…that Albert was more intelligent in his second state of ‘total somnambulism’ than his ordinary waking state” (Hacking 26). My understanding from this reading is that Albert essentially had one state where he was ‘normal.’ He then entered a second state when he was travelling once he completed his ‘mission,’ Albert often was not able to recall details from his travels. I think Azam’s argument for Albert’s two states could be connected to the two states previously described. These depend on whether or not Albert is in a state of mind that leads to compulsive traveling. Consider Azam’s argument and Albert’s traveling states. Does this mean Albert was more intelligent or maybe even more connected to a greater state, above reality, while traveling in a not entirely conscious state? Is it necessary to free ourselves from the constraints of what is widely known and agreed upon as reality in order to obtain access to higher states of thinking?

Week 14 Reflection:

Mad Travelers, Chapter 2 “Hysteria or Epilepsy?” and “Making up people” by Ian Hacking
            Hacking’s “Making up people” discusses the effect classifications and diagnoses have on people and the effects people have on those classifications and diagnoses – a phenomenon Hacking terms “the ‘looping effect’” (Hacking 1). Hacking states “We think of many kinds of people as objects of scientific inquiry. ….Sometimes to change them for their own good and the good of the public.” (Hacking 1). But which comes first? The individual person’s good or the good of the public? What if the sum of individuals in a certain category/with a particular diagnosis makes up a significant portion of the population? And, who gets to determine what “their own good” is? Hacking goes on to say “We think of these kinds of people as definite classes defined by definite properties. As we get to know more about these properties, we will be able to control, help, change, or emulate them better. But it’s not quite like that. They are moving targets because our investigations interact with them, and change them” (Hacking 1). This process is also not so simple because it involves humans and humans are constantly changing and evolving. There are many variables involved with humans, making it difficult to categorize/group them because they may ‘belong’ in a certain category on a given day but not a subsequent day, or, at least, not without a caveat or two. Is the process of classifying people also a process of de-humanization? 
            Hacking describes the ‘beginning’ of the diagnosis of multiple personality in 1970 (Hacking 2). He states “A few psychiatrists began to diagnose multiple personality. It was rather sensational. More and more unhappy people started manifesting these symptoms. At first they had the symptoms they were expected to have, but then they became more and more bizarre….” (Hacking 2). Maybe people who feel a lack of self-identity unintentionally/unconsciously ‘create’ multiple identities in order to fit into a man-made classification, allowing for a specific identity (an individual with multiple personality). I think this could easily happen with other diseases/disorders/classifications.
            Hacking goes on to discuss the difficulty in classifying or in his words “making up people,” as “there are different schools of thought” (Hacking 2). In terms of multiple personality, Hacking argues “…there are rival frameworks, and reactions and counter-actions between them further contribute to the working out of this kind of person, the multiple personality. If my skeptical colleague convinces his potential patient, she will very probably become a very different kind of person from the one she would have been had she been treated for multiple personality by a believer” (Hacking 2). Hacking’s use of the term ‘believer’ makes this whole way of thinking seem akin to religious doctrine in terms of believers and non-believers and that there is often little or limited evidence for certain beliefs or schools of thought.
            Hacking then relates the formation of the multiple personality diagnosis to his concept of ‘transient mental illnesses’ discussed in Mad Travelers (Hacking 3). He then moves from multiple personality (which was renamed Dissociative Identity Disorder) to autism and obesity; Hacking describes all three of these diseases/disorders as “epidemics” (Hacking 3). Autism can easily be seen as one of Hacking’s transient mental illnesses, particularly in his description of a need for an “ecological niche” in order for the illness to essentially take hold. As soon as the argument that immunizations caused autism came out, a significant drop in childhood immunization was found in Marin County in California. Marin County was a ‘suitable’ ecological niche because of its renowned wealth. If the children of Marin County became ill from a disease that could have been prevented via immunization, their parents would most likely be able to afford treatment. Other, less wealthy, areas of the United States did not necessarily have this option/freedom as healthcare can quickly become extremely expensive. Even if parents in a less wealthy area feared immunizations would cause their child to become autistic, it was likely they would not actually avoid commonly recommended immunizations because they would not easily be able to afford medical treatment should their child become gravely ill as a result of lack of immunization.
            Throughout this article, Hacking looks at two different ways to look at an illness ‘suddenly appearing’ in a population and the idea that it did not previously exist in that population (Hacking 2-3, 4). Hacking begins with an extremely simplified version (A) and then follows it with a much more developed version (B). For example, with high-functioning autism: “A. There were no high-functioning autists in 1950; there were many in 2000. B. In 1950 this was not a way to be a person, people did not experience themselves in this way, they did not interact with their friends, their families, their employers, their counsellors, in this way; but in 2000 this was a way to be a person, to experience oneself, to live in society” (Hacking 4). Hacking goes on to explain: “Before 1950, maybe even before 1975, high-functioning autism was not a way to be a person. There probably were a few individuals who were regarded as retarded and worse, who recovered, retaining the kinds of foible that high-functioning autistic people have today. But people didn’t experience themselves in this way, they didn’t interact with their friends, their families, their employers, their counsellors, in the way we do now” (Hacking 4). This led me to a sort of ‘chicken or the egg’ question: Does the way one acts with others determine how one experiences himself or vice versa? A similar parallel can be drawn to Hacking’s second chapter in Mad Travelers when he discusses how treatments were/are used as a means for diagnosis: “Is a person depressed or manic-depressive (bipolar disorder)? If the condition responds well to a substance such as Prozac, she is probably depressed while if she gets better when taking lithium, it is more likely to be bipolar disorder. In those days there was at most one specific drug in psychiatry, potassium bromide for epilepsy (chloral was also used widely but less specifically)” (Hacking 36). Contrarily, Hacking shares another patient case: “…she was cured by hypnotism. This was critical. Epileptics did not respond to hypnotism” (Hacking 39). Currently, there is another, newer drug specifically for bipolar depression – Latuda. I do not know much about it, but I assume it is a more complex drug, chemically, than ‘just’ lithium. If this is the case, can Latuda also be used to diagnose depression versus manic depression? Is it responsible to diagnose via medication that could result in sometimes serious side effects?
            Next, Hacking examines and analyzes ten different engines “…for making up people” (Hacking 4). The ninth engine, Bureaucracy, is accompanies with the following explanation/example: “Most prosperous nations have quite complex bureaucracies that pick out children with developmental problems in the early years of schooling, and assign them to special services” (Hacking 6). Hacking uses this example to describe the process of identifying autistic children (Hacking 6). Personally, I remember going through scoliosis screenings in public school in fifth and eighth grades. Since receiving my depression diagnosis and realizing that I have had some degree of depression for the majority of my life, I have often wondered why school children do not periodically undergo ‘mental health checkups.’ It has led me to wonder how my life may have been different had my depression/dysthymia been detected prior to going off to college.
            Hacking’s tenth engine, Resistance, gives power back to the diagnosed/categorized individuals. Hacking states “Kinds of people who are medicalized, normalized, administered, increasingly try to take back control from the experts and institutions, sometimes by creating new experts, new institutions. The famous case is homosexuality, so highly medicalized from the time of Krafft-Ebing late in the 19th century. That was the very period in which legal institutions became active in punishing it. Gay pride and its predecessors restored to homosexuals a control of the classifications into which they fall” (Hacking 6). The idea that a certain subset of humans should be able to classify themselves makes profound sense to me – after all, who understands them and their ‘issues/disabilities’ better than them?
            Hacking goes on to further describe various processes of categorizing and naming humans: “Often when we try to generalize we go into the species mode. Indeed, there are books called The Autistic Child and The Obese Child. But some autism advocates strongly object to speaking of ‘the autistic child’ and prefer ‘children with autism.’ One can sense what they are opposing. To speak in the species mode about people is to depersonalize them, to turn them into objects for scientific inquiry. Other thoughtful people feel that ‘autistic child’ is just right. A parent who founded the Autism Society of America, and wrote one of the first books about the topic, did so because ‘autism is who my son is, not just a characteristic.’ It is part of the boy’s nature to be autistic. Except in very rare cases, I am disinclined to say the same thing of an obese person. Being overweight is always just a characteristic: disinclined to say the same thing of an obese person. Being overweight is always just a characteristic: it is never who the stout man is, just one of his enduring, and maybe endearing, properties” (Hacking 7). The first part of this passage emphasizes the importance of semantics; for example, I have been taught to try to not think “I am depressed,” but, rather, “I have depression.” This is a way to allow myself to keep some distance from depression and to remember that it is not really who I am, though it may affect my personality and/or thought processes, which are generally thought of key properties that make up a human. The second part of this passage leads me to an important distinction: if a disability is in anyway neurological/a mental disability, the it is “part of the person.” But if the disability is solely physical, then it is simply a characteristic of that person. Here, autism is embraced as a key part of an individual’s identity, whereas obesity is seen as one of many individual’s characteristics? What about depression? Since there is such a stigma associated with depression (a diagnosis of depression is far from desirable), it may be another reason why there is such an emphasis on biological causes. It is a means to distance the individual from the diagnosis and make it more of a physical entity. It is clear that there are many components and facets of depression and it could never truly be reduced to the physical/chemical. Similarly, Hacking analyzes the attempt to distinguish two types of fugue: those caused by hysteria and those caused by epilepsy. Hacking states “…hysterics were basically attractive people with a problem. But epileptics given to sudden impulses were described in a somber, indeed sordid, light. Latent epileptics who experience sudden attacks ‘are filthy and lewd, they exhibit their genitals, urinate in a salon, at the theater or in a church, make shocking gestures, or at least are found naked in the staircase, in the courtyard of their home, or in the street’” (Hacking 41). I find it very interesting that epileptics faced a much more significant stigma than hysterics. It seems hysterics were almost romanticized, similar to the ‘mad genius’ concept. I think part of the stigma unbalance was also due to a belief that hysteria was understood better than epilepsy. (At least at the time) it was an attempt to cover up for their lack of knowledge about the disease/condition. Doctors help create this idea that epileptics are crazy, uncontrollable people, simply because the doctors/experts did not themselves understand how to control them. They were able to control hysterics, at least to a degree, via hypnotism, strengthening a doctor/expert’s self-esteem as hypnotism is a ‘treatment’ solely accredited to the hypnotist.

A Sort of Post-Semester Follow Up:

Thomas Szasz: Primary Values and Major Contentions
            I found it very interesting that a lot of Szasz’s work/arguments focus on the rhetoric of mental illness. I definitely agree that it is extremely important to use the ‘right’ words when diagnosing (essentially telling an individual what is wrong with them) someone. It is imperative that a doctor, of any specialty, has the ability to be empathetic with his or her patients. This is especially important in the field of mental illness because, as I have shared before, it often seems that a mental diagnosis has some implication that there is something wrong with you, as a person/being, as the illness is in your mind/brain. I also see Szasz’s emphasis on rhetoric similar to Hacking’s argument against categories. In order to have categories, each of these categories must have names. Most likely some, if not a majority, of the categories are not truly necessary, and if each of the categories does not have the ‘right’/’best’ name, it could be damaging to an individual’s psyche once put into a category with a ‘wrong’ name or a name that could easily be stigmatized.
            Szasz writes in the foreword of this book: “The first fact is that there is no mental illness: The term is simply a socially validated verbal construct. The second one is that psychiatric inquiry and practice are not empirical, rational, or scientific: Indeed, how could they be if their aim is to empirically investigate and treat an alleged disease, mental illness, that cannot be empirically identified?” (Szasz 10). Is Szasz saying mental illness is in no way a ‘condition’? That it should in no way be treated and/or researched? This book was published in 1983. I’m assuming at that time MRIs of brains of ‘normal’ and ‘depressed’ patients were not available at this point. Today, you can easily find images of these scans and see that the depressed patient’s brain looks very different from the ‘normal’ patient’s. Generally, the depressed patient’s brain has a smaller portion than the normal patient’s that is able to, essentially, activate, or in the case of the image ‘light up’ under certain stimuli.
            Szasz goes on to say: “Although psychiatrists perform many other acts as well, these two sets of psychiatric performances [“inculpate and imprison the innocent” and “exculpate and imprison the guilty”] stand as important reminders of what I regard as the central moral-philosophical act of psychiatry: transforming individuals from responsible moral agents into non-responsible, insane patients” (Szasz 10). From this, I took that Szasz is arguing that psychiatrists cause mental illness patients to act insane. I could see this being true if one were to receive a certain psychiatric diagnosis and then after either being informed of the symptoms of this diagnosis or of finding out on one’s own – most likely from the news, which highlights extreme cases of mental illness, one could easily get certain ideas of him or herself planted in one’s mind of how they are supposed to act, given their diagnosis. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Psychology Research Paper 3

Phone Type and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction
Erin Dion
The University of Texas at Dallas

I used this study to examine the relationship between phone type usage in couples in a romantic relationship and the satisfaction in that romantic relationship. I wanted to compare relationship satisfaction between couples who either both use Apple phones, Android phones, or couples who use different types of phones. I conducted my experiment via an online survey on Qualtrics. I hypothesized that couples who both use Apple phones (iPhones) would report the highest levels of satisfaction in their relationship. The results of my experiment were not significant.
(Word Count: 87)

Phone Type and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction
The question of how to find the ‘best’ partner for a romantic relationship has been up for debate for years with no real concrete, certain answer. Should one go about finding a romantic partner similar to oneself or someone who is in many ways different, complementing one’s own fundamental beliefs about and approaches to life while simultaneously challenging these beliefs and approaches, forcing an individual to grow? Here, enters the question of a correlation with phone type and satisfaction in a romantic relationship. Studies have shown that people with certain personality traits are drawn to certain phones (Shaw, Ellis, Kendrick, Ziegler, & Wiseman 2016). Another study conducted in Taiwan looked at the relationship between the different zodiac signs and phone preferences for each sign (Leu 2008). Many people use the zodiac as an indicator as to whether or not two people would be a good match in a romantic relationship. Though the use of the zodiac to guess the success of a romantic relationship is more complex than stating whether or not two people are either more similar or different to one another, the fundamental idea of certain people having certain characteristics and then using a system to analyze two peoples’ sets of characteristics to determine whether or not they will make a good romantic match is consistent with arguments for either people with similar or different values and approaches to life making the best romantic match. This assumes each zodiac sign corresponds to a certain, specific ideology – an extremely doubtful and far-stretched conclusion. Conroy-Beam, Goetz, and Buss (2016) present interesting research regarding relationship satisfaction as a result of fulfillment of mate preferences in their partner, as well as mate value discrepancies – that is the magnitude of the difference of their mate compared to their ideal mate. Conry-Beam, Goetz, and Buss’s article shows the complexity of romantic relationships and that many factors make up relationship satisfaction. Is it possible that phone type usage makes up a significant component of satisfaction in a romantic relationship?
Here enters my question: Do people who have the same type of phone in a romantic relationship have a higher level of satisfaction in their relationship or is it vice versa? If it is found that people with the same phone have a higher level of satisfaction in their romantic relationship, it can be concluded that people with similar personalities, belief systems, etc. work better in romantic relationships. On the other hand, it is just as likely that the results of this study will show that people who have different types of phones have a higher satisfaction level in their romantic relationship, supporting the idea that ‘opposites attract.’
Although a significant amount of research has been done on romantic relationships and analysis of what allows for satisfaction in a romantic relationship and there is a fair amount of research regarding personality types and phone usage, I have not been able to find any research that connects phone usage with romantic couples. A significant portion of the research available on phone usage is also focused on how to best market phones to individuals. Although this objective makes sense, it is also imperative to keep in mind that these exact phones will allow individuals to connect with others. It is extremely important to consider how a certain type of phone may affect an individual’s relationships. I hope that by presenting this novel concept and connection, people will become more aware of the interactions they have with their partners in romantic relationships and that some may even consider choosing a different phone in order to enhance their romantic relationship.



A total of twenty participants were recruited for the study via Facebook. I felt Facebook was a good platform to recruit participants because I would get a wide range of data in terms of demographics (i.e. age, length of relationship, etc.). One participant’s data was immediately discarded because both members of the relationship answered the survey; although this data would have been very helpful, this was the only instance where both members of the relationship answered the survey, so using this one set of data would not have been congruent with the rest of the data I collected. I did not use the majority of data collected in order to create three balanced groups. Only three people reported that both they and their significant other/partner both use an Android phone, so the other two groups (both iPhone users and couples who use different types of phones) were limited to three participants in order to create three balanced groups. Of the nine participants, three were male and six were female.


I created a short, six question survey via UTD’s Qualtrics program. The first two questions asked for the participant’s first name and their partner’s first name in case both people in the relationship completed the survey in order to match their responses. Although there was only one instance in which both members of the couple answered the survey, it was imperative to know whether both members of the couple answered the survey. In this particular case, the data from one of the members in the relationship where both individuals answered the survey was discarded. The third question asked for the participant’s gender. The fourth and fifth questions asked for the type of phone the participant used and the type of phone their partner uses. The final, sixth question asked for the participant’s level of satisfaction in their relationship on a sliding scale from 0-100.


            I recruited participants via Facebook. I posted a link to the survey created on Qualtrics on my Facebook profile and asked Facebook friends to participate. After twenty surveys were submitted, I analyzed the data to determine if there is a difference between similar phone type usage among romantic couples and satisfaction in that romantic relationship.  I used a statistical ANOVA to compare the three groups:  1. Couples who both use Apple (iPhones), 2.  Couples who both use Android phones, and 3. Couples who use different phones. I used a one-way ANOVA between groups with equal N. Since I only received three surveys indicating that both members of the couple used an Android phone, I only used the first three surveys from the other two groups, in order to create balanced groups. I used SPS in a computer lab on campus.


There was no significant difference (see Table 1) between couples with different phones, iPhone users, or Android users, F(2,6) = 0.635, p>.05.


Although the results of this experiment were not significant, I believe this type of test/experiment could lead to important information for people in a romantic relationship on how to best communicate with their partners using their phones and possible disturbances in communication caused by different types of cell phone use amongst couples in a romantic relationship. Couples who both use an Apple/iPhone had the largest average level of satisfaction in their romantic relationship. Although the difference was so small (results not significant) that I cannot state whether or not the data supports my hypothesis that couples in romantic relationships who both use an Apple/iPhone will experience higher level of satisfaction in their romantic relationship, I think there is a definite possibility that given more time and a larger sample size, a difference of significant value between the three groups can be obtained.
            My experiment had many limitations. The most significant limitation was sample size. Each group only had three participants. Although this sample size was smaller than desirable, I anticipated an even lower number of participants to report use of a different phone than their partner. I was happily surprised to receive a total seven surveys reporting different phone use.
            Other limitations to my experiment included lack of control for age of participants, length of the romantic relationship, whether or not the couple has children (a common stressor in a romantic relationship), how long each member of the couple has used their given type of phone (in terms of how familiar each participant is with their type of phone, possibly making it easier or more difficult to communicate with their partner), and what phone model each partner uses (older phones as well as brand new phones may have more problems with their system either being older and out of date, making it more difficult to use, or, conversely, being so new that not all the bugs/kinks have been worked out of the phone and its operating system).
Areas of Future Research
            Hopefully similar studies can be conducted in the future in order to obtain significant results on phone usage and romantic relationship satisfaction. If significant results are obtained, this may lead couples to seriously consider switching to the same type of phone as their partner if they are not already using the same type of phone. If both partners are using the same type of phone, hopefully it will allow for and lead to better, more consistent communication in their relationship. Future research in this area may lead to phone developers using this information to promote the argument for similar phone use amongst both partners in a romantic relationship, which may lead to increased sales of a certain type of phone.

Conroy-Beam, D., Goetz, C. D., & Buss, D. M. (2016). What predicts romantic relationship satisfaction and mate retention intensity: mate preference fulfillment or mate value discrepancies? Evolution and Human Behavior,37(6), 440-448. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.04.003
Leu, J. (2008). The correlation between Taiwan consumers’ sense towards mobile phone brands and his personality characteristics through data mining analysis. Journal of Statistics and Management Systems,11(2), 341-351. doi:10.1080/09720510.2008.10701315
Shaw, H., Ellis, D. A., Kendrick, L., Ziegler, F., & Wiseman, R. (2016). Predicting Smartphone Operating System from Personality and Individual Differences. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking,19(12), 727-732. doi:10.1089/cyber.2016.0324

Table 1
Analysis Variable : satisfaction
Std Dev

Analysis Variable : satisfaction
Std Dev

Analysis Variable : satisfaction
Std Dev

Table 1 Caption

            Average scores for the three different phonetypes (phonetype 1=Android, phonetype 2=different phones, phonetype 3=iPhone) as well as the standard deviation and maximum and minimum relationship satisfaction scores.