How do emotions motivate cognitive activity and behavior?

Emotions can occur without and before cognition.  The amygdala receives information and makes a quick judgement of a stimulus in the best interest of an individuals well-being.  The info is then sent on to the cortex where the stimuli is fully processed as a hazard or something fine.  When a person reacts in an unnecessary manner, it is because the amygdala has shown something negative which evoked a fast emotional response for the unexpected behavior.  The brain feels that it is better to react in a negative manner than to wait on the slower processing of the cortex so the individual can be guarded and read for potential danger.  Emotions are the internal motivators we have to behave in a certain manner in response to a situation (state of readiness).  The emotion-action behaviors we portray may be innate or learned.  Additionally, every emotion has a goal which is too portray a behavior.  For instance, the emotion fear has a goal of avoidance or escape (behaviors).  Other emotions, such as pride allow for social motivations for person to person interaction.  The goal of pride is achieve socially valued behaviors in turn causing altruistic behaviors and treating others in a good manner.  Emotions motivate cognitive activity to achieve a goal such as avoidance in the fear emotion.  Emotions give information on how stimuli was appraised (fear=danger) and can cause future cognitive appraisal of a stimuli.  Through testing, researchers developed the Appraisal Tendency Theory which says the general mood of an individual actually influences appraisal and judgment of immediate stimuli as well as unrelated events.


Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon


Future Directions of Alzheimer’s Disease

May 19, 2014

Genetics, Brain Structure, and Behavior: Future Directions Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative brain disease which causes the loss of cognitive functioning and behavior abilities (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  This disease is known for its destruction of memory (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  Most people are found to start showing signs of Alzheimer’s around age sixty (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  The exact cause is unknown, but researchers continue a diligent search for answers (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).

Behavior Changes

Normal tasks such as paying bills become burdensome as concentrating becomes more difficult causing tasks to take longer to complete (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  The slow loss of memory begins to make regular daily tasks such as driving difficult as memory recollection becomes harder (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  A person may take a simple trip to the local grocery store and become lost and forget why or how they got there because confusion sets in (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  Understanding things happening at a different point in time is difficult as memory is slowly stolen from them (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  Communication becomes difficult because they may forget what they were speaking about so they may substitute a word that makes no sense (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).   Judgment becomes poor and difficult which may lead to false accusations or outbursts due to frustration over something misplaced (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  Personal hygiene and grooming become neglected along with paying bills and hobbies (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).  Feelings of suspicion, depression, anxiety and fear take over as their memory disintegrates and brings on confusion (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).    At any time, a sudden outburst may occur if feelings of discomfort arise because they have forgotten they are sitting in their own home (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).

Changes in the Brain

Studying the brains of Alzheimer’s patients has brought to light four primary neurological changes (National, 2014).    Amyloid plaques are clumps of beta-amyloid peptides combined with bits and pieces of proteins, neurons and nerve cells that have formed into a plaque that blocks the signaling between cells and synapses (National, 2014).  In a healthy brain, these things are naturally discarded, but researchers do not know what causes them to stick around in an Alzheimer brain (National, 2014).  Neurofibrillary tangles, or NFT’s, are the abnormal collection of the protein tau, essential for cell structure and shape (National, 2014).  Tau twists and clumps together inside the neuron which interrupts the cell function and causes the neuron to die (National, 2014).  The amyloid plaques and NFT’s are believed to block the synapses of neurons, breaking their connections which are essential to maintain proper function, thus bringing the neurons to their death (National, 2014).  When neurons die, it causes that area of the brain to atrophy and tissues shrink, resulting in a smaller than normal brain (National, 2014).  As the areas of the brain slowly atrophy, changes in behavior and function, begin to surface (National, 2014).  Increases in progression cause more neurons to die and brain tissue to shrink, eventually resulting in the death of the person (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014).

Potential Diagnosis Problems

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s has proven a difficult task for doctors since there are several types of dementia, all of which portray similar symptoms, however, there is not one symptom specific to Alzheimer’s (Chapman, 2005).  Presently, diagnosing is achieved through clinical testing of cognitive ability combined with neuropsychological tests, however, this is not a truly reliable diagnosis since there are no specific surface symptoms to Alzheimer’s (Craig-Schapiro, Fagan, & Holtzman, 2009).  A definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease requires a pathophysiological evaluation obtained in an autopsy (Craig-Schapiro, Fagan, & Holtzman, 2009).

A study using event related potential (ERP) brain measures in which the use of an electroencephalogram in combination with letter and number cognition tests, in collaboration with a control group of non-alzheimer’s participants versus clinically diagnosed participants of like age comparisons (Chapman, 2005).  Through the testing, researchers hoped to find a way to pinpoint what part of the brain the neurological degeneration originates (Chapman, 2005). Using more varied testing of information processing combined with a more formal measurement method (EEG), results will yield more positively towards a specific area of evolution of the disease (Chapman, 2005).  The results showed there were more amplitudes produced by the Alzheimer’s participants than were the control, however, where the degeneration begins has not been established (Chapman, 2005).

Researchers also proposed a study in an effort to identify the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s (Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M., 2009).  The effort of this study  is to be able to diagnose the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease before the clinical symptoms display themselves in addition to the possibility of predicting the progression of the disease and treatment response (Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M., 2009).   The plan is to use fluid and imagery markers in order to identify NFT’s and plaques at an early stage before they cause dementia (Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M., 2009).   Fluid testing should consist cerebral spinal fluid, plasma, and urine for increased tau and amyloid (Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M., 2009).   The use of imaging tests include MRI’s and PET scans of all variations to identify the plaques and NFT’s before they block communication between cells (Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M., 2009).   Being able to find these abnormalities will increase the chance of positive results from treatment and implementing early intervention measures (Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M., 2009).

Current Prevention Measures

Neurologist Robert Friedland claims the brain ages by the way and amount it is used (Marx, 2005).  Friedland implies that regular exercises and consistent brain stimulation will help slow the degenerative disease (Marx, 2005).  Research shows that people with higher education levels do not develop alzheimer’s dementia until later than the average Alzheimer patient because education has given the person a larger cognitive reserve postponing dementia (Marx, 2005).  The speculation that exercise slows degeneration is not a heavily relied upon theory because studies reveal mixed results leaving to  much variation in results to make the hypothesis true (Marx, 2005).  Researchers have also found that it may be possible that the lack of education and brain stimulation, as well as lack of physical motivation, may be pre-warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease since those who lack motivation and education develop and progress faster than those with little to no motivation (Marx, 2005). Additional research found that genetics plays a vital role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (Marx, 2005).    These are just a few ideas, however, there are no positively proven determent’s of Alzheimer’s disease (Marx, 2005).  Other treatments consist of drug therapies that aim to reduce the neurological degeneration occurring as well as the behavioral aspects of the disease (Marx, 2005).  The future may hold promise to the treatment and possible cure of the disease as researchers continually stumble upon new leads and develop new ideas.

Future Therapies

The future holds promise as scientists have found that the administration of anti-amyloid antibody may slow the progress of the disease by decreasing the rate by which the plaques build up into clumps of blockage (Khan).  The use of immunotherapy is another hopeful treatment that will decrease the accumulation of plaques and slow cognitive dysfunction (Khan).  This treatment has been tested and ordered to stop due to the occurrence of meningoencephalitis in animals (Khan).  Further studies revealed that the immunotherapy activated the t-cells, so if they deactivate the t-cells, the therapy will break up the forming plaques in the brain (Khan).  A treatment used in dementia, cholinesterase inhibitors, are being evaluated to assist in inhibiting the breakdown of cell communication which will slow the progression of the cognitive effects, such as memory loss in the brain.

The Unknown


Alzheimer’s is a disease full of unknowns.  It is not known exactly why a person develops the disease, however, genetics does play a role in its development (Chapman, 2005).  It is not known where the disease originates in the brain, only the areas affected by the disease (Chapman, 2005).  The time in which onset occurs is unknown because the disease cannot be detected until certain behaviors surface (Chapman, 2005).  Though the brain shrinkage is believed to be caused by neuronal death, it is not proven (Craig-Schapiro, 2009).  The reason amyloid peptides form clumps in the neurons and NFT’s develop is also unknown, but these seem to be the main cause of the blockages that cause neuronal death (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2014).  Finally, a cure has yet to be found, however, the future holds promising theories and treatments for sufferers.



Chapman, R. M., Nowlis, G. H., & McCrary, J. (2005, February, 2007). Brain event-related         potentials: Diagnosing early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 28(2), 194-201. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2005.12.008


Craig-Schapiro, R., Fagan, A. M., & Holtzman, D. M. (2009, August). Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Disease, 35(2), 128-140. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2008.10.003


Khan, A. (). The amyloid hypothesis and therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s disease. The Journal   of Quality Research in Dementia, 4. Retrieved from http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=382&pageNumber=6


Marx, J. (2005). Preventing alzheimer’s: A lifelong commitment? Science, 309(5736), 864-6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213614898?accountid=458


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). NINDS Alzheimer’s Disease Information Page. Retrieved May 09, 2014, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/alzheimersdisease/alzheimersdisease.htm


Team B. (2014). Lost in their Own World. Retrieved from Team B, psy/340 website.


U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, N. Institute o. A. (2014). Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center. Retrieved from http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet


Alzheimer’s Disease

As a person grows older, their body ages as well as their mind.  A person may have some minor memory issues and begin to move at a slower pace, as well as “think”  slower.  These things are considered normal.  A person with Alzheimer’s disease suffers from memory loss that affects their daily life (Alzheimer’s, 2014).  This loss of memory consists of a failure to remember recent information,  important dates, and times (Alzheimer’s, 2014).  Things  may have to be repeated several times and the person may have to use reminder cues or people to handle normal activities such as medication (Alzheimer’s, 2014).

Normal things such as problem-solving and planning become difficult (Alzheimer’s, 2014)..  Paying bills, following recipes or budgets, and working with numbers becomes troublesome as concentrating becomes difficult and causes tasks to take longer to complete (Alzheimer’s, 2014).  Regular daily tasks such as driving and playing games become difficult as directions and rules become difficult to recall (Alzheimer’s, 2014).

People with Alzheimer’s disease tend to become confused with time and location, often leaving them feel feel as if they are lost and forgetting how or why they are even there (Alzheimer’s, 2014).  They also have issues understanding things that are not happening at the immediate point in time (Alzheimer’s, 2014).

Alzheimer’s patients also may have vision problems that make reading, judging distance and determining colors quite difficult which in turn affects their ability to drive(Alzheimer’s, 2014).  In addition to vision problems, written and oral communication become difficult as te person loses their train of thought mid conversation or cannot find the right word, often causing them to substitute a word that makes no sense(Alzheimer’s, 2014).     For instance, a feather may get referred to as a hairpiece.

A person with Alzheimers may place their keys in an unusual place such as a closet and forget where they put them.  They may try to retrace their steps, but cannot remember what they did or when they did it (Alzheimer’s, 2014).  Due to their inability to find their keys because of their poor memory they may accuse someone of stealing from them (Alzheimer’s, 2014).

Judgements become poor and difficult.  People with Alzheimer’s may begin spending less attention on their personal hygiene and grooming or even forgetting to pay their necessary bills, but will pay telemarketers(Alzheimer’s, 2014).  Over time, the person may begin to withdraw from social activities and hobbies that they would usually enjoy because they have forgotten how to do them and may be ashamed of the changes they have been experiencing (Alzheimer’s, 2014).

Aside from memory loss and dementia, changes in mood and personality become significant (Alzheimer’s, 2014).    Confusion sets in because the person does not understand the changes they are experiencing (Alzheimer’s, 2014).    The confusion leads to feelings of suspicion, depression, anxiety and fear (Alzheimer’s, 2014).    When outside of their comfort zone, mood swings heighten causing mild to severe outbursts because of the unfamiliarity they are facing (Alzheimer’s, 2014).

Over time, these changes that take place within the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, slowly progress (Alzheimer’s, 2014).   As progression increases and more neurons die, causing the brain tissues to shrink, eventually, the patient, too will die.


Alzheimer’s Association. (2014).  Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, vol 10, issue 2. Retrieved by http://www.alz.org/ downloads/Facts_Figures_2014.pdf


Gender Identity

Gender identity is the manner in which one perceives themselves as being male or female regardless of biological factors (Reirden, 2013).  Gender identity begins early in life through exploration and adoption of the opposite gender expression (Reirden, 2013).  Often, one identifies gender with the same biological factors, but there are times when gender identifies with the opposite biological factors, or gender dysphoria (Steensma, 2013).  This paper will establish gender identity through biological factors and environmental factors, as well as the assistance of biopsychology in determining sexual identity and its influences.  Self-identification consists of several disciplines from biology to philosophy (Dr.  Swabb, 2009)

Biological Factors – Nature

Gender identification begins in the womb with the differentiation of the sex organs making a person anatomically male or female (Dr. Swabb, 2009).  Typically, sex chromosomes establish the anatomical sex of the fetus through sex chromosomes (Steensma, 2013).  When a fetus has both an X and a Y chromosome, it is anatomically male and portrays male gender identity and male typical behaviors (Steensma, 2013).  A fetus with two X chromosomes is anatomically female and portrays female gender identity and female typical behaviors (Sex chromosomes, 2012).   However, there are instances in which the genitalia developed does not correspond to the gender identity or role of a person, known as a disorder of sexual difference (DSD) or gender dysphoria (Steensma, 2013).

Hormones have two effects in gender development and identity (Pinel, 2009).  Hormones influence the development of an individual from conception to sexual maturity on a psychological, anatomical, and behavioral level that distinguish between the sexual characteristics of the individual, known as the developmental effect (Pinel, 2009).  Additionally, hormones also have an activational effect which is triggered in adolescence after the development of the sex organs (Pinel, 2009).  The activational effect triggers the reproduction cycle in sexually mature individuals beginning in late adolescents (Pinel, 2009).  These processes can also be referred to as processes of differentiation.

Once the fetus is established male or female through the sex organs, differentiation must occur (Swabb, 2009).  Brain differentiation develops through sex hormones that cause permanent changes which will reactivate during puberty as the hormone levels rise activating behavioral patterns classified by gender (Dr.  Swabb, 2009).  The basis for the sexual difference in behavior is caused by the interaction of hormones and developing brain cells (Dr. Swabb, 2009).  The behaviors established include gender identity, gender role (manner of actions as male or female) and sexual differences of cognition, language and aggression (Dr.  Swabb, 2009).  Since the genitalia sexual differences occur much earlier than brain differentiation, both forms of differentiation may operate independently of each other (Dr.  Swabb, 2009).

Environmental Factors – Nurture   

Research suggests that people develop gender identity, how they think about themselves, through social interactions (Park, 2008), yet research also supports that there is no significant evidence supporting that social learning assists in the development of gender identity (Dr. Swabb, 2009).  One thought is that society’s reactions and criticisms to behavior shape the later life behaviors of individuals (Park, 2008).  Others believe that a sexual identity begins forming at conception and carries through life (Dr.  Swabb, 2009).  During development, hormonal imbalance or even a regular procedure could cause a change of sexual identity in an individual, but the sexual identity imprinted at conception is the identity that will remain with the child throughout life (Park, 2008).  Both theories stand supported which brings people to the decade long nurture debate of the cause of transgenderism and homosexuality.

Sexologist John Money developed the dual concept of gender identification or role (Steensma, 2013).  The dual concept of gender implies that gender identification is how you perceive yourself in private, gender role is how the general public perceives gender identity, and in gender dysphoria, the gender identification is different from the anatomical gender (Steensma, 2013).   In adolescence, gender identity includes the values, principles, and roles an individual develops on their own (Steensma, 2013).  Identity forms when the individual adolescent explores and commits to identity defining roles including politics, occupation, religion, relationships, and gender role (Steensma, 2013).

Gender socialization refers to the belief that social interaction develops gender identity because society establishes the acceptable standards of what is considered masculine and feminine behavior (Park, 2008).  Additionally, society helps to define an individual’s understanding of those acceptable standards, as well as the individuals place in society (Park, 2008).  Individuals choose to follow or stray from the norms of society based on the level of acceptance they may gain in societal relationships which lie within the cultural area from which they are looking for acceptance (Park, 2008).

Those who believe that sexual identity comes pre-programmed at conception do not believe that social factors aid in the development of sexual identity and role, though, they do believe that external factors may play a role (Dr.   Swabb, 2009).  Some people believe that certain medications may be responsible for the hormonal imbalances and unnecessary medical procedures during pregnancy and infancy may impact sexual identity and development (Dr.  Swabb, 2008).

Nature versus Nurture

According to research, sexuality identity is developed through numerous processes caused by infinite reasons.  The nature-nurture debate has been ongoing for decades throughout many theories.  In the role of sexual identity, it is claimed that a male reared with more feminine values may experience a more feminine identity and the same for a female who is raised with more masculine values experience a more masculine identity.  Sexual identity is claimed to be hereditary and created at conception throughout life with some environmental factors that may come into play.  This nature-nurture debate will probably continue for many more decades to come because of the homophobia and stubbornness within today’s society.

Evidence and research are directed more strongly towards biological factors, or nature, as the cause of the development of sexual identity.  Medications taken during pregnancy may cause and imbalance of hormones that move to the fetus (Dr. Swabb, 2009).  An individual’s sexual identity evolves through hormonal and brain differentiation that takes place while an individual is in the womb (Reirden, 2013).  The fact that gender establishing hormones are reactivated in puberty and again in later life for the process of reproduction scientifically proves that once our brains establish a certain identity, it is irreversible without the assistance of outside factors such as hormone supplements and surgeries (Steensma, 2013). Environmental factors such as social interaction may influence gender identity that causes an individual to believe they must act in a socially acceptable manner (Park, 2008) in order to avoid ridicule, yet, how an individual privately perceives themselves will always remain the same.


The infamous discussion of gender identity continues as time moves forward. Some people believe an individuals identity is  imprinted in their brain at conception, whereas others believe environment develops gender identity (Dingfelder, 2004).  Biopsychologists have been working toward proving the idea that a child reared in a feminine world will eventually grow up to be a feminine person (Dingfelder, 2004).  Biopsychologists stand firm in the belief that the brain establishes gender identity at conception and carries the same identity through life (Dingfelder, 2004).

There was evidence found that female infants exposed to male hormones in the womb later identified as male gender although anatomically they were females  raised as females (Dingfelder, 2004).  This study derived from male infants  born with inadequate penises or no penis and were forced to undergo sex reassignment surgery forcing them to become anatomical females (Dingfelder, 2004).  Although the females had the anatomy and upbringing of females, the hormones they had in utero had imprinted in their brain that they were male (Dingfelder, 2004).  Later in life those females who had a full sexual reassignment at infancy, identified as males who looked like females (Dingfelder, 2004).

Biopsychologists do not completely disregard that social factors have a role in gender identity, they do believe that social and environmental factors may modify an individual’s identity (Reirden, 2013).  Research has shown that certain medications during pregnancy may alter the process of differentiation in the brain causing adverse effects in gender identity (Reirden, 2013).


Gender identity is the main aspect that establishes a person as an individual.  Anatomically an individual appears to hold a particular identity, however, this does not necessarily mean that they identify as the same sex.  Many theories, such as the nature-nurture debate on gender identity, however, there is not one that proves one hundred percent accurate.  There are also theories that environment shapes an individual’s gender identity, but once again, not one proves to be one hundred percent accurate.  Popular belief is that gender identity establishes itself while in the womb, but environmental factors may trigger a deviation in an individuals genetic  pre – mapping of identity.




Dingfelder, S. F. (2004, April). Gender Bender. American Psychological Association, 35(4), 48. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr04/gender.aspx


Dr. Swabb, D. F.,   Dr.  Garcia – Falgueras, Alicia (2009). The Original Harry Benjamin Syndrome Site. Retrieved from http://www.shb-info.org/sexbrain.html


Park, K. (2008).  Gender identity and socialization.  In V.  Parrillo (Ed. ),Encyclopedia of social problems.  (pp.  395-397).  Thousand Oaks, Ca:  SAGE Publications, Inc.  doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/10.4135/9781412963930.n230


Reirden, D. H. (2013, Jul 12). Gender identity in kids. Denver Post Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1399898325?accountid=458


Sex chromosomes; survival of the females. (2012). Veterinary Week,, 104. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1245582706?accountid=458


Steensma, T. D., Kreukels, B. P. C., & de Vries, A. L. C., Cohen- Kettinis, Peggy T. (2013, July). Gender identity development in adolescence. Hormones and Behavior, 64(2), 288-297. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.02.020




Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler developed Individual psychology in which he viewed the individual patient as well as the environment and people routed in the individual’s life as a whole (Alfred, 2014).  He believed people put forth an effort to compensate for the self-perceived inferiority to others (Alfred, 2014).  This inferiority developed from social position, early humiliation, physical defects, or other life experiences (Alfred, 2014).  An effort to compensate for these feelings of inferiority may cause someone to partake in negative behavior or possibly develop an inferiority complex (Alfred, 2014).   Adler was once a follower of Sigmund Freud, however, Adler began to note that people tended to compensate for viewed “abnormalities” psychologically, but if their efforts were not good enough, neurosis developed (Alfred, 2014) Whereas Freud believed that people would bury these feelings of inferiority into their subconscious and forget about them (Goodwin, 2008).   Adler also believed that sex was used by humans to overcome feeling inadequate (Alfred, 2014), whereas Freud believed that sex was a motivator in human accomplishments (Goodwin, 2008).   Both Adler and Freud believed that examining early life experiences brought about acknowledgement of incidences and feelings which supported a behavior change (Goodwin, 2008), but Adler went a little further to  include that people changed their behavior, not to be deemed as “normal”, but to feel superior (Alfred, 2014).  Adler believed that all people had one primary goal in their life:  To belong in the world and to feel significant to others (Alfred, 2014).  This he felt, should be accomplished in childhood.  He thought that encouragement made people feel capable and significant, whereas discouragement made people feel inferior bringing about negative behavior (Alfred, 2014).




Alfred Adler. (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/6042/Alfred-Adler




Behaviorist Cafe

March 10, 2014

Setting:  A small café located in the city of Whittier in Southern California.  Neutral territory for all involved.  It is 9:27 PM and tiredness begins to overtake everyone giving a laziness to the air around them.


Watson:  Friends, my idea is to understand the ways in which a person operates, why a person reacts the way they do, and what is going to happen if a person is faced in a situation.  I want to be able to predict a person’s behavior before it actually happens.  My whole idea is that a person learns their behavior from birth.  Behavior is not naturally occurring, but is impacted by environment and is able to be changed throughout life.

Tolman:  Watson, how exactly do you think this is possible?  I believe that behavior is learned, but I also believe that behavior is learned in order to obtain a goal.  The manner and rapidity in which  behavior is learned is based on the expectations created for the act of obtaining the desired goal.  This is my thought.  What do you think Skinner?

Skinner:  Well, I kind of agree with both of you, however, I also disagree.  Yes, I think  behavior is a learned process.  I do not believe that behavior is learned to obtain a said goal, but rather I believe, as does Watson, that behavior is learned from birth and can be modified to a desired standard.  In addition, I believe that it is most important to study the environment all around the person, including outside forces, not just the immediate living circumstances, as well as the person’s history.  I think History and environment are the two main forces that impact the behavior a person learns.


All three men sit quiet for a moment and seem to be thinking about these theories of behavior being discussed.  They all begin to look around the café almost as if they were studying the people and surroundings around them.

I began to wonder, how they developed these similar yet varying differences in theories.

Time seemed to stand still as they looked around and seemed to stare from group to group and person to person. They began their discussion once again.


Tolman:  Let me explain my experiment, maybe then you will be more agreeing to my theory.  It all begins with Watson’s theory that behavior is learned and can be modified; however, I thought that learning was more like a map rather than physically observable reactions.  I put mice in a maze and let them find their way.  Through exploring the maze, they began to expect a certain organization each time I put them in the maze.  Throughout exploration, they learned environmental cues that seemed to develop certain expectations for each time they were faced with the same cue.  All in all, these cues developed a type of map for the mice that directed future behavior to obtain a pre accomplished goal.  As I began reducing sensory cues that were used, the mice began to behave differently when faced with a stimulus they’d already been exposed to, however, through more exposure, the mice began to learn their way through the maze even without certain cues available.  This means that they had expanded their map even more to include changes and how to make accommodations.  I then decided to add a reward in the mix which proved to be beneficial in the speed of learning the maze. So you see, providing a benefit to learn the behavior increased the speed in which it was learned.  Initially, the path through the maze was found, but even after altering the course and the cues available, the mice were able to learn their way through proving that initial learning can be expanded.


Watson:  Those are interesting findings, but we kind of agree in  essence.  See, I used Little Albert to prove that  behavior learned from birth could be changed and predicted.  Basically, I exposed Albert to a white, furry animal that he seemed to show no fear but portrayed a natural curiosity.  I began to clang metal rods together at the exposure to this furry animal which overtime, seemed to cause Albert to relate the loud frightful noise to the white, furry animal, eventually giving him a fear of not just that animal, but to any white, furry object.  Although I was not able to conclude my experiment by reversing my instillation of fear into Albert, after a few months, his fright of the white, furry objects seemed slightly calmer.  My intention was to reverse his fear, but due to circumstance this was not attempted.  I was actually scorned for attempting this experiment.  I did, however, have the pleasure of working with Mary Cover Jones, who was trying to reduce a fear in a patient. Her attempts of explaining there were no reasons for fear, and having the patient face the fear, proved useless.  She thought that if she produced the item of fear during a pleasurable experience, and gradually moved it closer to the patient, the pleasure the patient was receiving replaced and reduced the phobia of the item.  Both of these experiments prove that behavior is learned and is able to be changed through the use of stimulus.


Skinner:  Well, here’s my thought.  Tolman, you were able to prove that reinforcement assists in the speed of learning behavior, but I do not think learning is completed fully through inner processes, as much as I believe it is learned by observing behavior in our surroundings and our pre wired selves.  Watson, although your experiment caused a huge controversy and has given people many things to talk about, you proved that behavior can be learned through the use of a stimulus, but I think this type of behavior shaping is better left to train an animal to act in a certain way.  Taking into consideration both your thoughts, I decided to place a rat inn a box with a lever. Triggering the lever, dropped a piece of food, which gave the rat a reason to hit the lever again.  Quickly, the rats became accustomed to receiving their treat by hitting the lever.  I then made the lever issue a shock when triggered.  The rat quickly learned he would be discomforted if he hit the lever, so he avoided it.  This taught me that rewards in the form of positive reinforcement encouraged a certain behavior, but a negative reinforcement discouraged  behavior.  I call this operant conditioning and believe it can be used to modify behavior.


All those men appeared to be satisfied with what the other had to say, but they undoubtedly looked skeptical of the other.  I began to wonder how these experiments could tie into everyday life and prove to be true.  So I closed my eyes and found some courage within myself.


Jennifer:  Excuse me gentlemen.  Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Jennifer, and I have scrunched down in the chair behind your table for the past hour eavesdropping on your conversation.  I truly was not trying to be rude, but your discussion is very intriguing to me.  I would like to ask one question since these theories of yours prove true in the lab, can be directly correlated to everyday life?

Skinner:  Jennifer, please, may I ask, do you have children?

Jennifer:  Yes, I actually have several children.

Skinner:  So tell me then, how do you handle your children when they become unruly?

Jennifer:  Well, first of all, it depends on the situation.  My biggest issue is getting them to clean their bedroom. I give them a set amount of time, and if they do not complete the task, I hand them a trash bag to fill up with the remainder of their belongings. They think these things are thrown away, but they are hidden in the attic they do not know we have.

Skinner:  So you confiscate their belongings when they do not care for them properly?  This is a negative reinforcement you are using in an attempt to discourage  undesired behavior, or having a messy bedroom.  What do you do when your children receive a reward?

Jennifer:  I really just praise them by telling them how proud I am of them.  I might let them choose what we eat for dinner or dessert, but mainly praise.  So far this has worked well for my children.

Skinner:  Since your children seem to enjoy hearing your proud of them, praise serves as a positive reinforcement which encourages them to continue doing whatever it is they did earn the reward.  If you stopped praising them, those rewards would be less frequent.

Jennifer:  So having a program of discipline, negative or positive, encourages a child’s behavior.  So, then in Watson’s opinion, I can directly develop a child’s behavior simply by setting an example?

Watson:  Not exactly.  Since my theory’s experiment created a huge drama fest, let’s think of it this way:  Do you have animals?

Jennifer:  No, I have a child with a severe allergy to furry animals… no pun intended.  I do know people with animals though.  I know my mother has a Chihuahua that carried a fetish for relieving itself where it felt like it.  She tried to rub her nose in it and smack her bottom when she found it, but this did not work.  She tied smacking her hands together and interceding as the dog sniffed for a place, but neither of those worked either.  My father found that the dog barked whenever she heard an aerosol spray can.  My mother got an idea.  She began to spray a can as the dog sniffed around and then put her outside.  For a few weeks,  she did the same thing, but eventually, the dog began to go to the door and sniff instead of around the house, letting my mom know she needed to go out.  She no longer barks when my dad puts on deodorant anymore either, but she does go to the door when he does.

Watson:  I think you understand.  You took an aerosol can, the stimulus, and used it to change  behavior, the dog using the proper bathroom.  In return, the dog no longer fears the sound of the aerosol can, but has grown accustomed to the sound meaning she needs to relieve herself.

Jennifer:  Tolman, I think I understand your theory, but I am honestly, not sure in any way to relate it to everyday life.

Tolman:  Hmmm…. Well, let me hear what you think, and we will take it from there.

Jennifer:  I am not sure about this, but I am thinking along the lines of learning my way through a new city.  I recently moved to California from Florida.  I was totally lost getting to the corner store.  My family has always ridiculed me for being direction illiterate.  Anyway, I learned a very small proximity close to my home.  Once I had that area down, I began to venture a little further each day.  Over the span of eight months,  I have been able to double my travel without using a GPS system to get places.  Is this the right track?

Tolman:  Well, if you are thinking that each time you learn something, a new plot has been added to your internal map, then yes you’re right.

Jennifer:  Well, guys I know it was pretty rude to interrupt your conversation, but I must tell you, you have some intriguing thoughts among you.  You all have a good night now.

Curtain closes with men shaking their heads.





Goodwin, C. J. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


Hauser, Larry.  (2005). Internet Encyclopedia of philosophy: Mind & Cognitive Science.  Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/behavior/


McLeod, S. A. (2007). Skinner – Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html


Journey of Clinical Psychology

February 24, 2014

Psychology is a vast and diverse field of study that has roots beginning in philosophy.  It developed from theories and ideas conjured up by philosophers, but with no evidence to prove any of them true.  Over time, philosophers became intrigued at how there existed so many theories, but all were unproven and began to set out to find which theory could be proven true.  These actions helped develop psychology into a scientific study.  This new science that evolved has now branched out to include many different areas and approaches of studying human behavior and the mind.  Before psychology became a science, before philosophy became the gateway to psychology, and before philosophy really existed, mental illness was already affecting humans.  Mental illness is defined as a mental or behavior deficiency which warrants psychiatric intervention (Mental, 2009).   One must delve into the history of psychological conceptualizations and treatments of mental illness in order to understand the approaches taken today.


Ancient Civilization

Mental illness and treatment can be dated back to the Neolithic days, around 5000 BCE, the days of the primitive humans (Foerschner, 2010).  Mental illness, in all ancient civilizations, was believed to be the wrath of a God who allowed spiritual or demonic possession of a person’s body as punishment for their transgressions (Foerschner, 2010).  These supernatural phenomena did not go unnoticed, and the treatment, which was thought to be the cure, was just as harsh.  A procedure in which a hole was chipped into the skull was thought to allow the evil spirits to escape from the individuals mind, healing them of their insanity (Foerschner, 2010).   This procedure is known as trephining and was also used for skull fractures and to cure migraines by releasing pressure from the brain, however, primitive skulls show healing implicating that some survived the procedure and lived longer lives (Foerschner, 2010).  The Mesopotamians, also carried strong religious beliefs and attempted to use exorcisms, prayer and other religious intonations to draw the evil spirit out, just as the Hebrew priests used their special connection with God to cure the disease (Foerschner, 2010).  Other cultures viewed the mentally ill as nuisances and morally deficient and were not treated, but punished with death, a lot of times being burned at the stake or drowned as a witch (Goodwin, 2008).  Being such a nuisance was an acceptable cause for the mentally ill to be chained and locked away from society for life (Goodwin, 2008).  Adversely, when behaviors were thought to be of a mystic possession, the person was deemed as sacred and was treated in the highest regard by the Greeks, who built temples in remote areas for the person accommodating them with the luxuries of life and special prayer and music from priests (Millon, 2004).


Middle Ages

Hippocrates, a Greek physician, developed his own theory about mental illness.  He disagreed with the previous and theorized that mental illness was naturally occurring within the pathology of the brain (Foerschner, 2010).  He believed, through the help of Galen that the human body operated in wellness off the balance of four fluids in the body:  Phlegm, blood, bile, and black bile (Foerschner, 2010).  The combinations of these fluids were attributed to each person’s personality, so if on was off at any time, it reflected in the personality of the individual (Foerschner, 2010).  In order to bring the fluids back in balance and cure the abnormal mental state, laxatives, emetics, and leech bleedings were performed along with different system cleanses and techniques to induce vomiting (Foerschner, 2010).  Additionally, bloodletting, a procedure of extracting blood from veins or forehead in order to draw out the evil spirits, and specialized diets were used as well (Foerschner, 2010).  It was during the medieval times that the mentally ill began to receive compassion and intervention, but the extent of treatment depended on the family social and financial status (Goodwin, 2008).


The Renaissance was a period dedicated to moving from the dark ages to a more enlightened period of learning and development for people.  Naturally, all the dark of the world did not disappear, neither did mental illness.  It was believed that the mentally ill were witches filled with satanic forces sent by God to punish sinners (Millon, 2004).   The first step in treatment was for religious leaders to get the “possessed” to admit they were witches so they could be taken into custody and endure the torture ahead (Millon, 2004).  Those who refused to admit were thought to be making excuses in order for the demons to escape punishment (Millon, 2004).  Torture also became a means to get the person to admit their guilt and confess being possessed at which point they were burned at the stake, beheaded, or strangled to death (Millon, 2004).  Those who admitted that they were mentally unstable began undergoing treatments of exorcism by Catholic priests, however, the Protestants were treated with prayer and fasting as a release of the evil that overtook their mind (Millon, 2004).  Late in the eighteenth century is when things began to change with mental illness treatment through the effort of Philippe Pinel who unchained the mentally ill and began implanting moral treatments to the mentally ill (Goodwin, 2008).  He took an enlightened approach to the mentally ill treatment allowing for better living conditions, food, and hygiene while using behavior modification in an attempt to make “normal” the “abnormal” life of those suffering from mental illness (Goodwin, 2008).  William Tuke took kindly to Pinel’s approach and created a retreat home for the mentally insane incorporating Pinel’s treatment into the asylum (Goodwin, 2008).  Benjamin Rush is recognized for his effort in using the scientific approach in the treatment of mental illness (Goodwin, 2008).  Rush believed that mental illness was caused by hypertension and removing the bad blood from the person would stabilize their mental state (Goodwin, 2008).  He also believed that the mentally ill could benefit from therapy and developed a board which spun a patient around rapidly causing the redistribution of blood to the brain (Goodwin, 2008).  Additionally, he thought reducing movement would slow a person’s pulse and mellow the mind, which brought him to develop a tranquilizer chair containing restraints that held the patient still while a box was placed over the heads forcing the mind to enter a tranquil state (Goodwin, 2008).


The majority of ideas and treatments discussed seem harsh, cruel and inhumane by today’s standards, however, during the time periods in which these conditions occurred, they were considered to be the only way to resolve the mental illnesses engulfing the people in their society.  These ideas and treatments led to the development of psychoanalysis, a method founded by Sigmund Freud used to explore repressed emotions and experiences through the use of techniques he developed in order to delve deeper into patients mind (psychoanalysis, 2014).  Freud believed that people could be cured of mental illness simply by making unconscious thoughts and emotions conscious (McLeod, 2007).  Freud believed that psychological issues begin in the unconscious mind and symptoms of mental illness are caused by hidden experiences from development or trauma (McLeod, 2007).  Treatment of the mentally ill in Freud’s office meant the patient lied on the couch, fully relaxed, and spoke about dreams and memories to Freud who was sitting behind the patient taking notes (McLeod, 2007).  The development of psychoanalysis began while Freud was studying with John Breuer and watched as Breuer treated a patient, Anna, who suffered from hysteria and fluctuating symptoms (Goodwin, 2008).   Breuer had Anna remember back to the first experience she had with her symptoms, giving her emotional release, but it was only a temporary solution and Anna found herself in and out of asylums a few times after her treatment with Breuer (Goodwin, 2008).  This experience assisted Freud in developing his own theory about hysteria:  Memories of traumatic events may be repressed, however they still persuade behavior of hysteria in a person and the symptoms can be alleviated through catharsis (Goodwin, 2008).  This thought led him to develop free association, which allowed the patient to talk freely about anything they chose; if resistance was demonstrated at any point, he knew that topic needed to be looked into more (McLeod, 2007).


John Watson, the founder of behaviorism, theorized that behavior can be changed (Kowalski, 2011).  Behaviorists believe that behavior stems from environmental factors (Kowalski, 2011).  Watson demonstrated behavior changes through operant and classical conditioning.  Through operant conditioning, learning behavior is obtained through rewards and punishment (Kowalski, 2011).  A person who receives praise for a certain behavior will be more likely to continue the behavior than the person who is scolded for that same behavior.  Through classical conditioning, a stimulus is introduced at the same time as behavior, once the stimulus is repeated with the behavior a few times, the person links the stimulus with the behavior, turning it into an automatic response on an unconscious level (Kowalski, 2011).   A child hears the sound of a bag of chips and is given a chip, the same sound and chip is given a few more times.  Later, that same sound alerts the child to come and retrieve the chip since the sound is now associated with a chip.  Another behaviorist theory is functionalism which was founded by William James (Kowalski, 2011).

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is a prime example of how things evolve over time.  Originally, psychology was a bunch of thoughts and opinions that were never proven, until the theorists became frustrated at not finding acceptable answers.  In order to prove theories true, psychology needed to take on the role of an actual science in which the theories could be tested and proven.  When society began to be bothered by a person appearing to act “abnormally” and portraying characteristics of being demonically possessed, condemnation and torture became an acceptable form of treatment.  Eventually, a new theory emerged that these “abnormal” people could be treated and cured.  The treatment has made great strides in its evolution beginning with death and ending in life.  Today, clinical psychology is vital to society’s mental health.  Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat all mental disorders (Goodwin, 200).    Through a combination of all the different theories and specialty areas of psychology, a clinical psychologist can assist a person through the healing process of mental illness.




Foerschner, A. M. (2010). “The History of Mental Illness: From ‘Skull Drills’ to ‘Happy Pills’.” Student Pulse, 2(09). Retrieved from http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=283


Goodwin, C. J. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


McLeod, S. A. (2007). Psychoanalysis. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/psychoanalysis.html


Mental illness. (2009). In The Penguin dictionary of psychology. Retrieved from http://search.credoreference.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/content/entry/penguinpsyc/mental_illness/0


Millon, T. (2004). Masters of the mind: Exploring the story of mental illness from ancient times to the new millennium. John Wiley & Sons.


psychoanalysis. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psychoanalysis