Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Hardest Part; Altruism and Catharsis

Number one hundred!

This is a double post.
The Hardest Part.
Altruism and Catharsis.


The Hardest Part.

:: The Hardest Part - Coldplay ::
And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
Was the hardest part

And the strangest thing
Was waiting for that bell to ring
It was the strangest start

I could feel it go down
Bittersweet, I could taste in my mouth
Silver lining the cloud
Oh and I
I wish that I could work it out

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
You really broke my heart

And I tried to sing
But I couldn’t think of anything
And that was the hardest part

I could feel it go down
You left the sweetest taste in my mouth
You're a silver lining the clouds
Oh and I
Oh and I
I wonder what it’s all about
I wonder what it’s all about

Everything I know is wrong
Everything I do, it's just comes undone
And everything is torn apart

Oh and it’s the hardest part
That’s the hardest part
Yeah that’s the hardest part
That’s the hardest part


Although I have owned my Coldplay partial anthology piano book since I
went to Colony Music, Inc., in 2007(?), I have never completely
understood or been able to relate to this song until just this past summer.

What I feel this song means actually relates a lot to the upcoming topic
of altruism.

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
You really broke my heart

Essentially, I'm not sure what the whole song is about. I'm not certain
what Chris Martin was trying to say. However, this stanza really hit me
when I was listening to this song last July.

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
You really broke my heart

Sometimes, there are times when you must let go of a certain situation, feeling,
or hope for the benefit of the other person involved.

Sometimes, even though it pains you so, there are times when you must
sacrifice a piece of your peace to ease the suffering of the other person.

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
You really broke my heart

Sometimes... as much as you desire closure more than anything, as much as you
just want a simple explanation, a simple reason... there are times when you do
not know what the other person is going through. Perhaps they are hurting even
more than you. Perhaps it will hurt them even more if you were to ask them one
more time for an explanation, a reason. Perhaps you having closure would hurt
them too much to even make it worth it for you to have that peace.


Sometimes it is more beneficial to let the person go and allow them to heal in
their own way, rather than keep digging at the wound simply to find healing for

And the hardest part
Was letting go, not taking part
You really broke my heart


Altruism and Catharsis.

In an effort to rebuild my vocabulary (which always wanes during school because
I am reading less and communicating within a narrow concentration and using a
very strict vocabulary (so much for Liberal Arts?)), I have been finding words
I want to add and, in order to remind myself of them, have kept them written
on my hand for a day or two.

The two words that have arisen repeatedly among my classes over the past two
weeks are altruism and catharsis.


1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare
of others (opposed to egoism).
2. Animal Behavior. behavior by an animal that may be to its disadvantage but
that benefits others of its kind, as a warning cry that reveals the location of
the caller to a predator.

1850–55; < F altruisme, equiv. to autru(i) others (< VL *alterui, obl. form of L
alter other (> F autre), with -ui from cui to whom; -l- restored from L alter) +
-isme -ism; popularized through trans. of A. Comte, who perh. coined it, on the
model of égoisme egoism

Related Words:

In a moment of frustration, I've essentially forgotten what I wanted to say about
altruism. My apologies. Perhaps some other day.


1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, esp. through
certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
2. Medicine/Medical. purgation.
3. Psychiatry.
a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially
unacceptable affects.
b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms
or the permanent relief of the condition.

1795–1805; < NL < Gk kátharsis a cleansing, equiv. to kathar- (var. s. of
kathaírein to cleanse, deriv. of katharós pure) + -sis -sis

Related Words:
abreaction, katharsis, purgation

Catharsis is something I do pretty much every day. If I'm not talking to a friend,
I'm writing in my journal. If I'm not writing in my journal, I'm blogging. If I'm
not blogging, I'm talking to a friend or writing in my journal.

Catharsis through written word (and spoken release) is something I wholeheartedly
condone. Catharsis is probably my number three value after Sanctified Compassion
and Balance & Moderation.

This is what I always meant when I used to say that everyone can use a bit of
therapy. Not drug therapy, not psychoanalytic therapy, not psychiatric therapy...
but simply having the opportunity of genuinely being listened to... simply having
the opportunity to speak to release.

This is what I mean when I say I want to be a youth counselor.

I want to be a catalyst of catharsis. Hello, occupation title.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Lots to Say. :/

First of all, I really need to write in my journal. Some things about college
seem to be different this semester. So, that is what I plan to do this weekend,
in addition to laundry and editing my allotted sections of the IRB application
for Qual. Huzzah for not too much homework! Last weekend was ridiculous.

Basketball game tonight! And tomorrow! :D Yaaaaay, pep band!

I will discuss superficiality later. There are other things to say.

On Monday, in Psychology of Personality class, we talked about love. Dr. Young
desperately tried to put love in a box. Specifically, we discussed how people
always say "My significant other completes me." What exactly does this entail?

Were you not a whole person before being significant with this significant other?

I propose that people use the word "complete" quite loosely. More loosely than
I am comfortable with. (Whoa, awkward sentence...there's really no good way to
say that.)

To complete SHOULD mean that the thing completed was previously incomplete. Not whole.

However, that is not how people function. "Complete" is almost irrelevant in terms
of talking about people, personality, relationships, etc.


Human completeness is somewhat negated in the Bible. You know, where it talks
about how we will be filled and overflowing, never full? Yeah. Completeness doesn't
really matter, then? Perhaps. I think so, probably.

So, completeness isn't even important.

I feel like this is entirely incoherent. My apologies.

In my observation, I have seen what people mean when they talk about a relationship
completing them. But, to me, this is not completion. Completion is too harsh of a
word. Instead, what is really happening is betterment.

Not completion, betterment. The betterment of an individual by seeing how he or she
is reflected by the significant other. Yup.

We also discussed the theory of "opposites attract," but that studies show that
people tend to be attracted to people who are similar in interests, beliefs, and
values. However, perhaps opposites of personality attract because the two people
balance each other out.

First of all, obviously you're going to tend toward people with similar interests,
beliefs, and values. You're certainly not going to tend toward the probability of
frequent conflict.

Secondly, my opinions of opposite personalities are not concrete enough and far too
complicated to even try to explain. Bottom line, though... balance.

So, in other news! Empowerment!

Empowerment is my new favorite life value, following selfless compassion and
balance&moderation. Empowerment is the core value of the ideal system of social
welfare and the ideal profession of social work.

Empowerment protects counselors from becoming enablers, protects the counseled
from becoming dependent. No handouts, no undeserved charity. Mutual effort in
working to learn how to access resources and make changes to improve situations
and environments and, consequently, satisfaction/happiness.

(On a side note, there's a part of me that doesn't think happiness is so important.
But that's something I need to write about in my journal. lol. Now that you're all

Empowerment, empowerment, empowerment.

There is a second side to the concept of empowerment. The counselor will feel he
or she is not being listened to and is largely unimportant and useless is the
counseled does not reflect being empowered.

While it is the responsibility of the counselor to first empower the counseled, the
counseled have the responsibility to respond.

Responsibility. Respond. Yay, words!

Essentially, if (after the counseled has had time to be empowered by the counselor)
the counselor feels that the counseled has not responded and is not making the
effort to make changes for improvement, the counselor will be discouraged and
therefore less inclined to counsel the counseled.

I don't want to hear your complaining if you're not taking any action to make it better.

This ties back into the concept of not being allowed to complain. Complaining is
only truly justified when the catalyst of unhappiness is beyond one's control.
Otherwise, if you're not happy, CHANGE IT. Or instigate the necessary strategies
in order to change it. If it IS genuinely beyond your control, you can vent, I
understand venting is often necessary for emotional release, but get over it.

I will not let you wallow.

You must understand that complaining and venting are very much different. Venting
is a kind of complaining that is more acceptable because it is done with the
attitude of, "I need to vent so I feel better, so this distress is no longer
bottled inside of me." Venting is further acceptable because it is combined with
efforts to change whatever needs to be changed in order to remove the source of

Whew. That was a lot of words.

But see? I vented. I feel better. The distress is no longer bottle up inside of me.
Will I take action in order to change the source of distress? Perhaps, maybe, if
the issue arises again. Otherwise, probably not.

You can't change others.

You can't change others.

You can only help them see, help them realize.

You can't change others.


That is all for now. It is nice outside. I am going to drive to Wal-Mart, with my
windows down and music up. Time for some me time. I'm going to take my time. No, I'm
going to drive fast and maybe drive further than I need to drive. Out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Dying a Prolonged Death"

Below is my first main paper for my Sociology of Birth and Death class.
"Medicalize" (and all forms of it) IS a word, Word! And Firefox!

Next post will be my first main paper for my Psychology of Personality class.
About Freudian thought and psychoanalytic theory in regards to Pink Floyd's The Wall.

I'm really not a fan of Freud. He kind of makes me uncomfortable. Haha.

___________________________________Dying a Prolonged Death
___________________________________Reflection Paper #1

___________________________________Carina Botterbusch
___________________________________Sociology 317
___________________________________Dr. Hayes
___________________________________February 13, 2010

_____There are many different ways to deal with death, such as focusing on funeral rites and customs, striving for symbolic immortality, or ignoring the reality of death. The modern American view of death is particularly interesting because, due to medical technology, death has now become medicalized. Modern medical technology is able to send cancer into remission, ease pain to a degree, and prolong life for a time. However, these advances are not without consequence. I believe that such technology is not having a positive impact on the American view of death. Modern medical technology tries to prevent death, but all it can do is simply postpone it for a short time. Modern medicine may be able to prolong life, but at the same time, it is also prolonging illness, as well as the process of dying. Although acceptance is necessary for an emotionally healthy death, the medicalization and sterilization of death is ultimately a form of denial, which makes us even more afraid to die.
_____In order for an individual to be at ease with his own death, one must accept the inevitability of it. Likewise, in order for an individual’s family, friends, and community to be at ease with the individual’s death, they must also do the same. Avery D. Weisman (1993) explains that acceptance is one of four crucial characteristics that must be present in order for a death to be “befitting and appropriate” (p. 14). The importance of the acceptance of death is also highlighted by Bronislaw Malinowski (2005), who studied how numerous cultures accept death and maintain group solidarity by immersing themselves in funeral rites and customs. This demonstrated acceptance of death serves to unite those that are still alive and assure the survival of their cultural traditions (p. 21). Through these two articles, it is clear to see that denial does not make death easier and that acceptance is a much healthier approach to death. However, the modern medical technology of America has medicalized death which has ultimately sterilized death and surrounded it with an attitude of denial, rather than acceptance.
_____Modern society now has the medical technology to focus on preventing death, which is discussed by Margaret Lock (2005), who says that technology should exist for the good of people (p. 92). Although modern medical technology appears to be a good thing and is thought by most people to be such, in regards to the medicalization of death, I believe the medically-centered American philosophy is doing more harm than good. Focusing on the prevention of death is essentially a kind of denial, but instead we are made even more aware of the inevitability of death. As we try to control death, we are constantly reminded that we cannot. Philippe Aries (2005) discusses the current view of death, which he believes is “the invisible death,” where death is medicalized, which leads to feelings of shame, rather than fear (p. 46). While there is probably some shame of death from feeling hidden by the hospital walls, the hospital curtains, the funeral home, and the coffin lid; the fear of death remains in the invisible death. In order to hide something, one must be aware of it and, in order to keep it hidden, one must constantly remember to do so. The medicalization of death has not made it invisible; rather, its threat is ever present in our minds.
_____Part of the medical system is sterilization, with white walls, white beds, white sheets, and white uniforms. This world of white of the hospital is where most deaths occur and, because of the sterile and unfeeling environment of the hospital, death is likewise sterilized and removed from emotion. This removal from emotion is described by Geoffrey Gorer (1965) as “the pornography of death” (p. 18). Because of this sterilization due to the medicalization of death, grief and mourning are removed from death and replaced by uncertainty and fear because of how hidden and sterile death has become. Death is hidden and we no longer know what to expect.
_____The medicalized view of death and the sterilized hospital environments in which death occurs ultimately create denial in regards to the reality and inevitability of death. This fact is illustrated by how people in death-related professions refused to describe a personification of death for Robert Kastenbaum’s (1992) article (p. 12). Although the article does not discuss this occurrence in-depth, this refusal to personify death is probably because hospital workers, funeral directors, emergency responders, and other people in death-related careers must place themselves in a state of denial so that their emotional health is not severely impacted by being constantly surrounded by death. Death is everywhere in hospitals and the employees are surrounded by it every day. Likewise, so are the patients who are receiving life-prolonging treatments and this means that they are also likely to develop this same sense of denial.
_____Ernest Becker (2005) explains that the fear of death tends to be repressed because people simply do not want to think about it: “He knows that he will die some day, but he does not really care…The affect of fear is repressed” (p. 26). However, this repression of fear is not completely healthy for a person’s emotional state because repression is very similar to denial. In order to repress a feeling, one must first be aware of it and, in order to keep it repressed, one must constantly remember to do so. The effects of repression and denial are actually the reverse of what is expected. Furthermore, although people try to avoid thinking about death until they absolutely must, in a hospital setting, patients are constantly reminded of death and any efforts to repress or deny fear are pointless.
_____Robert Jay Lifton and Eric Olson (2005) discuss how people dissuade the fear of death by trying to attain some kind of symbolic immortality, whether biological, creative, theological, natural, or experiential (pp. 34-36). The medicalization of death tries to achieve a different kind of immortality through ignoring death by trying to prevent it and prolong life in every way possible. Lock (2005) also mentions the idea of immortality in her article and explains that immortality is not simply attained, it is instead the “defiance and denial of death” (p. 94). The modern medical system of America wants to believe that it can achieve immortality, but every attempt simply serves as a reminder that immortality cannot be achieved. Instead of achieving a sense of immortality and defying and denying death, the medicalization of death is constant proof that we can neither defy nor deny death, which makes death even more of an intimidating threat of which we are afraid.
_____The constant attempt to achieve an attitude of denial through the medicalization of death can be contrasted to the death rituals and customs of cultures without such an intricate and overarching system of modern medical technology. One example of this is the Vaqueiros, discussed in Maria Catedra’s (2005) article. The Vaqueiros consider there to be three types of death: the Good Death, the Bad Death, and the Tragic Death, which are characterized by a peaceful sleep, prolonged illness and suffering, and a sudden accident, respectively (p. 77). The Vaqueiros dread a long period of pain and suffering so much that they would prefer to die a tragic death (p. 79). Furthermore, when there is no hope of recovery from sickness and suffering is too great to wait for death to come, the Vaqueiros view suicide as an acceptable and logical solution (p. 84). In considering cultures like that of the Vaqueiros, it would be interesting to know what they think of how American medicalized culture views death. The Vaqueiros are very open about talking about death, but the American medical system does not allow for an open discussion.
_____The American medical system hides sickness and death behind the hospital walls, which keep us from knowing exactly what to expect. Many people believe they know what to expect, only to realize they do not when they enter the hospital environment. Two examples of this happening have occurred within my family. The first is one of my grandmothers, who died before I was born. She went into the hospital for abdominal pain and was diagnosed with cancer. This was in the 1970’s, so cancer treatments such as chemotherapy were relatively new and untested. She began receiving chemotherapy treatments, which reduced her strength to the point where she spent her days lying on the couch. Her treatments continued for two years, until she and her husband began to realize that the doctors did not know exactly what they were doing and that they were essentially treating her as their guinea pig. She and her husband realized that the seemingly infallible and trustworthy doctors were not as infallible as they liked to appear. Another example is my other grandmother, who had been a nurse all of her life and placed a great deal of trust in the American medical system. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with skin cancer and sincerely believed that she could go to the hospital, have a minor operation, and be cured immediately. However, the medical system was again shown as faulty. She went to the hospital expecting to be fine the next day, but she never left. Instead, she remained in the hospital and steadily declined until she died. American society places a great deal of trust in its medical system, which has created a kind of secrecy about what death entails, therefore increasing fear of death, rather than reducing it.
_____Modern medical technology may have the ability to send cancer into remission, ease pain to a degree, or even prolong life for a time, but these advances are certainly not without consequences. By prolonging life, sickness and pain, as well as the dying process are also prolonged. In addition, the medicalization of death that set out to deny death by controlling it has instead made us more afraid. This medicalization is a form of denial, it is false hope, but it does not work. Death cannot be stopped by medicine. The medical system tries to prevent, postpone, or even stop death and we feel like we should be more in control. However, we simply end up reminding ourselves that we are not in control and it is this constant realization of the inevitability of death that makes us most afraid.

Aries, Philippe. (2005). The hour of our death. In Antonius C. G. M. Robben (Ed.), Death,
_____mourning, and burial (pp. 40-48). Wiley-Blackwell.
Becker, Ernest. (2005). The terror of death. In Antonius C. G. M. Robben (Ed.), Death,
_____mourning, and burial (pp. 23-31). Wiley-Blackwell.
Catedra, Maria. (2005). Kinds of death and the house. In Antonius C. G. M. Robben (Ed.),
_____Death, mourning, and burial (pp. 77-89). Wiley-Blackwell.
Gorer, Geoffrey. (1965). The pornography of death. Death, grief, and mourning (pp. 18-22).
_____Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.
Kastenbaum, Robert. (1992). The personification of death. The psychology of death (pp. 9-13).
_____New York: Spring Publishing Company.
Lifton, Robert Jay & Olson, Eric. (2005). Symbolic immortality. In Antonius C. G. M. Robben
_____(Ed.), Death, mourning, and burial (pp. 32-39). Wiley-Blackwell.
Lock, Margaret. (2005). Displacing suffering: The reconstruction of death in North America and
_____Japan. In Antonius C. G. M. Robben (Ed.), Death, mourning, and burial (pp. 91-107).
Malinowski, Bronislaw. (2005). Magic, science and religion. In Antonius C. G. M. Robben
_____(Ed.), Death, mourning, and burial (pp. 19-22). Wiley-Blackwell.
Weisman, Avery D. (1993). A befitting and appropriate death. The vulnerable self (pp. 14-17).
_____Plenum Publishing Corporation.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Greatest Fear... that people would be swayed by or change for some
superficial criticism given to them by another person.

It deeply saddens me to see this happen. It is not okay.

Critical thought throughout everything!

I realized this in church yesterday morning... the topic of
the lesson was superficiality, how the Bible instructs us to
be deep people, and what it promises for us if we are.

Pastor Dave was telling stories seemingly unrelated to my
conclusion, but I inferred meaning on his stories... that
those who are superficial are not rooted and that those who
are not rooted are easily swayed.

Easily swayed is not a good thing to be. Always? Maybe.

(I believe one must have enough discernment to be able to know
what things are worthy of being swayed by. And, even then, this
does not constitute "easily-swayed," although it may appear to
be such, because discernment=critical thought, which requires
taking the time to think critically about something and discern
whether or not it is worthy of having influence. So, just because
a person is swayed by something, does not necessarily mean they
have been easily-swayed. Sometimes, a person swayed may look like
a person easily-swayed, but perhaps this person has previously
thought critically about a general issue and discerned his or her
own... sway-ability and, therefore, does not need to take as much
time in his or her discernment. So, before you go around calling
someone easily-swayed, you also must think critically in order to
discern whether or not this accusation is valid.)

This issue has always been important to me, but I never realized
how much. It makes sense, though.

It explains a lot of things... why I like school, why I enjoy
critical thinking and reflection (hello, PDP), why I've always
found satisfaction in logic, and so on.

I am focused on these things (knowledge, critical thinking, reflection,
logic) because I am afraid of being easily swayed.

Or at least I used to be. (Or, at least, I used to be? Not sure. I'm
thinking commas are correct. Yeah.)

However, I am no longer, because I am confident in my knowledge,
critical thinking, reflection, and logic. Although, some could easily
argue that continue to be motivated toward these things because I
am still afraid.

But the bottom line is that I am confident in these things and I
know I can handle myself in order not to be easily swayed. (Ew. A
split infinitive would sound SO much better right there.)

Therefore, my greatest fear has been transferred to others.

My greatest fear has been resolved in myself and now has a humanitarian
spirit within it, just like most everything I say.

I am not afraid that I will be easily swayed.

I am most afraid that others will be easily swayed because they have
not the appreciation for knowledge, critical thinking, reflection, or

I will go into this more deeply at a later time. I needed to write a
bit to begin the topic and satiate my desire to write outside of school

Further discussion will be...
The superficial criticism that sways (superficial) people.
The superficial people that give superficial criticism.
The possibility of mean-hearted, superficial people that do so on purpose.
...for the purpose of popularity seeking?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thought Paper Number Three

Carina Botterbusch
Dr. Randy Young
PSY 430
6 February 2010

_____Thought Paper #3
_____Does Venting Anger Feed or Extinguish the Flame?
_____Catharsis, Rumination, Distraction,
_____Anger, and Aggressive Responding

_____As I read the introduction to this article, I was excited about the topic of confronting anger because it is a topic I consider fairly often. I do not consider anger often, necessarily, but frequently think about the different methods of approaching and resolving negative situations and negative emotions. My personal favorite method of resolving any type of negativity is simply to write about it in order to reflect upon it and draw a conclusion about how to resolve the problem. To me, writing about an issue constitutes “venting” and I expected this article to be similar to an article I read last semester for Statistics: “Stress Management Through Written Emotional Disclosure Improves Academic Performance Among College Students with Physical Symptoms” by Lumley and Provenzano (2003).
_____However, the article discusses a different kind of venting, that of releasing anger in some physical way, such as hitting a pillow or punching bag. In regards to emotion, “venting” is defined as an “expression, utterance, release” or “to give free play or expression to” ( To me, venting certainly involves the release of some negative, otherwise pent-up, emotion. However, I think there are healthier ways to vent than acting violently, such as writing in order to get negative thoughts out of one’s head.
_____Bushman describes Freud’s theory of catharsis based on the hydraulic model of anger, which says that “frustrations lead to anger and…anger…builds up inside an individual…until it is released in some way” (2002, p.287). I agree with this model, but disagree with the conclusion that anger must be released physically in order to be overcome. Instead, the most effective way to deal with anger would be to confront frustrations before they develop into full-fledged anger. However, there are still times when frustrations are not caught in time and they do turn into anger and there may even be times when a person becomes angry without first being frustrated.
_____In these cases, when there is anger to be dealt with, I believe there is a much healthier way to confront and move past anger than releasing tension through the kind of venting described in Bushman’s article. Bushman’s article involved studying both rumination (releasing anger through a physical activity) and distraction (dissipating anger over time by thinking about other things). While participants in the rumination group felt angrier than the distraction and control groups, differences between aggressiveness were non-significant.
_____I believe that there was non-significance between the rumination and distraction groups because, although these methods of dealing with anger are different, they essentially are founded on the same principle. Even though rumination confronts anger directly and distraction somewhat ignores it, neither of these strategies are completely effective in resolving anger because neither of them directly confront the source of a person’s frustration.
_____Neither rumination nor distraction deal with actually resolving the problem. Perhaps the distracted group is immediately less angry, but since the anger remains unresolved, if that conflict is brought to a person’s memory, he or she will still be angry. If he or she is not angry after employing the distraction strategy, he or she must have confronted the conflict in his or her own mind and declared it unworthy of the time and energy it takes to remain angry. Because of this, research must be done to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of both rumination and distraction.
_____Near the end of the article, Bushman asks, “Does venting anger extinguish or feed the flame?” (2002, p. 293). This causes a problem because venting is never clearly defined within the article and it is possible that there are many different ways to vent, some that work and some that do not. A little later in the article, he proposes the possibility that positive results may have been stronger if a group had focused on resolving their anger. This concept of resolving anger is what I think is the most important and fundamental part of confronting and moving past anger.
_____Although I believe reflective writing to be a very effective method for releasing frustration, anger, or other negative emotions, writing simply removes the negativity from one’s mind. This is important so that the situation can be evaluated objectively and decided whether one can simply move on or if the source needs to be confronted. Ultimately, in regards to dealing with anger, I agree most with Geen and Quanty (1977), who are cited by Bushman to say that venting can reduce heightened arousal if expressed directly to the source and that substitute targets do not satisfy the need for resolution. However, it is also crucial to remember that such a confrontation must be open and honest, as well as gentle and sensitive.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thought Paper Number Two

Carina Botterbusch
Dr. Randy Young
PSY 430
29 January 2010

_____Thought Paper #2
_____Freudian Defense Mechanisms and Empirical
_____Findings in Modern Social Psychology:
_____Reaction Formation, Projection, Displacement,
_____Undoing, Isolation, Sublimation, and Denial

_____I first learned about defense mechanisms in my General Psychology class at Harrisburg Area Community College during the fall semester of 2008. Concepts like defense mechanisms, coping strategies, the stages of grief, and face-saving techniques have always stayed with me because, as a Sociology major, I find them particularly interesting. Although we studied both defense mechanisms and Freud in my General Psychology class, I had never connected the two. Because of this, my personal view of defense mechanisms was not that they protect the ego, like Freud said, or self-esteem, like the article by Baumeister, Dale, and Sommer; but that defense mechanisms are used by an individual to protect their personal emotional health.
_____Baumeister, et al., holds the opinion that defense mechanisms are in place to defend against a situation that threatens one’s self-perception. However, I think that defense mechanisms protect one’s emotional health, rather than self-esteem. The article explains that a defense mechanism must do more than simply make a person happy and I agree. To me, emotional health is deeper than simple happiness. To me, good emotional health refers to all positive feelings towards one’s self: worth, esteem, confidence, security, etc.
_____I disagree with a lot of the conclusions in this article, mainly because it dismisses defense mechanisms when they do not appear to have the effect that was expected. The reason I disagree with these sections of the article is because the effects the authors expected are not positive. For example, when projection is discussed, the predicted result is that projecting a negative trait upon others would allow the individual to avoid recognizing that same negative trait within one’s self (p. 276). However, the authors did not find support for this expectation and I believe that it was because this was the wrong expectation to have. In addition to protecting emotional health, my optimistic opinion is that defense mechanisms exist for the betterment of the individual. I believe that the view of projection described in the article was not found because avoiding recognition of a negative trait would not help to better the individual.
_____It seems like my view of defense mechanisms would negate itself in regards to denial. Although honest denial of a negative personality trait would not succeed in the betterment of the individual, this is not how I think denial works. In order to deny a negative trait, one must be somewhat aware of the trait in order to try and ignore it. Furthermore, it has been my experience that trying to ignore something ends up making me more aware of it and I believe that denial can ultimately make one more aware of a negative trait. The article provides support for this when it discusses denial and says that “denial predicted greater stress” (p. 280). I believe this stress is caused by underlying guilt over denying a negative trait in one’s self. This elevated stress over the trait forces the individual to recognize it and, after this occurs, the negative trait can be confronted and efforts can be made to change it.
_____One thing in the article I do agree with is the possibility that defense mechanisms defend against the negative image associated with a certain impulse instead of the actual impulse (p. 282). I have experienced this to be true in my own life, especially since entering the college atmosphere, where many people act on impulse. In reflecting why I do not act on impulse, I decided that my main motivation is to avoid embarrassment. Therefore, I defend myself against such impulses because of my image, not because of the impulse itself, and I do not act on them because I fear embarrassment in regards to my reputation, which has been strong and overshadowing throughout my entire life.
_____Although I disagree with the article’s foundation of protecting self-esteem, I ultimately do agree with the concept of “keeping up appearances.” The philosophy of “keeping up appearances” often annoys me because I frequently discover that someone’s appearance was false and that they lack integrity. However, when it comes to defense mechanisms, the motivation of protecting one’s image is an effective motivation to conform to the norms of socially acceptable and proper behavior. We are concerned with self-image and this concern for self-image ultimately results in a concern for maintaining emotional health and being a healthy, functioning, moral human being.

Catalysts and Responsibility

Okay, so I don't think this will be as in-depth as I would like it to be,
but I want to get the thought out while I'm thinking about it. I've been
putting this off far too long. This semester is going to either be tough
or require a lot of work, perhaps both, so I figure I'll write now while
I can. And while the topic is fresh in my mind.

Ready for a radical thought?

Disclaimer: I realize fully that there are always exceptions to the rule
and exceptions that prove the rule. Exceptions that prove the rule? Let's
look into that first, shall we?
I wholeheartedly disagree that "to prove" originally meant "to test." You
should know by now that I am no fan of synonyms and this one is especially
irritating. I'll discuss this prove/test synonym problem at a later time.
Remind me.
I do, however, agree with the point that this saying is not about waving
away objections. Using any cliche or any anything in such a way is the abuse
of logic and therefore a logical fallacy. Anything can be abused.
Didn't read this one.

Google showed me a book called "How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse
of Logic," by Madsen Pirie. Hello, Birthday list.

I visited to to look at this book in more detail and a created
list it is on is called "Good Books on Critical Thinking and Taking Better
Decisions." Taking better decisions? Hm. Interesting word use.
" exception establishes that a general rule exists." Okay, that makes
the most sense out of anything. Thanks, Wiki. Professors and teachers should
let us use you with discretion. Obviously an exception would cease to exist
if there was no rule from which it was excepting. Right? That makes sense.
Written in a Dear Abby format. Answer: "Don't you get it? The whole point
of this saying is that it doesn't make sense." Yeah, no.
However, this article does provide more insight into the possibility of the
real cliche to mean prove, not test...based on Latin, "probat."


Ready for a radical thought? Don't forget my disclaimer.

(Disclaimer #2: I have not completely convinced myself on this theory, but
it is certainly interesting and worthwhile to consider. Most everything is
worthy to consider to some degree. Hm. The Worldview Academy "What is Art?"
talk would have something to say about that...thus why I said most everything.)

There are no causes, only catalysts.

Every series of events is a series of catalysts. Not causes, catalysts.

My anti-synonymity plays into this because most would consider cause and
catalyst similar enough to be interchangeable. I do not.

This theory is a combination of my social science-centered education and my
disagreement with Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" and popular ways of
interpreting the movie, "The Truman Show."

And largely influenced by the fact that I really like the word catalyst.

(I have Apocalyptica stuck in my head.)

I'm finding it difficult to explain what I want to explain. Okay, here goes.

Essentially, you cannot ever pinpoint a cause because, to me, this implies
that such a cause (a very definite, final, concrete word...remember, not
only am I anti-synonym, I'm also is the only cause.
Following with the thesis of The Influence List, there is never just one
cause. A series of causes, perhaps, but this phrase makes me uncomfortable
because of the mixture of word-feeling. I guess it's connotation, but it's
slightly different to me.

I want someone to understand my philosophy on the English language. Some days,
I'm not even sure if I understand it myself...

There is never just one cause. I am not comfortable with calling influences
a series of causes. Therefore, what influences an event or climax or situation
or so on is a series of catalysts.

I really might just really like the word catalyst.

A related thought entered my head earlier this evening... I was thinking
about Sociological influences on one's Psychology. There is a very prevalent
theory within the social sciences, which has not completely convinced me.

Specifically made popular by Sigmund Freud, the theory that one's personality
is very much by one's Sociological interactions with one's parents.

But you know about The Influence List, so I'm obviously not completely opposed
to this idea. However, continuing with the "No causes, catalysts" theory, there
are no causes, simply influences. I suppose I'm pretty close to okay with catalyst
and influence(n.) being interchanged. Eh, maybe.

The implication of this is that Freud's theory would be less strict. The problem
with Freud's theory being so strict is that it is easily abused. The more
extreme, the more easily abused? Yeah, that makes sense. The closer to the
one end of a continuum, the easier it is to make it even more extreme (abuse).

I really like the word continuum.

The problem with Freud's strict theory is that it is easily abused and people
abuse it and make it function as a scapegoat. "I can't handle stress because my
parents...," "I'm afraid of commitment because my parents...," "I'm shy because
people...," etc. Soon everything can be a scapegoat. This is not okay.

So, instead, I propose that sociological interactions do not function as
psychological causes. They are simply influences. What you choose to do with
that influence, how you choose to allow that influence to impact you, is wholly
up to you.

Therefore, it is not anyone's fault, but rather your responsibility.

There are no causes, only catalysts.

It is not anyone's fault, simply your responsibility.