Evolution calling….aquatic apes and religious chimps…..

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Atavism is a term to describe usually biological attributes which have no modern day function but are still if only partially, present as so-called ‘evolutionary throwbacks’.

These ” traits  such as ear wiggling, the appendix, the tail bone and even the ‘goosebump‘ response are all examples of such historical atavistic mechanisms that give us an insight into our past…..

But what about behaviour? To what extent are our current behavioural responses’atavistic’? How much of our ‘instinctual behaviours’ determined from our evolutionary past? The stress response is one of the most researched in terms of the ‘fight or flight‘ response, but how much more of our behaviour is influenced by such factors?

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Mammalian Diving Reflex

The mammalian diving reflex allows humans, although more prominently in young children and even babies, to hold their breath underwater for long periods of time (compared to above water).  When the face feels cold water (below 21 degrees), there is an involuntary physiological response from the body to reduce oxygen consumption as a survival mechanism.  The heart slows, blood flow is reduced to the hands and feet and at even greater depths the lungs are allowed to flood to help equalise pressure to increase survival.

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The mammalian diving reflex has caused some to examine the aquatic ape hypothesis, which says that the common ancestors of modern humans spent time adapting to life underwater. The hypothesis is based on the differences between humans and other great apes, and similarities between humans and some aquatic mammals. The theory uses many human functions to support the claims including hair loss, hair location, the subcutaneous fat on babies, the descended larynx, the hooded nose, voluntary breath control, the waxy coating on newborns, and the mammalian diving reflex.                                                                                                                              http://listverse.com/

The rise of religion in Chimpanzees

Recent footage released of chimps exhibiting what is described as ‘bizarre behaviour’ (throwing rocks at trees),  have been used to attempt to explain ritualistic behaviour in early humans that may have developed into religious activity.

This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees,” the researchers write in their abstract.

“The ritualised behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations observed in chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites.

Cited from an article in the Independent  by Andrew Griffin Friday 4 March 2016

The work of Desmond Morris

Desmond Morris  explored  questions regarding the evolutionary aspects of humanity and more in his books and documentaries spanning the last decades of the twentieth century.

“Everywhere I go, I’m struck by how similar human beings are to one another in all important respects. Of course, there are many superficial differences and these are often so impressive that we pay too much attention to them and start treating one another as if we belong to different species — with disastrous results. But despite all our variations in costume, ritual and belief, biologically we’re all astonishingly close to one another — a fact that I find very reassuring.” ~ Desmond Morris

Further reading

Dysfunctional Behaviour; Classification, explanation and treatment

Mental illness, atypical behaviour, psychopathology and dysfunctional behaviour are just some of the terms used to describe one of the most difficult areas to define both in Psychology as part of the huiStock_goldfishman experience.  Issues that surround the study of ‘dysfunctional behaviour’ are probably the most important as they can be the difference to some in terms of quality of life or even a threat to life itself.  All the debates that academically are discussed within the context of Clinical Psychology are well trod however still as fiercely debated.  Read this chapter for an overview of studies and issues relating to classification, explanation and treatment.  Want to test yourself on your knowledge of Dysfunctional behaviour – click me?

Some examples of debates are;

Nature Vs Nurture – To what extent is dysfunctional behaviour caused by our experiences or dominated by a genetic predisposition.  Consider depression, as one of the most diagnosed disorders is it due to traumatic life experience or are some people carrying a genetic predisposition which will arise irrespective of circumstance.  This question feeds directly in peoples often poor judgements ‘She has everything anyone could want..what has she got to be depressed about…….?

Reductionism Vs Holism – Can the explanation of human experience be over simplified and reduced down to basic processes.  Consider the study of Little Albert.

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Should abnormality be defined by statistical infrequency, consider the implications of such an approach?

 Issues such as ethics, validity and reliability of diagnosis, effectiveness of psychological treatments Vs drug therapy, before we even get to an agreement of what dysfunctional behaviour actually is.

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

The Management of Stress – Cognition; Stress Inoculation Therapy

In the video below Dr. Donald Meichenbaum discusses the 3 key concepts relating to Stress Inoculation Therapy.

1.  Conceptualisation.  The ‘inner critic’ that contributes towards self doubt and poor performance is analysed and challenged through collaboration and therapeutic alliance. (What’s the problem?)

2.  Skill acquisition and rehearsal.  Coping strategies are taught that helps the individual with their specific issues. (What do I need to do to deal with it?)

3.  Application – The individual applies their new and more effective skills in the real world (I can do this!)

Here is an example of how Meichenbaum focusses his clients on the relationship between thought and behaviour.

I want clients to “take my voice with them.” The portions of my voice that I want them to take are “ACTIVE TRANSITIVE VERBS” such as “notice, catch, anticipate, plan” and the like.

NOTE: There is a need for clients not only to change, but to have the client take credit for these changes. The psychotherapist should ask the client the following questions:

“How did you handle this situation differently from how you handled this in the past?’
“Where else did you do this?”
“How long has this been going on?”
“How did you pull this off (accomplish this)?”
“Are you telling me… are you saying to yourself that IN SPITE OF….., you were able to notice …catch yourself…use your coping techniques of….How did that make you feel?”
“What does this mean about you as a person?”

Read an interview here with Meichenbaum on his method and trauma.

Tea Break Psychology 2 -DSM-5

On the go or short of time…but want a little Psychology in your day…..?  Welcome to the latest feature on the blog tea break Psychology, quick, easy little snippets of thought provoking information to mull over with a cuppa and a biscuit.

A great podcast from BBC Radio 4 – ‘All in the mind‘ series (click on the RSS feed on the right of the page for more episodes) on a range of topics but initially discussing the validity of diagnosis of mental disorders centred around the publication DSM5.  It is interesting to note the DSM is now an app for download…(it costs over £50 so angry birds stella pop probably has nothing to fear….)

Read the latest posting on the history of the questioning of the validity of the Psychiatric process in the US here.

Listen to the podcast here

Read a publication of the key changes between DSM IV and 5 here

An open letter from the BPS to the APA in regards to the classification system 

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Temporal validity? Back dating The Health Belief Model to the 14th century………..

99ee996fd98675364d236798b7f98c43 I can only imagine a frosty atmosphere this morning at breakfast, as Kevin the Gerbil and Roland Rat receive news on who actually should be blamed for the Black Death…

Often you hear people refer to issues in their life in terms of ‘first world problems’ which are nothing more than a range of trivial or minor frustrations that impact certain economically developed countries, such  as computers crashing or not being able to access Wi-Fi (surely there is a case for a new foundation layer to be added to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), but how about 14th Century problems?

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For most of us  the ‘Bubonic plague’ was nothing more than a trip to Eyam and a (most likely incorrect) recounting of ‘a ring a ring a roses’….However today’s news of the story of the plague AKA as the Black death (if ever there was a name of a disease to ensure that perceived seriousness should always be high, it’s this one), especially when there were 800 confirmed cases by the WHO in 2013 of which a significant number were fatalities’. Healthbeliefmodel   Consider how our knowledge about individual’s belief’s regarding our health could have impacted upon the epidemic (1/3 of all those in England died) – if we had Becker’s model to hand at the time would it have been different?, it is very difficult to say, however it is difficult to argue with the fact the more we understand about the dangers to our health the more informed choices we can make. However, such anxiety can in some go too far and become an illness in itself, Health Anxiety Disorder historically referred to as Hypochondrias can be explained using a range of psychological theory from the early work of Charcot and Freud to more Cognitive based theory such as the Health Belief Model.  From Psychoanalysis to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy it is a long road for sufferers.  A recent article highlighted in the Guardian just how debilitating it can be.

The New A-Level Specification – Psychology

Take a peek at what is in store for students over the coming years starting in September 2015….the new OCR Specification

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Resources to support the specification are here for teachers and students

http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-psychology-h167-h567-from-2015/#resources

Some resources related to the specific research

Social 

Bocchairo & Zimbardo 2012 (Here is an article authored by Bocchairo on the power of the situation)

Milgram 63

Cognitive

Grant, Clay, Ferrie, Groves, McDorman and Dark

Loftus and Palmer 74