Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekly Summary PSY515 (Week 3)

Weekly summaries are an important part of the course and will count toward class participation. Requirements are that you:

1) Summarize the general areas we cover during the week

2) Briefly discuss at least 2 new concepts that you have learned. Please be specific.

3) Refer to at least one area of study that is confusing to you and state why.

This week I covered the subjects of mood disorders and dissociative disorders in the discussion questions, PTSD in the team assignment, and blocked and recovered memories in the individual assignment. I really learned a lot about the repression and recovery of memories this week. I guess because we still live in the shadow of Freud’s postulations in many ways, even though many of them have been proved false or misleading. I had always thought that memory retrieval after traumatic events was because we repressed them because they were so distressing for us. This seems to be position of the first article by Gleaves et al (Halgin, 2009). However, this article by Weniger, Lange, Sachsse & Irle (2008) explains that there might be cognitive and neurological deficits in those that suffer from PTSD that contribute to difficulties in memory retrieval. Second, I learned a lot of PTSD this week in the Case Study team assignment. I had known that PTSD can cause terrible nightmares and aggression, but I had not considered that it could cause social withdrawal and the avoidance of any associated stimuli. I guess that would make since though, but that really leans heavily on a drive-reduction theory of human motivation. We are after all autonomous beings that can act any way we choose. Last, I found the specific nuances between trauma-induced amnesia and dissociative amnesia quite difficult to understand. Basically though I think it is a matter of causation: what causes the inhibition of memory retrieval after a traumatic event? In the final analysis I do not believe it is some psychological mechanism, such as repression, but a clear neurologically-based mechanism.

Halgin, R. (2009). Taking sides: Clashing views in abnormal psychology (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Weniger, G. G., Lange, C. C., Sachsse, U. U., & Irle, E. (2008). Amygdala and hippocampal volumes and cognition in adult survivors of childhood abuse with dissociative disorders.

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 118(4), 281-290. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2008.01246.x

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