Archive for October 2011

Hi Thandi!

Comments are up for this week;

1) Well That’s Some Good Research… But Can I See Your References? – theproblemwithstats

2) Is It Possible to Prove A Research Hypothesis? – psud1a

3) Why Is Reliability Important? – cppap

4) Is there a need to learn stats when we have SPSS? – destroypenguins





According to scientific studies, between the ages of 18-25, students like us are at the most risk of suffering with a mental health disorder, but why is this? (See Figure 1 below)

According to Kitzrow (2010), , the answer lies more within the students who study psychology; as she believes, that many students don’t just choose psychology because they like the subject, but they purposefully seek to understand the ways in which the human mind works in order to understand themselves and those close to them more.  Afterall, if we can relate to something, we are more likely to empathise! (M. Bennett, 1979).  By researching the amount of students that went to see university counsellors, she found that 46% of all course students were from the psychology sector and the rest (all in single digit percentages!) were from the other subjects.     But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we psychology students have any more reason to visit a counsellor than any other student!

Youngminds.org claim that only 1 in 10 young adults actually seek out support between the ages of 18-25; perhaps this is the number that we should be paying more attention to?  For example, agreeing with Kitzrow – we do study psychology for a reason, but not necessarily because we instantly have worse problems than our non-psych peers!   Psychology students may be more at ease with the stigma because they study psychology, rather than because our problems are definititively more problematic than other students’!  We may understand that seeking help for when we feel anxious, or stressed, or for many other reasons isn’t all so bad because we could (in future) be sat where that university counsellor is sitting!  So maybe those statistics for the 1 in 10 young people seeking help may be different for us psychs?  Perhaps we’re just less fickle about opening up?  Other students may not understand that it’s okay to talk, and this may be the reason why we stand at 46% in comparison to our peers.

Across the age ranges, 23% of us will suffer from a mental health condition at some point (MIND.co.uk/NHS) but these statistics are only taken from those who admit that there is or has been a problem.  As psychology students, we are instantly double that number!  But the research shouldn’t necessarily be looking at those of us who admit that there’s a problem, rather than, it should be focused on those who don’t!

Luo Lu (2009)  believes that university students are more disposed to suffering and opening up with our mental health due to our five big personality traits! Our extroversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, and agreeableness are all characteristics of us ending up at university in the first place!  We must afterall, be pretty conscientious to end up as undergraduates and stay in education; those students who are a little more extroverted and less neurotic, may be more inclined to experiment with drugs; her findings also suggested that those who were the more extroverted students were more likely to suffer with insomnia and sleep disorders (from all those late night parties, right? :P) and those who were neurotic were more likely to have anxiety and depression disorders.

In conclusion, we are at a very strange age range when it comes to our mental health; there could be a number of reasons why we have the most issues at this age, but there really isn’t a definative answer!  All I can say to my psych peers is, either we’re opening up to our support services how we should and we should all have a pat on the back, or in reality we are part of the crazy club and need to be slowly wheeled away…

Are we seeking too much support or are our non-psych peers not doing it enough?


[All references are hyperlinked]

[EVERYONE knew this was going to be written about by me at some point, so lets start!]

[Hmm, this is still stats based, but about a mental health condition, so is this acceptable as a topic?  I guess only my marks will be able to tell me!  Still, I wanted a break from writing about outliers or stats by themselves, so I included this, I really do hope that this is acceptable!  After seeing some of the ideas for the wild-card weeks, about politics, psych as a science and the helsinki convention and the 5 ethical approaches, I figured this would be okay!  Fingers crossed! *throws lots of extra stats in there to make sure!*]

Dissociative Identity Disorder (or as the ICD-10 labels it, the more common name of ‘Multiple Personality Disorder’) is a mental health condition whereby a person displays distinct personalities known as ‘alters’ or ‘alter egos’.  The alter egos often have names and traits, with their own ways of thinking, acting, percieving and interacting with their environment – just like any other ‘real’ person (only they live within one ‘core’ body, often known as the ‘host’).  They ‘take over’ a hosts body and can be quite uncontrollable, causing the host to suffer amnesia upon return ((Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III, American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1980), followed by the DSM-III-R (APA, 1987) and DSM-IV (APA, 1994)*

So here are the stats:

Dell (2008) believes that 62% of mental health professionals don’t actually believe this condition exists!**  I can understand why some professionals would doubt it; afterall, how seemingly good would it be to do something and blame it on someone else?  To ‘pretend’ to run away from your problems and claim that someone else is doing it for you… In the strangest way, I’m not sure I would believe it if I wasn’t diagnosed with the condition myself… but for all those doubters out there, DID certainly is not sunshine and daisys and is FAR from an easy disorder to juggle! (This is from my own experience.)

Researchers believe that 0.01%-10% of the general population suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder to some degree, and the rate of diagnosis is increasing.  Between the years of 1980 and 1990, there were 20,000 cases reported in the United States and Canada alone.  DID is often misdiagnosed, and the numbers are now predicted to be in the regions of anywhere from 25,000 to 250,000 people – that is a huge range!  Due to the condition being either misdiagnosed or just disbelieved by most health care professionals, this is the complete range of estimates of those with DID.  People with multiple personalities tend to have a wide range of symptoms that can be confused with other, more common disorders. As a result, it typically takes at least six years for a diagnosis of multiple personality disorder to be made!***

But if my word isnt enough, and all these people who are claiming to have ‘alters’ routinely taking control of their life isnt enough, non-believers cannot possibly doubt the smaller hippocampal and amygdala volumes in the brain with patients with DID:

How could mental health professionals possibly doubt the diminished volumes of limbic system?!  The amygdalai volumes were 31.6% smaller than those without the disorder (with DID: mean=1455.97 mm3, SD=331.42; those without: mean=2128.34 mm3, SD=717.85) surely this would account for the amnesic states and poor memory associated with DID patients?****

For those who aren’t aware, the hippocampus is the key to our memory; short-term and long-term, and the amygdala is thought to be the key to our ’emotional’ or ‘traumatic’ memories, or responses; our ability to run on auto-pilot – it lights up on an fMRI scanner like a Christmas tree if any form of anxiety or phobia occurs.*****

We may not understand the condition fully, but there is no need to doubt it, particularly if there is physical evidence within the brain itself.  With stats like these – there should be no doubt that DID undoubtedly exists.

*ICD-10, DSM-IV-TR – p.47 – Dissociative Identity Disorder Diagnostics/Multiple Personality Disorder

** Paul F. Dell PhD – Why the diagnostic criteria for DID should be changed – DOI:10.1300/J229v02n01_02 – pages 7-37

*** Dr Roger Wesby, PhD; Remy Aquarone, psychotherapist and dissociative specialist.  The Pottergate Centre, Norwich. (2006)

**** Hippocampal and Amygdalar Volumes in Dissociative Identity Disorder – Eric Vermetten, M.D., Ph.D., Christian Schmahl, M.D., Sanneke Lindner, M.Sc., Richard J. Loewenstein, M.D., and J. Douglas Bremner, M.D. Am J Psychiatry 163:630-636, April 2006
doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.4.630


[Want more info about anything DID related? Dont hesitate to ask!]

Hi Thandi!

Here are my comments for this week:
1) psud1a – “Do You Need Stats to Understand Your Data?”

2) notwilliam – “Do You Need Statistics to Understand Your Data?”

3) sinaealice – “Do You Need Statistics to Understand Your Data?”

4) groundblogday20 – “Is The World Addicted To Statistics?”

5) cfredlevy – “Do You Need Statistics to Understand Your Data?”

6) [TBC]

7) [TBC]

The answer works like this; do you need the recipe to know that the cake tastes good?  Do you need to know the nitty-gritty of ingredients including all the artificial colours, spices and flavourings to order a meal?  Do you need to know the exact way in which satellite works so you can watch the television?  The short answer to this, is no.

Many of us strive to know the answers to things we don’t know; most of us would like a quick answer to our questions to make a decision; as I discussed last week, humans are notably ‘lazy’ beings and we don’t particularly welcome the hard work associated with coming to an answer.  But we do know, that 3 is bigger than 4, or understand how “Yes” and “No” will affect our decisions – we don’t need the stats to understand our data so long as we have the knowledge to understand the answer.

Conscentious human beings with extroverted traits are more notably involved in active learning than those who are passive learners (Taylor & Francis, 2010).  What seperates active learners from passive learners, is that the active may seek out beyond what is already known about the answer, where as the passive would be satisfied with the answer that they had been given.

Salkind (2007) believes that statistics indeed do play an important role in understanding data and argues that being ‘inactive’ in our interest to explore the answers are what inhibits us as human beings to expand our knowledge and create new ideas and theories.  If we link back to my introductory paragraph; who would make us that cake if no one cared what was in it or how it was made?  Would that meal taste as nice without that special seasoning if no one knew how to create it?  Who would put up the satellite dish if no one was bothered about how it all worked?  If ‘someone else’ didn’t do it, no one would, and we would all be sitting in mudhuts attempting to grasp the methods of walking.  Indeed, we may be too lazy to learn right from wrong, failures from successes and then rely so heavily on that ‘someone else’ that we lose track of “the better outcomes” and are completely unable to build our knowledge and understanding (Argyris, 1991).  Statistics enable to us to understand our answers better, they enable us to interpret our data and give us the bigger picture; as psychology students, this is indeed a must to our learning in order for us to progress and understand whether or not our data is accurate or inaccurate, valid, or reliable, and if not, why not?

As recipients, most human beings do not need to know how it all works, but why strive to be a recipient when you could be an active learner?  We may have found life on another planet hundreds of years ago if the entirity of the human race put their heads together and didn’t leave it for ‘someone else’ to take care of, or ‘someone else’ to discover.  If there was a flaw to be found in our answers, the statistics would find it, as Argyris (1991) said, learning from our mistakes is what helps us to discover and unmask truths.  Why dont we now go and be that ‘someone else’ and discover our own answers to our questions?