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Thank you! Loved this ❤

The Druid Bird

First of all I should explain that I’m going to split this post into my usual ‘thoughts on…’ section and then a section where I answer the prompt questions asked in the programme, hope that makes sense for you!

Secondly I have to say that this was a brilliant, brilliant documentary and I’m only annoyed that it didn’t go on for longer- it completely lived up to my expectations and I’m so glad, honestly I was pretty worried that it would fall short and it didn’t.

I would however like to bring up a point I think I made in my ‘Thoughts on: ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’’ post about how ‘acceptable’ mental illnesses are portrayed more- for example depression and eating disorders over more unusual and stigmatised ones like schizophrenia- I’m obviously not saying that there isn’t stigma for people with depression, just that it’s not got as bad an…

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1) http://dsm1lp.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/is-it-ethically-ok-to-use-internet-sources-as-data-for-qualitative-studies/#comment-39

2) http://penguinsandcheese.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/do-television-games-and-other-forms-of-media-really-have-an-effect-on-our-behaviour/#comment-83

3) http://repugh18.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/blogs/#comment-55




Also, good luck to everyone on the upcoming exams! 😀  Hope you all do amazingly!!!

[adding another Cyanide & Happiness picture to match :P]


A ‘double blind’ is a term used to describe a decision process whereby parties involved avoid knowing crucialinformation to avoid generating biased results. (Sampson, 2007)  For example, a drug researcher may give participants a set of tablets hidden in foil casing; one set of a certain colour will have a real chemical drug, and the other foiled set will be a placebo.  Neither the drug researcher nor participants will know whether or not the medication was the real thing until the experiment has been completed. (Margraf, 1991)
Double blind testing is a common process for testing placebo effects with drugs.  A placebo effect describes the phoenomenon in which self-soothing occurs; symptoms can be aleviated by an otherwise ineffective treatment; a psychosomatic self-assurance process.  This placebo effect is a common phoenomenon amongst many drug trials.

Petracca et. al (1996) created a double blind study to test the effects of anti-depressant drugs on patients with Alzheimers who were suffering with depression.  21 Alz patients recieved a 6-week treatment; the results showed a dramatic increase in all participants who had recieved the placebo and the anti-depressant drugs.  However, Patrecca claimed that the placebo patients began to show depression symptoms during the washout period, slowly worsening over time until their moods were the same as before, but the anti-depressant candidates did not suffer during the washout period and instead maintained their moods.

But can we say that this study is flawless?

The main advantages of a double-blind study of rely on its confidence.  If neither the researcher nor the participant knows the effect of their drug then this prevents bias from both the researcher and participant; whether the decision is made consciously or subsconsciously.  But Liebert (2010) believes that many skeptics still see double-blind studies as near-to-flawless and this it has proven a problem in some analysing of studies.

Margraf, 1991 believes the main issue of double-blind studies is that they can be prone to fraud; it is possible for researchers to fabricate data without easily being caught. In these sorts of cases, only further replication of the test and a wider range of studies can detect any fraud.

False positives and false negatives can also have a harmful effect on the studies; if results are not given out (which they are often not with double blind trials) a false score can go a miss.  This is known as publication bias. (Matthews et. al. 1991)

In conclusion, double-blind testing is not flawless, but it does have it’s advantages!  If all results were published from every study, it would avoid publication bias as well as allow for further interpretation and finding fraud within studies. The moral of the story is: don’t be skeptical about a study just because it’s double-blind; it’s not always flawless!



[all references are linked]

  The DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is, in simple terms, a giant book with pages and pages of different catagorisations of mental disorders, first made and published by the APA in 1952.  With 5 axis covering anything from personality disorders to intellectual disabilities affected by mental health, it is considered the bible for clinical psychologists; diagnosing clients and attaching disorders at a person using the criterias in this glorious book.  But is this really the ethical way to go about things?

The current edition (The DSM-iv-text revision) is being redeveloped for the first time since 1994 and this is causing a giant uproar within the psychology community (See this article for more).  The APA say that they “now understand” much more about psychology and mental illnesses than they did in 1994, and so a newer, up to date textbook is in order – the DSM-V – but the DSM has been far from understanding in the past.

Homosexuality for example was considered a  mental health disorder in the DSM up until 1987, where they replaced the title of “Sexual Orientation Disorder” with “Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified; persistent and marked distress about ones own sexual orientation“, that means up until this time, any attraction towards the same sex would have you labelled by the DSM as having a mental disorder.  And if you were curious or unsure (most popularised now by society as ‘bicurious’) then Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified would still have you in its catagory noose (Hayes and Horwitz, 2005)!

The newest rumoured disorder to be under the DSM-V is ‘internet addiction’, under non-substance addictions [article here] (shared with other disorders such as pathological gambling), not a compulsion or part of routine, or even an OCD, but an addiction of its own (it makes me wonder how they are going to classify this; perhaps ‘if clinent spends X amount of time at a computer, they are liable to have the disorder’ – it makes me wonder how many of us will be labelled under this!).    Within the childhood illnesses catagory is my personal favourite ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’ – whereby your child says ‘no’ too often or does things against a parents wishes.  In my opinion, this is walking a fine line to use an excuse for poor parenting, or perhaps even covering a more sinister condition such as ADD/ADHD or behavioural related problems that could need medication – blaming it on the child when all they could really need is good disipline and consistent parenting would perhaps lead to overdiagnosis.  Are these really the type of things that should be labelled under a mental health disorder?

According to the WHO-CIDI, the population of those with a mental health disorder has increased over the last ten years; diagnoses are at an all time high – with diagnoses being made 47% more often than they were in the 90’s.  The chart above shows the disorder prevelance amongst the population as of 2012.  Does ease of access to the DSM mean that psychologists are overdiagnosing, or does it simply mean that we are more understanding of mental health disorders?  According to Bowden (2009) the misdiagnosis of bipolar patients has risen from 15% to 40% and believes that there is an overlap between how many psychologists are quick to diagnose (whether it be for money gain or otherwise) and the criterion in the DSM, believing that there is much more to the complex condition of bipolar that is mentioned within the diagnostic textbook.

That said, the DSM is far from a ‘tick-box’ book, it contains pages and pages of relentless titles within disorders that can all affect the outcomes as well as criteria, such as ‘Diagnostic Features’, ‘Associated Disorders’ ‘Familial Pattern’, ‘Specific Culture Features’, ‘Prevelance’, and ‘Differential Diagnosis’ – just to name a few!   The DSM attempts to provide a simple basic outline for mental health disorders – helping people and psychologists alike to generate a ‘most likely’ diagnosis and understand conditions better.  Of course, mental health can be difficult to judge accurately; there are psychologists who feel that the DSM is attempting to create firm ‘must-haves’ to qualify for disorders (Bowden, 2001😉 which can often lead to misdiagnosis (Walker,2007) but personally, looking through the DSM-iv-TR, I find even the most basic mental health issues extremely lieniant in their diagnostic criteria (example: client must display 2/5 of these symptoms for a longer period than 6 weeks etc.).

As we know, psychology in itself is difficult to measure (Zimmerman, 2011) – research and conclusions are often argued and opinions of the ‘true’ outcomes are agreed-to-disagree which could lead to false positive or false negative diagnoses.  The DSM/APA recommend using ‘sourcebooks’ to check and double check diagnoses and these are left at the discretion of the researcher/clinician (1994).

In conclusion, the DSM is not there to diagnose, but to assist those who do.  Much of what is diagnosed is down to the clinician/psychologist and within psychology, there is only so much we can take from books.  The DSM attempts to remain ethical, but of course there will always be discrepancies – mental health is vast and often misunderstood, and the DSM does it’s best with what information is known and since it generates many of its disorders and criteria from society, including psychologists and the general public, it is near impossible to please everybody in what it does and what it says!  The DSM is not ‘doing it wrong’ but doing what it can.  Unlike most factual textbooks, the DSM can only write as far as our own understanding and help us, and the psychologists of tomorrow understand more about the big topic of mental health.

When we started doing the big 5 personality traits in our groups, i felt a little odd being one of the few yelling them all out 😛  So I promised my group to share a great BBC documentary “Child of Our Time – The Big Personality Test” that I learned so much from years ago!  Whilst lying ill in bed, hoping that the cysts on my ribcage do not mutate and absorb my body, i decided to track down the videos in the meantime (honestly, this is the reason as to why i wasn’t in today!  doctors orders to not aggrivate it and move as little as possible until they go down – score!)  There are two episodes, and – in my opinion, they’re really interesting!  (Dr. Robert Winston was my psychology inspiration whilst growing up!  What a sad fact!)

So here’s the list:

Episode 1 – Part 1/6

Episode 1 – Part 2/6

Episode 1 – Part 3/6

Episode 1 – Part 4/6

Episode 1 – Part 5/6

Episode 1 – Part 6/6

Episode 2 – Part 1/6

Episode 2 – Part 2/6

Episode 2 – Part 3/6

Episode 2 – Part 4/6

Episode 2 – Part 5/6

Episode 2 – Part 6/6

Hope you guys enjoy them as much as I did 🙂 helped me remember a lot of things about personality traits (particularly with development!)

Also A BIG THANK YOU TO THANDI!  Who has been an amazing TA!  I hope she sticks with us – it’s sad to hear she could be moving groups, but I wish her all the best!

Have a good christmas!