Monday, December 12, 2011

Film Review: Philadelphia

Film Review – Philadelphia

            I chose to watch the movie, Philadelphia. This has always been one of my favorite movies. I was 14 years old when it came out and homosexuality and HIV/AIDS were taboo subjects. I remember having to sneak and watch it since my mother was completely against the movie. Philadelphia is very compelling story and honestly, I still cry at the end.
            I’m pleased that the writers tried to stay as close to the facts as possible. When Denzel Washington’s character, Joe Miller, went to his doctor with questions, he was told that the disease was transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal secretions. I’m also glad that they chose to incorporate a character within the story that contracted HIV/AIDS through a blood transfusion showing that it is not only gays that contract the virus. I remember the earlier years of learning about the virus and the fear and discrimination were about the same as in the movie, even in my small town.
            The bosses of Tom Hank’s character, Andrew Beckett, were showing the initial fears people had when they learned someone had HIV or AIDS. They panicked before educating themselves. They believed the early propaganda that the infection could be contracted by casual contact rather than educating themselves, as Joe Miller did, about the methods of contraction. The senior partners appeared to be more concerned with associating Beckett’s illness with past risky behaviors than seeing him as a human. The statement that one made on stand, that he felt sorry for those who contracted HIV/AIDS “through no fault of their own” was, for a lack of a better word, ignorant. HIV and AIDS is a de-habilitating disease that we should not want anyone to go through. People do make risky decisions, as Mr. Beckett testified to his own in the trial, and we should be helping educate people about the illness rather than continually bashing those that already have it.
            Joe Miller openly admitted that he was homophobic. He admitted he was scared of contracting AIDS/HIV through casual contact. I was pleased to see by the end of the movie, that he had faced his fear and was even able to touch Andrew Beckett’s face.
            One aspect of the movie that I was displeased about was the fact they portrayed Andrew Beckett’s family as all being supportive. This is not always the case. However, I suppose that for the purpose of not having too many deep and dramatic storylines that it was overlooked to focus on the main story of wrongful discrimination.
            I like that the movie mentioned, and for the most part explained, the Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is an important component in the fight against discrimination at work for not only people with HIV and AIDS but other people with disabilities.
            The story in this movie, in my opinion, proved what our text book said on page 398, “Fear is being transmitted by casual contact, not the virus.”


Stine, G. J. (2011). AIDS Update 2011. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Wikipedia:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Modern Views of Depression

Modern Views of Depression

            Sarah’s depression could be caused by several different reasons. There are five modern views of psychology. The neuroscience view says that there is a biological reason for Sarah’s depression. Her depression may be related to an abnormality in her brain structure. Another biological reason for depression may be heredity. The cognitive view says that Sarah is responding to something around her. She has viewed and understood something around her and as a reaction, took on the behaviors listed. The behavioral view states that something in Sarah’s observable behavior will explain why she is feeling this way. The humanistic view says that Sarah controls her feelings and she has chosen to feel this way (free-will). The psychodynamic view states that Sarah’s unconscious determines her depression. Sarah has no control over her feelings.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Anorexia Nervosa

        Anorexia Nervosa is defined as a psychiatric disorder characterized by abnormal eating behavior, severe self-induced weight loss and other psychiatric disorders. (Anorexia nervosa) According to the Web MD website, anorexia nervosa affects both the body and mind. (Anorexia Nervosa Health Center) People with anorexia suffer from a distorted body image. Anorexia usually affects females; with 85 – 95% of anorexics being female. (Anorexia Nervosa Fact Sheet) This is believed to be due to the fact that women are desired to be thin. Models and actresses set the example of how women think they should look.

            There are many possible causes of anorexia nervosa. These include biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors. (Anorexia Nervosa) Biological factors that can cause anorexia are genetics, neurotransmitters and brain structures. Some researchers say that if a person has a family member who had an eating disorder, they are at a higher risk for developing one. Twin studies also support this theory. The neurotransmitter, dopamine, is believed to influence anorexia. Low levels of dopamine are responsible for desire to consume more food; increased levels are responsible for a decrease in appetite. (Sue, Sue, & Sue, 2010) Some researchers have noticed an area on chromosome 1 that appears to be associated with anorexia. (Anorexia nervosa) There are numerous psychological factors. These include body image, fragile or low self-esteem, depression, and feelings of helplessness. Many who suffer from anorexia use food or weight as means of handling stress or anxiety. Along with anorexia, many patients suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), perfectionism and mood disorders. Individuals judge themselves on their eating, shape, weight or ability to control these. Some researchers believe that a person’s interpersonal interactions with parents or peers has an impact on anorexia. Socio – cultural factors are believed to have the most effect on anorexia. Physical appearance plays a major role. There is a high demand, especially in the western world, for thinness. In reality, only 5% of American women can achieve the size required for fashion models. (Sue, Sue, & Sue, 2010) Some people contend though, eating disorders existed centuries ago, therefore socio-cultural values cannot be solely responsible. (Anorexia nervosa)

            There are many complications of having anorexia nervosa. These include brain problems, heart problems, kidney problems, psychological problems along with many others. It is important to get a person who is suffering from anorexia treatment immediately. There are many interventions available for those with anorexia. (Lock & Gowers, 2005) There are inpatient, day and residential programs. There is also the option of individual therapy and/or family therapy. Psychological interventions to help with self-esteem and interpersonal difficulties are very helpful. (Karatzias, Chouliara, Power, Collin, Yellowlees, & Grierson, 2010) Since most of the cases of anorexia are due to socio-cultural or psychological factors, this is where we need to start helping. Children need to grow up understanding the reasonable area for weight. Children need to be taught appropriate eating habits which will help them maintain a healthy weight. Adolescents and adults should be taught the warning signs and have a person to contact if they feel a friend has an eating disorder.

Works Cited

Anorexia nervosa. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2011, from University of Maryland Medical Center:

Anorexia Nervosa. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2011, from Mayo Clinic:

Anorexia Nervosa Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2011, from Women's Health:

Anorexia Nervosa Health Center. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2011, from Web MD:

Karatzias, T., Chouliara, Z., Power, K., Collin, P., Yellowlees, A., & Grierson, D. (2010). General Psychopathology in Anorexia Nervosa: The Role of Psychosocial Factors. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy , 519-527.

Lock, J., & Gowers, S. (2005). Effective Interventions for Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa. Journal of Mental Health , 599-610.

Sue, D., Sue, D. W., & Sue, S. (2010). Understanding Abnormal Behavior. Boston: Wadsworth.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Infants Learn and Remember

             Infants learn, and ultimately remember, in variety of ways. Our text refers to the methods of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, attention, imitation, and memory and concept formation. Each of these methods offers a different way for children to learn and for parents to enhance their children’s learning.

            Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, discovered classical conditioning. In classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus acquires the ability to produce a response originally produced by another stimulus. Our text relates several examples of this method. A way to relate this to parents and children is using a lullaby at bed time. A mother wants to get her child on a bedtime schedule. In an effort to do this, she begins to sing a lullaby to her child at bedtime. The infant learns that after the lullaby, his mother will lay him down. The child begins to associate bedtime with this lullaby and settles down right after the lullaby.

            B.F. Skinner introduced the concept of operant conditioning. In operant conditioning, the consequences of a behavior produce changes in the probability of the behavior’s occurrence. For example, a mother wants to condition her infant to help clean up their toys. Each time the infant helps clean their toys up, the mother positively rewards the infant with praise. After awhile, the infant will be “conditioned” to clean up their toys based on the positive praise.

            A third method is attention. Attention refers to the focusing of mental resources on select information. Attention includes the processes of habituation and dishabituation. Habituation is the decreased responsiveness to a stimulus after repeated presentations of the stimulus. Dishabituation is the increased responsiveness after a change in stimulation. Also included in attention is joint attention, where individuals focus on the same object or event. According to our text, infants’ attention is strongly governed by novelty and habituation. (Santrock, 2010) In an effort to teach their child about objects, a parent points to objects while naming them to get their child to focus on them.

            Imitation is where children imitate behaviors seen in their role models. Andrew Meltzoff concluded that infants do not blindly imitate everything they see and often make creative errors. (Santrock, 2010) Deferred imitation is imitation that occurs after a delay of hours or days. According to a study conducted in Germany, infants between the ages of 11 months and 12 months could imitate five actions they saw the researchers perform. (Goertz, Kolling, Frahsek, Stanisch, & Knopf, 2008) A parent can use imitation as a tool to teach their infants to help clean up. The parent picks up a toy and puts it away. The parent then claps to show that the behavior is acceptable. The infant can then imitate the behavior.

            Memory involves the retention of information over a period of time. There are two types of behavior, implicit and explicit. Implicit memory is memory without conscious recollection. It involves skills and routine procedures that are automatically performed. Explicit memory is conscious memory of facts and experiences. An infant remembers the positive reward from the operant conditioning example earlier. Therefore, the child will more than likely repeat the behavior again.

            Concept formation is the organization of information into categories. An infant is shown picture cards of birds and groups them together realizing they are the same. He then realizes that an airplane can be grouped with the birds as well because they all fly.
A parent can use concept formation to enhance their child’s learning.

Works Cited

Goertz, C., Kolling, T., Frahsek, S., Stanisch, A., & Knopf, M. (2008). Assessing declarative memory in 12-month-old infants: A test - retest reliability study of the deferred imitation task. European Journal Of Developmental Psychology , 492-506.

Santrock, J. W. (2010). Children. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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Preventing Teenage Pregnancy

          Teenage pregnancy is defined as a pregnancy involving a person aged 13-19 years old. Although the rate of teenage pregnancy is slowly declining, the numbers are still alarmingly high. In the United States, one million teenage girls become pregnant each year. (Teen Pregnancy) Each year, 13% of births in the United States are to teen mothers. Of those, 25% of teen mothers have another baby within two years. Children born to teenage mothers are less likely to receive proper nutrition, health care, cognitive and social stimulation. They are more at an increased risk to be neglected or abused. Boys born to teen mothers are 13% more likely to become incarcerated and girls are 22% more likely to become teen mothers themselves. (Teen Pregnancy)

            The President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative was created to demonstrate the effectiveness of the innovative, multi-component, community-wide initiatives in reducing rates of teen pregnancy and births in communities with the highest rates. (Responding to Teen Pregnancy, 2011) The goal is to reduce the teen birth rates by 10% in targeted communities and increase the amount of youth abstaining from intercourse. (Teen Pregnancy Prevention 2010-2015) Currently, many teens are uninformed about contraceptives, including the availability, efficiency and choices. Only 69% of United States schools teach sex education. Of those, 86% teach abstinence rather than safe methods. Sex education needs to be taught in all schools where teens attend. Many parents contend that it should be the parent’s responsibility to teach sex education to their children. However, there are many parents who do not teach their children about sex. It is these children that need someone to step in and teach them in order to help prevent teen pregnancy. This can be started as sex education in schools and lead into peer counseling groups. According to Josefina Card, a program called Adolescent compliance in the Use of Oral Contraceptives uses peer counselors to advise patients aged 14-19. (Card, 1999) A field study concluded that these teens were more than likely to use oral contraceptives correctly and continuously. This type of program may be beneficial to many communities dealing with high rates of teen pregnancy.

            Another program that may be beneficial to prevent teen pregnancy is a Teen to Teen mentoring type program. In this program, teens are partnered with current teen mothers to see how life changes. In order to prevent teen pregnancy, teens need to see the ups and downs. I was hoping when MTV created the 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom series that it would show teens about life as parents. Unfortunately, most teens now believe the glamorous, show business side of teen pregnancy.

            Although abstinence is the best way to prevent teen pregnancy, teaching only that principle is not going to work. Teens need to be taught how to protect themselves from diseases and pregnancy. The annual cost of teen pregnancy on the United States is $7 billion dollars. This makes teen pregnancy a national problem, not an individual problem. We, as a country, need to help prevent teen pregnancy.

Works Cited

Card, J. J. (1999). Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Do Any Programs Work? Annual Reviews , 257-285.
Responding to Teen Pregnancy. (2011). Curriculum Review , pp. 10-11.

Teen Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2011, from Health Communities:

Teen Pregnancy Prevention 2010-2015. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2011, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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