Tag Archives: Psychology

Linguistics and Other Things I Wanted to Study in College #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 12 in the #AoZChallenge of random reflections. Today once again I don’t know what to write about. I write this post at past 9PM on April 13 and am deciding what to write on as I go. I looked at the A to Z of me I wrote in 2015 and saw “linguistics” as my letter L word. This was my college major for the two months I studied at university in Nijmegen in 2007. Now I don’t know what to write about linguistics, so instead I’m going to write about the things I at one point considered majoring in. This may be going to be a long list, LOL.

1. Mathematics. When I was about eleven, I decided I wanted to become a mathematician. I barely knew math beyond calculus, but I liked that aspect so assumed I’d like everything about math.

2. Dutch. When I was in junior high school, I wanted to become a linguist, but I didn’t know the word, so I thought I’d become a Dutch major.

3. English. UPon high school graduation, I decided I wanted to study English, and specifically American studies. In Nijmegen, you could choose from your first year on to learn American rather than British English. I had a dream in which I’d go to America in my third year of university and never return.

4. Psychology. I really wanted to major in psychology, but my parents had a problem with psychologists, so I never took that step. I did major in applied psychology for a year at college when I was 20, but only passed communication skills because the instructor cut me some slack. I took psychology classes at Open University again while in the mental hospital.

5. Linguistics. I ultimately decided to major in linguistics at university. I was obviously still mostly interested in psycholinguistics and thought I might be able to enter the speech and language pathology program when I’d be a graduate student. I never made it that far, obviously.

Classes #FridayReflections

It’s still Thursday in my part of the world, but the #FridayReflections linky has already opened. This week, one of the prompts asks us to decide which class from school or college we’d like to take again if we could.

There were many subjects in high school that I liked. I was big on politics at the time and had a particularly clueless social studies teacher. He once made three big factual mistakes in a five-minute lecture on the elections. In my memory, I corrected him. I couldn’t do that now, as I barely know who’s on the government now. So maybe I’d do social studies again, but hopefully with a more knowledgeable teacher.

I would also love to go back to English class with Mr. E, who had worked a year in the United States while an American teacher came to our school in the Netherlands. This was when I was in eighth grade and could barely understand the American teacher. I wasn’t particularly good at English in seventh and eighth grade. In ninth grade, I was angry with Mr. E for telling me he had to specially type his tests for me instead of handwriting them so I’d better study for them. You can bet that as a fifteen-year-old adolescent, I didn’t bother. From tenth grade on, I loved English though. I had become an avid Internet user over the summer break and had discovered that most valuable information I wanted to read was in English. I became quite proficient at it as I started an online diary (which later morphed into a blog) in the fall of 2002. I loved Mr. E’s stories of his time in the United States, so maybe I’d take his class again.

The first class that came to mind though when I read this prompt, was not a high school class. It was my college psychology class. The teacher was thought of as boring by most students. Because his class was at the end of the day, many students would rather catch an earlier train home than go to his class. You see, we were part-time students, taking our classes on Mondays in the afternoon and evening, and this professor’s class took place from 7:30 till 9:00 PM. Many students, including myself, also didn’t live in the college city, hence the need to take the train home.

This professor though was one rookie lefty and I seemed to be the only one who liked this. He threw Socialist Party merchandise into the auditorium in the days leading up to the 2006 parliamentary election. I was a Socialist Party member, so I didn’t sign the complaint he got for this. Not that I would have signed it had he shown a conservative affiliation either. I did sign a complaint about the first test we got in this class. I still don’t remember why I signed it, but most likely it was largely due to peer pressure. This was obviously before results were in, but I ended up scoring a B.

Looking back, I would’ve loved to attend all of his lectures rather than catching an early train. He had a great sense of humor. Just this morning, I recalled the tale he told us about getting a referral to a psychiatrist for wondering whether the fact that he acquired a spinal cord injury early in life and had to be in rehabilitation a lot changed his personality. The psychiatrist barely listened before writing him a script for an antidepressant. I remembered this tale because, after yesterday’s post, I was wondering what my motor difficulties could be diagnosed as, if anything. If I ever ask my GP to refer me for diagnosis for this, I hope I won’t run into a physiatrist or neurologist with the same attitude as this professor’s shrink.

I got an A for the second test in this class and a B for my research project. I would love to do the research project again, but would choose a different topic. I had many topics in mind that were disorders I later ended up being diagnosed with, like borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder and autsm. I finally settled on the subject of mild intellectual disability though. Maybe I’ll do a similar project one day on one of the topics I had in mind then.

Living my Imperfect Life

Mental Illness: Nature or Nurture? #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to the seventh installment of the 31 Days of Mental health series. Today, I picked another of the 30 questions from the 30-day awareness challenge: do you believe nature (biology, physiology, etc.) or nurture (your psychosocial environment) causes mental illness? I am very tired, too tired to find the scientific evidence to back my post up with. will share what I do know off the top of my head, but please don’t ask me to cite my sources.

In medicine in general, there used to be a strictly nature-based model of illness and health. This determined that biological and physiological processes in the body caused illness and there was no contribution of psychological or social influences. This model is called the biomedical model and my health psychology book used it to describe the history of views on physical illness.

In mental illness, there have been many schools of thought that laid blame on the environment, in fact. For example, Freud blamed fixations in one’s psychosexual development for mental illnesses. The school of behaviorism also blamed the environment. Watson, the founding father of behaviorism, at one point said that, if given a handful of babies at birth to raise, he’d be sure he could make whatever you wanted the babies to become from them purely by processes of conditioning (behavioral learning).

It is interesting that there is such a distinction between the biomedical views on physical illness and the psychosocial views on mental illness. After all, though religion may say otherwise, scientists usually see the mind as part of the body. At least the brain is and dysfunction in the brain can cause mental disorders.

I currently study healht psychology at university. Health psychology feels illness as resulting from an interplay of biological, psychological and social factors. Again, they usually study physical illness, but I must say I believe the same goes for mental illness.

I remember when I was still diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder reading a scientific article that said in part that the role of psychological trauma in the cause of what is often diagnosed as DID may be less significant than people think. They used the analogy of borderline personality disorder, which they said most people diagnosed with DID truly have. BPD is commonly thought of as a developmental trauma disorder, but research shows that there may be genetic and other biological factors predisposing to its development. Then again, trauma researchers have made it very clear that trauma and other strong environmental factors alter the brain.

I personally tend to believe there is not a single mental illness that is solely caused by nature or nurture. There are illnesses where biology is the main causative factor, such as schizophrenia, and illnesses where psychosocial factors are the main cause, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, stress can trigger psychosis in vulnerable people and trauma only causes PTSD in some of its victims, presumably those biologically predisposed to PTSD.

As for my own mental illness, there are biological factors predisposing me to developing mental disorders. Though I don’t have any family members diagnosed with a mental illness, autistic traits run in my family. NOw again I don’t see autism as a mental illness, but autistic people are more vulnerable to mental illnesses than neurotypicals. I also was a preemie, which may’ve caused brain dysfunction. Lastly, though none of my famly members are mentally ill, a difficult temperament tends to run in my family.

As for psychosocial factors, I am a childhood trauma survivor. I also have had high levels of stress in my life, possibly due to the incongruence between my autistic self and the neurotypical environment. It was a stressful event that sent me over the edge, but it was probably biology that predisposed me to vulnerability to stress.

If I Had to Choose a Career Path…

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week is quite interesting. It says: “You have to go back in time and choose a different career path for yourself.” Now I for one don’t have a career, so I could just choose my favorite career. Then again, what’s that?

I could go back to 2007 and decide to finish my studies in linguistics. When I started, I had it in my head to eventually pursue a Master’s degree in speech and language pathology. You don’t become a speech therapist then, although there was a program at a different university where you could do a speech therapy minor during your undergradaute studies and then become a speech therapist and speech and language pathologist at the same time. The difference is that speech therapists treat patients, whereas speech and language pathologists with a background in linguistics do research and development.

I’d love to be a speech therapist, but it’s most likely not possible for a blind person. I once read a story on the American Foundation of the Blind’s CareerConnect program about a person who was partially sighted and became a speech therapist and audiologist. Both were quite hard. So not that path.

Then I could go back to 2006 and finish the foundation in applied psychology I took at the time. This was an orientation-based foundation where, for the last quarter, you’d choose between psychodiagnostic work and human resource management (don’t ask me why this is one program), social work, social pedagogical care, or elementary education. I chose psychodiagnostic work and human resource management, but if I had to go back, I’d choose social work. This would then become my major during the rest of college and I’d become a social worker. Not quite suitable for an autistic perosn though, and in fact going back in time wouldn’t change the fact that I only passed communication skills training because the teacher let me pass provided I quit.

I could also go back to 2005, when I graduated from high school, and go straight to university rather than taking a gap year for blindness rehabilitation. My intention was to major in English, specifically American studies. I have no clue what type of career I envisioned for myself, because all I dreamt about was going to the United States on a student visa and somehow never returning.

Then again, if I had to choose a career for myself that I want to pursue now, I’d become a journalist. Not very suitable for an autistic person who has the worst typing skills ever, but who cares? I don’t believe any career is suitable for me, which is why I’m on disability. I’d ultimately still like to publish a book, but not sure I ever will.

Mama’s Losin’ It