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Social Identity

 

 

What people do, how they interact with others, and what they include in their lives are what helps to build a social identity. This is a framework by which and individual allows themselves to be known, basing their identity upon brands they favor, teams they support, and causes they opt to follow and perhaps even champion as their own.  In many ways this type of identity is a secondary persona, a shell of sorts that helps to insulate the individual’s true self from the rest of the world. To some it is the only self, what they desire and need to function, while for others it is in fact an identity that seeks to show a different face to the public. Social identity is how the world is allowed to see an individual, and in so doing how to classify them as a person.

Social Identity Theory stems back to the year 1979 when it was first developed by Tajfel and Turner (Tajfel, 1982). This theory was brought about in order to better grasp the basis of discrimination as it occurred in groups. The attempt was initially made to see what type of minimal conditions would essentially cause the discrimination between groups.  What this theory is meant to show is that an individual doesn’t just have a single self that they operate under, but instead several personas that are useful in their own manner as they pertain to different groups.

There exist different triggers within an individual’s consciousness that can be tripped

under certain conditions, thereby causing them to react and behave in different manners based

upon what environment or group setting they find themselves in.  Depending upon where one

finds themselves at a given moment is what determines which social identity will reveal itself.  Social identity is in effect the ideal that the individual holds as their desired self-concept that is taken from their inclusion into select groups of their choosing.   In short it is the feeling one develops once they realize that they fit in somewhere, that they belong.  From then on it becomes them and the group, with the rest of the world being excluded as the non-affiliated.

SIT grants that membership to a group manages to instill the type of self-categorization and esteem that allow the group to become the more important part of the individual’s life, at the expense of most others who are outside of the group.  There are a great many examples that can be viewed and observed to practice such behaviors, not the least of which are motorcycle clubs,  gangs, and of course high school cliques, which are at the beginning of many a social identity during the younger years. Self-esteem and assurance are generally raised once one is a part of a group, and can often be used to exclude others that are not a part of the group, leading to favoritism that is at times borderline fanatical.  While in some cases the behaviors of those who become a part of an exclusive group do not necessarily change towards those who remain outside the group, there are also instances during which exclusivity carries with it the very real danger of discrimination.

Social identity is a trait that is not taken on until around adolescence, as most children

under this age are not considered old enough to be judged and pored over by the world at large.

There are few if any exceptions to this rule as the American culture and many others often regard

children as exempt from such scrutiny when it comes to their identity.  At such a young age the

formation of a persona is still in development, and is not mature enough to be brought out into

the public eye.  In some cases it has become unavoidable, as child stars and the like have been

almost forced into the media spotlight.  Even in such cases however the welfare of the child is

always considered the first priority and must be preserved.

For adolescents and adults social identity is a means by which to establish their names,

their personalities, and of course to spread their influence as far as it might be allowed.  In this regard social identity is a construct used not only to establish an individual’s persona, but to also allow it to serve as a model for others to view and perhaps even follow. Role models are created from those who wish to expand their social repertoire and reach more viewers.  Such individuals can be considered the average person who seeks no attention but instead interacts with and affects the spheres of influence they feel most comfortable with. Those with greater ambition and need to be known become public faces and attain the status of being culturally significant and a part of much greater spheres of influence.

A social identity is very susceptible to the core values and ideals that an individual is given and taught in their earliest years.  Who a person will be versus who they wish to be is highly dependent upon the earliest years of development and how certain milestones are reached.  Social identity can begin at a very young age through either modeling or by the simple method of categorizing people into groups that are labeled as “us” and “them”, an over-generalization that allows an individual to feel more secure in the knowledge that they have selected a group to identity with and therefore base their identity around.  This is prevalent with many different facets of life, and can be viewed from childhood on.

The practice of placing individuals into like-minded groups is a coping effect that allows

an individual to create clear and concise dividing lines between their own identity and that of

others.  In this manner an individual can continue to develop their own selected identity in a

manner that offers less confusion and essentially less challenge. This in turn can afford greater

self-esteem and confidence in the path that is chosen and therefore create a mental stability that

aids in the cultivation of the identity and the continual maintenance that such identities require.

Considering that social identities can and do change as the individual grows, it is beneficial to

possess the self-assurance in one’s decisions so as to eliminate any unneeded stressors.

In essence social identity is the definition of a person as the member of a group, how that group operates, what their beliefs are, and how they conduct themselves in regards to others (Burke, 2006). Social identity theory, or SIT, tends to consider a group as three or more people, and studies the dynamics of the group as it pertains to others and to those within the group as well, gauging cognitive development of the individual and the group.  In this manner SIT can better determine the cause and effect of solidarity upon the social identity of the group and the individual. It can also be determined how the dynamic is upheld in regards to the varying differences that each member can bring to an intergroup setting.

Oftentimes those who find themselves in minority groups within a given environment will find it far more conducive to their overall well being to form a group that is comprised mainly of those they find comfort with.  In this manner they are safe and relatively secure, and can associate better with those who are like-minded and can better relate to their situation.  In other cases minority members might attempt to fit into any available club that will accept them, creating an identity that is not entirely stable but offers at least a moderate amount of security in belonging.  Social identity is at times a security blanket that can be used to disguise inequities or the simple fact that an individual sticks out in a crowd when they wish to blend in.

Using that logic it is reasonable to assume that most people will seek out one group or

another in order to hide away their weaknesses of character or personality flaws.  In joining a

group that is like-minded and does not judge, an individual is able to create a new persona that is

without any of their more noticeable flaws, and can be judged upon what they do within that group, not on their own.  The effect of hiding away in a group is not always the case, as many people will join groups to show solidarity towards their race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, or any number of other reasons.  In joining that group they take on the chance of becoming someone else.  They remain the same person, but are able to adopt a different set of behaviors and a different identity than they display with others.

In the cases that see individuals band together for safety and security within their own neighborhood or community it is often seen in the context of protection, sticking to their own kind as it were to remain safe.  Some might see this as a gang mentality but the practice does in fact transcend such a possibility, as neighborhood watches serve the same purpose but are far less demanding and do not seek to demand as much of their members.   Such extreme cases of social identity are typically in response to some kind of threat that is both local and very real, and is then noticeably stronger when said danger is more prevalent.  The darker side of social identity would be exemplified by the formation of gangs and the influence that is spread by their existence.

The lighter side, and opposite of the gang scene and its many flaws, would perhaps be a neighborhood church group or neighborhood watch.  Such groups tend to look after one another, spreading goodwill through their environment rather than causing others to fear them.  In this regard the social identity of their members would be a very positive and uplifting presence.  In any given neighborhood the social identity of its residents tend to change throughout the lifespan as people grow, develop, move on, and deal with the day to day dynamics of a community setting.  There are constants that remain, but as to the social identity of a community it usually is wise to take note which group within any neighborhood, if they exist, holds the greatest sway.

Social identity is a construct that can be positive, negative, or neutral. It can protect an individual or simply give them something to do.  The influence that it exerts upon the individual can be used for status, safety, or a sense of accomplishment that might be otherwise too difficult to attain alone.  Defining any social identity requires a definitive context that allows for the careful and unbiased study that can examine the dynamic of the intergroup relationship and how they operate.

SIT focuses mostly on social structure and how individuals come to rely upon those identities they choose to develop.  Through the behaviors that are noted and observed from studies that look into the interpersonal and intergroup relationships researchers can come to better understand the group dynamic and what drives it.  While many reasons are already known and documented it is always considered necessary to maintain such observations and attempt to deduce why certain groups behave as they do and what factors go into explaining those behaviors (Hogg & Terry, 2001).  Through the use of set social structures and existing studies that have created a roadmap to social identity and its many causes it is more possible now to understand the group dynamic and its effect upon the individual than ever before.

The necessity of a group dynamic in the life of an individual is typically seen for several reasons, not the least of which is security.  When given the choice of being alone or joining a group many will opt for the latter rather than the former, seeing the idea of belonging to a group that might look out for them and protect them as more appealing than standing alone.  The social identity created by joining a group offers solidarity and a sense of belonging that remaining alone does not necessarily provide. There are upsides and downsides to developing  a few social identities, but many people do so in order to fit in to society.  Human beings are typically social creatures, and as such there is every belief that a social identity is a necessity for many.

Works Cited

Burke, Peter J. (Ed.) Contemporary Social Psychological Theories. Stanford: Stanford      University Press, (2006). Print.

Hogg, Michael A. & Terry, Deborah J. (Eds.) Social Identity Processes in Organizational

Contexts. Ann Arbor: Sheridan, (2001). Print.

Tajfel, Henri (Ed.) Social identity and intergroup relations. New York: Cambridge University

Press, (1982). Print.

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The Bystander Effect

 

It is not human nature to run towards trouble, but instead away from it. Human beings possess an innate sense that requires them to bear witness to tragedy, drama, and triumph alike, but does not force them into action.  There are exceptions to the rule without a doubt, though these are relatively few and in most cases will inspire others to act. Without those who work against their own nature as human beings however the inactivity and inability to intervene when needed is a very human characteristic.  It is easier to stand by and do nothing than it is to intervene on the behalf of another.

How anyone could stand by when another is in need is a question that is often posed and rarely answered.  The bystander effect is defined as the occurrence of nearby witnesses not responding to the need of a victim when they are perfectly capable.  It is typically affected by diffusion of responsibility as well as the perceived or real view of others upon the actions of those who would seek to offer help.  In other words, people do not help the victim in need solely because they are worried about how the general public will view their actions.

This effect was developed by noted psychologists Bibb Latane and John Darley not long

after the 1964 killing of New York resident Kitty Genovese took place (Manning, Lavine, &

Collins, 2007).  There were reportedly 38 bystanders that watched as she was brutally murdered

in the street only a short ways from her apartment building, and not a one of them called the

police or went to help.  Despite the obvious need, Kitty Genovese fell victim not only to her

attacker, but to the diffusion effect that occurs within a group of bystanders as each one expects

the next person to do something about the present situation.  Each person in this case was

assessing what their neighbors would do, how they would react, and if someone would step in.

While many would call this gross negligence and even in some far-flung cases aiding and

abetting, it is a very common occurrence in the face of adversity.

Fear is a large part of what keeps people from acting instead of turning away. Ignorance is another part, but is not as easily explained or excused.  In many cases, and particularly in this day and age, the bystander effect is a product of not knowing whether what is seen is real or not.  What might seem as a serious predicament to one person might seem to little more than a normal argument to another.  One of the main problems with the bystander effect lays in the perception of the events taking place. The fear of stepping into a scenario that is largely unknown and offers too many unknown variables can cause most individuals to keep a safe distance.

Anomalies do exist in which someone will seek to aid another in need whether there is a crowd or not.  More often than not however this act of kindness will have something to do with the individual seeing something in the victim that sets them apart, a feeling that they know or can relate to the person who is need of help. The average person as it has been found will simply allow the victimization to occur, figuring that someone else will take over and assist the victim.  The larger the group, the less people tend to help, while the fewer people that are around it is more likely that assistance will be given.

The reasons for the bystander effect taking place are simple enough that many would think they would be easily overcome. However in such cases as is described with Kitty Genovese, many people have their own reasons for not helping.  For example when in noted gang territories where said gangs have a strong tie to their neighborhood, there are instances in which crimes will be committed and no one will bother helping or even reporting the incident for fear of reprisals.  Many people wish to remain apart from such acts out of concern for their own welfare as well as those around them.

Another reason for the prevalence of the bystander effect is that at times people do not

have a clue as to what is going on.  If bystanders have no idea as to what is happening it is often difficult to know what to do, or even how to react.  There are moments when the perceived violence might actually be a prank, in which case people in the current day and age have come to believe that simply staying away is the best chance of not being publicly embarrassed for being decent. Another reason in the same regard could also be that people do not have a firm grasp as to why the event they are witnessing is happening, and thus cannot decide whose aid to come to.

Yet another reason why individuals do nothing during a crisis in their midst is the very

real probability of fear that results in shock.  While violence is glorified on television and in movies it is still alien enough to many individuals that when it does occur they have no other recourse but to stop and stare. In those moments they are shocked into disbelief that they are actually witnessing the same type of violence that they see acted out on a daily basis.  The act of true violence is not as debilitating for many individuals, but for those who do not experience such on a daily basis, of which there are still many, the acts of violence that take place in society often leave them stunned.

Popular media has depicted the bystander effect in regards to communities in which gangs and other notorious organizations discourage any would-be heroes.  The bystander effect in this case is out of fear and self-preservation, which easily translates to real life.  Many people do not wish to jeopardize their own health or that of their family in an attempt to help another they do not know.  In many cases it is deemed safer by the individual to stay out of the way and allow matters to simply take their course.

Another issue relating to the bystander effect that affects the general populace is the

prevalence of studies, tests, and poorly conducted exercises that are conducted to help

researchers better understand the bystander effect or other similar conditions.  When people are

subjected to the false emergencies that are perpetrated by those who are in no way in danger or dire straits they become leery of helping anyone for fear of looking foolish.  The stigma that is attached to being singled out in such a manner affects many people and can therefore contribute to the bystander effect by creating a strengthened wall of indifference that shields people from what they figure might be a hoax.

The bystander effect takes hold of many people, creating a disconnect between what they

know is wrong and their ability to do something about it.  Be it the shock, the disbelief, or even

the fear of acting out on behalf of another, many people will simply do nothing when they know

deep down that they should act.  Yet for all that many people actively condemn those who do nothing in cases such as that of Kitty Genovese, when 38 people watched her being brutally murdered. The hypocrisy of the bystander effect is undoubtedly one of its more prevailing characteristics.

Those who seek to condemn others for failing to act in the face of danger and

wrongdoing are often those who act much the same if not worse when presented with a difficult

to dangerous situation.  It is easy to berate another for their lack of action, but much harder to set

the example that is so sorely needed in society.  The bystander effect is a societal disorder of sorts that affects most people, locking them into place when they know that to act might just save the life of another.  To counter the bystander effect takes conscious effort, and many who witness violent acts seem unable, or unwilling, to train themselves in such a manner.

Modifying behavior to fit into the crowd is a natural characteristic of human beings and is

done out of necessity (Gottlieb & Carver, 1980).  In order to fit in, to not stand out and thereby

become a target of either ridicule or other negative attentions, people will in times of an

emergency fade into the background rather than step forward when there is a crowd of people to

watch.  Without the social pressure, imagined or not, present individuals will be far more likely to help those in need.  The need to be a part of society and not an individual is considered a more desirable state in such cases.

However, the bystander effect can harm those who fall prey to its habits as well.  The

effect that keeps people from helping others can also keep them from seeking out opportunities

and advantages in life if no one around them seeks the same thing.  For example, in an office

building if a single person believes they deserve a raise but no one else around them is receiving

one, they will likely not ask.  This is the bystander effect as well, conforming to the crowd rather

than daring to stand out and be noticed.

Deindividuation is the process by which self-awareness becomes less important in favor of blending into the crowd. Giving in to the will of society is much the same as it involves doing whatever is socially acceptable rather than what many would perceive as right.  In going with the flow so to speak the bystander effect is reinforced as a means of establishing the norm for society.  In adhering to deindividuation people find that they are better able to turn away and follow the crowd instead of their own conscience.

The bystander effect tends to enter many more life circumstances and affects many

people in different ways, be it work, relationships, or even how content they are with their lives.

In refusing to speak up for fear that society might find the individual odd, out of sorts, or

otherwise alienated in some way, many people simply go along with the will of the crowd.  In

this manner it is seen that the bystander effect swiftly begins to rule the lives of many

individuals, forcing them to keep quiet and go with the crowd rather than be noted as unique,

caring, and able to speak out or help those in need.  The bystander effect is among the deepest rooted psychological effects in history, and one that has been prevalent for a very long time.

Society and its many stigmas concerning the bystander effect have over time developed

into one of the many Catch-22 circumstances that exist in society today.  People are criticized for

not helping those in need, but are also singled out and even ridiculed for the same action in other

cases.  There is no way to eliminate the effect in a social situation, no matter that half of a given crowd will lean one way while the other half leans the other.  An individual is only safe when their own convictions are strong enough to withstand public scrutiny and their conscience firm enough that they refuse to watch another suffer.

The level of deindividuation that occurs in groups is easily countered by the single individual that seeks to help or speak out.  Once that individual escapes the mentality that someone else will take control of the situation, others tend to follow. Only those with absolutely no convictions or the mentality that prevents them from caring about another person will tend to remain stoic in their desire to remain on the sidelines.  Bit by bit this is how the bystander effect is eliminated and society is regained, though it is a hard and often temporary gain.

Most people when asked would claim that they wish to do the right thing, which in the

case of anyone in trouble would be to stop and help. But the question of how many would follow

up on their words depends largely upon how many people are present to take note of their actions

and perhaps comment upon them.  When smaller numbers are present it is more likely that

people will seek to care and invest at least a portion of their time into the individual that needs

help and to at least attempt to alleviate their situation. When larger crowds are present it is still

possible, but not as likely.  Unfortunately this behavior can often be found to harm the

bystanders as well as the victims who receive no help.

Self-awareness is one of the greatest tools to use against the bystander effect, as it enables

individuals to act on their conscience, not the will of the crowd. The public outcry for such

action in times of great need is often heard within the halls of society as a type of lip service to show that efforts are being made to bring society to greater awareness of the dangers that lie in inaction.  Unfortunately those who cry the loudest for a public reaction are often those who do the least, allowing their words to fade and virtually disappear once their listeners have departed.  Such individuals often pay such attention to the issues at hand in an attempt to gain the popularity of the crowd and little else, which only enables the bystander effect and continues its uncertain cycle.

The reaction of the public to the brutal slaying of Kitty Genovese and many others throughout history has been one of shock, outrage, and even a brief hint of actions to be taken in response to such actions.  But thanks to the bystander effect this action swiftly fades and becomes yet another person’s problem, returning to the norm through inaction and diffusion of responsibility.  The act of taking responsibility for one’s neighbors and their well-being is seen as a burden to many individuals, and one that many more are not willing to spend the extra energy to maintain.  Someone else will take care of those in need, or someone else must take the reins and push forward, that is the public attitude in regards to tragedy, hardship, and struggle.

It is abhorrent to think that the case of Kitty Genovese and many others could occur in plain sight, but it is a testament to humanity and their need to consider how they will look in front of others. That is the bystander effect on a grand scale.

Much of the bystander effect has to do with convenience and conformity that is so prevalent in society.  It is far easier to go along than push against in terms of society.  Unfortunately this enables one person to look to another, and those in turn to look to another to solve the problems of the world.  Despite the ease of such an action, looking away only worsens any situation.

References

Gottlieb, J. & Carver, C.S. (1980). Anticipation of future interaction and the bystander effect.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16(3): 253-260.

Manning, R.; Lavine, M. & Collins, A. (2007). The Kitty Genovese Murder and the Psychology

of Helping: The Parable of the 38 Witnesses. American Psychologist, 62(6): 555-562.

Advertising and Identity in Popular Culture

 

Advertisements are a definitive way to identify cultural norms and expectations in society in the modern day.  Through the use of color, gender identification, and other various methods that help to target certain audiences, ads can penetrate and suffuse the waking hours of individuals in a manner that normal word of mouth and exposure cannot. Even through flashes and glances in which an individual notices an ad their attention will be taken in by the colors, the efforts at emphasizing gender, and the manner of identifying with what society thinks is normal.  Advertisements lend an identity to society that otherwise would not exist.

Femininity within advertising is a huge and very obvious hook that shows up in many different venues, though the message is usually clear and to the point that women in society are not good enough as they are.  Only through purchase and/or use of these products that are being advertised will individuals, women in general, be able to reach their full feminine potential.  Through legitimizing myths that demand that society in general take note it is assumed that those who use such products to their maximum potential are deserving of their current status and prestige (Crymble, 2012).  Throughout the years advertisers have developed a very focused and driven campaign to not only target women, but to emphasize the view that their products are designed to enhance a woman’s feminine beauty and grace and thereby empower them to become happier and more fulfilled.

In both ads taken from the same magazine it is implied that women need to use the

products to stave off very real physical effects that require such beauty aids to alleviate.  Dry

skin, wrinkles, age spots, and other common skin maladies that are a result of aging and hard

living are considered by many in society to be unacceptable and even ugly.  In creating

advertisements that feature not only soothing and calming colors but also a very detailed

explanation of what the product can offer, the Neutrogena ad makes a ubiquitous promise that anyone using the product will experience a refreshing rejuvenation that will leave them feeling content and even revitalized.

With such ads it is necessary to understand how consumption can showcase gender, race, and even class subjectivities that are often used to maintain a patriarchal system that determines how gender is defined and thereby targeted (Sandlin & Maudlin, 2012).  It is possible to note that that consumption has historically the acts of such constructs as shopping and even consumption have been made to be female-dominated domains.  Through use of popular models, celebrity endorsements and other such methods advertisers have sought to reach women on a level that speaks to their role within society.  Displeasure, a need to belong, and even outright disgust concerning how women appear at times tends to drive the need for such advertisements and the products they seek to push upon women.

The effectiveness of these ads tend to be where they are seen and how often they are viewed. In magazines and on television the circulation is often great enough to achieve maximum exposure, though even on the sides of buses, upon the outer walls of buildings, and in other locations that experience high amounts of traffic it is evident how the push towards depicting women as consumers and shoppers has become the overall theme to advertising.  When the ad displays bright colors and appealing images it is likely to become even more popular and resonate with the general public. But when a well-known and respected celebrity is used to push the product that popularity helps to bolster both sales and the likelihood of repeat business.

This is the case of the second advertisement observed for the purpose of this report.  In

the copy one is able to see popular comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, an icon in

the business that has long been seen as a role model of sorts to women.  With her inclusion into the advertisement the company, Cover girl Olay, is able to reach a broader base of consumers, still women, who are thus better suited to relate to a woman such as DeGeneres.  The reasons being are that she is not a beauty queen, she is not a top model, nor is she considered beautiful by many traditional standards. Yet she is a Cover girl model by dint of being selected to represent the company in such a manner.

Furthermore the ad makes claims that it can reverse the aging process through application, virtually erasing wrinkles and age lines through its new formula that allows the makeup to blend and suspend, not sink into wrinkles.  In any case this supposed anti-aging ad is similar to the Neutrogena ad in that it makes bold claims that are supposedly substantiated by professionals and proven by the scientific process. Both claim to have the ability to refresh and revitalize aging skin, though each product goes about this in its own way.  Yet while the Neutrogena ad uses cool, refreshing color to signify its intended result, the Cover girl ad awash in shades of regal purple that speak of prestige and a vague hint at elitism.

The ideas of what it takes to be a real woman, a desirable woman, within society have

changed quite drastically since the advent of advertising, though between these two ads it is seen

that one of them is more inclusive when it comes to gender while the other is more specifically

driven towards female consumes.  The images conveyed within the ads are suggestive of the

validity of the products being sold, but through imagery and wording it is determined which one

are definitively feminine and which one could be for either gender.  The Neutrogena ad is

essentially neutral as it shows neither men nor women and could be utilized by either, while the

representation of Cover girl Ellen DeGeneres and the mere fact of the company name speaks to

women alone, telling them that their bodies and faces are not good enough has they are.  This in

turn offers up a conceptualized idea of what is desirable (Blair, 1994), all but demanding that women realize that the product will make them more socially acceptable to others.  It is a trap that many women, already lacking sufficient self-esteem, tend to fall into.

Considering that the selected ads are found in O, The Oprah Magazine, it is both a bit surprising in regards to one and completely acceptable to believe in the case of the other.  For Neutrogena it is easy to assume that such a magazine as O would promote such a product, if only for health reasons and not vanity.  In regards to the Cover girl ad it is a bit odd to think that a magazine that glorifies the empowerment of women and the acceptance of their own natural selves would promote a product that is in a sense claiming that women are not perfect as they are.  Yet it is not surprising given that the desired audience is women, and O is one of the perfect modes of exposure available.  The assumption would have to be that very few men read O, and as such it would be a perfect venue to advertise for women.

The contrast that exists between the ads and the magazine itself are not so obvious that they will be picked up on without pointing them out.  Considering the source of the magazine in which they are found both products are acceptable both in context and placement, but it is when one looks upon the fundamentals of which the namesake of the magazine operates that questions begin to arise.  Oprah Winfrey, a longtime talk show hostess, has for quite some time been an advocate for women and how they perceive themselves.  While on one hand she has been seen to declare that women are strong, powerful, and beautiful as they are, she also has no trouble promoting products that can help women to be even more beautiful and confident in their own bodies.  It is a mild contradiction of beliefs in all honesty, but one that has much larger ramifications to society as a whole.

Barring that, the messages given to society through the use of such advertisements varies

in relation to the individual viewing the piece, though there are a few common threads that can help to tie the overall emotions and reactions that are invoked upon viewing such ads.  For many it is indifference, and this includes largely the number of men and even children that read such magazines simply because there is nothing else to look at in that moment.  For others however the ads might only be interesting for a few moments but will carry a greater message that is relegated to long-term memory, allowing it to be retrieved at a later date when it is needed.  When looked at from an analytical perspective such ads are often meant to be seen and considered (Kang, 1997), but ultimately passed over in favor of the magazine content.

It is a tactic that many advertisers use, utilizing color, graphics, and other tools to capture the attention for a few breaths before the consumer moves on to the next object or line of script that grabs their attention.  This is the manner in which advertisers seek to plant the idea that life as people know it is not complete or as good as it could be without their products. In the case of the advertisements used the advertisers are stating that in order to look younger and more refreshed their products are necessary and can bring about the desired results that are described within the text.  What will not be said is that these products are not a necessity for life or peace of mind, as this would be contradictory to what they are attempting to relay to the consumer.  Advertising is another manner by which to increase a company’s profits, and a rather vital one at that considering the level of competition for consumers.

The identity that is granted to society by advertising is typically one that is highly superficial and unnecessary. However, it is more than the needs of the masses that advertisements satisfy.  In reminding society of what is acceptable and what is considered desirable, advertisements reaffirm the social identity that people work so hard to create.  Advertising lends aid to the given identity a society wishes to display.

References

Blair, K. (1994). Selling the self: Women and the feminine seduction of advertising. Women and

Language, 17(1): 20

Crymble, S. (2012). Contradiction Sells: Feminine Complexity and Gender Identity Dissonance

in Magazine Advertising. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 36(1): 62-84.

Kang, M.E. (1997). The portrayal of women’s images in magazine advertisements: Goffman’s

gender analysis revisited. Sex Roles, 37(11-12): 979-996.

Sandlin, J. & Maudlin, J. (2012).  Consuming pedagogies: Controlling images of women as

consumers in popular culture. Journal of Consumer Culture, 12(2): 175-194.

 

 

Teen Pregnancy and How it Affects Culture

 

A child having a child is the common expression that many would use when describing teen pregnancy. The effect of teenage pregnancy upon any culture is quite different in regards to how it is viewed and whether or not it is seen as a normal occurrence. In some cultures this would have been seen quite natural, though in many areas of the world this is no longer the case.  Since those times much change has come in the acceptance of teenage pregnancy and the risks that are associated with such a practice.  Teenage mothers are often more at risk of being ostracized in many cultures.

The reasons for this are plentiful but can be seen to come to several definitive conclusions that are decided by choice or by unfortunate circumstance.  The culture of many US citizens do not seek to glorify teenage pregnancy and will often lean towards far more negative outlooks in terms of how society views such young women.  Many will often claim that the young woman was being foolish and irresponsible to become pregnant at such a young age, or perhaps was the unfortunate victim of rape.  In any case the young woman is often looked at with some form of pity or disgust.  Very few pregnant teenagers ever find that their lives become easier when they are with child.

Unfortunately for a time the reality of teenage pregnancy became a trend in the USA, as

close to one hundred out of a thousand adolescent females had given birth to their first or second

child.  Since then the number has drastically reduced thankfully, but the fact remains that the

USA still has the largest number of teen pregnancies in all developed countries.  This is not a

boast that is proudly made, but rather an epidemic of sorts that is somehow glorified by the

media even as it is condemned by society in many regards.  Teenagers are often seen to suffer

through exceedingly hard times upon learning that they are pregnant, and should they go through

with the birth and keep the child, life only tends to get harder (Saha, 2016).

To start with the reality for teens that get pregnant at younger ages is that their bodies are not yet ready for what is to come.  Emotionally and physically a baby is a challenge as from early on the developing fetus relies heavily on its mother, who is in turn still in their own stages of development and not entirely prepared for what is to come.  Teen mothers often experience such conditions as anemia, in which there is a low count of red blood cells chiefly due to a lack of iron in the bloodstream. This condition can be quite costly for the mother as well as the child, and can even lead to premature birth or low birth weight, as well as serious developmental issues to the fetus.

Teen mothers also experience a greater risk of postpartum depression, twice that of mothers who are older and better equipped to deal with the rigors of pregnancy. This can pose a danger not only to the mother, but to the baby as well as thoughts that are not normal for the teen can begin to emerge as depression takes hold.  Emotional outbursts, bouts of uncontrollable crying, and even going for days without being able to speak to anyone are quite common symptoms that can occur.  While not every teen mother will have such problems, it is a risk that each and every teen runs when they become pregnant at younger ages, particularly younger than 15.

In addition to the physical risks of teen pregnancy are the effects it has upon society as

well.  Should the teen have no place to go after childbirth they will be forced to make a very difficult decision as to how to provide for themselves and the baby.  Adoption is one method that is recommended in such cases, but there is also the option of allowing parents or grandparents to raise the child, which in turn introduces another stressor to both the parents and the caretakers.  Many parents would gladly take in their children in such hard times, but having to raise another

child after raising their own often places undue stress upon parents and grandparents as it forces them to essentially start all over again with another child.

Added on to the problems listed above is the fact that many teenage mothers become far less likely to finish high school or move on to college (Loop, 2016).  When factored in with the statistics of how many teen fathers tend to leave their new families this becomes a serious matter by which a teenager mother becomes another burden upon society.  There are many programs and helpful aids that can assist a teenage mother, though without an education or set direction in life many adolescent mothers tend to stay at home long past the time when many individuals leave to start their own lives.

The future seems rather bleak for many teenage moms, but the problem has become manageable in the past several decades. There are now a vast number of individuals that are trained and experienced in helping adolescents who find themselves in such a predicament.  With advances in educating young women about the risks of pregnancy many teenage mothers are at least better able to reach out to someone if they are in need.  While society still has a dim view of teenage pregnancy (Chowdhury, 2012) it has at least evolved enough to make an attempt to solve the issue, not just condemn it.

Teenage pregnancy is a very high-risk situation, and is often looked down upon by

society as unnecessary as well as harmful to both mother and child.  In many cultures it is

considered to be grounds for being ostracized, but as of late such views have become more

adaptable.  The reasons behind a pregnancy have become more pertinent in the recent past, and

as such have heightened the awareness across the cultural spectrum as to the serious risk that

such a situation poses.  In light of this teenage pregnancy is still seen as taboo in many cultures,

but has garnered more support for the pregnant mother.

References

Chowdhury, A.R. (2012). Understand How Society and Teenage Pregnancy Affect Each Other.

Onlymyhealth. Retrieved from

http://www.onlymyhealth.com/society-teenage-pregnancy-1348141453

Loop, E. (2016). The Effect of Teenage on Society. eHow. Retrieved from

http://www.ehow.com/facts_6308598_effect-teenage-pregnancy-family.html

Saha, R. (2016). 11 Negative Side Effects of Teen Pregnancy on Society. Mom Junction.

Retrieved from

http://www.momjunction.com/articles/effects-of-teen-pregnancy-on-society_00384725/

 

Children with Type 1 Diabetes

 

Once known as juvenile diabetes, this condition is common amongst young children and adolescents.  The condition occurs when a child’s pancreas can no longer supply the insulin that a child requires to survive.  In such a situation the missing insulin must be replaced through other means.  Diabetes in children causes a monumental shift in lifestyle that must be constantly monitored.

Playing a very substantial role in the onset of diabetes, the pancreas, a large gland located behind the stomach, is responsible for releasing insulin that can help the body absorb simple sugars.  In a healthy body the pancreas will automatically release the needed insulin when the body requires it.  With diabetes type 1 though the pancreas does not produce the necessary insulin, which does not allow the glucose in the body to be processed.  Without the necessary transition into energy that the body needs to function, the glucose will remain in the bloodstream and eventually be passed through the body as urine.

The overall cause of diabetes is still an unknown, but what has been determined is that there is a genetic susceptibility that can be passed down from parent to child.  Just as with any hereditary gene, children are at risk for diabetes if there is a history of it in the family.  While it is still unknown what triggers diabetes, what is known is that the body’s immune system essentially turns on itself. This in turn causes diabetes to occur as the lack of insulin, which serves as a means of allowing glucose into the body.  When too much glucose remains in the bloodstream the body’s blood sugar levels begin to increase, which can lead to serious health risks.

The development of diabetes can take a substantial amount of  time, but the result is always the same. When there is an insufficient amount of insulin in the system the level of blood glucose will elevate rapidly. In such a situation symptoms such as dehydration, abdominal pain, weakness, blurred vision, nausea, reduced blood pressure, and even a dramatic change in body temperature can occur (Smith-Marsh, 2016). Such symptoms are quite serious once they occur, as they indicate the very real danger to a child’s health.  In such cases it is highly recommended that the child be admitted for observation and treatment.  After the onset of diabetes and subsequent acceptance of the condition comes the hardest part of the disease, which is living with it.

The costs of diabetes type 1 are often longer lasting and can impact families in many different ways (Zhou, Zhang, Barker, Albright, Thompson, Gregg, 2014).  Those children who are type 1 are often seen to miss a great deal of school and require a very large amount of in-home care.  Should the disease affect a toddler the care and monitoring of the condition would require a great deal more time and effort than might be needed for a school-age child.  The impact upon the family would begin with the medical costs and the need for one parent to remain home with the child if those children are not yet old enough to care for themselves.

Much of the cost though would be the initial bills and price of the needed materials to deal with the condition. Needles, insulin, and whatever other materials are needed all factor into the cost, as do the days off taken to deal with the condition and the time it takes to adapt to such a new and unexpected development. The ongoing costs eventually even out as parents and children come to better understand how to change their eating habits and how to monitor the child’s insulin intake.

It is highly recommended for families to change their eating habits when possible in order to better support children who have to worry about what foods they can eat and in what quantities.  Any foods high in carbohydrates are wise to leave alone or use sparingly.  Insulin shots can counter the intake of glucose and help the body remain at an even balance, but too many carbohydrates will pose a very serious health risk to children with diabetes.  While it not absolutely necessary to block out carbohydrates, it is important to find a healthy and sustainable balance.

The necessity of learning about the condition and how to keep it balanced is a must for parents with children that have diabetes type 1.  Despite the fact that toddlers must be constantly monitored and cared for, older children, around ages 5 and up, can possibly be taught how to monitor and aid in their own care.  The more educated a family becomes concerning diabetes and how it affects the body the more likely it is that both parents and children will be able to keep from any unwanted accidents.  Diabetes is a very serious condition, but when monitored and carefully controlled it can be manageable.

The upside of diabetes is that while it can be a highly debilitating condition it is manageable and does not stymie what children with type 1 can do. They can still lead fulfilling, active lives that are just as normal as anyone else.  The major adjustment that needs to be made is the checking of their blood glucose every so often, perhaps around 10 to 12 times a day depending upon what they eat, how active they are, and the timing of their meals. For many the math that needs to be considered during checks can be daunting, but is necessary to learn.

There are several types of insulin available to be considered, and all of them vary in how fast they will act within the body.  Rapid acting will take roughly 15 minutes and should be taken at the same time as a meal.  Regular acting insulin usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to react, and is typically taken 30 minutes before a meal.  Insulin that lasts for upwards of 10 to 16 hours is called intermediate-acting, and is used to simulate insulin that is commonly found in blood without a need for food.  This is a must have for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Long acting insulin is very similar to the intermediate type, and can last for around 20 to 24 hours. Many diabetics inject this type of insulin at least twice a day to keep their blood sugar regulated. The final type of insulin is a pre-mixed variety which combines two different types of insulin. This could be a fast-acting and intermediate insulin mixture that can help to regulate glucose levels during and between meals.  The dosage of insulin that a patient receives is usually determined by a doctor so as to prescribe the necessary amount.  Prescribing too much insulin

could be just as harmful as going without, as the glucose levels continue to rise until an

individual becomes hypoglycemic.

Injecting insulin can be tricky the first time, and needs to be done correctly.  There are a few methods by which to inject insulin, those being a syringe, a pen needle, and an insulin pump.  Which is used is dependent upon the preference of the user and, in the case of children, the parent or guardian.  In any case it is necessary for an adult to measure the doses and inject the insulin so as to avoid any costly mistakes.  While the proper dosage will be determined by a doctor, the effective dose will take a bit of trial and error to figure out.  For the benefit of both the child and the parent there are courses offered by hospitals and clinics that can display how to inject insulin and how to accurately measure the doses.

Each needle must be sterilized and used only once so as to avoid infection and disease.  A separate container needs to be used to dispose of the used needles as well, and it is wise to have cotton balls and rubbing alcohol on hand just in case.  Injection sites for diabetes type 1 are typically located on the abdomen, the thighs and/or buttocks, the back of the arm, and even the thighs.  It is important to note that injections delivered in the abdomen region are often the most fact-acting as the insulin is absorbed the quickest.

It is recommended to rotate injection sites so as to keep the absorption of the insulin

regular and as fast-acting as possible.  Repeated injections into the same site will cause the insulin to be absorbed slower with each use. The depth at which the insulin is injected is also key in how quickly and effectively it is absorbed.  Doctors often instruct users to place the needle just within the subcutaneous skin, the layer of fatty and connective tissue just beneath the outer layer of skin.

Even with the knowledge of how much and how to inject insulin it is still necessary to

watch what a diabetic ingests.  Caloric intake is not so much the issue as the amount of carbohydrates and starches that can cause the glucose levels to rise much quicker.  Foods that are high in protein, vegetables that are low in starch, and several other foods that are either low in sugars and fat or devoid of them are recommended for diabetics to eat.  There is nothing to state that diabetics cannot enjoy other foods, but they must always be aware of how much they are eating, especially when such foods are high in carbohydrates and starches.

Carb counting is of great importance to those with diabetes, as carbohydrates affect the body more than any other nutrient in terms of glucose levels.  Protein can be harmful if taken in greater amounts than the body needs, but is essentially safe. Fats are never recommended in any large quantity as they can block the digestion process, but in small quantities are quite harmless. Among all nutrients taken into the body a diabetic patient must watch carbohydrates the closest and monitor how much they are taking in.  While this is sometimes a tedious and bothersome process it is vital for the continuing health of an affected individual.

The reason behind why carb counting is so important is that it affects the dose of insulin that a child must be given.  There is no such thing as an insulin regimen that covers the entire spectrum of needs experienced by diabetics.  The plus side of counting carbohydrates is that much of the work is already done for the consumer.  Nutrition facts are present on nearly every packaged food sold in stores and can help by labeling the number of grams, serving sizes, and ingredients within a product.

This can help parents to better understand which foods are essentially safe and which need to be closely monitored.  According to many studies and a substantial amount of research it is advisable in any case to keep healthier and more nutritious foods on hand for children to snack on.  Foods that are balanced in protein, fats, and carbohydrates are commonly recommended to have available to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients throughout the day (Hess-Fischl, 2016). It is ill-advised to keep an abundance of sugary snacks in the house with a diabetic child, but a treat now and again will not be too harmful.

How people react to carbohydrates is another reason why their intake must be monitored.

Some individuals show almost no reaction, while others are incapable of processing such foods and must often stick to lean, low-sugar diets.  Carbohydrates are necessary to maintain balance in the body, but how they react to each individual is important to note so as to recognize which food groups an individual should avoid and which ones they can eat freely.  Many dieticians will devise a meal plan for their patients that allows them to pick and choose from food groups that are both healthy and beneficial to their condition.

What is most important to remember about diabetes, particularly in children, is that the condition is not as debilitating as popular opinion might state.  While diabetes is a serious condition thanks to the effect that it can have upon the body it is easy to regulate and requires changes that are highly beneficial to a child’s growth and development.  It does not signify that a child must live differently than anyone else.  Diabetics can live a healthy and normal life just like anyone else.

 

References

Hess-Fischl, A. MS, RD, BC-ADM, CDE. (2016). Meal Planning for Children with Type 1

Diabetes. Endocrine web.  Retrieved from

http://www.endocrineweb.com/guides/type-1-children/meal-planning-children-type-1-diabetes

Smith-Marsh, D.E. PharmD., CDE. (2016). Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms. Endocrine web.

Retrieved from

http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/type-1-diabetes-symptoms

Zhuo, X., et al. (2014). The Lifetime Cost of Diabetes and Its Implications for Diabetes

Prevention. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/9/2557

Mental Illness and Risks of Violence

 

It is widely believed that the mentally ill pose a very serious risk when it comes to being violent. Depictions in the media and various films have shown those with some form of mental illness showing a high propensity for violent acts when provoked. While there are mental ailments that can make the affected individuals lash out and harm others and their own selves, these instances are quite rare.  There is no definitive link between mental illness and violence.

There are severe cases in which those diagnosed with a mental illness can become quite violent in response to a stimulus that is considered to be threatening or otherwise unnerving. Too often it is seen in the media that the over-generalization of mental illness equates to those that are mentally ill or disturbed are prone to violent acts.  In truth there are conditions that, when experienced, can lead to violent acts, but are still not a definite precursor to violence. Schizophrenia, chronic depression and mania, and bipolar disorder have been seen to be the cause of violent acts (Arkowitz & Lilienfeld, 2011). There are usually triggers behind these acts however that precipitate the type of violence that is shown by the media.

Schizophrenia is a good example of how violence can be associated with mental illness. This particular malady is essentially seen as a break with reality, resulting in the separation of rationality between thoughts, emotions, and behavior. The affected individual will usually suffer a severe withdrawal from reality and even fail to see the difference between the real world and fantasy. As such their behaviors, speech, and actions might be construed as inappropriate and even antisocial by others.

In terms of becoming violent, schizophrenics are not only at higher risk to commit violent

acts, but they also experience an increased risk when it comes to being the victims of violent acts

(Hodges, 2008). The limits that this brain disorder can put upon the individual make it difficult if

not impossible for the affected person to function within society, making them far more likely to be passive or aggressive depending upon their reaction to their environment. Unfortunately the social stigma that labels schizophrenics as dangerous does nothing to help the issue. Instead the constant media exposure and public opinion tend to make matters worse as those that are diagnosed with this disorder are seen to be highly unpredictable and even dangerous.

The factors leading up to a violent act committed by a person with schizophrenia can include lack of sufficient social support, a history of substance abuse, and an exacerbation of symptoms that might otherwise be treatable. It has been seen that one of the biggest reasons for schizophrenia being considered a risk for aggressive acts is the failure to recognize and treat its symptoms (Pompili & Fiorillo, 2015). By ignoring the disorder those diagnosed with schizophrenia are placing themselves and others at risk thanks to their dissociation with reality. With proper treatment the risks that are inherent with the disorder can be treated, but never fully cured.

Another disorder that is prone to being linked with violence is bipolar disorder. This particular ailment is seen to occur as a result of trauma, depression, and even manic episodes. Much like schizophrenia it can cause a break with reality, creating a situation in which the individual that experiences these symptoms can become disoriented and quite unsure of their surroundings. Those that suffer from bipolar disorder will often feel high, euphoric moments during which they are exceptionally happy followed by an emotional crash that leaves them depressed and in some cases even suicidal. During these bouts it is typically seen that the individual is highly unstable and not fully aware of their surroundings or their circumstances.

Taking into consideration that bipolar disorder is often caused by some form of trauma

within the individual’s past it stands to reason that this trigger could be a tenuous link that could

precipitate a violent act.  Similar to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and the trauma that can lead to impulsive aggression due to the emergence of manic episodes (Lee, Galynker, Kopeykina, Kim, & Katun, 2014). Those that are diagnosed with this disorder are commonly seen as high risk when it comes to violent acts. The impulsive aggression they are seen to produce at times is typically in response to a perceived or real threat, forcing their minds to enact the appropriate reply to the situation.

One of the most distinctive symptoms of bipolar disorder, and one of the most dangerous, is that it can produce psychotic episodes. When left untreated, this condition can become extremely high risk for the individual and for others.  These psychotic episodes are known to occur only during manic and depressive states however, when the fight or flight response is strongest (. During these times it has been reported that individuals with bipolar disorder will typically experience hallucinations and even paranoid delusions that challenge their scope of reality. It is highly recommended that anyone experiencing such symptoms be taken immediately into treatment to avoid hurting themselves or anyone else.

One of the most negative aspects of mental illness is not the simple fact that individuals do in fact suffer from the symptoms, but that their conditions are often blown completely out of proportion.  Many films, television shows, commercials, and other forms of media have pushed a mythical look at mental instability that is simply not true.  While certain aspects of the mental illnesses that do exist have been portrayed accurately and with some respect, others have been depicted in a far more negative light so as to entertain the masses. It is important for the general public to realize that the depiction of such mental disorders as a stereotype is a negative experience for those suffering from such disorders and those that do not fully understand them.

Much like the effect that “Jaws” had upon the average tourist looking for a good time at

the local beach, movies such as “A Beautiful Mind” and “Michael Clayton” showcase their respective disorders and even go so far as to show the most negative aspects. They show that those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are often impulsive and hard to predict.  This tends to lead people to think that those with such disorders are insane, unhinged, and even dangerous thanks to their unpredictable nature. That in turn fuels the need to believe that those with such disorders can be unaccountably dangerous if left to their own devices.

When taken in historical context it is not difficult to take note of how differences in what is considered normal life can be construed as unnerving and even terrifying in some regards. With what is now known about the human mind and how it operates there is still widespread paranoia and stereotypical data that is spread concerning the mentally ill and much of this has to do with how they are portrayed. The shock value that is centered upon the worst case scenarios creates huge media buzz concerning mental disorders. Unfortunately this focuses largely on the problem and the most negative aspects without showing how, or even if, the disorders can be managed.

Violence is not the only possible outcome of mental disorders and the undue stress they can cause the individual and those around them.  There is a possibility that such ailments can be treated and kept under control.  While treatment is sometimes uncertain it is still an effort that is required to keep those with such disorders calm and reasonably safe from causing harm or being harmed.  Simply having schizophrenia or bipolar disorder places the individual at a high risk for violence, but it does not openly invite the possibility.

The many myths that stain the reputation of those with mental disorders are often used in

entertainment. Many viewers stare in rapt attention as they show the representation of such

mental disorders on the big screen or on the television while concrete ideas begin to formulate in

their minds concerning just how real what they are seeing might be. The average perception of those with mental disorders is that they do not tend to get better without serious intervention or even incarceration.  What many do not understand is that it is possible for those with such disorders to live reasonably normal lives.

Another myth that is easily refuted is that medication or intensive therapy is the only

available avenues for those afflicted with such disorders. In truth there is no one measure to be

taken by those that have one or more disorders. Their condition is not bound to disappear or even

get better if given a miracle pill or by being shipped to a therapist for treatment. There is more to such disorders than most people understand, as biology, environment, and genetics all have a part in what happens to the individual (Tartakovsky, 2017) .

Treatment does exist for individuals that are diagnosed with mental disorders. In the case of those that have gone untreated and committed violent acts the initial outcry from the public tends to lean towards incarceration and even harsher punishments.  While individuals that suffer from mental disorders do know right from wrong during their more lucid moments, this sense of reasoning tends to fade and even disappear during the manic episodes they experience.  Punishing an individual that is genuinely afflicted with a mental disorder is akin to punishing a child that has no real concept of what they are doing.  With treatment it is possible to quell and even reduce such manic episodes.

What type of treatment an individual receives is highly dependent upon their condition

and their attitude towards the treatment that is prescribed. Those that do not believe they have a

problem might require more convincing in order for the treatment to be effective. In some

extreme cases when the individual has in fact become violent a judge can issue a court order

compelling the individual to either enter treatment or face incarceration. This is a very touchy

subject, but it is typically made to insure the safety of the individual and those that the person might interact with.  Typically a mentally ill person convicted of a violent crime will either be hospitalized before being sentenced to prison.

Treatment will begin during the individual’s hospitalization, and can be administered in many different ways. Medication is among the first methods used to calm the individual and either stop or lessen their manic episodes. It must always be taken into consideration how medications will interact with the individual’s unique body chemistry and if they will be as effective as they need to be. Doctors must always take into account that different medications will not work the same way for each individual, which makes medication a viable option but not an overall solution. Unfortunately when one considers the biology and genetics aspect of mental disorders, medication becomes quite necessary.

Other options include therapy, support groups, and even in some cases relocation.  Environment has a great deal to do with the cause of manic episodes and depression that can lead to violence. It stands to reason that therapy, along with medication, exists as one of the best methods of treating mental disorders. By speaking to counselors, peers, and even family and friends that have been through such ordeals, the individual can come to understand how to best counter the symptoms of their disorders.

The common myth of mental disorders causing violent acts is one that has for many years been depicted as an epidemic that does exist, but is not as serious as the general public has been led to believe. Those with mental disorders are not violent as a rule.  Their unpredictability is due more to the environment in which they find themselves and the situations that can occur. Like anyone else however, a mentally ill individual does possess the fight or flight response. They are just as likely to avoid a conflict as they are to cause one, much like anyone else.

References

Arkowitz, H. & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2011). Deranged and Dangerous: When Do the Emotionally

Disturbed Resort to Violence? Scientific American. Retrieved from

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deranged-and-dangerous/

Fast, J.A. (2015). Three Bipolar Disorder Symptoms No One Wants to Talk About. BP

Magazine. Retrieved from

http://www.bphope.com/blog/three-bipolar-disorder-symptoms-no-one-wants-to-talk-about/

Hodges, S. (2008). Violent behaviour among people with schizophrenia: a framework for

investigations of causes, and effective treatment, and prevention. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363, 2505-2518.

DOI:  10.1098/rstb.2008.0034

Lee, A.M.R. MD, et al. (2014). Violence in Bipolar Disorder. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/bipolar-disorder/violence-bipolar-disorder/page/0/1

Pompili, M. MD, PhD & Fiorillo, A. MD, PhD. (2015). Aggression and Impulsivity in

Schizophrenia. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/schizophrenia/aggression-and-impulsivity-schizophrenia

Tartakovsky, M. MS (2017). Media’s Damaging Depiction of Mental Illness. PsychCentral.

Retrieved from

https://psychcentral.com/lib/medias-damaging-depictions-of-mental-illness/

 

Creationism: Christianity vs. Mythology

 

Many people want to believe that life has meaning beyond what can be experienced through the physical senses that are a part of normal, everyday life.  The idea that a higher power is responsible for everything from the most mundane aspects of life to the most mysterious is a driving belief that has created many a tale regarding how life on earth began and how it has continued.  Since the dawn of mankind there has been a stoic and sometimes necessary belief that there is in fact a higher power that causes the world to turn, the sun to rise and set, and everything else to happen in its own turn.  Since the first belief system was created however there has been much debate over what religion is accurate and which is just fanciful storytelling.  Religion has introduced a belief system that has almost eradicated mythology.

In the old days of Greece and Rome, worship to gods such as Zeus, Poseidon, and even Hades were seen as prudent to stave off such natural events as droughts, storms, and even illness.  The practices was a hit and miss prospect as the worship of the gods would normally resort to praise for good fortune and the belief that the gods were angry if life took a turn for the worse. If a farmer wished for a bountiful harvest then tribute would be paid to Demeter. If the harvest turned out to be good, then the gods were pleased and all was well. This type of worship was very one-sided and was often less favorable to those giving tribute and worship.

When it comes to creationism, many religions, particularly Greek mythology and

Christianity, differ quite a bit in their explanations of how the world came to be.  Greek mythology places a great amount of emphasis on Gaea, the earth mother, and the children that she spawns with Uranus, her child as well as her husband.  It seems awkward to say the least, but also quite confusing seeing as how Gaea and Uranus, being mother and son, then give birth to twelve Titans, who are the predecessors of the divine pantheon that came to be so revered.  As confusing as Greek mythology can be it becomes greatly simplified when Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades are said to ally to confront and bring about the downfall of their father, Cronus.

However, it begs explanation as to what other offspring might have appeared from the other Titans and how they too affected the Greek pantheon.  There is no doubt that creationism when depicted by Greek mythology is highly detailed and even mind-boggling when considering how many figures are present at the beginning.  Despite this however it is far more forthcoming in its complexity and full cast of characters than other religions.  When compared to Christianity for instance, Greek mythology seems far more explanatory.

The gods are humanized to such a degree that they are given human attributes, characteristics, and even emotions that despite often being based upon vanity and a sense of ultimate superiority, are still capable of making them vulnerable. Comparing the Greek pantheon to that of Christianity is rather difficult seeing as how the theological belief of Christianity places its stock in one supreme being above all.  The God of Christian lore is responsible for every last creation within the universe, from the smallest atom to the grandest design.  There is no one human aspect of God within Christianity, only representatives that are bound to do His will. Also,  the Christian God is continually addressed as He, whereas in Greek mythology the role of men and women are still separate, but are given far more representation.

Christianity would have one believe that God is the ageless, sexless, and unknown force

behind all creation and the world as it exists today.  Greek mythology narrows each aspect of nature down further by granting either male or feminine control over each facet of the known world.  In the Christian version of creation, Adam and Eve become the first true dichotomy as created by God’s hands, whereas in Greek mythology that dichotomy is not only pointed out early on, it remains constant throughout much of its long and complicated history. The belief in a higher power is evident for both creationist theories, but it is from that point that each system of beliefs diverge.

The ethos of each belief system does include some overlap here and there, but the general direction of the stories that drive the stories behind each system differ quite a bit.  For instance, there is a story of the first woman in Greek mythology, just as there is in Christianity. However, in Christianity, Adam was first, and from his body was made the form of Eve.  Pandora, the first human woman in Greek mythology, was born much in the same manner of Adam, but there is no telling of her coming from the body of another.  Instead, she was created and given a special urn, or box, depending on the telling, that she was to never open.  Chaffey (2015) contends that this equates with the tree of knowledge that Eve was said to have eaten from, thereby ushering such evils as death, pain, corruption, and other ills into a world that did not know of them to begin with.

This would cause a great deal of speculation as to the role of women in Christianity as

well as Greek mythology.  Women, for all their virtue and grace within both systems of belief,

seem often to be the cause of much more subtle but also very catastrophic consequences based

upon much simpler actions. Men in each belief system are often seen to war and openly clash

with one another, while women tend to work behind the scenes, manipulating and pulling

metaphorical strings to get what they desire.  Several legends depict such actions, and there are

more than a few that are prime examples of the vast differences between men and women in each belief system.

Creationism is defined as the overall belief that the known universe and everything within it originates from very specific acts of divine creation. These beliefs are propagated by the stories and tales of those belief systems that have taken to explaining the reason and purpose behind existence through their own established accounts. Creationism eschews the belief that evolution had anything to do with the process of how life began. It insists that a divine being, seemingly without any discernible or realistic origin, was responsible for the emergence of the current system that exists.

While many still argue over the truth behind scientific fact and the need to believe in the divine, but as Wolper (2011) points out, both Christianity and Greek mythology have long since become far more open and accepted the hard, concrete facts that state that creationism is not entirely responsible for life on this world. While the beliefs are still just as strong today as ever, they have given way to the more reasonable and rational ideas of how life has come to evolve and change throughout time, allowing their own beliefs to accept the truth of the physical world in a way that allows for a much better integration of ideas. Both belief systems still differ greatly in their explanation of how life came to be, but the rise of Christianity has become the dominant belief throughout the world.  Greek mythology has become, for lack a better explanation, a pleasing story to tell the masses.

The draw of Christianity, or rather, one among the many, is that it is far more simplistic

to simply believe in a higher power and trust that He is watching over His children.  Christianity

is made up of its own complexities, including rituals and systems of worship that can be quite

confusing, but despite its many denominations its core belief is quite clear and can be cited by

most anyone who has ever attended a Sunday school class.  The simple words that underlie the religion say it best.  As it states in the Holy Bible (2010) “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth…” There is no other way that is needed to define or even state the existence of belief in this religion, as the opening line lays it out plain and clear for those who wish to believe.

As is stated in “The Creation Myth” (2009), the idea of creationism in Greek mythology is quite a bit more complicated and begins with a much more manic idea that chaos was how the world was begun. While many could not hope to argue that life is in a way very chaotic, the idea of creationism taking place in such a manner evokes a continual struggle that is met only by the emergence of Night, which is essentially the void where all things go to die.  The outlook of creationism in Greek mythology is rather bleak until Love is somehow born, at which point the struggle only intensifies as the more humanistic aspect of creation becomes the driving focus behind the gods’ ambitions and desires. In short, creationism in the Greek sense is more of a reflection of human traits and desires than it is the unknown and otherwise mysterious force that Christianity would have others believe.

Despite the emergence and eventual takeover of Christianity, the fact remains that the

creationist myths still collide every now and again to explain away the reasoning behind why the world is the way it is.  Solid facts and reasonable logic tend to explain the reality of how the world works and why certain things occur when they do, but the faithful tend to believe that the root cause of everything lies within the faith they adhere to so strongly.  There is nothing to say that this is wrong, as miraculous occurrences happen frequently enough to maintain the faith. In terms of creationism however, the mystery that both religions claim to be the beginnings of the world tend to leave out a great amount of detail and fill in the gaps with belief

and faith that is not always rooted in agreeable, scientific fact.

Works Cited

Chaffey, Tim. “Giant Speculations: The Bible and Greek Mythology.” Creation Today,

http://creationtoday.org/giant-speculations-the-bible-and-greek-mythology/. Accessed 19 Nov. 2016.

“The Creation Myth: How it All Began.” Igreekmythology.com,

http://www.igreekmythology.com/creation-myth.html. Accessed 24 Nov. 2016.

The Holy Bible, King James Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing. 2010. Print.

Wolper, David L. “Genesis and Science: More Aligned Than You Think?” The Huffington Post,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-wolper/genesis-and-science_b_500201.html. Accessed 24 Nov. 2016.

Creationism: Christianity vs. Mythology

 

Many people want to believe that life has meaning beyond what can be experienced through the physical senses that are a part of normal, everyday life.  The idea that a higher power is responsible for everything from the most mundane aspects of life to the most mysterious is a driving belief that has created many a tale regarding how life on earth began and how it has continued.  Since the dawn of mankind there has been a stoic and sometimes necessary belief that there is in fact a higher power that causes the world to turn, the sun to rise and set, and everything else to happen in its own turn.  Since the first belief system was created however there has been much debate over what religion is accurate and which is just fanciful storytelling.  Religion has introduced a belief system that has almost eradicated mythology.

In the old days of Greece and Rome, worship to gods such as Zeus, Poseidon, and even Hades were seen as prudent to stave off such natural events as droughts, storms, and even illness.  The practices was a hit and miss prospect as the worship of the gods would normally resort to praise for good fortune and the belief that the gods were angry if life took a turn for the worse. If a farmer wished for a bountiful harvest then tribute would be paid to Demeter. If the harvest turned out to be good, then the gods were pleased and all was well. This type of worship was very one-sided and was often less favorable to those giving tribute and worship.

When it comes to creationism, many religions, particularly Greek mythology and

Christianity, differ quite a bit in their explanations of how the world came to be.  Greek mythology places a great amount of emphasis on Gaea, the earth mother, and the children that she spawns with Uranus, her child as well as her husband.  It seems awkward to say the least, but also quite confusing seeing as how Gaea and Uranus, being mother and son, then give birth to twelve Titans, who are the predecessors of the divine pantheon that came to be so revered.  As confusing as Greek mythology can be it becomes greatly simplified when Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades are said to ally to confront and bring about the downfall of their father, Cronus.

However, it begs explanation as to what other offspring might have appeared from the other Titans and how they too affected the Greek pantheon.  There is no doubt that creationism when depicted by Greek mythology is highly detailed and even mind-boggling when considering how many figures are present at the beginning.  Despite this however it is far more forthcoming in its complexity and full cast of characters than other religions.  When compared to Christianity for instance, Greek mythology seems far more explanatory.

The gods are humanized to such a degree that they are given human attributes, characteristics, and even emotions that despite often being based upon vanity and a sense of ultimate superiority, are still capable of making them vulnerable. Comparing the Greek pantheon to that of Christianity is rather difficult seeing as how the theological belief of Christianity places its stock in one supreme being above all.  The God of Christian lore is responsible for every last creation within the universe, from the smallest atom to the grandest design.  There is no one human aspect of God within Christianity, only representatives that are bound to do His will. Also,  the Christian God is continually addressed as He, whereas in Greek mythology the role of men and women are still separate, but are given far more representation.

Christianity would have one believe that God is the ageless, sexless, and unknown force

behind all creation and the world as it exists today.  Greek mythology narrows each aspect of nature down further by granting either male or feminine control over each facet of the known world.  In the Christian version of creation, Adam and Eve become the first true dichotomy as created by God’s hands, whereas in Greek mythology that dichotomy is not only pointed out early on, it remains constant throughout much of its long and complicated history. The belief in a higher power is evident for both creationist theories, but it is from that point that each system of beliefs diverge.

The ethos of each belief system does include some overlap here and there, but the general direction of the stories that drive the stories behind each system differ quite a bit.  For instance, there is a story of the first woman in Greek mythology, just as there is in Christianity. However, in Christianity, Adam was first, and from his body was made the form of Eve.  Pandora, the first human woman in Greek mythology, was born much in the same manner of Adam, but there is no telling of her coming from the body of another.  Instead, she was created and given a special urn, or box, depending on the telling, that she was to never open.  Chaffey (2015) contends that this equates with the tree of knowledge that Eve was said to have eaten from, thereby ushering such evils as death, pain, corruption, and other ills into a world that did not know of them to begin with.

This would cause a great deal of speculation as to the role of women in Christianity as

well as Greek mythology.  Women, for all their virtue and grace within both systems of belief,

seem often to be the cause of much more subtle but also very catastrophic consequences based

upon much simpler actions. Men in each belief system are often seen to war and openly clash

with one another, while women tend to work behind the scenes, manipulating and pulling

metaphorical strings to get what they desire.  Several legends depict such actions, and there are

more than a few that are prime examples of the vast differences between men and women in each belief system.

Creationism is defined as the overall belief that the known universe and everything within it originates from very specific acts of divine creation. These beliefs are propagated by the stories and tales of those belief systems that have taken to explaining the reason and purpose behind existence through their own established accounts. Creationism eschews the belief that evolution had anything to do with the process of how life began. It insists that a divine being, seemingly without any discernible or realistic origin, was responsible for the emergence of the current system that exists.

While many still argue over the truth behind scientific fact and the need to believe in the divine, but as Wolper (2011) points out, both Christianity and Greek mythology have long since become far more open and accepted the hard, concrete facts that state that creationism is not entirely responsible for life on this world. While the beliefs are still just as strong today as ever, they have given way to the more reasonable and rational ideas of how life has come to evolve and change throughout time, allowing their own beliefs to accept the truth of the physical world in a way that allows for a much better integration of ideas. Both belief systems still differ greatly in their explanation of how life came to be, but the rise of Christianity has become the dominant belief throughout the world.  Greek mythology has become, for lack a better explanation, a pleasing story to tell the masses.

The draw of Christianity, or rather, one among the many, is that it is far more simplistic

to simply believe in a higher power and trust that He is watching over His children.  Christianity

is made up of its own complexities, including rituals and systems of worship that can be quite

confusing, but despite its many denominations its core belief is quite clear and can be cited by

most anyone who has ever attended a Sunday school class.  The simple words that underlie the religion say it best.  As it states in the Holy Bible (2010) “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth…” There is no other way that is needed to define or even state the existence of belief in this religion, as the opening line lays it out plain and clear for those who wish to believe.

As is stated in “The Creation Myth” (2009), the idea of creationism in Greek mythology is quite a bit more complicated and begins with a much more manic idea that chaos was how the world was begun. While many could not hope to argue that life is in a way very chaotic, the idea of creationism taking place in such a manner evokes a continual struggle that is met only by the emergence of Night, which is essentially the void where all things go to die.  The outlook of creationism in Greek mythology is rather bleak until Love is somehow born, at which point the struggle only intensifies as the more humanistic aspect of creation becomes the driving focus behind the gods’ ambitions and desires. In short, creationism in the Greek sense is more of a reflection of human traits and desires than it is the unknown and otherwise mysterious force that Christianity would have others believe.

Despite the emergence and eventual takeover of Christianity, the fact remains that the

creationist myths still collide every now and again to explain away the reasoning behind why the world is the way it is.  Solid facts and reasonable logic tend to explain the reality of how the world works and why certain things occur when they do, but the faithful tend to believe that the root cause of everything lies within the faith they adhere to so strongly.  There is nothing to say that this is wrong, as miraculous occurrences happen frequently enough to maintain the faith. In terms of creationism however, the mystery that both religions claim to be the beginnings of the world tend to leave out a great amount of detail and fill in the gaps with belief

and faith that is not always rooted in agreeable, scientific fact.

Works Cited

Chaffey, Tim. “Giant Speculations: The Bible and Greek Mythology.” Creation Today,

http://creationtoday.org/giant-speculations-the-bible-and-greek-mythology/. Accessed 19 Nov. 2016.

“The Creation Myth: How it All Began.” Igreekmythology.com,

http://www.igreekmythology.com/creation-myth.html. Accessed 24 Nov. 2016.

The Holy Bible, King James Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing. 2010. Print.

Wolper, David L. “Genesis and Science: More Aligned Than You Think?” The Huffington Post,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-wolper/genesis-and-science_b_500201.html. Accessed 24 Nov. 2016.

Boy & Girl Toys

 

Gender is a very differentiating factor when it comes to many aspects of life.  What people learn from their earliest years often serves to reinforce certain gender norms that have existed for many generations. Girls and women are expected to fulfill a certain niche in society, and so are boys and men. This type of gender socialization is instituted at a very young age and tends to inform society that this is what is expected.  Boys and girls are taught to embrace societal roles with toys that are designed for each specific gender.

The thought that kids are being essentially brainwashed to think one way or another is not too far off the mark. Society has practiced this type of social stratification for many generations, clinging to a faded and somewhat outdated patriarchy that continues to hold sway over much of the world. There have been recent developments in years that have led to a slight lessening of the average patriarchal society, but persistence of such a system continues to spread its influence over the lives of many, including children. Simply walking down a toy aisle can grant one the belief that sexism is still alive and well within the world.

The bright and shiny toys that are placed upon the shelves of most retail stores that carry

such items will differentiate “boy toys” from “girl toys”, only integrating those items that are

typically seen as universal between the two genders.  Toys that are designed for girls will often

focus more upon care work or housekeeping. On the opposite side, toys designed for boys will

feature more blue collar-oriented themes that feed into the old stereotypes. In other words, boys

should learn skills to provide and support a family later in life while girls should learn how to tend to the home and the children.  Despite the progression of the modern era the old stereotypes are still being pushed upon children.

It has been seen in the recent past that boys and girls enjoy a much wider spectrum of play. However, toy manufacturers and the retail stores they sell to still cling to the masculine and feminine aspects that continue to divide men and women, or boys and girls in this matter. The following toys make a valid case that boys and girls can enjoy many of the same toys, while others seemed specifically designed for one gender or the other.

The first toy to be described is a child’s workbench. This item features various tools and a design suited more to the type of male, blue collar worker that many young boys are expected to become in their adult years. It is seen in some cases to be gender neutral, but when photographed always features a boy to give the belief that it is a “boy” toy.  This is the ideal that many young boys seem to aspire to and enjoy during their play.  While many toys seem to inspire blue collar attitudes, many more have begun to emerge as white collar work and its allure becomes more prevalent in childhood play.

Next is a pleasing kitchen set that is decorated in soft colors that denotes its more

feminine appearance. This is a throwback to the generations in which a woman was expected to

be the dutiful housewife and enjoy her place as the housekeeper, the mother, and the wife. While

it is not indicative of current generations; this toy is very much geared towards the interests of

young girls thanks to its colors and design. Such a toy is considered less gender neutral thanks to

its colors, which are far lighter than the child’s workbench, which features darker and more

masculine hues.

A toy cash register such as the one shown might have been deemed more appropriate for

a girl at one point and time.  However as times have changed such a toy is considered to be truly

gender neutral as men and women alike have taken up the role of cashier and as such are

required to learn how to operate such a machine. By marketing this kind of toy manufacturers are

at the very least recognizing the need to unify boys and girls in their level of play and learning

opportunities. Toys that attract boys and girls in the same manner are better able to offer a

chance at equality and a sense of fairness in gender that might otherwise be lacking.

Toys are used to teach more than a future vocation however, as many toys are designed

with gender-specific ideas that feed into the stereotypes that surround each gender. As an example, the toy sword that is a common item within any toy aisle.  The appearance of such an item often brings to mind scenes of aggression and struggle during which such an implement is useful. This is a stereotypical masculine quality that is designed to teach young boys to be tough, brave, and offers them a chance to show their more aggressive tendencies. From the color to the construction this toy says “boy”, further confirming the fact that within society and relationships, boys are supposed to be the aggressive protector.

Quite the opposite of this stereotype, the next toy featured for girls is that of a tea party set. It is elegant, colorful, and non-threatening, much as many within society would wish to see young girls emulate as they grow into young ladies. This is another extreme stereotype that paints girls as those that are far more refined and even more delicate than their male counterparts. In fact it even perpetuates the beauty myth that females are bound by, insinuating that women must be proper, ladylike, and always polished in look as well as character. This might seem stretched in regards to the myth, but the mere fact that toys are labeled as “boys” and “girls” furthers agenda of toymakers to instill very stereotypical values within society from a very young age.

The last toy to be presented is another kitchen, but one that is far more gender neutral

than those used to attract the attention of little girls. This deluxe kitchen is quite expansive and

features more neutral and even masculine colors that can be easily accepted by either gender.

While play kitchens are often marketed more to girls with softer colors and a slightly different

design, the more modern toy kitchens are being redesigned to appeal to both genders. The simplicity and style caters to both boys and girls grants a type of unity that has become a norm when looking at many play sets.

Gender norms exist in part to separate men and women in regards to their sexual orientation and specific needs.  Regarding society, gender norms were to recognize and even adjust for the disparity between men and women in regards to the workplace and how each gender related to one another.  People came to accept these norms, which resulted in the current dilemma of the modern age. The separation of the genders is still necessary in regards to physiology, but this is where the differences between genders end.

Children in the modern age are more likely to see their level of play as a pleasant and inclusive time in their lives. It is by the efforts of their parents or guardians that they learn to apply gender-specific attitudes and behaviors to their play. In order to inspire children of both genders to achieve their goals it is necessary to allow each child to make their own choice when deciding which toy to play with. The psychological and behavioral attitudes of boys and girls are more positive when they are allowed the choice to play with those toys that please them the most.

Society attempts to indoctrinate children through play. In this manner kids are taught how to behave and what is expected of them. Play is meant to be a learning method for children. Instead it has become a way to maintain the status quo in terms of gender stratification.

To Be Human

 

Society is a magic trick, and civilization an illusion that is born from the belief it stems in human kind.  The real nature of humanity is not in the gatherings, nor the seeming solidarity that comes from human beings wishing to band together. All is essentially necessity for safety, and rarely is a true bond that can hold together against any threat.  Humanity is by its own nature a fragmented, imperfect race, and destined to create what it will eventually destroy so that it might create again.  There is no ultimate truth to being human other than to exist.

Expounding on this, humanity is a race that exists within a complex network of simplicities.  Among all the creatures that walk the world upon which humanity resides, human beings are the only ones that seek to contemplate their own existence in such abstract matters, proving the presence of higher thought that is at times rather self-defeating as well as quite grandiose.  The true roots of humanity have long ago been all but forgotten and left to fade in the collective memory of the species, an ancient and forgotten history that humans seek to move beyond.  Whether humans are a product of mechanism or mentalism is always a debate, meaning that the species is either bound by the workings of the flesh or the mind.  Many would prefer to think of being bound by both sides of the argument, as physical, living beings that are capable of higher reasoning and self-realization that is far greater than any other creature alive.  Yet for all the intelligence of the human race it is seen continually that as a people humans so often forget that they share the same humble origins as any other organism.

No creature that has ever drawn breath is a simple product of mechanism, as all creatures are greater in some regard than the sum of their physical parts. Humanity is not different in this regard, but has taken to thinking otherwise. The ability to rationalize, to reason, and to promote higher thinking has often blinded humanity to the truth of their nature.  In truth humanity is at times no better than the simpler, more savage beasts that share the same world.  The difference in this is that those beasts of the field, sky, and water do not make the pretense at being anything other than what they are.  This is the hubris of humanity, that its members would cloak themselves in imagined ideals such as civility and rationality.

So then what is it to be human? Countless philosophical debates have been held to determine what makes up the essence of humanity and where the origins of homo sapiens define the race as a whole. To date many think they have the answer yet few have truly ever brought a definitive idea to the table that is embraced by the many.  That is among the essence of humanity, the diversity that is brought forth by differing factors that help to determine how each individual will choose to live their life.  Humanity is not a boxed commodity, it is not an easily explained mass of mechanics and theoretical thought processes that can be easily classified and placed into any category.  To be human is to be different, to challenge the norms, to conform to what is desirable and leave the rest, to be as difficult as possible in a simplistic way.  There is no one set way to be human, only the certainty that humanity is and most likely always will be a quandary to themselves.

There are many qualities that make us human, both physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  In the physical sense we are bound by the sensations we perceive with our five senses, and if believed, the ubiquitous sixth.  Perhaps one of the greatest quotes ever that covers this particular niche is spoken by actor Matt Doran during the movie The Matrix, when, as the

character named Mouse, he tells the main character, “To deny our own impulses is to deny what makes us human.” (The Matrix, 1999).   Not only is this a very underrated sentiment, it is in effect a driving part of the movie and a very important aspect of humanity.  As humans are bound to the flesh and bone forms they are given, this firmly cements at least one very important meaning to being human.

When considering the physical aspects the original thesis stand firm: being human is to exist.  The physical nature of the race demands the simple, basic need to prove such a theory, as most organisms will do whatever it takes to survive. Humans are no different in that basic need, but have throughout history attempted to divine the how and the why of their existence, seeking deeper meaning hidden within and without their own experience.  This search has gone on for thousands of years, eliciting an untold number of explanations, theological, psychological, and even spiritual debates as to origin, reasons for being on this world, and where the race might have truly come from.

It is perhaps the ego, rather than the id, that drives such beliefs and insists that humanity and all it means to be human is rooted in something far grander and more mysterious than the physical realm to which the species is bound.  Among all creatures,  the ego is nowhere near as strong nor as intricately developed as in humans. This is both beneficial as well as detrimental in that it can inspire humanity to great heights of wonder and impressive display. But it can have the opposite result as well, as ego can just as easily tear down what it creates.  The balance between the ego and the id is a tenuous one that humanity very often seeks but too often misses.

Flashes of humanity’s vast and ever-reaching ego can be seen not only in the physical world where the species asserts so much dominance, but in the many workings that are created by human imagination, human hands, and human beliefs.  Perhaps one of the greatest

expressions of humanity can be seen within the annals of film, book, and audio recordings that bombard billions of individuals every day.  Were it not for the entertainment of the masses and the absolute need for humans to express themselves, the identity of the species might have a very different look to this day.

Alluding to the opening statement, the essence of humanity as caught in film is such that “Flesh is a trap, and magic sets us free.” (Lord of Illusions, 1995). There is no tangible connection as of yet to the spiritual side of mankind and the flesh that houses it, only the theory that it is an extension of sorts born of the ego, an erstwhile imagining that is otherwise bound by the chemical and physical responses in the human brain.  If this is truth, then mankind is indeed trapped within the body, and the “magic” that binds us is no more than a genetically diverse network of physical connections that grant the illusion of something else, something more than what we can so plainly see.

There are so many beliefs, so many quotes, and so many ideals containing the ideals of what it means to be human that one might as well try to count the stars rather than list them all.  Yet for all that human kind is bound by the physical form in which they are born, there is undoubtedly a variance within the essence of humanity that is not so easily explained by either mechanism or mentalist ideals.  The ego and the id are observable facets of humanity that, while still not concrete ideals, offer a more down to earth and easily measured sense of humanity’s more realistic and therefore more rational definition.  In divorcing imagination from the process of defining humanity it becomes far easier to define the species.

At the core, the most basic and fundamental of needs, desires, and innate habits and instinctive behaviors, humanity is in truth not so far above other creatures found within nature.  Unfortunately, at times humanity is also far less evolved than other creatures, as among so many

humans are the only species that seeks to war with their own kind over matters that are not as valuable as resources and territory. Animals such as wolves, hunting cats, and many other similar creatures will vie with one another for territory and food, but will otherwise leave each other alone if not openly provoked.  It is rare to see an animal in nature take up a vendetta with another creature simply out of spite, and even more rare to see entire species take after one another for anything other than their biological needs. This is where humans differ, and this is where the species falls short.

To be human is not only the physical and mental aspects of the race. Being human also has come to mean, sadly, that the ego often superseded the id, and allows others to make poor judgments based upon factors that have little if anything to do with the survival of the species.  At one time mankind was no different than their fellow animals, and would fight for their place in this world and the food in their bellies. But when the rise of civilization came, so too did the rise of the human ego, and the need to find answers beyond the mere act of existing.  With the rise of deities, religion, and other such ideals that stem from the ego came the need to defend those ideals, the desire to see those beliefs carried on and adopted by others. And thus did humanity go to war with itself not for food, or for land, but for ideals that did not feed the starving, nor shelter the homeless and poor.  On top of all else, being human has become the illusion that an ideal is more important than life itself.

Not only are war and religion reflections of humanity’s desperate need to search for more beyond the basic needs of the species, but so too does technology act as a means of idealizing what is beyond  the necessities of being classified as human.  Human beings’ ability to dream, to look beyond what is known, is remarkable in that unlike other creatures it allows humans to think about the “what if” and not just the “what is”.  In this regard it is easy to see just how the

ego has allowed the indulgence of the imagination to shape and mold the human world in the image it has taken today.  A great many facets of human life have arisen from needs that are far from basic, but are instead a part of the ethereal ego and the many machinations that have been fabricated by the melding between mankind’s ego and the mechanist mindset that is never far from the species despite the fact that it is, at times, taken for granted.

In fact not all acts and products of greatness are entirely possible by the reaching and positive climb of the ego.  In some cases, the essence of humanity is the need to excel because of fear.  To better explain the following passage from the story titled Imposter by Phillip K. Dick is a rather poignant reminder of what drives humanity at times to excel and to create more imaginative and creative methods by which to insure that the way of life that has been devised will continue.  The passage goes, “Perhaps at some other time, when there was no war, men might not act this way, hurrying an individual to his death because they were afraid.” (Dick, 1953). Fear is as strong a motivator as hope, love, and all other emotions that can influence the ego and therefore the machinations of mankind.  It is perhaps at times even stronger than love, or hope, creating a desperation that is hard to ignore and easy to embrace as the only true hope.

There is a great deal to being human, and it is nothing that can be easily observed or measured within the confines of a lab, unless those who are seeking the ever-elusive meaning of humanity and its driving force are content to seek only the biochemical and otherwise physical answers.  In the case of mankind being walking meat machines supported by a calcified skeletal structure, there is no doubt humanity’s inherent corporeal form or reality.  Once the discussion of what it means to be human enters the realm of what cannot be seen, there is little truth to hold onto and much conjecture to be had.  The magic trick begins in earnest the moment the human mind is cracked open like a prize to be discovered and sifted through, as through the mechanist

view much can be seen that serves as cause and effect. But when it comes to irrational behaviors, uncontrolled and unforeseen reactions, there is still much to be learned.

Much like a cartographer mapping the high seas neuroscience seeks to map out the essence of humanity by filling in the darker corners of the mental map to see what might lurk within the unknown regions.  It is an attempt to divine what it is that truly sets us apart from the animals of the fields, and why humans are considered special in any way.  Thus far the search has turned up a great deal of theory and hypothesis, and even some immutable truths, but it has yet to truly find that one undefined key that will lead to absolute revelation.  The mystery is not enough for some, as they seek the wires behind the grand design, the end to the smoke and mirrors that is mankind’s ultimate trick.  Human beings are meant to exist for a reason, yet despite many being offered as theory, no single one has been universally accepted by all.

There is no real mystery to humanity.  At its core human kind is composed of a vast array of checks and balances that are set by both the body and mind to insure that survival from day to day is a goal that remains constant.  No one organism will seek its own demise other than mankind, which argues that survival instincts are not the first priority of all humans, and thus begs the question as to why.  That is where the mystery begins, though even this can at times be explained, the trick behind the unknown discovered and dissected so as to make it a known commodity rather than allow it to remain a mystery. Being human is a fine trick to be played on humanity, but in turn the species has learned how to look past the tricks to the gritty truth.

Being human is to exist, not just to survive.  It is a state of being that has been foisted upon the human race for reasons that have yet to be fully understood.  What is true is that the human race is here, and biologically has been tasked to survive, to thrive, and to push forward.  Theologically, spiritually, and existentially, it’s still a magic trick, and one of the grandest of all.

Works Cited

Dick, Philip K. “Imposter.” Astounding Science Fiction  June 1953. Print.

Lord of Illusions. Dir. Barker, Clive. Perf. Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Conner, and Joseph

Latimore. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1995. DVD.

The Matrix. Dir. Wachowski. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie Fisher, and Hugo

Weaving. Warner Bros., 1999. DVD.