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Human Dignity

 

All things fall apart. Time is one of the few remaining equalizers amongst the world; as it breaks down even the strongest of materials, returning them one piece at time to the state from which they began, wearing and eroding them with the aid of the world it governs in such a way that eventually only the most basic materials remain. Humanity is no different, and in some ways is no better than the world upon which the species resides.  The only remaining boon left to humanity is the dignity to know when to die, and to die well.  Humans are not meant to last past their natural cycle of which the species is a part.

There are objections to this belief of course, as there will always be more than one side to any given issue.  To some aging is akin to a disease, as is death, and it is hubris that allows these attitudes to persist, as well as other various, more personal reasons that may or may not affect the  beliefs that strengthen such a course.  Extending the life of a human being is at this point possible only for short bursts, and is not yet an actual scientific fact beyond the few years that are granted.  Immortality, or something akin to it, is still beyond the grasp of modern science, at least for now.

The question of what one would do if allowed to live “forever” is one that many have pondered throughout the ages, and a question that few have ever given a definitive and realistic answer to.  This then begs the question of why so many people cannot hope to answer such a simple question, and an answer that is widely viewed by many as the wisest and most conservative reply.  Humans were not meant to live forever, therefore the simple idea of living past the normal lifespan is one that many cannot fully grasp.  To be born, live, and eventually die is what humans look at as a normal life.  Immortality, a trait best left to legends and myths, is not

yet a question that any would dare ask, or even contemplate for very long.

Added to that is the question of availability and affordability.  Given the state of medical expenses in this day and age, who is to say what living forever might actually cost? What might the procedures, measures, or other various methods used to prolong the life of a human being go for?  There is little doubt that such costs might at first be astronomical, as any new cutting edge technology is highly dependent upon supply and demand just as it is upon approval.  To think that those who are able to pay for their continued longevity is a slight to human dignity in that it simply repeats the same overall statement that many would argue today: the rich count and the poor do not.

Were such technology to exist it would be highly debated as to who received a chance to live a longer, more full life.  So many people are taken “before their time” that it stands to reason that overreaching the issue at hand would soon enough become a commonplace occurrence.  Longer lives would lead to the justification that the life was not long enough, that not enough was accomplished, and perhaps even that continued longevity would soon enough go to the highest bidder rather than the most deserving of such a dubious gift.  In other words, the supposed prize of long life is more akin to a delicious-looking fruit that is pure poison within, just waiting to eat away at those who consume it until all that was once good and reasonable fades away.

That is of course over-simplifying the issue.  Not only would measures need to be taken to insure that longer lives were the result of such technology, but it would need to become a choice as well as a legally mandated option to lengthen the life of another. The question of how many who are in the twilight of their lives might wish for several more years or simply go on their way to their natural end would become a hotly debated issue, as would the arguments

concerning those who could benefit from such a “cure” to the “disease” that old age is described as being. Many still believe that the act of living and dying is a natural human trait, and one that is better left alone than manipulated.  It is a natural course of humanity, a failsafe built into the species to prevent not only overcrowding and even a depletion of resources, but to preserve the dignity of the species.

Human mortality is an important part of the species, a sometimes unfortunate aspect of life that is especially built in for many reasons that have been discussed in countless theological and philosophical discussions. Sonnets, epic poems, literature, films, and songs have been written about this subject, touching upon the idea of being immortal both in a metaphorical and literal sense.  Yet few have ever really touched upon the issues at hand that come with such inherent longevity, the hidden and expressly unrenowned fact of having to watch those who will not drink from the fountain of eternal youth pass on, as many would still choose to live a mortal life and forego the chance to see another century, or even millennia come about.

A lifetime of memory and more, a chance to see what might become of the world in the coming centuries, and of course, the chance to do it all over again, and again, and again.  It seems too good to be true, and is a very arguable point, but it is also not meant to be.   There might be those that would claim that immortality is essentially a way to keep our brightest and best around for far longer to do much, much more than they might have had to accomplish.  But the flip side of this is that perhaps they’d done all they could do, perhaps they were done, and had prepared to move on towards the end.  What then if those same individuals were allowed to continue living? Is there anything to say that they would have gone on to bigger and better things, to enrich the world anew?  This is a debate for a different time, but one that can be used to draw several telling conclusions to the same tale.

Something else to consider are the attitudes of those who have already passed on and what they brought to the world.  Would those who were born in a bygone age, if still alive, have changed their ways and their attitudes in accordance with the changing times? This is a question that cannot be rightly answered, but given the social changes that have occurred throughout the past several decades it is reasonable enough to believe that those who caused such change in the world might very well have continued to do so and in the process have created a very different landscape than that which exists now.  Had figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or even John Lennon been alive now, there is little to say that their actions and beliefs would not have affected the world as it currently stands.

This continues on to the speculation of how well the human mind and body continues to function after a certain age.  Time takes many things as it continues to roll on, stripping everything it can from the world in an attempt to keep the entirety of reality moving along in order to renew, reuse, and possibly recycle, but what it takes from human beings is something that cannot be replaced, and something that even immortality could not hope to fully restore.  Human beings eventually grow old, and in doing so begin to lose control of faculties that in youth are typically quite sharp and agile, but in the golden years and beyond can begin to slip and even fade away entirely.  Immortality at such a point might be a wonder to extend the lifespan, but without the mental or physical faculties that allow one to truly enjoy the life they wish for, the prospect of living forever is quite dim.

Human beings are often portrayed in fantasy movies featuring immortal races as short-lived and even pathetic at times. But there are also those films that tell of the fleeting lives of humans and how they are far more beautiful, more meaningful, because the human race has such limited time upon this world in which to accomplish so much. That is what makes the race of

mankind so valuable, that the struggles that are faced and overcome are done so in what amounts to less than the blink of an eye in the cosmic sense.  Immortality is lackadaisical, it allows for time to do most anything, and thus there is no hurry to enjoy each breath, to strive for goals that might take years, and to do something significant that might be remembered.  Mortality remains the great motivator.

A flame that burns for too long begins to burn out, just as a human that lives forever, or for longer than is due a human lifetime, becomes stale, stagnant, and without purpose.

Given a thousand years many individuals would likely agree that eventually there would be little left to do, little left to experience that had not been seen or done already. This is a highly

subjective argument of course, but one that is still in large part related to the dignity of humanity.  Flames that burn the brightest tend to burn the quickest, as is the case with human beings, who are upon the earth for decades and perhaps even a century in the case of some, but an insignificant amount of time to the life of a world.  Yet for all that, the mark that humanity seeks to leave upon the world is one that is far more endearing when it is realized that it has taken generations to leave behind such a legacy, countless mortal lives to make a lasting impression that will span across the ages.

Yet another implication lies with the application to law, one that is not often considered but is an interesting sidebar regardless. Considering that immortality could very well be a reality for which humanity now strives, consider the fact that those who attain such a thing are human beings just like anyone, and can get in trouble just as easily.  What then if an inmate who has received this miracle of longevity is locked away, living off of countless generations of taxpayers if given a life sentence without parole? It is a far reach from the truth, but one aspect that is not often considered.

Crime itself would likely change as those looking at sentences that are not for life would see it as a mere pittance when considering how long they will live regardless.  Violent offenders would likely continue to act as they already do, but without any real fear of incarceration as has been experienced in the past.  Without the need to worry about dying in one’s sleep it is likely that fear of a violent death would become far more prevalent given that immortality offers none of the quiet, dignified passing that might otherwise be experienced as a mortal.  If an individual is not killed by another, they will likely not survive whatever natural calamities that are repeatedly voiced by experts from year to year.  Immortality is simply mortality without the natural presence of death near its end, and does not assure immunity to harm.

Nearly every facet of humanity would find the need to change in the face of immortality and its real-life applications, not the least of which would be the laws that govern the land.  The act of living forever would change the entire landscape of humanity, forcing new laws to be set into effect, old laws to be rewritten and reviewed, and new precedents to be set in accordance with the new advancement of humanity.  This in turn would also bring forth more and more debate about the inherent nature of immortality, how it is a crime against God, religion, and mankind’s continued hubris in action.  There would be protests likely, and religious figures and their detractors would raise large campaigns against one another to either justify or vilify the act of becoming immortal.

Also, taking into account the fact of immortality, the workforce would change

significantly, as without the need to worry over dying for so long it would almost

eliminate retirement needs, thereby insuring that workers who did manage to obtain this

“cure” would in their current position for a much longer time.  There would be no hurry

to advance, nor would there be any real motivation left to finally reach the fabled golden

years in order to enjoy what remains of a person’s life.  The mere fact that one could live

forever is a damaging attitude that could very well destroy the whole of humanity, forcing the entire race to re-evaluate its worth and how it might be divided into different classes yet again.

The issue of immortality and the process of aging are matters of which humans have debated over for decades, and have fantasized over for much, much longer. To live forever, or to live for extended periods of time that are unparalleled in human history, are enticing questions that researchers and scientists alike would desire to hypothesize and run extensive tests to finally reach a conclusion.  Yet for all that, the dignity of human kind is rarely given any more than a passing glance, a mere pittance in the face of what should and should not be done.  There is value in the preservation of life, and of prolonging the lives of those who might actually make a difference to humanity. But the cost of such a thing might very well be the sense of humanity that has been cultivated over untold generations.

To some the idea of humanity is an ethereal and uncertain thing, as it is not easily measured and is far more intrinsic to the species.  Many would see it as more of a philosophical aspect of a species that considers itself greater than the sum of their parts, and thereby a fantastical theory that carries little to no real weight in the scientific fields that might seek to apply very real formulas and ideas towards the acquisition of eternal life.  If such a thing is true then the act of morality and the knowledge of right and wrong are reduced to little more than action and consequence without the knowledge of why it should or should not be done.

If there is no morality there is no dignity, and if there is no dignity in life then there is biological anarchy.  In such a world the rich would live forever and the poor would die in droves, thereby creating new lines between social classes.  In this world it is likely that human life would come to mean very little. With their knowledge of the mortal state humans retain their dignity.

Bullying

 

A very serious problem exists in society that is given only token attention at times, and is a serious detriment to the development of children and adolescents.  Taking many forms, the act of intimidation known as bullying is an epidemic that takes place worldwide, but is particularly virulent in America, where the numbers of those bullied have risen greatly in the past decades.  New forms of bullying have developed as well, giving a new rise to the problem and demanding new methods of prevention.  Bullying is a continually evolving problem that must be met with new and innovative methods to protect the victims and understand the antagonists.

The definition of a bully is one who seeks to find gratification through use of force and/or intimidation against another person.  While the literal definition is easily understood, the semantics of the word bully, or bullying, requires much more insight and critical thought.  There are many different forms of bullying, and not all of those involve the same type of intimidation.  The moral implications of bullying are clear for many, as there have been campaigns in the recent past that have been designed to encourage others to put a stop to bullying in all its forms.  Bullying is an immoral practice based upon the acts that must be taken to fulfill the needs of the bully.

A great many people have been bullied throughout history, as it has become thought of as a natural part of life.  As in life the schoolyard bully is often seen as just another niche to be filled, more often than not by the biggest and the strongest child present.  This over-generalization is interesting but non-conclusive as it can be easily stated that not all bigger children are bullies, just as all smaller children are not weak and incapable of defending themselves.  There are times when the smaller children are in fact the bullies because of other reasons than their strength.

The act of bullying does not require physical strength, but such a quality is typically shown by those who have the least empathy towards their classmates, and the highest propensity for violence. For such individuals the intimidation and harm towards others is a means to an end, a necessary action to get what they want. The act of bullying is the problem to be sorted out and eventually resolved, but the reason behind the bullying is what needs to be addressed and figured out. If one can understand why a person feels the need to bully others then they can attempt to find a means to correct or even abolish that behavior.

As has been noted historically and through various studies, many who begin to bully others a children are those who are lacking attention at home from a parent.  Or there might be a role model at home who is a bully, in which case the child will seek to take after that person.  In any case, the model for bullying is a call for attention. The fact that bullies seek attention if a very antisocial and sometimes harmful manner is regrettable, but it is generally explained by whatever environment they happen to come from.

For instance if a child comes from a household in which they are virtually ignored or neglected in any manner one of likely outcomes is that they will become a bully to seek attention. This is a very antisocial method to obtain attention. Without anyone to guide a child’s development and teach them what is acceptable behavior and what is not the chances that a child will seek to initiate contact in an inappropriate manner are quite high. This is due to the fact that without any parental guidance they have no real basis on how to react around others.

Bullies can also model themselves after those they witness and observe, such as parents,

relatives, siblings, or others they come in contact with constantly.  At certain developmental

stages in a child’s life there are periods of time during which the child seeks to model their

behavior after others. What this means is that if a child sees an adult bullying others they will

likely feel that this is the social norm and will act accordingly.  Mimicking another person is a

very normal developmental stage in childhood, and as such it is important for parents and others to present a suitable model for their children to follow.

The fostering of good communication and social skills can go a long way towards

preventing the act of bullying. Talking with children helps to give them an outlet through which

they can vent frustrations, convey their needs, and in general find a comforting listener that will

help them better understand what they are feeling.  When children are left with no one to relate

or even talk to they are essentially being left alone to rationalize the world around them with the few tools they already have.  In this manner many kids will attempt to interact with their world through trial and error, and will seize upon any method that gains them the most attention.  In the case of a bully, negative attention is sometimes the only attention that is understood.

The attention given a bully, no matter what type of attention it is, stands as the reward, or gratification, that is expected upon the use of intimidation tactics.  Such behavior isn’t limited to children but can also be attributed to adolescents and adults as well.  In the later years this development tends to come when a person is not given proper guidance as a child and continues to act according to how they feel is right or at least by the only effective method they know. A bully is typically attempting to fill a gap in their own developmentally-flawed ego that wasn’t nurtured or otherwise directed in a positive and self-sustaining manner early on. This means essentially that they will continue their behavior until they find something that gives them the self-satisfaction they crave, if only for a little while.

Ironically the bully is typically the one who is really suffering.  As various studies have

shown those who engage in bullying behavior are far more likely to engage in aggression-related

acts, experience depression, problems with their health, and mental instability (O’Brien, 2011).

While it is very necessary to provide a safe and health-conscious environment for students, workers, and anyone that deals with the issue of bullying, it is too often that many people come to think that the matter is the responsibility of someone else.  For those who are bullied at work it becomes the problem of management and those higher up who run whatever establishment is experiencing the problem. In school it is typically the teachers, principal, even the superintendent if it must be taken that far.  The real issue is hardly ever addressed until it is too late and counseling is the first step to take before preventative measures are initiated.

There are ways to prevent bullying, but they require diligence and patience.  Communication between students and teachers and children and their parents are key in a school setting. A teacher must use their position as a means to better serve their students, not pass judgment on them when they are found to be in the wrong. Instead of punishing bullies, first it needs to be understood why they are acting out in such a manner. It is no different between a parent and a child, as they too must come to an understanding of what is expected and what is appropriate versus what is not.  In the workplace setting the act of bullying is just as disruptive as it in the schoolyard, though with different implications.

Bullying between adults is in some ways very similar to bullying between children.  While the overall use of intimidation is still very present, the idea that a grown adult should need to use such tactics to reach any type of gratification tends to appear self-defeating.  Bullies in the workplace often employ different types of intimidation and coercion to get their way, far less physical but no less dire for those who are being forced against their will to accede.  On the schoolyard it is typically known that the bully will threaten physical violence to get what they want, but in the workplace, where such tactics can carry more dire implications, other methods are used.

Despite not being a topic of concern, bullying amongst adults is a problem that does persist in the workplace.  Anything from physicality to looming to even being a secondary bully are methods used by those in the workplace to attain self-gratification or to simply avoid being the target of another bully.  Becoming a secondary bully is just this, joining in the degradation of another to avoid being a the next victim.  While such individuals might have a greater moral compass than the actual bully, they are still more concerned about self-preservation than anything or anyone else.

It is often hard to identify with a bully rather than stand against them.  This is true of many who have been in some way victimized by a bully at some point in their lives. Popular media has even touched upon this fact several times throughout the last few decades, bringing to light the issue of bullying and its adverse effects.  Film, television, even outreach programs held by various organizations and sponsored by many more have managed to highlight the problem while attempting to find solutions that benefit the victims and the aggressor.

In addition to modeling themselves after parents or otherwise negative role models, the media is also seen as a part of the problem at times. Popular culture at this time is rife with violence, sexual content, and other such negative images that are seen as entertainment. When such images are viewed by children without any necessary filter to explain what is right and what is not, the outcome can often be that they will model their behavior by what works in the world of fantasy.  Considering that even superhero movies and cartoons feature violence as a necessary act in the face of trouble there is ample room to deduce that negative emotions and neglect at home are not the only contributors to bullying.  This argument is not as touched upon as others, but the media is in fact a means by which young children learn their habits, for good or ill.

To state that the media is entirely responsible for bullying is an over-generalization and a

dismissal of parental responsibility.  Though it is involved, the role of the parent and/or guardian

is to insure that their children do not model themselves after negative stereotypes. While it is easy to say, the process of parenting is much more difficult when it comes to monitoring what children watch and what they see in the media.  A parent is the first teacher a child will ever know, and as such carries the responsibility of instructing that child what is right and what is wrong from a socially responsible standpoint.  Protecting a child from all media influences in this day and age is virtually impossible, but monitoring their input and how they process such images is well within the capability of most parents.

Parenting in relation to bullying is also a problem to be noted, though in more ways than one.  While neglect and the overbearing presence of a parent can be a very real issue to the development of a child, the absence of a parent can be as well.  With the advent of the working mother and the very real problem of single parents attempting to work, feed, and house their children, the very likely possibility of becoming an absentee parent has risen. This in turn causes children to feel both neglected and even abandoned at times. Regardless of the fact that the parent is attempting to do what they can for their children, the single parent often finds that they are either physically or emotionally absent from their child’s life.  This in turn can cause depression, anger, resentment, and in turn can lead to antisocial behaviors.

Lack of parenting coupled with the effects that the media can have upon a child’s

development leave no doubt that bullying can in fact be caused by a child’s interpretation of how

to get what they desire, attention.  Without a parent at home or at least available after work to

spend time with them or otherwise guide their decisions and how they look at the world, children

are left with nothing more than their instincts on how to react to the world.  An important part of

any child’s life is to learn how to interact with others, and in lieu of a parent, there are programs

that exist and are oriented to giving children what they need such as attention, respect, and an environment in which they can experience positive growth.

A persistent problem that plagues both victims and bullies alike is not fitting into a particular crowd or even into a selected environment.  People move from one home to the next, a family is split apart because of divorce, or something else just as equally catastrophic happens.  In each case the damage done to the psyche of a child is hard to imagine, and in becoming disconnected from the world they thought was constant and permanent, children can often lash out and alienate those around them in an attempt to make sense of their lives. This in turn can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and a sense that they no longer belong anywhere.  That in turn can lead to anger over a situation they cannot control, and thereby they begin to lash out in an attempt to make sense of their world, to gain some sense of where they belong.

There are programs that have been built to care for children that are experiencing such emotional hardships in their lives, and not just as victims.  Those who play the role of the bully must be understood and care for as well, or the cycle will only continue. In environments that each developed program offers, there is no room for judgment, nor is there any need to feel the sense of not belonging, as each person is treated in a fair and respected manner.  The development of each individual is carefully monitored and nurtured during their time in the program, and each person is given the confidence they need to move on when it is time.  In this manner anti-bullying programs are a necessity that exists to prevent the continuation of the problem.

That tends to leave the only real type of bullying that is almost impossible to eradicate

and is seen to cause the greatest amount of depression in the latest generation of children, cyber

bullying.  Based entirely online, cyber bullying is essentially the harassment and continued

degradation of an individual through the use of social media, which allows a bully to remain largely anonymous and able to wound a person with words and through ruining their reputation.  While it stands to reason that this type of bullying is not as physically intrusive, it still causes a great deal of distress to many who have endured it.  While it would be reasonable to think that ignoring the problem would give it less authority over an individual’s life, the truth is that cyber bullying is in fact a real and very serious problem.

There are steps to be taken in any form of bullying, but for the matter of cyber-based bullying there are other matters to take into account. While several of those are similar to the act of regular bullying, it is also important to note that cyber bullying requires taking steps to monitor what a child is doing online, how they are spending their time, and what programs they are accessing. Also to avoid any further incidents it is important to note all incidents of cyber bullying and report them to the administrator of the online site that is being used by the bully in question.  Other steps are just as important but translate to real world bullying as well, including a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, and of course being involved in all facets of a child’s learning (Pappas, 2015).  The simple act of being there for a child, to guide and direct their behavior in the desired direction, is often enough to prevent bullying. Online or in real life if a child feels secure, safe, and sure of themselves they will seldom if ever become bullies.

The very real problem of bullying is not always as simple as it is described. The issue carries with it several different layers of understanding that need to be carefully examined and dissected so as to truly realize the overlying problem.  In order to deal with the issue the programs that have been developed need to continue and spread the idea that bullying is not acceptable, nor is it an acceptable solution to one’s problems.  In dealing with the root of the problem society is at the very least making an attempt to prevent bullying altogether.

Works Cited

O’Brien, Anne. “Bullying Prevention: 5 Tips for Teachers, Principals, and Parents.” Edutopia,

George Lucas Education Foundation. 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

Pappas, Stephanie. “Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression.” Scientific

America, Nature America, Inc. 23 June 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Child Development: Affects of Community and Family

 

Life is not fair.  As simple as this four word epithet seems it is a glaring truth no matter how petulant it might seem.  It is a condition that is forced upon each and every sentient being in this world, and one that many upon many have learned how to live with. Upon becoming adults and having to push through one day after the next people have already begun to understand that for change to happen it must not only come through their efforts, but also through the eyes and actions of the following generation.  Emotions ranging from expectation to fear to a never ending hope for the future begin to coalesce and spiral about as people begin to understand that they are bound by nothing, and therefore are capable of most anything. How children view the world around them is important as to how they will shape their environment as they grow.  Where a child grows is not as important as how they grow.

As it is explained in the series “Class Matters”, the factors that make up an individual’s supposed class are education, income, wealth, and occupation (The New York Times, 2005).  Each one of these factors do not make up a definitive and well-identified formula for success, but rather indicate what is seen as valued traits in the pursuit of what is dubbed the American Dream.  Through the acquisition of one factor comes another and so on and so forth. More or less, these factors provide a roadmap for future generations to follow when attempting to discover what they can accomplish.  They are in effect a set of uncertain directions that are quite conditional in appearance, but carry consequences and rewards that become concrete only through their acquisition.

There is no one set formula for life, as the many variables and unseen pitfalls and

blessings that exist are based upon the environment and conditions under which a child is

born and raised.  Yet for all that is given children require more than a simple guide to life to succeed.  Through one developmental milestone after another children require a guide through the uncertainty that life brings, and a helping hand to navigate the more perilous pathways. The environment is not the child, though without guidance in some form the child soon becomes a product of their environment.

This is the beginning of a culture clash as children who have and children who have not

are affected throughout their developmental stages by differing accounts and experiences that are

essentially the same but seen through different eyes and different social filters that allow one child to excel while another loses hope. The division of class begins early on through either guidance or neglect, only one of which is inherently negative.  Through learned behavior handed down from one generation to the next children continue to come full circle as they are taught the reason for such a division and the meaning that lies behind it.  This cycle that begins in childhood is one that has played out for a great many generations, and is without a doubt one of the greatest stumbling blocks of humanity.

Cultures, and people, learn in their younger, formative years to hate, to love, and to

experience a wide range of emotions based upon what they see, hear, and experience as children.

How their parents or guardians interact with the world paints a picture of what is acceptable,

what is normal, and what is therefore how they are expected to act. While a small number of

children might go against what their parents wish, a great majority will seek to emulate their

elders and take up their attitudes and beliefs. It is the set of behaviors and attitudes that are

shown to be normal for a culture or society that are what eventually imprint upon a child, though

there are aberrations to the rule.  The teaching of children to maintain a society however is quite

normal, and quite historical in nature.  This is a very old practice and one that is comfortable for

many cultures.

As a prime example, as written by Anne Fadiman in her book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall down, the Hmong family who sought to cure their daughter and the physicians that made the attempt could not come to an agreement upon what was to be done, and tragedy occurred. The child, Lia Lee, suffered a severe epileptic fit that the family believed was to be the result of her soul fleeing in terror from her body, but was in actuality a victim of a severe culture clash in which her family, being largely clannish and not in tune with the modern world, could not bring themselves to simply trust in the physicians and their practices (Fadiman, 2012).  What could not be accepted by clan beliefs was ultimately what took Lia from her family and was unfortunately preventable. The culture clash that resulted in this horrible tragedy is only a small part of the issue that humanity deals with in regard to cultural differences. In this manner the child suffered horribly until the end because of a simple misunderstanding between cultures.

This is a rather common occurrence between cultures that do not understand one another, and a situation that can escalate quickly.  Unfortunately those who suffer the worst are those who do not know or fully understand the differences that keep people apart. Children know little to nothing other than what they experience and learn from their elders. They are innocents that are at the mercy of those who believe that they are acting in their best interests, and therefore make such decisions for them. It is because of this that they must be shown guidance, patience, and instructed upon how the world works, not just their own personal sphere of existence, but those of others as well.  What can be taught to a child is limitless in scope when it is taught by those who care for them.  What is taught to a child when they are allowed to become a product of their environment however is limited only to the scope that they understand.  How a child is raised will determine their course, and in so doing will eventually determine their place.

References

Fadiman, Anne. (2013). The Spirit Chases You and You Fall Down. New York, NY: Farrar,

Strauss, Giroux.

The New York Times. (2005). Class Matters. New York, NY: Times Books.

 

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.

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.

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/