Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Socially Influenced Groups; A Sad State of Affairs: Gang Rapes

Socially Influenced Groups - Gang Rapes;
A Sad State of Affairs
by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

I  share this article that I wrote for my psychology class.  It's far from being happy, positive, and upbeat.  However, I want to raise some awareness and some insight.  Observing many Facebook comments and posts, I've noticed we are all guilty of burying our heads in positive psychology.  The West, especially, is well known for the "be happy and everything will be fine mentality."  As a result, though, we absorb ourselves in the self forgetting about the other corners on this planet.  We - the West - are so individualistic, we separate ourselves from the entire world.  Is it protection or just plain old self-absorption?  When many of us see a post that is subject to some tears shed or some anger stirred, we blind-fully close our eyes and make the conscious choice to pass over it.  We all do this from time-to-time.  For sure, I understand, that we don't want to be bogged down with heavy 'stuff' on a daily basis.  Nonetheless, there is such a gap between the West and other countries, that it almost raises bile in the back of my throat.  So read if you choose.  Click the X if not.  No matter what, these horrendous acts will still be alive and vivid in the eyes of the victims.  The brief write is about our socially influenced attributions, attitudes, and the groups we share.  Facebook being one of them, though, to a degree far less from what I am about to speak of.  My intention for this post is to raise awareness on the power of groups and conformity.  We all do it, no matter what.  However, to what degree are you?  Closing our eyes to these atrocities is a choice.  This topic is from the early 70's; however, they are still happening in this present day - here and in the East.  What's really sad is that some countries glorify what happened to Saleha and Ester.  Calvin Klein is a culprit of glorifying gang rapes, and many others, through advertising products.  Now how sick is that!
During the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh gained independence from India.  The cost was high for the women.  As many as 400,000 women were brutally raped.  The Khans tied Saleha Begum’s hands to a tree.  She was “repeatedly gang raped and burned with cigarettes for months until she was shot and left for dead in a pile of women.”  Prior, she watched other women strapped to trees, raped, burned, and later hacked to death by the Khans.  Nevertheless, she didn’t die.  She dragged herself out of the pile of cold dead bodies and, while observing the gunshot scars on her legs, somehow made her way home, and five months pregnant.  During Uganda’s civil war, Ester Abeja was cut with machetes and repeatedly gang raped with objects by the Lord’s Resistance Army destroying her insides.  The captors also made her kill her one year old daughter by smashing the baby’s head into a tree.
Besides the psychological fortress that was built up inside these women, they were scorned, taunted, hated, mocked, and rejected by their own family and towns. Social stigma prevented any community support.  Saleha was branded a “slut” and eventually left town.  Ester was bullied out of the right to buy land and had a hard time finding work.
Attributions are affected by the need to believe that the world is fair; that good people are rewarded and bad people are punished; and, that justice triumph.  As you can see, family and community members could not make sense of these irrational events that occurred around them – the pillage, brutal slayings, and gang-rapes.  They didn’t feel safe in the presence of Saleh and Ester, either, since they were a daily reminder of what happened – the inhumane acts of wars.  The just-world hypothesis made family and community feel safe.  They could now justify that Saleh and Ester were punished for their own wrongdoings.  The just-world hypothesis led to dispositional attribution.  It was their own fault they were brutally gang-raped.  They were to blame.  As for the community as a whole, diffusion of responsibility played out as well.  No one stood up for Saleha or Ester.  As they were taunted and mocked, no one in the crowd intervened to support.  Was there anyone that wanted to help?  I think (maybe I’m hoping) there could have been a few that wanted to help, but they left it up to someone else.  In addition, obedience played a role in Ester’s decision to kill her own child.  If she didn’t kill her daughter, you can only guess in what other ways she may have been tortured.,,1,
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Personality is 50% Heritable. HUH!


by Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

Personality traits are 50 percent heritable.  Yes, can you believe it.  Studies have shown that you and your loved one's personality traits are genetic.  So your uncle or your neighbor that have an angry disposition is born with it.  Or, your child that is shy or a socialite really did pick these genes up from you and your partner (or somewhere else down the line).  HUH!  How is this possible?  Oh my!  I guess this means I can't change this 50% that is heritable.  Well, as a matter of fact, yes you can.  Let's not chalk it all up to, "I was born with it and now I can't do anything about it."

Let me clarity.  Let's say you are born a "suppressor" - you deny feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, and fear.  You try to avoid bothersome thoughts in hopes they just blow over.  Okay, this is all fine.  And, now, maybe you can become more accepting to yourself and others just knowing that your circumstances didn't create "all" of your 'habits.'  What a relief that is!

Anyways, let me first tell you the unhealthy benefits of this trait.  By holding onto negative emotions, you're going to make yourself sick.  I'll give you a description.  Besides creating an unhealthy mental and emotional state, you begin to shut down your immune system, too.  No wonder there is a list an arm length long of immune disorders!  With strong emotion, you activate the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system for "fight and flight" producing the release of epinephrine and nor-epinephrine from the adrenal medulla.  In addition, the hypothalamus initiates activity along the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal cortex) axis for increased energy releasing chemical messengers.  This chain reaction causes the adrenal cortex to secrete 'cortisol' and other hormones that elevate blood sugar and protect the body's tissues from inflammation in case of injury.  This is all good when you are at risk: a bus headed your way or confronted by a bear.  Your body goes into action, and from there, you take action - you move, and you move quickly!

However, strong emotions "stuck" inside of you because you want to pretend you are "fine" and that "nothing bothers you" will begin to suppress your immune system.  This HPA axis of increased energy, when activated for a long-term, can cause harm to your body.

So now what?  Well, environment is the other 50%.  You do have a choice to help yourself, and you can improve your state and health.  Your trait doesn't have to "rule" you.  What are you going to do about the suppressed emotions?  Confessing.  Another way of saying this is talk - let it out by writing in your journal or talk to a qualified professional.  See what works for you.  Sometimes best friends are nice; however, there will be biases and maybe even judgment.  By confessing or by talking, eventually, and what's most important, you are letting go of negative emotions that are buried inside of you.  Doing so will give you a different perspective on the situation, yourself, and others.  Confessing your worries and fears can reduce the chance of illness if it produces insight and understanding.  Conversely, confessing each week to a friend over drinks without a resolution will only continue to hinder you and your health.

To sum up, knowing that you have a trait of a "suppressor" of emotions gives you a powerful tool.  Now that you are aware of this trait that hinders you and your health, you can help yourself and do something about it.  Stay vigilantly aware of your habit of holding things in thinking they'll blow over.  When you stay conscious of what you are 'doing' you can take positive action by making effective choices.  Also, surround yourself with family and/or friends that remind you and encourage you to take action and do something when things are bothering you.  Don't let it fester and make you unhealthy!  

Wade, et al. (2007) Psychology.  2nd Canadian Edition.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh