Saturday, April 9, 2016


Architecture refers to the style, character, design, and structure of a building. Built structures or buildings are not mere constituents of brick, stone, wood, etc. A deeper examination of a building, especially its architecture is associated with various psychological aspects. 

One of the most salient features of architecture is that it reflects culture and cultural identity. The architectural style represents the characteristics of a place, region, and country; it is said to be the representation of people and societies. Architecture suggestibly is strongly associated with the culture, values, and behavior patterns of the society. The architectural style of a particular period is a reflection of the culture of that time.

The architecture of any place reflects its history and heritage. It reflects the identity of civilizations that thrived in the past. It is a demonstration of their socio-political and cultural forces. It is the physical expression of ancestral culture, philosophy, and lifestyle.

Further, architecture displays the relation of the past with the present. It enables an understanding of the present as a factor of the past. It traces the history of a nation and it shapes its cultural identity. 

Architecture is thus, a manifestation of history, identity, culture, tradition, society and civilization, philosophy, as well as insights and knowledge of the community as a whole. Examples of specific architectural styles that reflect culture and society are the European architecture, Indo-Islamic architecture, Ancient Indian architecture, Central Asian architecture, and so on.

An intriguing feature of architecture is that it depicts a meaning system or semantics. The semantics represented in architecture is rooted in ideology and philosophy of society and culture, which together form shared meanings. These shared meanings are represented in symbols in architecture, with different symbols having different meanings.

The architectural theorist, Rapoport, suggests three levels of semantics reflected in architecture. The three levels are ideological or high level meanings, social or middle level meanings, and behavioral or low level meanings.

High level meanings are about cosmologies, cultural schemata, and philosophical ideas. The middle level meanings are about reflecting wealth, power, and status. The low level meanings are expected behaviors associated with architecture. These different levels may vary across different cultures and different periods of time. 

Along with reflection of culture and display of semantics, architecture, the style in which buildings are designed, has been found to have an influence on mental and physical health of people. This aspect of architecture is associated with social design or social design research, in which architects collaborate with social scientists to design a building that best serves the requirements and desires of individuals.

A great amount of research suggests that social design can play a significant role in healthcare environments. Architects with making significant changes in buildings has been found to have a positive influence on patients’ satisfaction, quality of life, sleeping patterns, and anger management.

Research suggests that designing spaces in such a way in which patients get good enough privacy is beneficial for health. Further, designing places in such a way that gives them an outside view helps in recovery, especially a daylight view. Additionally, designing places in a way that gives them access to nature and outdoors has been found to be therapeutic. 

Also, giving patients a comfort and controllability in movement, and having distinguishable demarcations for public and private spaces reduces stress levels. Finally, changing interiors, in the sense of using a wide range of colors, textures, and art, including paintings, has a positive effect on the health of patients.

Research, further, suggests that making subtle changes in hospitals and psychiatric centers such as shaded lightings, a home-like environment, and designing the surroundings as per the requirements of the inhabitants, have led to better conditions in patients of multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, delinquents, and psychotics. A similar approach has been found to be beneficial even for classrooms, offices, and public buildings.

Specific aspects of architecture like stimulation and coherence have also been found to be related to stress, even in non-patients. Stimulation is the amount of information in a setting, which is related to complexity, novelty, intensity, and variety. Too much stimulation such as complex patterns or extremely bright colors, in the interiors of a building, can be puzzling, and thus, stressful. Coherence is clarity and comprehensibility of the elements of a building. If there is incoherence, that is, there are ambiguous cues, disorganized patterns, and difficulty in predictions, then it leads to stress.

This aspect of architecture being related to mental and physical health is something that people are not very much aware of. It goes to show that architecture is not just an aspect of art and culture, but it can be something that is very beneficial for human beings. Designing buildings keeping in view the requirements and general health of individuals provides a very unique and intriguing aspect of architecture. 

A very fascinating aspect of architecture is that it can be associated with the unconscious. The unconscious or the unconscious mind, according to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, is the reservoir of thoughts, feelings, and memories that are not accessible to conscious awareness and yet influences behavior.

The design of a building developed by the architect is derived by many contributing factors. These contributing factors may be the experience and imagination of the architect, which may be an expression of the unconscious. Even though vague in nature, this aspect of architecture is not completely unfathomable.

The unconscious also plays a role in architecture in the form of changes in mood and responses. Architecture that is meant to visually stir individuals may affect them in terms of other senses as well. The responses due to the non-visual senses, such as an echo of steps, can address individuals unconsciously. 

Research suggests that the non-visual senses in the surroundings in an architectural piece, such as smell or sound, tend to affect the unconscious and plays a role in change in responses and mood. Even though being quite complex, this aspect of architecture is very fascinating and arouses a lot of curiosity. 

The design and structure of a building, therefore, has a number of psychological aspects. It can be associated with cultural heritage, meaning systems, mental and physical health, and the unconscious. Architecture, as mentioned above, is not simply about art or being a visual marvel, it is in fact something beyond the usual and the expected.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Trolling on the internet or cyber-trolling is online behavior to intentionally anger, hurt, or frustrate someone. It is purposely posting inflammatory messages or comments that are meant to provoke negative emotional reactions. Generally, internet trolling involves remarks related to bigotry, racism, misogyny, and just simple bickering. More recently, cyber-trolling has been equated to online harassment, which has become a very common behavior on the internet.
Cyber-trolling mostly takes place in online discussion forums and the comment sections of blogs. Off lately, a lot of cyber-trolling has been taking place on social networking sites, especially Twitter. Trolling taking the form of online harassment has become quite common on Twitter.
Many people have expressed their experience of the harassment that they have faced after posting a simple tweet. A lot of celebrities in the past couple of years have been constantly complaining about how trolls attack them with their venomous remarks for just expressing an opinion. The trolling becomes so hurtful that some even have decided not use Twitter at all or spend very little time on it.
Cyber-trolling, clearly, creates a lot of problems for its victims. In the form of cyber-trolling, people have faced humiliation, disgust, and even death threats. Such inflammation tends to be very disturbing and can lead to severe negative consequences to an individual’s mental health.
Communication on the internet has certain features that sometimes makes cyber-trolling to be a natural phenomenon. Some people use an anonymous identity, while communicating on the internet. Being anonymous makes them feel that they can say whatever they feel like and get away with it, without facing any consequences. This creates a reduced sense of public self-awareness.
Even if people are using their real identities on Facebook or Twitter, they still feel a reduced public self-awareness, due to a sense of obscurity. While interacting online, individuals feel that whatever they are saying is in the cyberspace and has little to do with the real life, where they have face-to-face interactions with people who they know and meet quite often.
Along with a reduced public self-awareness, individuals while communicating on the internet, due to social distance and often being alone in their own comfortable private space, feel a heightened sense of private self-awareness. This heightened private self-awareness also makes the person feel that he/she will not face any consequences of speaking his/her mind.
Both reduced public self-awareness and heightened private self-awareness together makes individuals feel little or no hesitation, while interacting online. The relative obscurity and social distance gives them a sense of power in which they feel they can say whatever they feel like. Quite often this lack of hesitancy makes them use inflammatory remarks, which they may perhaps resist during face-to-face interaction.
The perceived obscurity and social distance, during online interaction, also quite often makes people de-individuated from their individual identity and form a stronger online social identity. People often become a very different person on the internet. They behave differently in comparison to face-to-face interaction. This may make them a hostile and bigotry person on the internet, and get involved in cyber-trolling, when in actuality they may be calm and sensible.
The characteristics of reduced public self-awareness and heightened private self-awareness lead to the experience of cyberdisinhibition. Cyberdisinhibition refers to an inhibition in communication on the internet due to lack of social. The social brain – brain areas, mainly the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, that act together and help in smoothening social interactions – gets activated in face-to-face interactions, due to receiving proper social cues in terms of facial expressions and body language.
The mirror neurons – neurons found in the social brain – are not able to function properly during online communication, and thus, lead to improper communication. The mirror neurons, in face-to-face interaction, get appropriate real-time feedback in the form of social cues. It is these social cues that help the mirror neurons to monitor individual’s and others responses, which enable appropriate social interaction.
The social cues being absent in online interaction make the mirror neurons unable to function properly, leading inappropriate communication, which often involves a lack of empathy. This lack of empathy, due to social cues being absent, causes people to indulge in hostility and harassment on the internet, in the form of cyber-trolling.
Apart from the characteristics of online communication, personality can also be a factor in cyber-trolling. For instance, the personality of passive aggressiveness can be associated with cyber-trolling. Research suggests that passive aggressive individuals thrive on the internet.
Passive aggressiveness is a deliberate and indirect expression of anger. Such behavior may usually be due to the fear of expressing anger directly. The relative obscurity and social distance on the internet can work as a mask to express anger.
For a person with passive aggressiveness, the internet becomes an appropriate medium to express their anger. Knowing that inflammatory remarks and comments on the internet are met with almost no consequences, such individuals easily become involved in behaviors like cyber-trolling.
Besides passive aggressiveness, sadism has also been found to be associated with cyber-trolling. Sadism is deriving pleasure in inflicting pain on others. Recent research suggests that internet trolls actually have sadistic tendencies. People who are involved in cyber-trolling have a lot of fun in the distress of others. They have no real purpose of expressing inflammatory remarks and causing disturbance on online discussion forums or sending hateful tweets. They simply like the idea of causing trouble to people on the internet.
This can be clearly seen when people troll celebrities on Twitter. Many people just get a high in sending extremely abusive and hurtful remarks at famous people. They see it as exciting and fun. Even in online discussion forums, some people see it as fun deviate from the main topic and hurl abuses for no reason. They very well know that they cannot be harmed for hurling such remarks and thus, they do so with pleasure.
Personality being a factor in cyber-trolling seems to be a plausible explanation. There are innumerable people who everyday interact on the internet. However, everyone does not get involved in cyber-trolling. Many people, in fact, are very polite, sensible, and intelligent on the internet. The characteristics of communication on the internet combined with personality of individuals can be seen as the possible causes of trolling on the internet.
Internet usage has become an integral aspect of everyday life. With the increase in internet usage, there has been an incessant rise in behaviors like cyber-trolling. A reduced sense of public self-awareness and heightened private self-awareness on the internet, cyberdishinibition, passive aggressiveness, and sadism can be seen as the causes of cyber-trolling.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Loneliness, the unpleasant feeling due to the inability to have satisfying relationships or the dissatisfaction with one’s quality of relationships; and shyness, being socially reticent and the tendency to feel awkward, worried, and tense during social interactions, are both problems and difficulties that a lot of people, throughout different age groups, experience.
Both loneliness and shyness are a lot more common than they are believed to be and their consequences on individuals’ mental, emotional, and physical health is a lot more debilitating than it is believed to be. Even the extreme form of shyness, which is social anxiety (the persistent fear of being negatively scrutinized by others and the fear of being embarrassed and humiliated in social situations), has been found to be very common - third most common psychological problem all over the world.  
Loneliness and shyness have been found to be associated with each other. An individual with loneliness is likely to suffer from shyness or social anxiety; likewise, an individual with shyness or social anxiety is very likely to experience loneliness. Many of the consequences of loneliness and shyness are also common; some of the major consequences of both being depression, low self-esteem, inferiority complex, and lack of self-confidence and self-belief.    
In extreme cases such individuals should go for professional help. One of the most common techniques used to overcoming loneliness and shyness is cognitive behavioral therapy, in which individuals’ faulty adaptive behaviors and faulty thinking patterns along with negative feelings associated with the experience of loneliness and shyness are altered to more adaptive and positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
In less extreme cases, however, individuals, in their day-to-day life, can try to alter their behaviors and develop strategies in which they could cope and deal with their difficulties associated with loneliness and shyness. This could also be done initially, by individuals who suffer from extreme forms of loneliness and shyness, as their lack of self-confidence and awkwardness in social situations may cause them to hesitate in going for therapy.

There are a number of ways in which lonely and shy individuals can help themselves in dealing with their difficulties. These are given below:

Identification of Strengths
Each person has some strengths. The key is to identify those strengths. The identification of these strengths will boost the self-esteem of that person and will make him/her feel that there is something good about him/her. With time the confidence due to identification of that strength(s) increases. Even a little bit of confidence can turn out to be very fulfilling for lonely and shy individuals.

Being with Likeminded People
For lonely and shy individuals, it is always good to be with like-minded people and spending time with people who have similar interests. Being with similar people will reduce the feeling of self-consciousness. It will help in interaction with little hesitation, reduce the feeling of being left out, will bring in positive vibes, and help in developing a positive mood.

Finding a means for Self-expression
Individuals with loneliness and shyness can find it to be very helpful if they try to share their feelings with people who they feel understand them. If not with people, then indulging in writing can be a great medium for self-expression. Individuals can write about issues that they feel passionate about; they can maintain a diary. The internet can also be used as a way for self-expression. The individual can share experiences of self with others on online forums. They can talk about their difficulties and experiences on blogs. Self-expression has been found to lead to better mental health. It reduces the feeling of worthlessness and makes individuals feel better about themselves.

Guided Visualization
Guided visualization is about overlooking the negatives in the current situation and thinking about how things could get better. Having a positive attitude towards life is the key to a successful living. In difficult situations, individuals with loneliness and shyness must learn to tackle conditions by imagining a possibly good reason behind it and sorting the best way to handle it in calm and composed manner. One must try to overlook the present gruesome conditions and think of the time lying ahead of it, which might give pleasure along with strength. Being hopeful that things will get better in the future helps in instilling self-belief that things will get better in the future.

Avoid Making Comparisons
Each person is a unique individual. For individuals with loneliness and shyness, it is always better to be like they are and avoid comparisons in life. A person should not try to be like someone else and should stop aiming for other lifestyles. They should always focus on who they are and be what they are. Making comparison is an irrelevant aspect of life. It is more important to identify oneself, realize ones true potential and ones goals in life. Individuals should focus on their own strengths and the things that inspire them, instead of wanting to be like someone else.

Individuals with loneliness and shyness tend to become anxious in social situations, which increase their breathing rate. Breathing rate tends to be a marker for the level of anxiety at any time. Short breaths depict sudden terror or anxiety felt by the brain and the body. In situations of fear and panic attacks, in social situations, deep breathing exercises can be very helpful. By taking long continuous breaths, signals are sent to the brain not to panic and stay calm. Loosening of muscles also works in the same manner.

During anxiety, too many thoughts start occurring in the mind. The person’s brain starts an over production of thoughts and ideas that may have little logic. These thoughts can even heighten up in nervousness and distress. In such situations, individuals should try to calm themselves down. The person should start indulging in self-talk, such as to challenge themselves by asking questions and finding the answers to it. This can turn out to be very useful because after this, the person feels much better and very much in control of his/her thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

Behavioral Rehearsal
Behavioral rehearsal is about imagining the whole social situation beforehand. The person may think of all that can be spoken and try to have the whole conversation in his/her head. This can give a basic idea of a forthcoming situation. It prepares the individual in how to react appropriately. It also helps in relaxing oneself and dealing with the anxiety associated with a specific social situation.

Confronting the Fears
Lonely and especially shy individuals develop a fear of being in social situations and interacting with others. Instead of evading such situations and making things get worse, the person must work on these fears, try to figure them out and try to deal with them. This is a useful way of dealing with these problems because they tend to be exacerbated if left just like that.

Learning about the Fears
This involves a keen observation and record of the fears and problems faced by the individual. The individual should keep a track of that happens and, accordingly set small yet achievable goals regarding reduction of inner fears. By doing so, lonely and shy individuals can specify the exact reason of fear in a wide range of social situations. Once they get to know about specific fear arousing situation/object, they can then try to confront it and try to deal with it effectively.

Individuals with loneliness and shyness often develop a low self-esteem and lack confidence. Such individuals should concentrate on their contributions or on what they can contribute in their life and society in general. They should try to appreciate what they have done so far and think about the benefits of their contributions around them. This realization will bring about a change in their self-evaluation and will enhance their confidence. It will also help in delivering with maximum efficiency. The more confident they will feel, the more satisfied they will feel about themselves. Apart from this, they should also always praise their own success, which will further add to self-appreciation and make them feel better about themselves.

These aforementioned strategies, which small alterations in thoughts and behavior, help lonely and shy individuals a lot in dealing with and to quite an extent overcoming with their difficulties.

Apart from bringing about changes in themselves, it also becomes important for others to act in certain ways towards them, which may help them to feel better about themselves and feel more accepted. One of the best ways for lonely and shy individual to deal with their difficulties is the feeling of being accepted by others. This can only happen when and if those others think and behave in specific ways. Such actions/behaviors are given below:

Being Aware
Just being aware about the various problems, difficulties that people face can be very helpful. Being aware gives an understanding of such issues. It will make them sensitive towards lonely and shy individuals and will develop empathy towards them. The development of an empathetic feeling towards lonely and shy individuals will encourage them to shed their inhibitions and make them try to interact with others in a better manner.

Understanding and Acceptance
There should be an understanding about individual differences. An understanding that there are different types of individuals, with different types of behavior patterns helps a lot. This understanding can develop a feeling of acceptance for lonely and shy individuals. It is acceptance what such people need to feel better.

Care and Encouragement
Showing care and concern for such people becomes very important. People should not indulge in harassing or making fun of them. They should show appreciation for any of their talents and strengths. They should encourage them to come forward and express themselves and try to mix up with others. Even a small word of appreciation and encouragement can turn out to be very fruitful for lonely and shy individuals.

Parents Should Be Supportive
Parents need to be supportive towards their children who are lonely or shy. They should not be critical about them. They should develop a relationship in which they share and discuss their problems and issues with them. They should not take signs of withdrawal in their child lightly (which are the initial signs of feeling lonely and shy). They should be able to identify early signs of loneliness and/or shyness/social anxiety. They should also put in all the effort to help the child and make them feel comfortable and should not in any way make them feel unwanted.

Teachers Should Be Sensitive
Teachers need to be sensitive towards lonely and shy individuals in the classroom. They should try not to be critical to them, especially in front of others. They should always show appreciation in front of others. They should also be able to identify any kind of signs and symptoms of loneliness and shyness (such as sitting alone, away from others, or having a sad expression), and take actions accordingly. Teachers should also be aware about a student being bullied by others and help him/her not to feel embarrassed in such situations. They should always encourage the students to share their personal problems with them and try to help them as much as possible.

If people, including peers, friends, parents, siblings, relatives, and teachers keep these things in mind, they will be helping lonely and shy individuals to a great extent. Such behaviors can be very encouraging and soothing for individuals with loneliness and shyness. It can prove to be very significant in helping them to cope and overcome with many of their difficulties.   

Loneliness and shyness are serious issues that are quite often ignored. Both can be dealt with if individuals having these problems consciously make some minor, yet significant, alterations in their behavior and thought processes. It also becomes a lot easier for lonely and shy individuals if others, in their surroundings, are more aware, caring, and accepting about such issues, and do not see it as something that is trivial.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Psychology is very often, by many, seen as the study and treatment of mental problems; it is seen as a field of study that deals with abnormal behavior and psychological problems. However, initially, psychology had no association with mental illness and disorders. This aspect of psychology emerged much later.
Modern psychology began in 1879, with the establishment of Wundt’s laboratory at Leipzig. Psychology then, and for many years later, was the study of conscious experiences and its aim was to understand basic human processes. The major topics of study were sensation, perception, memory, and learning. In 1892, when the American Psychological Association (APA) was established, psychology was regarded as an academic discipline with its roots in experimentation and was considered to be a field of study based only on research.
With the formation of the APA, psychology was said to be firmly established as a distinct discipline. Psychology was regarded as a scientific, research based discipline as in the beginning of modern psychology, and psychologists were even then mainly concerned with sensation, perception, and dimensions of the mind.
It was only in 1896, seventeen years after the beginning of modern psychology and four years after the formation of the APA that psychology began to be concerned with mental disorders. The year 1896 is regarded as the birth of clinical psychology – the area of psychology concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.
The opening of the first psychological clinic, in 1896, by Lightner Witmer, at the University of Pennsylvania, is regarded as the formal beginning of clinical psychology. After completing his PhD under Wilhelm Wundt, Witmer returned to the University of Pennsylvania and became the director of the psychology laboratory. While doing research, he was always very keen of using the basic principles of human behavior to help individuals with their difficulties.
In 1896, a teacher consulted Witmer about the problems her student was facing in school. Witmer organized a make shift clinic and after assessing the student’s problem, he developed a specific treatment program. He found that the child had difficulty in spelling, reading, and memory, and recommended tutoring, which later proved to be a successful intervention.
Lightner Witmer
Witmer, thus, became the first psychologist to use his understanding of the principles of human behavior to help an individual with a particular problem. Within a few months, Witmer was preparing courses on methods for treating mentally defective, blind, and disturbed children.
Later, in the same year, Witmer presented a paper at the annual meeting of APA in which he described his methods of diagnosis and treatment. It was here that he used the term clinical psychology for the first time. He also proposed that a psychological clinic could be devoted to diagnosis and evaluation, individual treatment, public service, research, and the training of students.
By 1904, the University of Pennsylvania began offering formal courses in clinical psychology and Witmer went on to offer the first college course on clinical psychology. In 1907, Witmer founded the journal Psychological Clinic, which became the first journal in the field. For many years, this was the only journal for clinical psychology.
In the first issue of the journal, Witmer proposed a new application of psychology and a new profession to be called clinical psychology. The following year, he established a boarding school for retarded and disturbed children, and in 1909 his university clinic expanded and was established as a separate administrative unit.
Witmer independently developed his psychological clinic at the University of Pennsylvania along with programs to assist children with primarily school related difficulties and challenges. Teachers began sending to Witmer’s new clinic many other children with a broad range of deficiencies and problems, which included hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and poor speech and motor development. As his experience with these problems increased, Witmer developed standard programs of assessment and treatment.
A number of psychologists followed Witmer’s example, and within a few years many psychological clinics opened. All these clinics were patterned on Witmer’s clinic.
Many of the principles that Witmer developed in his psychological clinic are still used today - he favored a diagnostic evaluation prior to offering treatment procedures and services, he favored a multidisciplinary team approach instead of individual consultation, he used interventions and diagnostic strategies based on research evidence, and, he was interested in preventing problems before they emerged.
Therefore, clinical psychology, the area of psychology devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behavior and psychological disorders began in 1896. This was the first time a psychologist used the understanding of basic processes in order to treat abnormal behavior.
A year before the birth of clinical psychology, abnormal behavior, which was only studied in psychiatry, became a part of psychology, due to the beginning of the classical school of psychology called Psychoanalysis.
In his career as a neurologist, Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, realized that many of his patients had neurological problems without any organic pathology. Freud found that the neurological symptoms of his patients were caused by hysteria, which was due to an emotional conflict that individuals might be suffering from.
This emotional conflict, according to Freud was due to painful childhood memories, forbidden sexual wishes, or forbidden aggressive wishes that were hidden in the unconscious mind of the individuals. When not resolved, this emotional conflict gets manifested as neurological symptoms.
Sigmund Freud
It was this realization that led Freud towards the founding of psychoanalysis. In 1895, Freud collaborated with his colleague and mentor Joseph Breuer in the publication of the book Studies on Hysteria. The book was about the description of the cases of hysteria that they had treated. The publication of this book is said to be the beginning of psychoanalysis – a system of psychological theory and therapy that aims to understand and treat mental illness by investigating the unconscious elements of the mind.
After separating from Breuer, Freud further developed his theory with the publication of his books The Interpretation of Dreams, in 1900, and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, in 1901. Freud majorly used the techniques of free association and dream analysis for treating his patients.
In free association, the patient lies on a couch and is encouraged to talk openly and spontaneously, giving complete expression to every idea, no matter how embarrassing, unimportant, or foolish it may seem. Such thoughts were often jumbled and fragmentary, with no apparent patterns. However, Freud would gradually see a pattern emerge, which resulted in a highly emotional recall of forgotten events.
These events, according to Freud were repressed in the unconscious mind of the patient and were only revealed in the conscious awareness due to free association. This recall of repressed memories and events would help the patients to be treated of their emotional trauma.
Freud also analysed the dreams (dream analysis) of his patients. He believed that dreams represent a disguised satisfaction of repressed desires and that the essence of a dream is wish fulfilment. Freud believed that when patients described their dreams, their forbidden desires (the latent dream content) are expressed only in symbolic form. This revealing of forbidden desires of his patients helped him in their treatment.
Freud used clinical observations as his primary data. He was a gifted observer and heavily relied on clinical data. He derived his theory from the experiences he had with his patients in his clinic. Freud also believed that normal and abnormal behavior can be seen in continuity. According to him normality and abnormality differed only in terms of degree and not in type; and thus, had a humane approach towards mental illness.  
Among all the classic schools of psychology, Psychoanalysis is the only one that made its aim to improve the mental health of an individual. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, according to which behavior is guided by the unconscious forces of the mind, was the first comprehensive theory of personality.
The ideas of Freud became very crucial to the development of clinical psychology. It moved the field far beyond its origins in Witmer’s clinic. Psychologists were fascinated with Freud’s work and his ideas provided clinical psychologists with their first psychological techniques of therapy.
Therefore, in 1895, sixteen years after the beginning of modern psychology, with the formation and rise of psychoanalysis, the study of abnormal behavior which was only a part of psychiatry had also become a part of psychology.    
Psychology, even though popularly seen as synonymous with the study and treatment of abnormal behavior, initially had no association with it. Modern psychology began as a scientific, research-based field to understand general, normal basic human processes. It was a good sixteen to seventeen years after the beginning of modern psychology that abnormal behavior was included as a part of psychology. Before this, abnormal behavior was only a part of psychiatry.

This article can also be found on the blog History Of Psychology 

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Interpersonal relationships are social bonds and affiliations that people develop. These social connections are varied such as parent-child, siblings, friendships, romantic partners, etc. People having interdependence and impact on each other are said to be in a relationship. It is defined as an enduring association between two persons.  
A number of psychological theories and researches suggest how relationships play a significant role in an individual’s life. Relationships have been found to be one of the most powerful sources of support throughout the life span. Being involved in satisfying relationships is associated with enhanced emotional and physical health.
Relationships involve varied social processes (forms of social interactions) that are powerful psychological predictors of physical health. Social interactions play important roles in both the development and exacerbation of physical health conditions.
Relationships have been found to buffer people from pathogenic effects of stress. The buffering model of stress suggests that social support promotes health and that it diminishes the negative effects of stress in a person’s life. The buffering model suggests that social relationships buffer or protects individuals from the potentially pathogenic influence of stressful events.
The perception of receiving social support from others alters the appraisal of the situation as being highly stressful and works as a coping mechanism. The perceived availability of social support buffers the effect of stress on psychological distress, depression, and anxiety. Deprivation of social support may lead to adverse effects on both physical and emotional health.
The interpersonal approach to psychology emphasizes the importance of relationships with others for psychological adjustment. Interpersonal theorists place special emphasis on interpersonal processes in behavior. Interpersonal theorists suggest that unfavorable interpersonal environments have adverse effects on psychological wellbeing. A variety of psychological disorders such as substance abuse, depression, personality disorders, and even schizophrenia have been associated with inadequate interpersonal relationships and social networks.
The pioneer of the interpersonal approach, Harry Stack Sullivan, suggests that enduring patterns of human relationships form the essence of personality. Sullivan locates psychological development in reactions of one’s relationships. Accordingly he suggests that significant psychosocial threats to an individual’s wellbeing are inherently social in nature. These threats are loneliness, isolation, and rejection. Interpersonal loss contributes to clinical symptomatology.
The object relations theories describe the process of developing a psyche as one grows in relation to others in the environment. The term object relations is used in the context to refer to the mental representation of significant others.
Margaret Mahler, an object relations theorist, in her theory of symbiosis suggests that forming healthy ties with the mother is of utmost importance to the psychological health of children. Children who form normal ties with their mothers, according to Mahler, are referred to as normal symbiotic children. Such children develop empathy and a sense of being a separate but loving person.
The object relations theorist, Heinz Kohut, suggests that empathic reactions from significant others is important for healthy development of the individual. He further suggests that people who have a lack of acceptance from parents are prone to develop narcissistic personality disorder, which involves projection of self-aggrandizement even though they actually feel powerless and dependent.
Kohut also suggests that when a child is not reassured about his/her strengths and unique qualities then it might lead to sensation seeking, substance abuse, low self-esteem, and perception of the world as a hostile and dangerous place.
The attachment theory, by John Bowlby, suggests that attachment - the affectionate bond between the child and primary caretaker - is the basic determinant of adult personality. The theory suggests that to grow up mentally healthy individuals should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with their caretaker, during the growing up years.
The theory further suggests that poor attachment or inadequate parental care may lead to psychological disorders in adulthood. Inadequate parental care may lead to the development of the anxious attachment pattern, which involves insecurity and dependency, and makes the individual prone to phobias, hypochondriasis, and eating disorders. Inadequate parenting may also lead to the development of the pattern of emotional detachment in which the individual feels serious deprivation of affection, and makes the person prone to antisocial and hysterical personality disorders.     
Poorly functioning relationships (unsatisfying, unstable or heavily conflicted relationships) have an increased likelihood of distress, illness, and poor adjustment. Relationships that do not allow confiding, fail to provide beneficial effects. People with inadequate relationships have higher risks for developing psychological and physiological illnesses. They may develop depressed immunology functioning, vulnerability to feelings of loneliness, and a more likelihood to develop symptoms of psychological disturbance.
Theories and research, therefore, indicate that relationships are highly impactful and very significant in the healthy psychological development of an individual. Satisfying relationships are associated with a wide range of aspects of positive wellbeing, whereas, disturbed relationships are associated with a number of psychological problems.

Monday, June 8, 2015


In the past decade, there has been a greater emphasis on social-emotional learning, apart from academic abilities, in schools. Social-emotional learning involves developing of social and emotional competence in students that has a positive influence on their mental health.
Having a sense of social support is a major aspect of social-emotional learning. Social support refers to the feeling or experience of being cared, helped, esteemed, and valued by others, and that one belongs to a supportive social network. Social support has been found to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It is also beneficial for an individual’s physical health.
The school environment can be stressful for students. Because of this many schools have been trying to create an environment in the classroom in which students can develop a sense of social support.
A good way of developing and enhancing social support in the classroom is to encourage proper social interaction among students.  For this, many classrooms have a sociopetal arrangement, that is, the seats are arranged in such a manner that students are facing each other. Usually this is done by placing seats in a circle/oval or in a semi-circle.
In sociopetal arrangements, facing each other in a classroom, students get more opportunities to interact with each other. It enables classroom discussions to occur appropriately and it helps to make the class highly interactive, which further creates a friendly environment.
Another very common way of enhancing social support, which may be facilitated by the sociopetal arrangement, is getting students involved in group tasks/assignments. These group activities provide more opportunities for students to interact with each other and help in developing skills like collaboration and cooperation.
A great emphasis on group activities also goes in line with the concept of group emotional intelligence. Group emotional intelligence refers to the ability of a group to generate a shared set of norms that manage the emotional process in a way that builds trust, group identity, and group efficacy.
A group with high emotional intelligence creates a positive cycle through the norms it develops to influence the emotional process. Thus, group activities not just help in enhancing social support but it also enhances group emotional intelligence. Higher the group emotional intelligence the better it will be for the individuals (students) belonging to that group.
These simple methods have been found to be effective in enhancing social support, but they are accompanied with some underlying issues that are of major concern and are something that cannot be ignored. As mentioned above, these methods encourage social interaction. Therefore, they are situations that are highly socially stimulating. These highly socially stimulating situations can be discomforting for many type of people. There are specific types of people such as introverts and shy individuals that due to their physiological structure feel uncomfortable in situations that are socially stimulating.
Introverts like to keep to themselves. They prefer solitary activities and like to have limited social interactions. Introverts have a high level of brain arousal (specifically, in the area known as the reticular activating system), which causes them to have a low threshold for social stimulation. This low threshold for stimulation means that introverts are highly sensitive and get easily aroused by their surroundings.
A situation that can be highly socially arousing such as when social interaction is encouraged to enhance social support can cause a lot of discomfort to introverts. Due to introverts being highly sensitive in social situations, they prefer to be in situations that are less socially stimulating, and thus, are more involved in solitary activities or situations that require very limited social interactions.
Like introverts, shy individuals face a lot of discomfort in situations that are socially stimulating. Shy people have an anxious temperament and experience anxiety in social situations. The reason for this is that people who are shy have an overly sensitive amygdala. The amygdala is the seat of emotions and is responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction. It is a part of the limbic system, which is the brain area that prepares an individual to respond to threat and novelty in the environment.
The amygdala, when stimulated, triggers the nervous system to freeze and assess the situation and then tells the rest of the body either to stay calm or avoid the situation. When the amygdala is overly-sensitive, it determines that there is reason for fear, which can cause anxiety. For shy individuals, who have an overly-sensitive amygdala, a regular and routine social situation may seem to be fearful and cause anxiety.
In the case of introverts and shy individuals, therefore, a situation in which social interaction is facilitated, such as a sociopetal arrangement or group activities, may not be very appropriate. In such situations these people feel uncomfortable, which may inhibit their performance. Due to their discomfort in such situations, they may not be able to perform to their full potential.
Introverts, contrary to popular belief, form a large part of the population. Similarly, the prevalence of shyness is a lot more than it is actually believed to be. The sociopetal arrangement and group tasks turn out to be insensitive to introverts and shy individuals. These methods do not cater to their needs, which is being in situations in which they can perform to the best of their abilities; a situation in which they do not feel uncomfortable.
Apart from being inappropriate for introverts and shy individuals, group tasks, in themselves can have certain issues. It has been found that group activities inhibit creativityYears of research has shown that creativity is best expressed in isolation. When individuals are by themselves, have their own time, and can work at their own pace without any pressure, only then they can be better at creativity. In a group, a number of ideas can be generated, but they do not always turn out to be useful. Research suggests that the best of scientific innovations and the best ideas have been generated when individuals were in isolation.
Group activities/tasks involve a lot of collective decision making. Research shows that group decision making may not always be effective and that there are ways in which individual decision making is advantageous over group decision making. There are times when the group’s decision making may be forced by one individual or a couple of members in the group. The effectiveness of the group may also suffer if the dominant individuals, along whom the whole group sways, are relatively incompetent.
Further, group decisions take more time as a lot of dialogue and discussion is involved. Additionally, this discussion and dialogue may not always necessarily be very stimulating and focused. It may lead to diverting from the main issues and many a times might give rise to conflicts within the group, in all affecting the group performance in a negative manner.
A number of group processes hamper the performance and productivity of groups. Individuals often experience conformity while being in a group. They sometimes are compelled to go along with a group, neglecting their own views and perspectives. They act in such way that their behavior fits within their group, usually, in order to not feel out of place.
Some members, while being in a group, might feel evaluation apprehension. Evaluation apprehension is the concern of being evaluated and judged in a negative manner. Due to this, individuals may not express their views, and may unwillingly go along with the group. They might feel conscious about expressing themselves and thus, are unable to perform to their full potential. This may also occur while in a sociopetal arrangement, when individuals know that their actions are easily being viewed by others.
The mere presence of others also can make a person not perform up to his/her true potential. This is called social inhibition. The presence of others might lead individuals to inhibit their performance. The person might feel restrained in the presence of others, might become very conscious, and might lack a certain level of confidence when being in the presence of others.
In group activities, many a times, people also go through what is referred to as social loafing. Social loafing is the tendency to put in less effort while working together in a group. Individuals might think that others are putting in a lot of effort and thus, it will not matter much if they put in less effort. Due to this, all members of the group do not always put in their maximum effort, which may result in a less effective performance.     
Group tasks also seem to violate an individual’s personal space. While working on a task, in a classroom, students like to have their own private space. Working in a group, with constant interference from others or simply finding the surroundings to be crowded does not provide them with that privacy. They always feel themselves to be under a scanner and due to that work under a constant pressure.
Susan Cain, author of the New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking and co-founder of Quiet Revolution, an organization that works for the empowerment of introverts, has given an alternative of group tasks/assignments. This alternative helps in dealing with all the issues regarding enhancing social support in the classroom.
Instead of making students work in groups, Susan Cain has suggested that they should be made to sit in pairs. This suggestion was made by her specifically keeping introverts in mind. However, it can be very well used in dealing with all the other issues.
Introverts, as mentioned above, due to their physiological make up, feel uncomfortable in highly socially stimulating situations. Sitting in pairs does not put them in a social situation that is highly stimulating, yet gives them good opportunities to interact with others. Similarly, shy individuals will not feel very fearful when sitting in pairs as even though they will have to interact with someone else, it will still not be very discomforting for them.
Sitting in pairs will automatically take care of all the aforementioned group processes that affect performance in a negative manner. It will also give individuals enough private space in which they could work without any pressure and enable them to express their creativity to the maximum.
Apart from making students sit in pairs, students of similar personality traits can be made to interact and work together. A lot of researches suggest that similarity helps in developing better interpersonal relationships. Within this, trait similarity has been found to be most effective.
Individuals with similar personality traits are like-minded, behave in a similar manner, have similar beliefs, and are more likely to have similar ideas. Making students interact with other students of similar traits will provide them a very comforting, friendly, and enthusiastic environment to work in. It will create an environment for cooperation and collaboration among the students.
Students in such a situation will be able to easily express their ideas, they will not feel inhibited, and will feel very relaxed. It will facilitate proper social interaction and develop good interpersonal skills, which will lead to being both recipients and providers of social support.
However, this should be done only for a specific time period so that the students do not become accustomed to interact with individuals who only have similar traits. They should be gradually made to intermingle with individuals of dissimilar traits as well, once they develop proper interpersonal skills. This will help them to advance their interpersonal skills and will enable to further enhance social support.
A classroom having a socially supportive environment is highly significant for students who are constantly at the receiving end of various sources of stress. However, it should be kept in mind that a classroom has all kinds of individuals, each having their own needs and their own comfort level. Further, the existing approaches used in classrooms need to be critically evaluated and all the underlying issues should be taken into consideration before their application.
Social support is very significant for both mental and physical health. Encouraging proper social interaction facilitates social support. This encouragement of social interaction needs to be done in an appropriate manner, keeping in view various perspectives and issues. The use of appropriate methods to ease social interaction will enable proper development and enhancement of social support in the classroom.