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Psychology, Body, Mind:
Essays and speculations

Here you will find various essays on topics within psychology, initially all in an academic format. There will be much more material in the near future as I finish reformatting it for on-line publication (which takes a lot longer than you would think... ;)

Most of the essays here were originally written for an undergraduate-level degree course. They all attracted good grades, the lowest being A-, and have to this extent gone through a sort of peer review process (I've indicated those that haven't). They have been re-edited and partially rewritten for on-line presentation, and represent to some extent some of my opinion on some of the topics treated.

The speculations , however, are just that: speculative. Some of my opinion'? I take a very qualified stance here, because most of the issues dealt with in psychology are very complex, and an essay of a few thousand words inevitably is very selective. An essay is a form of writing designed to persuade: a very persuasive essay can still be completely mistaken in its arguments and conclusions. In an essay selected facts are used to bolster an opinion, and different opinions can be supported by a different selection of facts. Of course you, dear reader, may well disagree with any or all of my opinions. Good! Write an essay and support your viewpoint.

A note to anyone thinking of copying any of this material for use in coursework -- err, what was it now? Oh yes -- don't do it. Read it and use it for ideas, by all means. But don't copy it. Tutors can usually figure out when something has been copied, and in this case, all they'd have to do is search on Alta Vista (say) with a paragraph as the search text. Apart from that, the material is all my copyright, and I'd get very irritated if I found out :)

Moreover, I'm not a household name in psychology, so you probably would be ill advised to quote me as an authority (but don't let me stop you, if that's what you want to do!). The reference sections may however be useful as starting points for similar essays.

There's no need in any case to cut and paste from other people's essays -- there's plenty of help available for you with essay writing. There's an article here on How to write an Academic essay which has a lot of tips, and that article has various links to other useful material.


Family or Fate? a critical evaluation of a Psychogenic and a Genetic theory of Schizophrenia

Summary: Is it due to Family or is it Fate? From fifty years ago and on into the early eighties, a large body of work developed the idea that mental illness could be caused by family circumstances. That idea has (at least in America) now largely been - what? Rejected? Disproven? No, quietly forgotten. Why? Was it actually wrong? The conclusion: where's the evidence that the psychogenic theory is wrong?

Crossed Lines: What can atypical anti-psychotics tell us about schizophrenia?

Summary: This essay enquires into the contribution the new atypical anti-psychotics have made to our current understanding of the neuropharmacological aspects of schizophrenia - if they have. The atypical anti-psychotics have received much publicity for their reduced side effects compared to typical anti-psychotics. But is it true? And do they actually work? The essay concludes 'probably not'

Out for the Count: Is it possible to be a 'rational' consumer?

What do psychologists do when they leave college? Some work in advertising. What do they do - exactly? Does what they do help sell products? This essay discusses the 'rationality' of consumers when confronted with the many various advertising and promotional techniques - often developed by psychologists. The conclusion? Consumers often have little choice - unless they choose to.

Top-Down or Bottom-Up? Can attention be understood at a cellular level?

Summary: What is attention? Can attention be understood at a cellular level? Do you care? You should. 'Attention' is a sort of code-word for consciousness. Biological psychology has made many strides towards an understanding of brain processes over recent years (well, it thinks it has). But has it got anywhere with understanding where consciousness (coded as 'attention') arises? In this essay I argue that the answer to that question is 'no'.


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