“On the conflict between logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning” Research


Abstract

In this report we will investigate partial replication of Evans study (1983) of “belief – bias effect”.  This project attempts to identify whether people show a tendency to be influenced by the believability of the conclusion when attempting to solve a problem of syllogistic reasoning. Data was put together to the 2×2 ANOWA design within participant. The report concludes that there can be interaction between believability & logicality.

Introduction

Do people really rely on belief even if something seems to be illogical? In this study, Evans (1983) uses syllogism to investigate the belief bias effect. Syllogism is a scheme of logical deductions, which is sometimes recognised as superficial statement. The name superficial statement was given because from statement separate it that the deduction from syllogism is consistent and is based on assumption. Often but not always in the syllogism scheme occur in two assumptions – mega premise and mind premise and conclusions – if the two assumptions are true then the conclusion is true. In this study the experimenter provides the participants with two pieces of information; the mega and mind premises and conclusion and asked participants if this conclusion followed logically from these two things.

  • Mega premise: A general statement.
  • Mind premise: A specific statement.
  • Conclusion: based on the two premises.

Evans (1983) in his original study “On the conflict between logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning”, used syllogism to investigate the belief bias by manipulating the conclusion. Example:

(1) Valid argument, believable conclusion (NO CONFLICT)

Example:

No police dogs are vicious

Some highly trained dogs are vicious

Therefore, some highly trained dogs are not police dogs

(2) Valid argument, unbelievable conclusion (CONFLICT)

Example:

No nutritional things are inexpensive

Some vitamin tablets are inexpensive

Therefore, some vitamin tablets are not nutritional

(3) Invalid argument, believable conclusion (CONFLICT)

Example:

No addictive things are inexpensive

Some cigarettes are inexpensive

Therefore, some addictive things are not cigarettes

(4) Invalid argument, unbelievable conclusion (NO CONFLICT)

Example:

No millionaires are hard workers

Some rich people are hard workers

Therefore, some millionaires are not rich people. (Evans 2003).

As Evans (1983) predicted, that by manipulating the conclusion there will be interaction between believability of concussions and logicality of conclusions. Also there will be a main effect of “belief bias” (participant had a tendency to accept more believable than unbelievable conclusions) and tendency to accept more valid than invalid arguments. The interaction between both effects will be substantial and statistically significant.

The belief bias or confirmation bias is a tendency to search for new information or explanation of the new information in a way that prove one’s assumption and stop information and understanding which disagree with earlier beliefs.

Furthermore in this study we are going to partially replicate Evans (1983) study and we going to give participant consent form (see appendix A). We show them the instruction sheet (see appendix B) and we will give them the data sheet (see appendix C) with thus four different forms of syllogism. We predict that participant will relay on the belief system and there will be interaction between believabity and logicality. The main four variables in this study are believable & logical, unbelievable & logical, believable & illogical and unbelievable & illogical.

 Design

Participant answer 8 syllogism (conclusion)

  • Believable & Logical
  • Believable & Illogical
  • Unbelievable & Logical
  • Unbelievable & Illogical

The study design is 2×2 ANOWA within participant.

Participants

One hundred and ninety eight participants took part in this study. Each experimenter recruited two participants – (opportunity sample) male and female from the circle of friends or family.

  • Number of female 100
  • Number of male 98
  • Average age 16- 60

Materials

Participant sing the consent form see (appendix A) we show them the instruction sheet see (appendix B) the response sheet see (appendix C).

 Procedure

A copy of the consent form (see appendix A) was given to participant and experimenter enquired if they did not have any question and if they were happy with it. If so they were asked to sign the form and start the experiment.

Participants were given an Instruction sheet (see appendix B) and were asked to respond to a series of eight logic problems called syllogisms. After that they were given a short explanation of the definition of syllogism and were asked to state whether a conclusion logically follows from those two pieces of information. At the end of the instruction participants were asked to provide an honest conclusion which should be based solely on the two pieces of information they were given and were asked if they were happy with the instruction. If yes they could start to circle their response. Participants were informed that they should rely solely on the information provided by experimenter.

Furthermore participants were given the data sheet (see appendix C) with four different forms of syllogism, and participants were asked to give an honest answer for each of the following syllogisms which will indicate whether the conclusion follows logically from the premises or not.

Example :

No police dogs are vicious

Some highly trained dogs are vicious

Some highly trained dogs are not police dogs

The conclusion follows logically from the premises YES / NO

Results

The responses were added together to the different questions in order to come up with two main variables. The responses to the questions 1 & 2 was put together to produce 1 variable – believable & logical and the 3 & 4 was place together to produce the 2 variable – unbelievable & logical and the response to the question 5 & 6 was set together to produce the 3 variable and finally the response of the questions 7 & 8 was set together to produce the 4 variable – unbelievable & illogical.

That gives as four variables: Believable & Logical; Unbelievable & Logical; Believable & Illogical; Unbelievable & Illogical.

Descriptive statistic.

Believable & Logical 1.55 Believable & Illogical 1.40
Unbelievable & Logical .98 Unbelievable & Illogical .31

Mean age is 33.70

Discussion
The result shows that there was significant interaction between believabity and logicality of conclusions and the result support the hypothesis that the participant will rely on the believe system and there will be interaction between believabity and logicality. Also the result match with Evans (1986) result from the original paper and original research of study.
The result of the partial replication of Evans (1986) study shows that people have a tendency to accept any and all conclusions that match up with their systems of belief, without competition or any deep contemplation of what they are actually agreeing with.
At the same time people also tend to reject a statement that does not match with their belief systems, even though these statements may be perfectly logical and perhaps can be possible.
Exceptionally this is true. People ignore the premises/ principle and focus exclusively on the conclusions being drawn.
Also people, who are not knowledgeable, well-informed and well-read in logic as tend to reason by their experience and not by logic.

References:

  1. Evans, J. ST. B. T. The psychology of deductive reasoning. London: Routledge &: Kegan Paul, 1982.
  2. Evans, J. et al. (2001) Necessity, possibility and belief: a study of syllogistic reasoning. Q. J. Exp. Psychol. 54, 935–958
  3. Evans, J. ST. B. T. Linguistic factors in reasoning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1977, 19, 297-306.
  4. Evans, J.St.B.T. (1999) The influence of linguistic form on reasoning: the case of matching bias. Q. J. Exp. Psychol. 52, 185–216
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Sexism in psychological research. Review: Condor, S. (1991)


The choice of the article being reviewed is based on specific reasons. One of the primary reasons for selection is that the article demonstrates the ethical guidelines for psychological research, with widespread methodology whilst highlighting the ethical issues and concerns for sexism in feminist research. The author of the article summarizes relevant data in a clear and co-incise manner. The author presents a consistent and coherent argument to the reader with significant information to reflect upon.

The author implies that ethical guidelines are expected to have a positive outcome on the way researchers carry out their research. Additionally, the author argues that the ethical rule concerning feminist psychology research does not protect the researcher from the use of several obvious sexist research procedures. The author’s conclusion about the clarities and validity of the sexism in feminist research or rather the lack of it is drawn based on the insignificant impact of the ethical guidelines for non-sexist research. Moreover, the author suggests that someone needs to inhibit the publication of those articles and by doing so eliminate the general public acceptance of those researches. In a relatively short amount space, the author of this six page report creates a comprehensive coverage of the wide-ranging topic by selecting some of the most important issues concerning non-sexist research.

The author is very honest in her own assessment of the importance of feminist non-sexist psychological research. Furthermore, the author refers extensively to the Code of Conduct (1991) published by British Psychological Society (BPS) and highlights the shortcomings of the Code to promote non-sexist research practices. The author correctly highlights the fact that the code does not straightforwardly discuss sex or political issues but encounters only a few feminist issues that primary focus on the relationship between the researcher and participant.

The author points out the interest of gender in feminist research and has cited point 5.6 of the Code of Conduct that states “psychologist shouldn’t let their professional responsibilities and values of practice to be moderated or reduced by matter of religion, sex, race, social class or standing”  Code of Conduct (1991). An author discusses a few reports on the Guidelines for the Use of Non- sexist Language which include the gender related issue and recommend them in order to present the words choice in “sex – fair” research of McHugh (1986).

The idea to take into account the language which we operate in psychology research on gender was the result of the articles published by McHugh, Koeske, and Frieze (1986). Those articles assess a number of methodological concerns to carry out non-sexist research. The most significant issue in these articles on the language of gender are the point where the authors showing many ways in which language can be employed to illustrate that gender of participant can indicate sexist prejudice. (McHugh, Koeske& Frieze, 1986). As example of prejudice McHugh, Koeske and Frieze, (1986) examine use of negative terminology to explain behaviour that go against usual gender function and highlight the theory of the contradictory genders.

The author cites numerous examples to support the failure of the BPS Guidelines to tackle gender related issues. The author discusses the problems associated with the “Guidelines for the use of Non-sexist  Language” published in the BPS document.

In support of the argument, the author further discusses a number of researches which are suitable examples to the argument that the current ethical guidelines have little or no effect at all in inhibiting the use of certain unethical research techniques and also the possible difficulty which can occur from implementation of gender neutrality.

The author presents a number of evidence to support the drawbacks with the use gender neutrality in research. The first evidence presented is the self-report research conducted by McDermott’s (1988) that studies the experience of sexual violence between college students. The author highlights the problems faced by the use of gender neutral term “non-consensual sex” instead of the traditional term “rape”.

The term “non-consensual sex” was broadly used to include not only women but also men who give in to the demand for ‘foreplay’. The author states that “sexual victimization” were frequently described by the male participant that by female. The author also highlights the concerns resulting from addressing the issue without male-female power interaction.

Throughout the report the author points out the failure of the BPS guidelines to target the real problem of the subject effectively. The author rightly points out that the guideline primarily focuses on gender related issues and does not offer a solution to the prevention of related concerns.

Author cites another example of psychology book “Human sexuality” and critique the advertising feature that encourages teaches to use this book for the wrong reasons. The feature focuses on using the term “sexuality” to grab the attention of students as opposed to focusing on the real reasons i.e. to promote a healthy attitude towards genuine issues.

Another shortcoming of the existing ethical guideline identified by the author is that the guideline focuses primarily on the participant’s feeling and does not take into account  the feelings  of the person who is conducting  the research or the people who will read the research. Like with gender neutrality, the author cites a number of examples to support the failure of the guideline to stop certain sexist practices in psychological research. The author discusses the experiment “Treating Woman as Sexual Object” by McKenzie-Mohr and Zanna (1990). The main hypothesis of the study was to find the “impact of self schemata on judgment towards others”. The purpose of the research was to study the impact of exposing male subjects to a sexual stimulus and their behaviour towards a female counterpart in a professional social situation. The author effectively uses the widely accepted taboo associated with pornography to illustrate the point that the Guideline does not target even the most widely accepted ethical concerns such as promoting young males to watch pornographic videos. The author also uses this study to illustrate the failure of the guideline to focus even remotely on the ethical concerns of the researcher or the feminist readers who may be offended by the study.

The author clearly indicates the irony of how studies like these can actually promote the sexual objectification of women.

The author cites another example to support the overall failure of the existing ethical guidelines to prevent research practices that are either sexually provocative or condone the sexual objectification of women.

The author also cites the studies of Camden and Baars (1979, 1982) as examples of studies that can be offensive towards women and do not address some of the most important ethical concerns.

In the next study of speech production Motley, Camden and Baars (1979, 1982) study the semantic relationship of verbal slips to mental set. The author clearly shows the sexually provocative nature of this research and also highlights the sexual objectification of the researcher especially as an attractive and challenging female researcher was the strict requirement for the research.

The author also effectively uses this research to support her argument that existing ethical guidelines do little or nothing to prevent researches that directly condone sexist practices, in this case by encouraging the subjects to use sexist language and by not taking into account any discomfort to the researcher. The author presents the irony of this study even being of acceptable standards of the guidelines for ‘non-sexist research’ suggested by Denmark et al. (1988).

In the report the author has clearly identified the key shortcomings of existing guidelines for non-sexist research and the overall failure of the guidelines to protest against such practices. The author uses numerous examples to illustrate the failure of the guidelines. The author does acknowledge that the guidelines exist however are fairly limited and restricted from a feminist viewpoint. The author has argued the viewpoint effectively by quoting many relevant researches and studies.  All criticism of the guidelines is well supported with evidence.

By citing researches and studies, the author has also clearly illustrated how the guidelines in general focus mainly on the subjects with hardly any focus on the researcher or feminist readers.

The author has effectively used popular taboo subjects like pornography to support the failure of the guidelines to prevent such practices.

In the end of the article author is making an important indication about the way the sexist research and not ethical data can pass the code of guideline. The author states that the way those type of ethical offence passing through journals, article, and academic literature is manipulative and really subtle and that we are all are responsible for the mistakes in the information that reaches us.

Although by and large the author has supported their viewpoint by citing relevant examples, the author has failed to highlight improvements or progress made in this regard.  It does not highlight the progress made in the field of gender bias over the past decade. The “Guidelines for Avoiding Sexism in Psychological Research” (Denmark, F. 1988), targets the issue of gender bias and stereotypes extensively by illustrating a number of real concerns, problems and possible corrections. This report covers gender bias in areas including question formulation, research methods, data analysis and conclusion. Contrary to the author’s general viewpoint, this report indeed suggests practical solutions to address gender bias in psychology research.

While, the shortcomings of the APA and BPS Guidelines have been well presented by the author, the author fails to comment on more recent advancements such as the proposition of ethical models. Three ethical models are proposed by Kvale (1996) that provide the broader frameworks within which researchers reflect on these ethical issues. The author also does not mention that feminist writers on ethics have put forward another basis for reflecting on ethical issues, with an emphasis on care and responsibility rather than outcomes, justice or rights. This is a model that is focused on particular social value.

Reference:

  1. Caplan, P. J., MacPherson, G. M., & Tobin, P. (1985). Do sex-related differences in spatial abilities exist? A multilevel critique with new data. American Psychologist, 40.
  2. Condor, S. (1991). Sexism in psychological research.  Feminism and Psychology, 1 (1), 430-434
  3. McHngh, M. C., Koeske, R. D., & Frieze, I. H. (1986). Issues to consider in conducting non-sexist psychology: A review with recommendations. American Psychologist, 41.
  4. McKenzie-Mohr, D., & Zanna, M. P. (1990). Treating women as sexual objects: Look to the (gender schematic) male who has viewed pornography. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 16.
  1. Motley, M. T., Camden, C. T., & Baars, B. J. (1982). Covert formulation and editing of anomalies in speech production: Evidence from experimentally elicited slips of the tongue. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 21.
  2. Denmark, Florence, Nancy Russo, Irene Frieze, Jeri Sechzer. “Guidelines for Avoiding Sexism in Psychological Research,” American Psychologist, Vol 43, No.7, (July 1988), pp. 582-585

How successful theories of addiction encapsulate aspects of addictive behaviour?


Addiction has been widely explained in psychology literature. Each explanation is linked to the main definition where addiction is an individual, difficult and sometimes unmanageable journey for each person affected with addiction. It is a constant battle where one who tries to change their reality, and in most cases continuously failing to do so.

Over the years, psychologists have defined addiction cautiously.  According to Krivanck (1988), addiction is perceived as a process rather than behaviour and is best described on a variety of severity. Nevertheless, loss of control is subjective and increased by ethical issues, since it suggests a certain level of responsibility and blame. Addicts behave in a particular way, communicating differently and adapting to situations depending on the surroundings and environment in which they find themselves.

This essay will try to find answer on “how prosperous have theories of addiction been and how they sum the characteristics of addictive behaviour”. There are many theories of addiction and each theory explains addictive behaviour in different ways. Over the years, different theories of addictive behaviour have attempted to promote a better understanding of addiction and have helped to change people and their lives.

All these models concentrate on the process of development of the addiction and propose independent explanations of addictive behaviour. They also suggest prevention, intervention and treatment (Leonard & Blane 1998). Supporting evidence is presented in order to evaluate the explanation of addictive behaviour

In order to try to find the best defined theory of Addiction and put all pieces of addictive behaviour together, scientists have divided the theories into five groups. Firstly the addiction as a rational, informed choice based on stable preferences, secondly the concepts of impulse and self-control, thirdly addiction as habit and instrumental learning and finally synthetic theory of motivation.

In order to find the aspects of addictive behaviour in each of the addictive theory models, it is necessary to organise the theories to present a description for the most important and significant science account.

According to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) Fishbein and  Middlestadt, (1987),  the key difference which marks the Choice Theories are official form of the decision process, theoretical examination and the subject of rationality and irrationality. The preliminary central theme in Choice Theory is the person’s choice of preferences such as desires, tastes, appetites and interests and also people’s attitude towards environmental restriction and possibility. The Choice Theory states that an addict assess all choices and options, which are in highest ranking of his or her desires and beliefs, and therefore takes action (Elster, 1984).

According to Becker and Murphy (1988), Rational Choice theory clearly captures aspects of addictive behaviour. According to this Model addiction is rational and has stable preferences which are desires, tastes, appetites or interests. Rational Choice theory can explain a variety of addictive behaviour. Becker and Murphy (1988) have proposed the ideal theory which is based on rational stable preference of addiction and an addict’s “consistent plan to maximise utility over time”. As indicated by Becker and Murphy (1988), the utility (goods) is an efficient measure of happiness and wellbeing. Becker and Murphy (1988) believed that heroin use is a symptom of other factors for example a negative life event that provides motivation to use heroin. Use of heroin emerges as a rational behaviour of the addict which is consistent with his/her plan to make the most of the utility over time. Becker and Murphy (1998), in one of the research on Vietnam veterans, make use of the traumatic events throughout the war to show an example of how a person can obtain addictive resources. The harrowing events that veterans experience during the war can be seen as growing addictive assets or capital.  This may perhaps be the grounds which trigger the addictive behaviour and shift their consumption of heroin to higher levels. Possibly some of the Vietnam veterans may move forward into one of the “steady state paths”. Maybe some of Vietnam veterans didn’t intensify the addictive capital and did not use the heroin at all. Some people can recover from negative life events faster than others. People try to block the effect of negative live events by using heroin or other drugs. Becker and Murphy’s (1998) model presents the addictive resource as the memory of the negative life events which heroin eliminates and also maintains the addictive capital.

To make some final conclusions on the model of rational heroin use, it will be necessary to present the Akerlof (1991) study of teenage gangs and their connection with drugs.

Someone can illustrate that street gang is primarily gifted with addictive capital, because of the reflection on the circumstances in which they grow up.  Those youth then revolve to crime, drugs and gangs for the reason that they have high levels of addictive resources. Some of them may not have enough addictive resources and this will reduce their involvement. At the same time some will become addicted to heroin and will not be able to break out of the cruel circle of addictive capital. Because of life preference, they will not think about their future or the value of their life. Young gang members do not worry about the consequences of their present actions and that can be one of the reasons why they become addicted. Akerlof (1991) comments on the public health programs and education policy which tend to influence the rates of addiction. He points that such institutions can have an effect on “youth’s rates of time preference”. Here harm reduction policy can be created in order to reduce the cause outcome and consequence of an active heroin addiction on addictive resources and capital (Becker GS, Grossman M, Murphy (1991)).

As the rational choice approach to behaviour is based on individual decisions, it proposes that every decision is made by weighing the advantage and disadvantages of alternative actions. There are some criticisms to this approach that mainly focus on assumptions about how the decisions are made. Critics of the rational choice theory also argue that it may not be correct to assume that individuals act in a consistent manner over a period of time. In general, in spite of criticisms, no approach of comparable generality has yet been developed that offers serious competition to the rational choice theory (Becker, G.S, 1992. page 52).

The next part of the essay will discuss the theory form group of the concept of impulse control and self regulation. The Disease Theory of Addiction (Roizen 1987) is one of the most controversial theories with a long history of research. As Kurtz and Regier take us back to 1975, we are reminded that “”The disease concept provided a new label, and alcohologists saw in it the hope for recruiting a more respectable clientele for treatment” (p. 1425). Towards the end of the 1940’s, alcohol therapy professionals were making an effort to get a superior and improved arrangement for alcoholics. On the other hand those professionals were trying to get a better deal for themselves.

The Disease Model of addiction by Jellinek (1960) implies that pathology, which is primary to addiction, engages changes in the brain that can direct people to do things hostile to their will. This theory searches for the explanation of individual differences, the development of addiction and vulnerability and receptiveness to improve and retrieve lost ability by recovering from it. Furthermore, this model also controls the concept of compulsion, craving and self-control.

According to self- control concept, addicted individual will try to make an effort to stop engaging in addictive behaviour and will demonstrate all signs that he/she really wants stop but on the other hand will keep his involvement in the addiction. Addicts will try to stop using heroin and accordingly will promise themselves that this is last time. Loss of control patent will be visible over the long or short time. Even when episodes of losing control will repeat over a period of time, addict will make himself believe that he/she still has the power to refrain from addictive behaviour.  But the truth is that there is no way to gradually stop engaging in addictive behaviour by reducing the drug dose, and the only way is to stand firm and try to survive.

Furthermore, the Disease Model inspects the concept of craving which Jellinek (1960) characterises as an “urgent and overpowering desire”. This uncontrollable need drives and forces the individual to accomplish addictive behaviour. The driving forces of the thirst can exit and operate further than the emotion, overpower the addicted individual and strongly affect the emotion, control thought and overshadow all their actions. Disease Theory is confined to the fundamental observable facts of addiction. These powerful urges strip the addict of all aspiration and leave him/her concentrated on the hunt for the target of desire. In assumption of the Disease Model we can state that an addict’s reactions are compulsive and driven by obsession over drugs. As we observe in the Theory of Rational Choice, the individual had the ability to choose to engage in addictive behaviour whereas in disease theory there are no realistic choices but the pressure of the craving or desire to use the drug.

The last concept of the Disease Theory is self-cure which reflects the scrutiny that some addicts may discontinue to engage in addictive behaviour without evident complexity. Skog (2000) evaluates the Disease Model as deceptive because it implies that addicted individuals are able to be the spectator to their own addiction and the only way to stop this is by “physical restraint”. According to this model, addicts are able to make sudden decisions to stop the addictive behaviour without the developed desire to use the drug. Those brain defects, which were the primary cause of the urge, can all of a sudden regulate themselves or the addicted individual wasn’t addicted at the start.

This explanation can be perceived as unclear for many reasons. One of the reasons is that a heavy drug user cannot just get well and improve their function. It also does not address the fact that there can be distinctive differences between short term and long term users who engage in the activity much more regularly.

The centre of attention in this theory is directed towards the desire and compulsion whereas there are many other important aspects of addiction which are not covered by this theory. This theory does not adopt the subject of choice and individuality and is also does not address the differences between the processes of addiction which is individual for everyone.

The assumption of this model is that diverse issues build the addictive behaviour and make it more gratifying and self-discipline more sorrow.

Tackling addiction requires identification of the sources of imbalance at an individual or societal level and developing workable ways of restoring balance either by introducing countervailing motivations or reducing the strength, frequency or impact of maladaptive motivations.

Addiction is a diverse and complex field. Different aspects of addictive behaviour need to be understood in order to tackle addiction effectively.  In order to deal with addiction effectively, it is essential to identify the sources of imbalance at an individual or group level and develop practical ways to restore or correct the imbalance. This can be achieved in a number of ways such as by introducing countervailing motivations or reducing the strength, frequency or impact of maladaptive motivations.

As we have seen, different theories of addiction focus on different aspects of addictive behaviour. Each theory or model has advantages and disadvantages. Although no one theory accurately describes all aspects of addiction, a combined view of different theories can provide a good indication and explanation of most aspects of addictive behaviour.

References:

  1. Akerlof G., Richard, T. Ely. (1991). Procrastination and obedience. Lecture. Am Econ Rev; 81.
  2. Becker, G. S., & Murphy, K. M. (1988). A theory of rational addiction. Journal of Political Economy, 96.
  3. Becker, G. S., Grossman, M. & Murphy, K. M. (1991). Rational addiction and the effect of price on consumption. American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 81.
  4. Becker, G. S., Grossman, M. & Murphy, K. M. (1994). An-empirical analysis of cigarette addiction. American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 84.
  5. Becker, G.S, (1992). The economic war of looking at life. Department of Economics, University of Chicago, Nobel Lecture
  6. Becker, G.S., Grossman, M., Murphy, K.M. (1991). Rational addiction and the effect of price on consumption. Am Econ Rev; 81.
  7. Becker, G.S., Murphy, K. (1988). A theory of rational addiction. J Polit Econ;96.
  8. Chaloupka F. (1991). Rational addictive behaviour and cigarette smoking. J Polit Econ; 99.
  9. DiClemente, C. C. (2003). Addiction and Change: How addictions develop and addicted people recover. New York: The Guildford Press.

10. Jellinek, E. M. (1955). The “craving” for alcohol. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 16.

11. Jellinek, E. M. (1960). The disease concept of alcoholism. New Brunswick, NJ: Hillhouse Press.

12. Krivanek, J. (1988). Addictions. Sydney, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

13. Kurtz, N. R., & Regier, M. (1975). The uniform alcoholism and intoxication treatment act: The compromising process of social policy formulation. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 36.

14. Leonard, K. E., & Blane, H. T. (1988). Alcohol expectancies and personality characteristics in young men. Addictive Behaviors, 13.

15. Mugford, S. (1991). Least bad solutions to the drugs problem. Drug Alcohol Re, 10.

16. Resnick, M. D, Bearman. P, S, Blum. R, Bauman. K, E, Harris. K ,M, Jones. J, Tabor. J, Beuhring. T, Sieving. R, E, Shew. M, Ireland. M, Bearinger. L, H, Udry. J, R. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm. Jama, 278.

17. Roizen, R. (1987). The great controlled-drinking controversy. Recent developments in alcoholism. In M. Galanter (Ed.), Vol. 5, New York: Plenum

18. Seligman, M. (1990).  Learned Optimism. New York, Knopf.

19. Skog, O. J. (2000). Addict’s Choice. Addiction, Editorial: 95 (9)

20. West, R. (2001). Editorial: Theories of Addiction. Addiction 96.

21. West, R. (2006). Theory of Addiction. London: Blackwell Publishing.

Mother killed autistic son “to get rest” (Forensic Psychology)


Mother killed autistic son “to get rest”, court hears

Source: The Forensic Psychology Article – The Telegraph, 10 May 2011. 

Summary of the article.

This article published in the Telegraph dated 10th May 2011 describes the death by strangling of a 11 year old autistic boy by his mother in the Sky Plaza hotel in Rhoose, Cardiff. The article states that after strangling the son, the Mother unsuccessfully tried to take her own life by slashing her wrist, arms, shoulder, chest and feet. It appears from the article that the main motive behind the killing was to relieve the child and herself from the stresses of day to day life. The mother attributed a number of reasons to justify her actions. The pressure and stresses arising from a breaking marriage and its impact on her four children had led her to live in hotels for almost a month preceding the incident. She informed the officers who arrived at the scene about her son autism and how her actions would free him of his problems by taking him in higher place. She gives a number of others reasons to support and justify the positive reasons of killing her son.  Furthermore according to article she treat the killing as one of the solution to free her son form autism as in haven all man will equal and free of illness such autisms.

In spite of her justifications, it appears that she is indeed aware of the wrongfulness of her actions. This becomes evident in one of her statements where she acknowledges that she may not have been able to join her son in heaven as God may not forgiver her for her actions. This can indicates an aware of the immorality of her actions. However she goes on to add that her parents or the son’s grand parents would never the less be available to look after her son in the after life.

From her actions, it appears that she has thought about the implications and impact of her actions on her immediate family. This can indicate that she is aware of her responsibility towards the emotional well being of her other sons. She left a number of suicide notes for her children. This may indicate that tried to help make her children make sense of the situation. One of the suicide notes was addressed to her 14 year old son where she wished his him good luck in his future and tries to make him understand that her suicide should not be necessarily seen as negative. She tries to make him understand that the situation is actually good for her as it puts her to rest. She even try to highlights the fact that her autistic son was involved in making the decisions as she claimed to have asked him numerous times if he wanted to be with his father or his special needs school but that on all the occasions the son pointed at her instead.

Contrary to her justifications, the prosecutor tries to present that the autistic boy could have had a normal life expectancy and that he could walk, run, play all those he could not talk. In spite of this, the prosecutor acknowledges that she was indeed a responsible parent and was devoted towards the long time care of her children. The prosecutor added that the child needed full-time adult care and supervision. He needed help to dress, wash, brush his teeth and eat. These were duties which the mother seems to have fulfilled with devotion and love.

The mother denies murder but has admitted to manslaughter. The trial continues.

A detailed examination of the topic

A recent report of FBI files reported that the murder of a child is the a type of crime which enters terror, anxiety and apprehension in our population. The problem of mother filicide exceeds the borders of our society and challenges existing social norms. According to FBI files, from 1987 children homicides in the UK domestic setting cover 2398 deaths where 28% are less than ten years old. According the De Young notes (1982) ”the offender sees the child victims as representations of all his problems and everything he hates about himself as well the dreaded memory of his own childhood”. As we see in the article above in the case of the mother killing the autistic child, the mother believes that by killing her child she will free the child from the pain of autism.

The psychology handbook defines murder as killing of human being by another human being. According to Brookman (2005), manslaughter is hard to establish because of the thin line between the various definitions of murder. Classification of this description implies that murder can be perceived as accidental and un-intended death or the occurrence of an episode which can be distinguished as murder. According to Black (1990), murder is defined as malice which describes the “ill will” to harm someone else.  “Malice afterthought” which is the intention to kill differentiates the murder from unlawful killing (malice coming from the Latin “bad”). According to Hillbrand (2001), murder is a “single-incident offence” which mostly involves one victim and the predator does not commit another murder even after serving the prison sentence. According to data from the department of Justice in the United States, killing of children by parents tends to occur more in children under the age of 5 years old. In the past of 25 years, of all the children under age 5 years who were murdered in the United States, 61 per cent were killed by parents, 30% of the children were killed by their mothers, and 31% by their fathers. Moreover the valuation of the record of the centre for disease control and prevention for 1994 suggests that homicide was the third direct basis of death between children from ages 5–14 years.

In the article discussed above, the mother attributed a number of reasons to justify her actions of killing her son. This can be seen as the process of neutralisation. Gresham Sykes and David Matza’s neutralization theory explains how a person who commits a crime may try to justify their behavior by providing alternative definitions and explanations of their actions . This is seen throughout the article where the mother gives a number of justifications for her actions.

According to Finkelhor and Ormrod (2001), homicide of young children are 71% predominantly by family members and usually by “personal weapon” (use of hand or feet, strangle or suffocation). Furthermore, Finkelhor and Ormrod (2001) uncover no difference between the number of murders between girls and boys. However children younger than one year old possess a greater risk of homicide. Those age categorisation of the offspring are mostly killed by family relatives who believe that they are not able and capable of raising a child or simply don’t want a child. According to the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect (1998), the most common reason for the parent to kill their child is the attention requirement and constant need to be the centre of their interest.

A number of researches and studies conducted in the past can help provide a better insight into the case discussed in the article where the mother kills her child and later unsuccessfully tries to take her own life. As Fox and Zawitz (2001) point out, the death of the child is more frequent is the family setting where parents are in the middle of a divorce or where a father abuses his child. This finding is supported by the case discussed in this article where the mother is going through a divorce and has been forced to live in hotels for almost a month before killing.

According to Resnick’s (1969) psychiatric study, mothers who kill their children experience recurrent psychoses and are in need of mental treatment as they suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Furthermore Resnick’s (1969) distinguishes the reason and motive of the mother who is responsible for killing her own child. One of the killing motivations is “altruistic killing” where mother believes that she is killing the child out of love. Mother is convinced that murder of her child is of the greatest importance and is the best thing for her child. This finding is supported by the article discussed above where the mother tries to justify the killing of her child by stating that she did not want the child to suffer the from the day to stresses of life as an autistic child. In the article, the mother offers numerous justifications to support why killing her child was best for the child. She indeed believed that by killing the child she would free the child from terrible and horrific life experiences and that his death is the best solution for him.

Maternal filicide-suicide

In conjunction with mother’s motive to kill her child, there are many different reasons for the parent to commit the murder. According to Oberman’s (1996) study, mother’s socioeconomic background was usually poor and they had experienced social isolation. However the need of the child was the major focus in mother’s life. Alder and Baker suggest that some of the mothers were victims of domestic violence and had experienced problems in relationship with they partner. The above findings together with the findings of Silverman and Kennedy (1988) are consistent with the case discussed in the article where there is a constant focus on the problems faced by the autistic child. Overcoming the difficulties experienced by the child and the help he needed as an autistic child are some of the triggers for the murder.

There are numerous studies that show the relationship between the murder of a child and ensuing suicide attempt by the mother. This is consistent with the article where the mother tried to kill herself after taking the life of her child. According to Wallace and Sydney (1986), a number of mothers who kill their children were suicidal, depressed and experience psychosis. Nock and Marzuk (1999) also found that 16-29 per cent of mothers who kill their child concluded their crime by suicide.  On the other hand, Appleby (1996) found that five per cent of suicidal mothers of young children kill one of their children. These findings are consistent with the article where the mother tries to commit suicide after the murder of her child.

On another note, Daly and Wilson (1998) found that suicidal mothers who kill their child more often kill older children (mean age of murdered children was six years old) as opposed to infants. The recent study of Friedman Hrouda and Holden (2005) found that the mothers indicated symptoms of depression and psychosis. Alongside they reported many cases where mothers who kill their children take their own life after killing her children.

Abusive parent

In the study about violent parents and non abusive parents, Frude (1991) found characteristics of prototype behaviour that emerged from frequent exertion and difficulty in raising children. He pointed out that those parents have little acceptance and tolerance to their child’s behaviour and have problems to control their anger. Parents are mostly depressed with low self-esteem and lack in empathy. In addition, Wolfe (1987) implies that abusive parents have pessimistic and damaging perceptions of their children and also may have improbable and unreasonable outlook on their children’s life. Such parents may believe that the children are intentionally being hard and challenging but the truth is that their unrealistic expectation of their children’s life is what makes them unsuccessful. Marauder pathology becomes likely the main factor in child abuse where predator behaviour interacts with difficult child behaviour and results in tragedy. According to viewpoint of Sedlak (1991), the focal point of child abuse can be the social context in which the child has poor family background, social difficulty and social isolations. Violent parent can come from abusive family where the parent could have had an abusive childhood and learnt throughout his life that violence is the right method to raise their child.  These parent child interaction problems can be solved with the right assistance and help. As we see in the article above, lack of proper help and support available to the mother and the autistic child is likely to have led to violence and abuse and this case even death.

Reference:

1)    Alder, C. M. & Baker J. (1997). Maternal filicide: more than one story to be told. Women and Criminal Justice, 9, 15–39.

2)    Alder, C.,& Polk, K. (2001). Child victims of homicide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

3)    Appleby, L. (1996). Suicidal behaviour in childbearing women. Int Rev Psychiatry, 8,107–115.

4)    Black, H. C. (1990) Black law dictionary. St. Paul, MN: West.

5)    Bourget, D., & Bradford, J. M. (1990). Homicidal parents. Can J Psychiatry, 35, 233–238.

6)    Brookman, F. (2005). Understanding Homicide. Portland, OR: Sage.

7)    Child Abuse Prevention Centre. (1998). Shaken baby syndrome fatalities in the United States. Ogden, UT: Author.

8)    Daly, M. & Wilson, M. (1988) Killing children: parental homicide in the modern west. In: Daly M, Wilson M, (Ed) Homicide. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, pp. 61–93.

9)    De Young, M.(1982). The sexual victimisation of children. Jefferson: McFarland.

10) Finkelhor, D. & Ormrod, R. (2001). Homicides of children and youth. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Preventions.

11) Fox, J. A., & Zawitz, M. A.(2001). Homicide trends in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

12) Friedman, S. H. Hrouda, D. R. & Holden, C.E. (2005). Filicide-suicide: common factors among parents who kill their children and themselves. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law,33,496–504.

13) Frude, N. (1991). Child abuse. In Howells, K. & Hollin, C. (Ed). Clinical Approaches to Violence. Chichester: John Wiley.

14) Hillbrand, M. (2001). Homicide- suicide and other form of co-occurring aggression against self and against others. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32,625-635.

15) Karakus, M. Ince, H. & Ince, N. (2003). Filicide cases in Turkey, 1995- 2000. Croat Med J,44:592–595.

16) Meyer, C. L., & Oberman, M. (2001). Mothers who kill their children: understanding the acts of moms from Susan Smith to the “Prom Mom”. New York: New York University Press

17) Nock, M. K., & Marzuk, P. M. (1999). Murder-suicide: phenomenology and clinical implications. In: Jacobs, D. G. (Ed). Guide to suicide assessment and intervention. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 188–209.

18) Oberman, M. (1996). Mothers who kill: coming to terms with modern American infanticide. American Criminal Law Review, 34, 2–109.

19) Resnick, P.J. (1969). Child murder by parents: a psychiatric review of filicide. Am J Psychiatry, 126, 73–82.

20) Rouge-Maillart, N. & Jousset, N. (2005). Women who kill their children. Am J Forensic Med Pathol, 26, 320–326.

21) Sedlak, A.J. (1991). National Incidence and Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect: 1998. Rockville: Westat.

22) Silverman, R. A., & Kennedy, L.W. (1988). Women who kill their children. Violence Vict, 3,113–127.

23) Somander, L.K., & Rammer, L. M. (1991). Intra- and extra-familial child homicide in Sweden 1971-1980. Child Abuse Negl,15, 45–55.

24) Vanamo, T., Kauppo, A.,&  Karkola, K. (2001). Intra-familial child homicide in Finland 1970-1994: incidence, causes of death and demographic characteristics. Forensic Sci Int, 117, 199–204.

25) Wallace, A. (1986). Homicide: the social reality. New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Sydney.

26) Wolfe, D. A. (1987). Child Abuse: Implication for Child Development and Psychopathology. Newbury Park: Sage.

To what extent can addiction be explained in terms of brain dysfunction?


Our world is changing really fast and scientists can now explore subjects that were previously unapproachable. For example, scientists can explore how the genes and environmental factors affect the brain, how the brain responds to drugs, and how drug abuse is driven and changes in the development of .

In order to find an explanation to the question “To what extent can addiction be explained in terms of brain dysfunction”, it will be necessary to provide the definition of the most important term and theory of addiction which will be used in this essay in order to clarify the account of the thesis. The work of Robert West (2008), Dr. Nora Volkow ( 2003) and O.J. Skog (2000) will be presented in order to find the explanation for this question.

The Major Biological Theory describes addiction based on the explanation that the main cause of addiction lies in genetic theory and disease model.

According to Robert West (2008), Disease Model of addiction proclaims that addiction engages pathological modification in the brain that results in overpowering urges. The disease model of addiction matches the medical explanation of the disorder which defines disorder as a form of irregularity or defection and disturbance. According to the diseases model of addiction, addiction can engage and affect the function of the Central Nervous System. (Gelkopf, 2002).

According to medical terminology the “disease” is a medical nonstandard condition of human beings which shows weak physical function or distinction, distress which can be related to specific signal and interaction of biological, social, physical, and psychological uncommon structure and function.

The disease model of addiction analyses the process of drug abuse as an illness which is in need of rehabilitation and therapy. According to disease model of addiction, the problem of addiction lies in environmental and biological factors, and is strongly related with genetic predispositions. According to ‘Disease Model’ of alcohol dependence, the addict does not have control over the addiction and is missing the choice because of the genetic predisposition.

The model also provides explanation of the individual differences of human beings, the weakness in the learning process and the vulnerability which needs improvement and regaining. In addition to the model there are three conditions of the rule in which an addict can be treated.

First is the “Loss of control” which states that an addict will show the motivation to stop taking the drug and engage in addictive behaviour but at the same time will continue to be involves in the addictive behaviour. Addicted person will often make self promises to stop taking drugs and will show the true potential to do so. But in reality, they will be not able to keep the agreement made with them self.

The process of loss of control starts from small things, for example a cigarette smoker will plan to smoke just four cigarettes a day from the next day and will most likely break the agreement by smoking more cigarettes than initially planned.

In addition to this, their way of thinking will start to change and the impact of not being able to stop will affect the overall behaviour in a way that the person will not able to refuse or refrain from being involved in the addictive behaviour. The loss of control will be expressed in a variety of ways, for example an addict will not be able to keep promises or continue with work or studies as he or she was able to do before their addiction.

The second condition of the disease model is the “importance of urge” which controls the addict in the process of addiction. The addictive person is extremely motivated to get the “next fix” and will do everything to succeed in it. The uncontrollable and unbearable craving cannot be stopped even in situations when the addict thinks that he or she has the choice but at the same time is not able to even consider it.

The third and last condition of the disease model is “self-cure” which reveals the situation in which an active addict stops engaging in addictive behaviour for a period of time and will never come back to it. Then again some addicts may not really be addicted to the drug in the first place as compared to a heavy user who stops for some time and relapses again.

The Disease Model of addiction states that an addict doesn’t have any control over their addiction and the ability to chose is not present.

However the new findings of Dr. Volkow states that drug addiction is a brain disease. It is not just loss of determination to fight the addiction but there is much more to it.

According to salience theory of dopamine, the neurochemical is released in brain when something unexpected but significant happens, for example if we unintentionally burn our hand. Dopamine is activated in our brain in a situation when we are paying full attention to the things which we want to remember because they are really important and cannot be forgotten. Throughout addiction there is superior activity in the dopamine which is involved in learning, motivation and memory process. The superior activity of dopamine is five times stronger in the time of drug use than in normal process of remembering. The increased dopamine activity pushes the brain motivational and attentional system to concentrate completely and only on the drug. During the addiction the addictive brain becomes accustomed to the dopamine and starts to reduce the system down.

From the evidence of dopamine theory of addiction, it seems that drug addiction is a brain disease expressed as compulsive behaviour. For those researches Dr. Volkow used the brain imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET) of seventeen long- term addicts addicted to cocaine. Dr. Volkow found that the cocaine strength brought on high levels of excitement among the participants which was related to the cocaine capacity to block the dopamine transporter system. According to Dr. Volkow, the finding suggests that the brains thalamus region may have an addiction related level of functions.

All those findings support the view that addiction is a brain disease and the predisposition to become an addict are strongly determined by the biological and genetical tendency of the individual.

Dr. Volkow, in some of his researches, has indicated that addicts have smaller amount of dopamine receptor D2 which was found in the brain in the same place as the part which is involved in motivation and compensation behaviour. With the receptor D2, an addict is in strong need to take the drug over and over again.

In order to explain the account further, it is important and essential to explore the ‘Choice Theory of addiction’. The opposite view of biological approach will be presented to compare and contrast both of the theories to obtain clear answer to the question of this essay.

The work of O.J. Skog (2000), and his “Choice Theory of Addiction” presents the addiction in terms of choice which an addict makes more readily and willingly than urge. Skog highlights that an addicted person always has a choice and the choice has the main control over the addict. There is no other power which drives an addict’s behaviour to control the addiction. In this case addicts have control over the choice, and the control can change only when an addict simply changes their mind. The strength and steadiness of choice can change the consistency and addict can lose the strength of his performance.

Skog’s choice theory is missing the primary characteristic of behaviour which explains the behaviour just in the context of choice. The Choice theory explains that an addict always has the choice from the start, from the choice to choose the drug and the choice to engage in the addictive behaviour. According to the Choice theory for the addicted person, the most important issue is for the addict to recognise that he has choice, which means that all his actions can be controlled by the simple choice to engage in addictive behaviour.

This essay has considered explanations to the question “Can addiction be explained in term of brain dysfunction?” and has also presented the new scientific evidence of dopamine theory which has been compared to the basis choice theory.

It is clear that the understanding of the addiction will progress further in future and that the addictive personality is developing and changing. There are no magic pills in the world to cure addiction, and there are no perfect theories that will describe the exact process of becoming an addict.

All over the world researchers have tried to ask the right questions in the study to find answers and help us understand addiction better. In the end we can all agree that some of the things that happen deep inside the addict’s mind will remain a mystery.

The debate about the predisposition to become an addict is changing all the time because of new findings and studies.

In the first part of this essay, the disease model of addiction was presented to support the view that the addiction is based on the biological theory of addiction which states that humans become addicts because of the genetic, biological, and environmental predispositions. We can agree with it because of many years of research which proves that in some addicts, the genetic and biological factors stand out.

The first and most important difference between these two theories – Disease Model and Choice Theory – is, that in the ‘Disease Model’ addicts do not have control over their choice. As we have discussed in the beginning of this essay, the “loss of control” is so strong that the addicted person cannot keep any promises or agreement. The next and maybe the most important difference between the ‘Choice Theory’ and ‘Disease Model’ is that, the addict experiences the “urge” where in the Choice Model the addicted person does not experience any urge. The choice model believes that they have the opportunity to choose what they want to do with their addictive behaviour. In reality the craving is so strong that all choice points in direction to get the “next fix” to feel better.

The last difference is that the Disease Model claims that the addicted person believes that he or she has control over self- cure. This distinction can be determined by the time in which they engage in the addictive behaviour.

In addition to the theory of choice the “rational choice” has control over the addictive behaviour. The responsibility to be involved in addiction is in fact missing and an addict is not able to control the choice because the control is dominated by urge.

All of these findings point towards the idea that the force or urge to take drugs is determined not just by the choice, but by high biological and environmental factors.

This account clearly indicates that addiction can be explained in terms of brain dysfunction because even if the addict is able to make the choice to abstain from drugs for a period of time, some stronger force will take control over the motivation and those forces can be biological or genetical. These findings provide further explanation to the question of this essay. When we reflect on these theories, we can agree that all knowledge about addiction received from the different theories that have been discussed, have real potential to understand the causes of addiction and can be developed further in order to find the best possible strategies to cure the vulnerable people of the population who are suffering from the power of addiction.

Reference:

  1. Volkow, N.D., et al. Relationship between subjective effects of cocaine and dopamine transporter occupancy. Nature 386:827-830, 1997.
  1. Volkow, N.D.; Wang G.-J.; Fowler, J.S.; Legan, J.; Gatley, S.J.; Hitzeman, R.; Chen, A.D.; Dewey, S.L.; Pappas, N. Decreased striatal dopaminergic responsiveness in detoxified cocaine-dependent subjects. Nature 386:830-833, 1997.
  1. O.-J. Skog (2000), “Addict’s choice”, Addiction, Vol. 95 pp.1309 – 1314.
  1. O.-J. Skog (2003), “Addiction – Definitions and mechanisms”, in N. Heather, R. Vuchinich (Eds), Pergamon Press, New York
  1. O.-J. Skog (1997),”The strength of weak will”, Rationality and Society, Vol. 9 pp.245 – 271.
  1. O.-J. Skog (1999), “Rationality, irrationality, and addiction – Notes on Becker and Murphy’s theory of addiction”, in J. Elster, O.-J. Skog (Eds),Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.173 – 207.
  1. Gelkopf, M., Levitt, S., Bleich, A., 2002. An integration of three approaches to addiction and methadone maintenance treatment: the selfmedication hypothesis, the disease model and social criticism. Isr. J. Psychiatry Relat. Sci. 39, 140– 151.
  1. Volkow, N.D., Fowler, J.S., Wolf, A.P., Hitzemann, R., Dewey, S., Bendriem, B Alpert, R. and Hoff, A. 1991. Changes in Brain Glucose Metabolism in Cocaine Dependence and Withdrawal. Am J Psychiatry 148: 621–626.
  1. Volkow, N.D., Wang, G., Fowler, J.S., Logan, J., Gerasimov, M., Maynard, L., Ding, Y., Gatley, S.J., Gifford, A. and Franceschi, D. 2001. Therapeutic Doses of Oral Methylphenidate Significantly Increase Extracellular Dopamine in the Human Brain. J Neurosci 21: RC121.
  1. Volkow, N.D., Wang, G.J., Fowler, J.S., Franceschi, D., Thanos, P.K., Wong, C., Gatley, S.J., Ding, Y.S., Molina, P., Schlyer, D., Alexoff, D., Hitzemann, R. and Pappas, N. 2000. Cocaine Abusers Show a Blunted Response to Alcohol Intoxication in Limbic Brain Regions. Life Sci 66: PL161-7.
  1. Volkow, N.D., Wang, G.J., Fowler, J.S., Logan, J., Gatley, S.J., Gifford, A., Hitzemann, R., Ding, Y.S. and Pappas, N. 1999a. Prediction of Reinforcing Responses to Psychostimulants in Humans by Brain Dopamine D2 Receptor Levels. Am J Psychiatry 156: 1440–1443.

Evidence to suggest methamphetamine use has a powerfully negative affect on psychologcal health


First use of methamphetamine was reported in 1919 in Japan and just one year later in 1920 in Europe. In the 1930’s the use of methamphetamine increased significantly in Europe. In 1938, a German Pharmacological company located in Berlin started producing methamphetamine under the name of “Pervitin”. In World War II methamphetamine was distributed between German soldiers and the rest of general population. The German military referred to it a “Pilots chocolate”.

In 1940, methamphetamine changed its name to “Methedrine” or “desoxyephedrine” and it also changed its function. Its use was started to treat psychological illnesses such as neurosis, depression and hypotension. By the mid 1900’s the ill-effects of the drug also became evident. In 1961 the British Medical Association recommended that the drug should be used with caution. They further went on to state that prescription of the medication should be limited only to the conditions where no reasonable alternative exists.

Methamphetamine is a versatile substance in the sense that can be consumed orally, smoked or injected. In our modern world the widespread and extensive use of the drug has increased and is greater than before. There has been a growing concern with the problem of methamphetamine abuse in society. The drug become easily available on the drug market and popularity of the drug become major concern.

Over the years the side effects of the drug have become increasingly evident and methamphetamine use has been associated with a number of negative psychological conditions.  Methamphetamine users often demonstrate numerous behaviour changes. Addicted individuals are often violent, in public situation start acting out of the ordinary and can display extremely anxious behaviour is frequently confused and unable to sleep. Psychosis delusions and hallucination very common as an effect of this drug as well.

Psychotic features can be really strong and convincing for methamphetamine users that can create out of control anger and can lead to suicidal of the addict .

These negative behavioural and psychological changes can continue for years even if drug use is discontinued.

Methamphetamine abuse has led to many issues in society and even death in some cases. According to Zweben (2004), methamphetamine use is connected with psychopathology which consists of depression, psychosis, mood and anxiety disorder, violent behaviour and cognitive deficits.

One of the most common side effects of methamphetamine use is related to depression which can in-turn lead to suicide attempts. Depression among methamphetamine users can be better understood from a research conducted by Zwebden. Zweben (2004) in his study with one of the biggest samples of the methamphetamine users (N=1,016) examined the psychiatric symptoms and found that depression symptoms were frequently found among methamphetamine users. Specifically 68% of women and 50% of men reported feeling depressed at some point of their lives and 28%of the woman and 13% of men reported at least one suicide attempt. Another research by Clatts, Goldsamt and Yi (2005) shows the high rates of prior suicide attempts (34%) and clinically significant depressive symptoms in over half (58%) of all users.

Additional studies have shown further correlation between depression and methamphetamine addiction. Studies have shown that depression can be a major contributing factor for methamphetamine addiction and the risk of long term addiction is higher for those suffering from depression. In his research, Grant (1995) found evidence which suggests that the lifetime risk of dependence to methamphetamine was 6.19 times more likely for an individual with major depression than between those without major depression.  At the same time, the rate and risk of depression and attempted suicide is also seen to be higher in methamphetamine users than the general population. The higher level of depression is usually associated with the long time use and injection of the drug. The negative powerful effects of methamphetamine use have an impact on the psychological health of the user to the point that the addict wanted to attempt suicide. Semple (2005) found that methamphetamine users meet all conditions for minor to critical depression and the longer they use the bigger and higher the level of depression symptoms they have.

At the same time it is also important to note that the social and health problems of the methamphetamine users do not directly contribute to depression whereas the taboo and stigma associated with its use can affect users which can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms. All these factors are part and the cause of the development of depression in methamphetamine users.

General problems associated with addiction can also be found with MA users such as the problem of isolation.  It is common for methamphetamine users to start isolating themselves from their surroundings. This is mainly found in long time methamphetamine use. The isolation plays a positive role in the development of depression. The lack of connection with surroundings is one of the risk factors for the depression.(Costello 1982).

Many of these researches indicate that methamphetamine users are more prone to be depressed and more vulnerable to other psychological conditions as psychosis hallucination and delusions. Psychostimulant users have higher level of psychosis and hallucination than opiate users. The higher level of psychosis is associated with long time use and has higher risk of psychotic symptom, mania or other disorders.  This is sometimes referred to as “Speed psychosis” among users.

Hallucinations can appear as sound and vision and can be observed usually in the auditory or visual senses. Psychosis in the methamphetamine user can also go hand in hand with unstable emotional condition and aggressive behaviour. Psychosis can last up to hours to days. In severe cases the individual may require urgent medical attention or even hospitalisation.

Another symptom associated long term methamphetamine use is paranoia. The delusion and hallucination in methamphetamine users can sometimes manifest itself as a strong belief that people are in conspiracy against him. Addicted individuals can sometimes hear and see things which are not present in reality. Sometimes the psychosis or hallucination can activate aggressive behaviour which is a result of psychostimulant abuse.

Furthermore according to McKetin (2006), long time use of methamphetamine can trigger aggressive behaviour in the addict. Strongly intoxicated individuals can cause arguments in social situations which can in-turn set off violate behaviour.

Hall in 1996 found in his study that half of methamphetamine users show violent behaviour which increases from time they start using the drug. Those individuals with a problem of aggression can react with violent behaviour because of the drug use. Zweben(2004)  found that 43% of methamphetamine users have a problem with aggression. McKetin (2006) reported in his finding 12% of the addicts have committed crime in the previous year. Sommers (2006) found that a third of methamphetamine users have assaulted someone while being intoxicated.

In addition to the already-documented physical effects of the drug, preliminary evidence suggests that methamphetamine dependence may also cause long-term neuronal damage.

Many powerful negative effects of methamphetamine use on psychological health and functioning have been highlighted in this report. Research in this field is widespread and ongoing. From time to time, new findings have only further supported this supposition.

The society is in general more aware of the drawbacks and side effects of methamphetamine use. However at the same time, methamphetamine use has not declined and its popularity has continued to grow. Methamphetamine abuse continues to be a major concern for our society. We have come a long way since 1920 when the drug was first released. Today, its negative effects are accepted universally and it is recognised as a major drug problem. Major strides have been also been taken towards the management of methamphetamine abuse and dependence.

Reference:

  1. Clatts, M. C., Goldsamt, L. A., & Yi, H. (2005). Club drug use among young men who have sex with men in NYC: A preliminary epidemiological profile. Substance Use & Misuse, 40(9), 1317–1330.
  1. Costello, C. G. (1982). Social factors associated with depression: A retrospective community study. Psychological Medicine, 12(2), 329–339.
  1. Grant, B. F. (1995). Comorbidity between DSM–IV drug use disorders and major depression: Results of a national survey of adults. Journal of Substance Abuse, 7(4), 481–497.
  1. Hall, W., Hando, J., Darke, S., & Ross, J. (1996). Psychological morbidity and route of administration among amphetamine users in Sydney, Australia. Addiction, 91(1), 81–87.
  1. McKetin R, McLaren J, Kelly E. , (2005)  The Sydney methamphetamine market: patterns of supply, use, personal harms and social consequences. National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund Monograph no. 13. Adelaide: Australasian Centre for Policing Studies
  1. Sommers, I., & Baskin, D. R. (2006). Methamphetamine use and violence Journal of Drug Issues, 36(1), 77–97.
  1. Zweben JE, Cohen JB, Christian D (2004) , et al. Psychiatric symptoms in methamphetamine users Am J Addict; 13:81 – 90.

How have Psychologist attempt to explain addictive behaviour?


Addiction has become an enormous issue in our society. Governments together with Non-governmental organisations (N.G.O’s) and health services try to address the problem by conducting research as well as providing treatment and rehabilitation services. With overcrowding youth centres and prisons, they are driven to find solution for the situation and acknowledge that something needs to change. Many researches have been conducted to reveal the truth about human nature and the behaviour of the community with respect to addiction. Many sections of our society including psychologists are working rigorously towards   solving the drug crisis.

Through ongoing research conducted across many centres, psychologists try to found justification for human behaviour and try to describe and explain human nature in the best way possible.

Addiction is widely explained in psychology literature and each explanation is linked to the main definition where addiction is an individual, difficult and sometimes unmanageable journey for each person affected with addiction. It is a constant battle where one who tries to change their reality, continuously fails to do so.

Over the years, psychologists have cautiously defined addiction.  According to Krivanck (1988), addiction is perceived as a process rather than behaviour and is best described on a variety of severity. Nevertheless loss of control is subjective and increased by ethical issues, since it suggests a certain level of responsibility and blame. Addicts behave in particular way, communicating differently and adapting to situations depending on the surroundings and environment in which they find themselves.

This essay will present the creation of numerous theories and models. Various categories can be use to summarise those models. The most important comprise the social-environment models, genetic-physiological models, personality-intrapsychic models, coping- social learning models, conditioning–reinforcement behavioural models, compulsive-excessive behavioural models, and at last the integrative biopsychosocial models. All these models concentrate on the process of development of the addiction and each model proposes individual explanation of addiction. They also suggest prevention, intervention and treatment ( Leonard & Blane 1999). Supporting evidence will be presented in order to evaluate the explanation of addictive behaviour.

At first we will focus on the cognitive approach theories.  The most noticeable were by Psychologists John Booth Davies (1992) and Griffiths (1992, 1994) who tried to find explanation to addictive behaviour. Rational Choice Model by Becker and Murphy (1998) proposes that people choose to engage in an activity as a result of weighing up the costs and benefits.   The theory makes use of the concept of “utility”, which in economics is a measure of the relative satisfaction resulting from consumption of a particular good or service.  From this viewpoint, addiction is understood as a process where addicts try to maximise the utility from the ‘consumption of goods’ (for example alcohol, gambling and drugs). Addicted individuals have made a rational choice in connection with the future consequences of their drug taking. According to this theory, addicts are rational consumers who look ahead and behave in a way that most likely will maximise the benefits of their choices.

John Booth Davies (1997) proposes a similar view of the Rational Choice Model. In his definition of the rational choice model, addiction is a “collective creation of the social world which serves a unique and specific purpose for particular individual at precise times”. Addicted individuals use their addiction as a justification to implement a specific and unique function for the individual and provide satisfaction. Addiction is used as a tool to explain the weakness and behaviour which, without the explanation, will be seen in society as morally wrong. Language in group of addictive individuals is distinctive, difficult to understand and depends on situation. An addict can label them self in situations when the labels will benefit their social position, for example when the addict is stopped by the police they may try to reduce the charge by trying to gain sympathy of the authority. They may try to make the police feel sorry for their personal situation and may try to use their addiction to their advantage. Davies believes that addiction is also profitable to the society where therapists and psychologists make living from it.

“The myth of addiction” (Davies 1997) recognises addiction as a one way system of social construction which provides satisfaction. However it is important to point out that the model does not mention the negative features and aspects of the addict world.

Addicted individual tend to lock themselves in solitary surroundings and isolated and secluded addicts are not able to reach out to other people. It also does not offer an explanation of addictive behaviour which changes and depends on the drug being used by the addict. For example heroin addicts tend to be stopped by authority more than a cannabis user.

In order to understand human nature and addictive behaviour where addict tries to solve the individual problem by taking drugs, it will be necessary to discuss ‘The Self –medication Model of addiction by Gelkopf et al (2002)’. The self-medication model claims that in the initiation stage, addicts may deliberately use the addictive behaviour to cope with stress and psychological struggle.

The particular addiction is not chosen at random but has been selected as it is perceived to help a particular problem.  This Model tries to explain addiction and the individual differences in vulnerability to it. It suggests that the addict tries to fix individual problem via self–medication. The Model proposes an interesting explanation for the variation of different drugs which are not accidental according to the Gelkopf (2002). Addicts use stronger drugs in order to solve major psychological problems. According to Cohen and Lichtenstein (1990), “stress relief“smoking is not at all stress relief. They found significant differences in the level of stress between smoker and the ex-smoker or even non smoker.

In the past sixteen years, several psychologists from the field of addiction have suggested Biopsychosocial (biological-psychological-social) Models of Addiction. The development of the model appears to be extensive and holds problematical relations, concerning various psychological, social and biological factors, which seem to play a part in the development of addiction problems. The Bio-Psycho-Social approach states that there are sociological basis, psychological causes as well as biological reasons for addiction. In addition to accounting for addiction to drugs or alcohol, it highlights the emotional problems of the addict and also draws attention to the relationships with surrounding.  The biopsychosocial model contains and accommodates variety and value of individual differences between people. The biopsychosocial model can be understood as a model of “the best practices”, because it proposes the most appropriate set of intervention programmes and services to meet the needs of the client.

Donovan and Marlatt, (1998) state that” addiction is an interactive product of social learning in situations involving physiological events as they are interpreted, labelled, and giving of meaning by the individual”. The multicomponent model of addiction requires the understanding of the process of development of the addiction. Marlatt and Gordon (1985) use the relapse process as reason to support the requirement of the biopsychosocial model.  This model evidently supports and proves the complexity of addiction and recovery. Nevertheless, the tripartite of the model factors is needed to understand the density and the continuous changes of the addiction process and the relapse of the addict.

On other hand the biological model of addiction states that people are most vulnerable in the initiation phase because some of them may have a biological predisposition which makes them susceptible to addiction. When an addict manages to refrain from drugs, the biological tendency will hold them back and relapse will occur more frequently.

Caine (2007) found that mice which lack the D1 receptor for dopamine, will not take cocaine when given a chance to do so, whereas normal mice will keep coming back for more because like humans, they find it extremely addictive. This research shows that the drug rouses the reward path in the brain. Rewarding experiences trigger the release of dopamine and makes the brain feel like they want to do it.

Constant contact with drugs results in decrease of the activity of positive reward path in the brain. This reaction produces a tension for the addict which typify by symptoms of withdrawal. The unpleasant position turns into the leading dynamic power of the drug appetite. To increase the pleasure is no longer the main goal of the addict. Instead, now the addict takes drugs in order to avoid pain from withdrawal symptoms. Addict individual no longer takes the drugs to gain a pleasurable experience, but instead takes them to avoid an unpleasant state. In consequence to this, the drug levels increase and that sets off the reward system in the brain. Sooner or later the passion for the drugs is so high that the addict does not have any other aspiration in their life. Notwithstanding the reality that the drugs do not give any gratification, addicted brain will resave signals of pending prize which triggers addicted individual to take the drugs. The frontal cortex effect will drop down and will not be able to judge the action and the consequences of it. All those actions will intensify the possibility of relapse even after the addict has stopped taking drugs.

As we can see in this essay, there can be broad disadvantages of describing addiction only by cognitive approach because there is empirical confirmation for particular chemical addictions which have a biological description of the relapse and maintenance. For example for someone who smokes, craving can be physical and painful and that can be reason to relapse.

Although cognitive factors might be effective in explaining why an individual is pulled in to addiction, it is not successful in describing why an addict persists and carries on the addiction even when the benefit is lower and the risk higher.  Cognitive account fails to notice the function of environmental, social and biological factors which evidently put pressure on the development of the addictive behaviour.

Widespread researches have been conducted and many psychologists have attempted to understand the human nature in order to help people make sense of the behaviour, feeling and thought related to addiction. Theory of Addiction improves people’s lives by providing knowledge about the social process and relationship. Finally, those systems make it easier for people to understand how the process of addiction impacts people and their individual health.

References :

  1. Becker, G. and K. Murphy (1988) A theory of rational addiction. Journal of Political Economy, 96.
  2. Caine SB, Koob GF (1993) Modulation of cocaine self-administration in the rat through D-3 dopamine receptors. Science 260.
  3. Caine SB, Lintz R, Koob GF (1993) Intravenous drug self-administion techniques in animals. In: Behavioral neuroscience: a practical approach (Sahgal A, ed), Oxford: Oxford UP.
  4. Caine SB, Thomsen M, Gabriel KI, Berkowitz JS, Gold LH, Koob GF, Tonegawa S, Zhang J, Xu M (2007) Lack of self-administration of cocaine in dopamine D1 receptor knock-out mice. J Neurosci 27.
  5. Cohen S, Lichtenstein E. (1990). Perceived stress, quitting smoking, and smoking relapse. Health Psychol.
  6. Davies J.B.(1987). Questions and answers in addiction research. British Journal of Addiction, 82
  7. Davies, J. B. (1997) The Myth of Addiction (2nd edn). Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.
  8. Donovan , Dennis M, Marlatt, Alan G. (2005) .Relapse apse prevention : maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors, New York : Guilford Press.
  9. Donovan Dennis M., Marlatt , Alan G. (1988). Assessment of Addictive Behaviors.
  10. Gelkopf, M., Levitt, S. & Bleich, A. (2002). An integration of three approaches to addiction and methadone maintenance treatment. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 39.
  11. Gelkopf, M., Levitt, S., Bleich, A., 2002. An integration of three approaches to addiction and methadone maintenance treatment: the selfmedication hypothesis, the disease model and social criticism. Isr. J. Psychiatry Relat. Sci. 39,
  12. Krivanek, J. (1988) Addictions. Sydney, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
  13. Marlatt, G.A. & Gordon, J.R. (Eds.) (1985). Relapse Prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behavior,. New York: Guilford Press.
  14. Sher, K. J.,& Levenson, R. W. (1982). Risk for alcoholism and individual differences in the stress–response-dampening effect of alcohol. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91.
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