PSCI 102C Essay Questions

1. Define negative reinforcement and distinguish it from positive reinforcement and negative punishment. How does the negative reinforcement process contribute to the maintenance (continuance) of several of the anxiety disorders. What learning process is believed to contribute to the initiation (acquisition) of the anxiety disorder? Describe how two learning processes are combined to explain the development of specific phobias. In the class demonstration involving the extinction of fear to snakes how did the procedure Prof. Jamner use attempt to address the issue of negative reinforcement?
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1. Define negative reinforcement and distinguish it from positive reinforcement and negative punishment. How does the negative reinforcement process contribute to the maintenance (continuance) of several of the anxiety disorders. What learning process is believed to contribute to the initiation (acquisition) of the anxiety disorder? Describe how two learning processes are combined to explain the development of specific phobias. In the class demonstration involving the extinction of fear to snakes how did the procedure Prof. Jamner use attempt to address the issue of negative reinforcement?
-In operant conditioning, consequences for behavior are intended to impact the frequencies of a particular behavior. Positive reinforcement is the addition of a pleasant or desirable stimulus that is given after the desired behavior occurs. Negative punishment is involves the removal of a pleasant or desired stimulus in order to decrease a behavior. Negative reinforcement, as compared to both of these, is when an unpleasant stimulus is removed in order to increase a desired behavior. Anxious behaviors are often reinforced and maintained through negative reinforcement as a byproduct of an individual avoiding an anxiety inducing stimulus. The avoidance of this stimulus will lead to a reduction in negative feelings and therefore will lead to the continued avoidance of said anxiety-inducing stimulus as opposed to exposing themselves to the stimulus which would reduce the anxiety response in the long-term. Classical conditioning and operant conditioning work together to contribute to the acquisition of anxiety disorders; classical conditioning creates the phobia through pair association- when anxiety symptoms are paired with an otherwise neutral stimulus and then the neutral stimulus then begins to evoke an anxious response. The neutral stimulus that now evokes an anxiety response then serves as an undesired stimulus which is reinforced by avoidance as a facet of operant conditioning. The discussion of anxiety-inducing stimulus and avodiance arouse in class with Dr. Jamner's demonstaration on the extinction of fear of snakes through extended exposure. If an individual was around the snake for long enough, then it would no longer be an anxiety-inducing stimulus. (exposure therapy)
In somatic symptom disorder, a person is preoccupied with bodily sensations and physical symptoms which have no evident medical cause. Illness anxiety disorder is when an individual has extreme anxiety over the belief that they have a acquired a disease or illness without the existence of any physical symptoms. Conversion disorder is a neurological disorder that causes physical malfunctioning with no know organic cause. All three disorders are characterized by a pathological preoccupation with the functions of the body; somatic symptom disorder and IAD sr sbout misperceiving physical cues and conversion disorders requires the loss of sensory or motor function Conversion disorders are distinct in that often those with a conversion disorder can function normally but are unaware of their ability to do so- for example, an individual with functional blindness can avoid objects within their field of vision, but will tell you they cannot see them. Often those with a conversion disorder are experiencing it as a byproduct of a traumatic event, and they will have symptoms until the underlying cause is addressed. Those who are experiencing true conversion disorder symptoms are doing so involuntarily, whereas malingerings are lying purposefully, often with the intention of getting out of work (work, school, etc) or gaining something (financial comp, sympathy, etc.). Conversion disorder is incentivized as a reaction to a traumatic experience, but is not intentional like malingering.
3. What core features do all the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive-related disorders share in common? Describe the characteristics that distinguish the anxiety disorders from each other. From the behavioral perspective, what operant processes serve to maintain the symptoms and contribute to the chronic nature of these disorders?
1. All anxiety and OCD related disorders have a basis in fear without a cause and the activation of fight-or-flight within the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala; can largely rely on sense of control
2. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by a difficulty turning off or controlling the worry process, physical symptoms, muscle tension, sleeplessness compared to autonomic symptoms. Those with GAD do not respond strongly to outside stressors. Panic disorder and agoraphobia are often co-morbidities. Panic disorder differs between cultures and genders. Specific phobias characterized by fear of specific object or situation, often with the recognition that level of fear is disproportionate. Phobias can be learned vicariously.
5. Discuss the concepts of anxiety and defense mechanisms as used by psychoanalytic theory. Use examples to illustrate these concepts. You walk out of a store and your car is not where you parked it. Give a one-sentence response from the perspectives of your Id, Ego, and Superego. Compare Freudian psychodynamic and behavioral perspectives in terms of the processes that motivate behavior and processes that lead to the development of psychopathology
Freudian theory would argue that anxiety is the physical manifestation of unresolved internal conflicts between the three levels of conciousness- the Id (pleasure), the Ego (integrate both), and the SuperEgo (moral/societal). Defense mechanisms are developed as a manifestation of the ego's attempts to manage conflict arising between the Id and the Superego. Defense mechanisms indirectly express anxiety through disguising the true source of discomfort so that individuals are not consciously aware of these issues. Examples of such defense mechanism include repression, in which an individual deals with emotional pain by not thinking about it and putting it out of their mind, denial, in which an individual completely and actively rejects a thought or feelings, and projection which is the misinterpretation that what is from the inside is actually coming from the outside. The psychodynamic approach is dualisitic and places an emphasis on inner causes and experiences whereas behavior strictly deals with behavioral processes.
The Diathesis-Stress model assumes a specific interaction between genes and the environment, in which an individual is able to inherit tendencies to express certain traits or behaviors that are activated by the addition of certain stressful or traumatic events. Inherited tendencies are know as diathesis and are directly defined as a trait which makes someone more susceptible to a disorder. For example, we might look at someone who faints at the thought of blood- this is considered their diathesis, but it would not become prominent without certain events occurring. If this person has to dissect a frog for class and was unable to escape through leaving or closing her eyes, she might begin to feel queasy and light-headed. The stress of seeing the dissection's under these conditions has activated her tendency to faint and together these factors have activated a disorder, which she might not have otherwise developed has she not taken that biology class. Another examples might be the tendency of individuals to develop PTSD after a traumatic experience -2004 hurricanes, genetic vulnerability. Even with strong genetic influence, adverse life events such as childhood trauma have the potential to overwhelm the influence of genes. If we were to compare twins whom grew up with distinct variabilities in environment and traumatic life experience.

Depression: genes associated with depression, maltreated during childhood
Alc. Example: two college students drinking, one has the addictive genes
PTSD: where a fam history of anxiety suggests a generalized biological vulnerability of PTSD, and a traumatic experience, the stressing factor which can be shooting/military/etc, will lead to PTSD
Recreate the integrative model of mood disorders. Be sure to label potential causes and protective factors.
Discuss the role of neurotransmitters and negative cognitions in the etiology and treatment of depression.
Using the assigned readings and/or lecture slides, describe one of the recent pharmacological interventions being used with success for Major Depressive Disorder.
recent files? psilocybin/ketamine
Summarize the findings demonstrating their potential in treating individuals with Major Depressive Disorder for whom existing medications are ineffective.
The integrative model of mood disorders takes a multidimensional approach to mood disorders through the examination of symptoms through biological, psychological, behavioral, and social perspectives. Within this model, a distal or underlying risk factor can turn into a full blown disorder when presented with the right stressor or situation. It's basis lies in the tripe vulnerability theory which says that an individual who has a generalized biological vulnerability, a generalized psychological vulnerability such as low self-esteem, and/or a specified psychological vulnerability are more likely to develop a mood disorder with the right outside cirumstances such as a stressful life event that activates stress hormones, negative attributions, and problems in intrapersonal relationships. Those with depression experience low serotonin and low norepinephrine, so SSRIs are most commonly prescribed because they trap serotonin in the synapse and inhibiting reuptake so that serotonin is more available. One recent pharmacological intervention for major depressive disorder is the use of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, which has shown impressive findings in creating powerful insight changes and creating lasting change for those with Major Despressive Disorder, as well as Ketamine which serves as a sedative that helps with depression but recommends caution. However, these effects can be hard to study because it is hard to determine what would act as a good placebo and individuals can also react badly.
Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with psychological disorders such as somatic symptom disorder. Which disorders do women demonstrate higher prevalence rates than men? Which disorder(s) have greater or similar prevalence rate(s) for men compared to women? Provide an explanation involving biological, psychological and/or social dimensions (at least two of the three) that accounts for the disproportionately higher rates of psychopathology in women.
Depression, anxiety, conversion disorders, Munchausen by proxy, and eating disorders are experienced at higher rates in women than they are in men. Social phobia disorder shows almost equal prevalence (50/50) between men and women. Women disproportionately experience higher rates of psychopathology due to biological vulnerability (elevated left frontal lobe brain activity). Socially, women tend to place greater value on intimate relationships than men, thus the social components that exist in the development of mood disorders might play a greater role for women than it would men (ie a woman who is socially isolated might suffer more mentally for it than a man). Biologically, women and men's propensity for mood disorders remains the same until puberty, where women then become 2x more likely to develop a mood disorder. Hormonal fluctuations due to mentrual, menopause, etc. through life lead to fluxes in hormones.
Thomas Johnson, a 24-year old African American was, when brought to the emergency room, mute and rigid. The friends who had brought him stated that he was playing basketball with them at the student athletic building when he suddenly put his head down on the floor, made sounds as if he were praying, and had then become "catatonic." When interviewed an hour later, Thomas would only say, "I am communicating directly with God." According to his friends, Thomas had been getting "hyper" recently, but they emphatically denied that he either used drugs or drank to excess. A call to his girlfriend, whose name and telephone number were provided by his friends, revealed the following. Thomas had been doing well, with no evidence of unusual behavior, up until a week prior to his admittance to the hospital. He had been living with his girlfriend, going to school, and working at a part-time job. One week before his admission, he began to say "odd" things, usually of a religious nature. He also stopped sleeping at night and became sexually demanding of his girlfriend. He began working out even more than usual at the gym in order to "burn off extra energy." His girlfriend said he had had similar symptoms when he was hospitalized one year previously. At that time he left the hospital against medical advice, and had become increasingly depressed for about three months. He did not seek professional help. He withdrew from social activities at school, and would spend up to 14 hours a day sleeping. Just when his girlfriend had decided to break up with him, he spontaneously returned to his normal self. She described him as a friendly, outgoing, energetic, young man interested in school and athletics, who performed well both academically and at work.
Toxicology screening in the emergency room was negative, as were other medical tests. Physical examination revealed an extremely healthy, athletic young man who was largely mute and held his body in a rigid posture. The hospital chart noted one previous psychiatric admission a year before. The diagnosis was "Atypical Psychosis, rule out some kind of organic or drug psychosis." Thomas had been in the hospital only four days, during which time he was observed to be talking to himself and indicating that he was communicating directly with God.
During the first days of the current hospitalization, Thomas was observed to alternate between "rigid posturing" -as if in a trance- and "mild hyperactivity." He would spontaneously become "unstuck" as if coming out of his trance state and began pacing actively around the unit, talking about his new-found faith in religion to "anyone he could corral" and compel to listen.
-Bipolar 1 with mood congruent and psychotic (during mania) and catatonic features (during depressive episode).
-Severe and long-lasting disturbance, with highs that involve not sleeping and becoming sexually demanding of his girlfriend, manic episode characterized by decreased need for sleep
-Severe lows where with excessive sleeping and ceasing of social interaction, hospitalized for intensity, delusions account for mood congruency
-Mood congruent because he is having grandiose delusions during manic episodes of talking to god (psychotic feature during mania)
-Catatonic (aligns with rigid body structure)
Ms. Hancock is a 39-year old, part-time graduate student, who lives alone and supports herself by working as a home-health aide. She completed the course work for a Ph.D. in sociology 3 years ago, but has not yetbegun her thesiso the point where she cannot work. She stays at home, overeats, and avoids people.
Ms. Hancock's academic and vocational history has been erratic. She has a masters degree in psychology and worked as a counselor for a while, but found that too upsetting. She then began a Ph.D. program in sociology, completed her coursework, but interrupted this to train in physical therapy. She has never worked in one job more than a few years and has spent much of her adult life as a student. Her current romance is the longest she has sustained. She lived with a man once previously, but this was a brief and tumultuous relationship. Boyfriends described her as 'needy and clinging' and it appears her current boyfriend fears her neediness.
Although Ms. Hancock reports chronic depression, when she is asked about 'high' periods, she describes many episodes of abnormally elevated mood that have lasted several months. During these times she would function on 5 hours sleep a night, run up huge telephone bills, and .
Ms. Hancock is indeed an unhappy-looking woman and describes being unhappy through much of her life, with no long periods of feeling really good. Her father had a history of alcohol problems, and there was always a great deal of strife in her parents' marriage. She denies sexual or physical abuse, but she feels her parents were "emotionally abusive" to her. She was first referred for treatment after a suicide attempt at age 14, and there have been many times over the years during which her usual low-level depression has been considerably worse,but she sought no treatment.
Two years ago, when she had been seeing her current boyfriend for about 4 years, it finally became clear that he was unwilling to marry her or live with her. She began to get more depressed and to experience acute panic attacks, and it was at that time that she entered psychotherapy. In the month before this current evaluation she says she was depressed most of the time. She had gained 10 pounds because she was constantly nibbling on chips or cookies or making herself peanut butter sandwiches. She often awakened in the middle of the night, was unable to get back to sleep for hours, and overslept the following day, often sleeping up to 18 hours. She says she feels like dead weight, her legs and arms are heavy, and she is always tired. She ruminates about her own failures and cannot concentrate on any serious reading. Although she often wishes to be dead, she has not made any recent suicide attempts.
Ms. Hancock's mood is clearly reactive to favorable events. Small attentions from her therapist or her boyfriend can cause her to feel really good for hours at a time. She has an equally extreme reaction to any sort of rejection. If a friend does not return a call, or if someone appears to be romantically interested and withdraws, she feelsm devastated tfeel her thoughts were racing. She was able to get a lot done, but her friends were obviously concerned about the change in her behavior, urging her to slow down and calm down. She has never gotten into any real trouble during these episodes.
LORRAINE IS A 45-YEAR OLD POSTAL EMPLOYEE who was evaluated at a clinic specializing in the treatment of depression. She claims to have felt constantly depressed since the first grade, without a period of "normal" mood for more than a few days at a time. Her depression has been accompanied by lethargy, little or no interest or pleasure in anything, trouble concentrating, and feelings of inadequacy, pessimism, and resentfulness. Her only periods of normal mood occur when she is home alone, listening to music or watching TV.
On further questioning, Lorraine reveals that she cannot even remember feeling comfortable socially. Even before kindergarten, if she was asked to speak in front of a group of family friends, her mind would "go blank." she felt overwhelming anxiety at children's social functions, such as birthday parties, which she either avoided or, if she went, attended in total silence. She could answer questions in class only if she wrote down the answers in advance; even then, she frequently mumbled and couldn't get the answer out. She met new children with her eyes lowered, fearing their scrutiny, expecting to feel humiliated and embarrassed. She was convinced that everyone around her thought she was "dumb" or "a loser."
As she grew up, Lorraine had a couple of neighborhood playmates, but she never had a "best friend." her school grades were good, but suffered when oral classroom participation was expected. As a teenager, she was terrified of boys, and to this day has never gone on a date or even accepted a boy for a date. This bothers her, although she is so often depressed that she feels she has little energy or interest in dating.
Lorraine attended college and did well for a while, then dropped out as her grades slipped. She remained very self-conscious and "terrified" of meeting strangers. She had trouble finding a job because she was unable to answer questions in interviews. She worked at a few jobs for which only a written test was required. She passed a Civil Service exam at age 24, and was offered a job in the post office on the evening shift. She enjoyed this job since it involved little contact with others. She was offered, but refused, several promotions because she feared the social pressures. Although by now she supervises a number of employees, she still finds it difficult to give instructions, even to people she has known for years. She has no friends and avoids all invitations to socialize with co-workers. During the past several years, she has tried several therapies to help her get over her "shyness" and depression.
Lorraine has never experienced sudden anxiety or a panic attack in social situations or at other times. Rather, her anxiety gradually builds to a constant high level in anticipation of social situations. She has never experienced any psychotic symptoms.
-persistent depressive disorder with anxious distress features and comorbid with social anxiety disorder
-marked and persistent fear around social performance situations, anxiety provoked by exposure to social situations, social situations are avoided, interferes with routine and is not due to the use of drugs