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Is hypersensitivity a good thing?

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Girl, Interrupted - Book Commentary

For my book commentary I read Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen. The book is about Susanna Kaysen when she was eighteen years old, and institutionalized, and spans to her life after the institution. She recounts how she got to the institution, what it was like in the institution, and reveals her thoughts about the world and various theories. The book portrays vivid portraits of the world she enters, and of the world she left. Kaysen is clear and precise, making the reader question what the difference is between the “sane” and the “insane”, between her and you?
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Why Can't we Tickle Ourselves?

Tickling was always an interesting concept to me.  When we’re tickled, we laugh.  Laughing generally is a sign of joy, or happiness, but when forced, for example, when being tickled, it isn’t as pleasant, or pleasant at all.  I didn’t like that I didn’t have control over what was going on when I was being tickled- that I couldn’t catch my breath from laughing as easily as I could if I was in control.  Later on, someone suggested to me that it was impossible to tickle ourselves to the same effect as if someone else was tickling us.  I wondered if the reason for this was due to a correlation between this feeling of lack of control and the stronger reaction of being more ticklish.  While interest in this topic has only recently greatly emerged and ideas are still being developed, researchers have actually found a part of the brain they believe to be responsible for our ticklish reactions- the cerebellum (1)

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The Drama of the Gifted Child - Book Commentary

The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller, is about the child who was so aware, consciously or otherwise, of the wishes of his parents and had such a strong desire to fulfill them, that he lost track of himself and his own identity.  It’s about the child who never discovered his “true self” because he was so concerned with pleasing those around him, and the repercussions of that later in life, as an adult.  The book discusses the unconscious wishes of the parent being often unconsciously bestowed on the child, with the child absorbing these wishes and morphing into this different person.  The Drama offers help by explaining the problems and consequences of growing up in this way, and suggestions for steps as to remove himself from the person he is not, and move towards finding his “true identity”.  While full of useful concepts, this book seems to blame and manipulate situations in order to victimize the child-turned-adult, creating an interesting dynamic for the readers in regards to not only their relationships with themselves, but also with the author.   

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Thoughts on Thoughtlessness

I can’t imagine being thoughtless as a way of life. The only time I ever think of myself as thoughtless, more or less, is on a tennis court, where tennis is my only thought. Even then, I’m thinking; thinking about the game, the moment, the point. I observe and respond- this is my logic. To be thoughtless, to me, would mean that I act without this logic, without any reasoning. Is it better to be ignorant and simple, or aware and complicated? Is thoughtlessness ignorance? Does being aware necessarily equal complication? I’ve grown up being taught that thinking about issues, about lessons being taught in school, is the most beneficial way to gain the most I can out of my academic life. Now, in this moment, I wonder whether I’d be happier to not have adapted this mentality. I say those dreaded words, wonder that forbidden thought, thinking that life could be much simpler if I didn’t take responsibility for what I see around me.

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Food for Thought: Is Sugar Addictive?

We all eat to survive. We need calories, and nutrition, and for our cells to bed fed in order to function. Beyond that, though, lies a realm of questions. As humans, we have an interesting relationship with food. We crave certain foods, and are sometimes told that we’re craving just what we actually need- that if our body is craving orange juice, it may be because it’s lacking in vitamin C. However, quite often, we crave foods with little nutritional value (1). What is our body telling us then? Can we distinguish between something we greatly enjoy the taste of, versus something the cells in our body need in order to grow and replicate? With these cravings, has food- sugar in particular, become an addiction to us, like drugs? Researchers are finding foods with sucrose- the white, crystalline sugar, may have an addictive quality, perhaps explaining why we so often crave the foods containing this that we know aren’t very nutritionally beneficial to us.

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Where's the Emotion? The Forgotten/Left Out of Biological Basic Needs

From the very beginning of our academic experiences with biology, we were taught about basic needs. Most textbooks covered these basic needs in a systematic kind of way: they listed, discussed, explained, and moved on. We were tested on them: asked to recite, relay, and paraphrase. After going back, now about 12 or 13 years later, and looking at textbooks and websites, I realized how limiting these basic needs were. The most popular, seemingly most agreed upon basic needs of living organisms, were the needs for food, water, energy, oxygen, living space, and to be able to maintain the conditions inside of oneself, better known as homeostasis (1, 2, 3). While these describe physical necessities, I started to wonder about the importance of another major class- the importance of emotional desires- are these needs? Maybe we can’t measure, to the degree we can the physical, but there appears to be a major lacking in biology in attention to the more mental side of things. Maybe physical necessities keep numbers up and a heart ticking, but aren’t emotional desires a large part of what differentiates organisms? Aren’t our conscious minds- and understanding ourselves- a different, but perhaps just as real need- or desire- worthy of mentioning, even at the most basic biology level? If we’re taught in first or second grade about basic physical necessities- it seems that, in addition to teaching that food and water are necessary, we should be taught about emotions, even to the smallest degree that we could understand at that age.

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A Brain Scan One Step Closer To Reading Minds

Our brains play a large part in making us who we are. We have neurons that interact with the outside world, and we have neurons that interact within our bodies. These neurons create action potentials, and these action potentials make up our thoughts. We interact with the world around us by thinking and speaking and acting. Our thought processes are seemingly quite different, as no two people seem to think exactly alike, nor can most people (with the exception of the claims of seers and the such) read flawlessly other’s thoughts. New, controversial technology has been found to do what seemed the impossible- to predict people’s intentions- it’s scientific mind reading, with a scan to show the results. As huge a step as this is in the scheme of advancing knowledge of the brain, it’s important to consider just how complete this study is, and how dangerous this potentially could be.

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Evolving from a Classroom

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