Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Break

Yes, Summer Break is here. That means it's time for a look back at my favorite posts over the past year!

Human Sexual Dimorphism
What I Learned: in this paper,I learned that almost every feature associated with behavior can be explained in evolutionary terms. Evolutionary psychology, while great on its own, REQUIRES evolution as its basis. The more I learn about either, the stronger the model gets. My goal of this whole blog was to integrate EVERYTHING I know into a large body of knowledge. In this paper, human behavior, human condition, human expressions, and human emotion are deftly linked to microbiology, climate, population size, and population genetics.

What I Learned: I have to say, when I first approached this assignment, I did not knw a lot about microfinance. I knew of many internartional organizations efforts to raise people out of poverty, but I had no idea how. This assignment taught me to really think about how economies of scale really work. Rather than just hand money to people, which removes the motivation to make their OWN money, you could encourage people to try and innovate. The inital cost of microfinance, and thereby the risk, is so small - a few cents here, a dollar there - that any failures, or defaulting debtors, is more than made up for by volume. I highly recommend The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World to anyone interested in international social justice or economics. This book, by the way, was really amazing.
    Imagine what microfinance could do to the United States. - Imagine the amount of risk in the financial sector reduced. You would have credit lines for big things: houses, boats, refrigerators; but there could also be microfinance loans available to people: ten or twenty dollar short term loans, maybe a month. The more you borrow and repay, the more you can borrow. Instantly, a family of four who needs twenty dollars to afford food, or an hour of baby-sitting, or to pay for power after a heat wave, can borrow exactly what they need, and pay it off over five weeks, or one extra hour of labor a week for five weeks - because hourly wage is still the norm for struggling families. If they do default, there would be no expensive collections process, no harassing calls all day long - just termination of their ability to borrow until their debt is paid off!
   This post went longer than I wanted it too, but I threw down a great idea.

CBT v. psychodynamics - what parts work
What I Learned: Psychodynamic therapies are amongst the most maligned in modern psychological models. And for good reason: there is evidence that Freud falsely represented his claims, Freud's beliefs were not supported by any evidence or scientific analysis, Freud attempted to abstract "the mind" into a model that does not reflect any Knowles of biology, &tc. But modern psychodynamic practitioners have developed treatments that, while still use Freud;s language and - however misguided - Freud's theory of cure, look and act like CBT. If I throw lithium into water, it's going to react whether I call lithium "bananas" or if I call the water "Ted" - it does not need me to react. The most important elements are: that the patient believe that they are being helped (subject-expectancy effect) and that behavior and feelings are changed. "That's how any therapy is gauged, by behavior change" - thank you Dr. Daniels, that was your statement. And just like a chemistry formula, you tell things to people in a certain way and they feel better. The whole point of the comparisons I did was to find out WHICH pieces work best, and not to do the pieces that either don;t work well or at all. It may seem obvious to do that, but as an outsider (because I've studies neuroscience, not therapy) it seems that there could be less "monolithic model" in therapy and more "modular modules" that are put together based on the responsivity of the patient (subject). An while I'm on the subject - write everything down that you do to a subject and gauge what works - and make use of the scientific method to assess how a patient (subject) is functioning.