Contemporary Issues in Psychology

As I searched for articles pertaining to “Contemporary Issues in Psychology”, I came across the topic of self-injurious behaviors (SIB) amongst adolescents and teens. This is an issue of particular interest to me considering my previous employment allowed me to work closely with adolescents who engaged in SIB on a frequent basis. These young people, during the time I worked with them, were admitted to a psychiatric facility which housed a residential program and an acute hospital, both for children.  Usually the children I encountered had suffered some form of abuse, neglect, bullying, etc. which led them to engage in SIB. One of the most disturbing situations I was privy to was a young man who had attempted suicide by cutting his own throat. He had a prior history of SIB, which later progressed to him actually attempting suicide.

During my research of the topic, I came across an article in the APUS Library that discussed the implicit attitudes of adolescents who attempted suicide versus those who engaged in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). NSSI is defined as “direct and deliberate destruction of body tissue in the absence of any observable intent to die”. The article noted that suicide attempts and NSSI are “severely impairing health problems affecting adolescents”. The article pretty much summed up by stating that just because an adolescent who has engaged in NSSI and does not have a prior history of suicide attempt(s), does not mean the NSSI behavior should be taken lightly or dismissed as “not serious”. It is known that NSSI could make a young person more susceptible to attempting suicide at some point in their life.

Another article I found, via my web-search, noted that NSSI occurs in anywhere from 8- 61% of teenagers. According to the article, the 8% is from the community and the higher end of the spectrum is from persons seeking mental health treatment. The average age of onset for self-injury is 14 and 15 years of age, with girls engaging in the behavior more than boys. However, the frequency becomes more equal in later adolescence. The question of focus is, why do adolescence self-injure? This behavior can be the result of multiple things for instance, to get attention, a cry for help or to deal with negative emotions when they do not know how to cope in a more appropriate manner. It is important that as parents and concerned family/friends, that we approach the topic (if discovered) in a non-judgmental, yet curious manner and be sure to let the person know that you are there for them to get them the professional help they need. The article states that over 90% of teenagers that self-injure meet the criteria for one or more psychiatric diagnosis such as depression, anxiety disorder, or conduct disorder. The behavior also increases the risk for suicide attempt and completing suicide.

Again, this topic was important to me because I have seen it firsthand in working with youth who engage in the behaviors. This behavior should be a warning for the devastation that may result later in the young person’s life, if left untreated and/or disregarded as just attention seeking. I am passionate about helping people with all types of disabilities (whether it be mental, intellectual or otherwise), however working with adolescents and teens has always been my passion. Currently, I am grounded in the work that I do but if I were to pursue the field of psychology further,  would consider the counseling sub-specialty with a focus on children. (Brandi)

Perspective #2: While conducting research on Contemporary Issues in Psychology this week, I came across the topic of eating disorders. I believe this is a topic that needs to be explored and addressed more, especially due to the expectations that the media portrays as far as weight and size go. Many people do not realize that eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are actually mental disorders. All eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating habits which affect a person’s health, both mental or physical, in a negative way. Anorexia is an eating disorder where people eat very little. Bulimia is an eating disorder where people eat a lot then directly purge, or vomit to rid themselves of the food. There are also some disorders that are also present when an eating disorder exists and those are substance abuse, depression, and/or anxiety issues. The cause of eating disorders are not known. It is known that genetic, as well as environmental, factors both play a role in the presence of an eating disorder. One main contributing factor to eating disorders are the fact that society places such an emphasis on thinness. It has also been discovered that people that have been sexually abused are more likely to develop an eating disorder. There is an array of treatment for eating disorders and they include proper diet, counseling, and even exercise. Those treatments have been proven to work well in treating eating disorders. There are some medications that are sometimes used for the treatment of eating disorders, but diet and counseling are better fitted treatments.

I found this topic of much interest to me because I have known people with eating disorders and because I believe that the society we live in puts too much emphasis on being skinny. Everywhere that we look in the media, there are “skinny” people. Models are thin, celebrities are thin, etc. Many times these celebrities are dealing with eating disorders as well. They are expected to be a size 0 which, in reality, is a hard expectation to fulfill without developing an eating disorder. We, as a society, are giving young girls the wrong ideas about body weight and body image. Eating disorders are something that has taken a lot of lives in the past and continues to be very deadly. There needs to be more awareness brought to this disorder. It is one that has a serious negative effect on males and females, especially adolescent females.(Mitchell)

Perspective #3: This week’s forum was much to my surprise fairly easy to find an article to write one. I am very into Child Psychology and found an article on contemporary issues in Autism Spectrum Disorders. I found this interesting because of my love for children and knowing more about the research in autism can truly benefit my future career choices. This particular article looks at the intervention approaches for children with ASD and the effectiveness intervention has. The article goes on to debate the different approaches and which I most effective to those who have been diagnosed with ASD. While approach is important I think that as with any mental disorder treatment is more specifically effective when you have come to know the individual. While we can sit and discuss treatment approaches all day long the facts remain that some will respond better to  applied behavioral analysis while yet some other children will respond better to say a traditional behavior approach. To say one treatment is better than the other is irrelevant when speaking of psychological treatments because each client is an individual and is difference. We have to look at each case individually and work to help the specific person with their specific issues.

I am interested in this because I currently help a friend with her son who is non-verbal autistic and this kid is an amazing child who is so incredibly smart, he just doesn’t speak and it gives people the impression that he is ignorant but I promise you he could fix about any microchipped device you hand him at the young age of only 10. With his disability to communicate effectively he has had to overcome to many different hurdles In life, but he is a happy smiley child with a huge heart that is smart and sometimes even funny.

I think by knowing Noah and helping him as well as my education in psychology I am preparing myself for a very successful career in psychology. Working with children is at the top of my wish list at this time for my future career choices and I know that I can be successful in it because of the good vibes I get after spending the day with Noah.  I think in order for us to be successful we have to love the job we are doing not just doing a job for money but to really enjoy what you do makes you successful. So while this article did appeal to me I dint find it to be very helpful in how to treat autism. (Frances)

 

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