feedback on my essay? GCSE psychology (edexcel)

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shannon_8
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with the whole schools being closed thing I have no one to give me feedback on my essay because I don't have my teacher's email or anything. if you're willing to, please read through and be as critical as you want. feel free to use this to help with any of the work you're currently doing.

question:


Juarez is 16 years old

He saw his brother get shot by a gang

He joined a gang and started taking drugs

He couldn't stop taking them

explain juarez's behaviors referring to at least two different areas of study.



Juarez may be experiencing psychological problems such as depression along with his addiction. The trigger for this is commonly a very stressful event, in this scenario being his brother getting shot. Not only would the grief potentially cause this, but the brutal way the death was inflicted. Caspi et al (2003) found that while there was no direct relation between short alleles on the 5HTT gene and depression, there was a relationship between these and incidences of stress and subsequent depression. This would fit with Juarez's given situation, providing a valid explanation of the events that will follow. A problem with Caspi's study however, is while the stressful life events were standardised as employment, financial, housing, health and relationship, whether or not a participant experienced a certain event as stressful is highly personal. Moreover, the symptoms of depression were self-reported, although one colleague was contacted for each participant in order to verify the symptoms; self-reporting can be unreliable. we also do not know Juarez's genetics so taking a biological explanation that only accounts for some social factors may prove challenging to apply. Similarly, most likely there was no one in the study in the same situation as Juarez, meaning we are unable to generalize the findings to him specifically.



It is also clear that Juarez has an addiction and is showing tolerance or dependence, possibly both; "he couldn't stop taking [drugs]". As we have already established, Juarez may have depression due to trauma. It is possible he resorted to drugs to escape this as a form of self medicating, at least having a psychological dependence to begin with, potentially developing a physical dependence later on. Referring to the dopamine model of addiction, dopamine is released in the mesolimbic dopamine system of the brain, to signal reward and pleasure. If a behaviour causes dopamine release then the brain knows to “do it again”. Non-adaptive behaviours (i.e. behaviours that do not necessarily aid survival) can release huge amounts of dopamine, in this case, drug taking acts as that. A problem with this though is that it is an extremely reductionist model that focuses on a specific biological mechanism, and in so ignores social and environmental factors.



Another possible explanation of Juarez's addiction, this time taking a more holistic approach, is social influence, specifically conformity. We do not know which of the types of conformity it is in this given situation - compliance, identification or internalisation - but we can assume he first found a way into his addiction through wanting to fit in or feeling somewhat pressured; normative social influence. Given that Juarez has joined a gang, a group of people (though in this case, specifically a group of people partaking in illegal activity), we can refer to Asch's conformity experiment (1951). He found that if the unanimity consisted of one other person in the group conformity was 3%, with two others it increased to 13%, and with three or more it was 32% (or 1/3). Optimum conformity effects (32%) were found with a majority of 3. It is very much likely the gang consisted of more than 3 people taking drugs, though we cannot be sure, increasing the likelihood of Juarez taking drugs in the first place, then the aforementioned psychological or physical dependence starts. Having said that, an issue with this is all the "ifs" and "buts". There is no definitive way we can reason Juarez's behaviours simply because there is not enough background information about the gang, Juarez's home and personal life and knowing all the possible factors that can contribute towards his addiction, so accounting all this to normative social influence is difficult. We do not know if he was pressured, or if others in the gang were taking the drugs or if he asked for them, and so cannot explain his behaviours entirely or accurately.
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NonIndigenous
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Start these kinds of exercises by trying to imagine what you would feel like if one of your closest relatives that you care about what shot dead by a gang.

I know that risks removing the 'objectivity', but your own mind and experiences ought to be to run the most accurate simulation on what the other person was feeling, and how that might drive their actions. It will not give certainly, obviously not. It's just another way of thinking about the problem.

Loss of his brother would have likely done two things:
1) Traumatised him
2) Undermined his sense of 'belonging'

Undermining his sense of 'belonging' would have triggered him into looking for other social contexts to 'fit in' to, such as a gang. This would be especially true if he did not have a supportive family around him, or if they were on the other hand over-protective ('over-protective' parenting tends to arise from egotistically motivated insecurities, not genuine concern for the other person). The need to find a new sense of 'belonging' would have made him more conforming, and more likely to succumb to peer pressures, positive or negative, initiating the drug problem (you already described this).

The drug problem was then probably sustained by his need to escape his problems. Drugs (or addictions of any kind) are often used as escapism. Especially by people who have been traumatized in some way.

There is another possible angle/motive behind his actions... that not only he doesn't care much what happens to him or what risks he takes as a result of the trauma, he may even be looking forward to the potential confrontations and violence arising from these actions (though not necessarily wanting to take responsibility for instigating them personally), as a means to re-create the original event of his brother dying so he could 'do something differently' next time.

What exact motives there are behind his actions would depend on his underlying personality, which you have no information on it seems. Sociopathic personality traits would incline someone towards revenge that way. More empathetic people, will react to a situation like what he experienced by looking for other contexts in which to socialise (like a gang). Realistically it may be a mix of several of these.

________________________________ ________________________

I can't cite you any references as such. All that is based of loose memories of what I've read here and there and observations. Well, actually now that I think of it the most recent book I'm reading is on "Games People Play" by Eric Berne... and it lists one game that goes by the name "Alcoholic". The premise in the book as that some 'alcoholics' are not addicted to the alcohol itself per se, but the validation they receive from other people as a result of their addition. There is one case study described where a group of attendees in an 'alcoholics anonymous' group all recovered from their addiction, only to relapse back into it because they had nothing else to talk about with each other asides their addiction. It made them feel lonely. To make someone susceptible to such a behavioral pattern they will have needed to experience something emulating it in childhood already, that subconsciously 'programmed it' into them and laid the bedrock for increased odds of such an addiction in adult life.

I imagine this applies less to 'strong' addictions to harder drugs, which often create a physical dependency on the substance.

"Games People Play" is a subset of "Transactional Analysis", that is a branch of "Social Psychiatry". It's an old book which you ought to be able to access online probably, copyright free, if you like.
Last edited by NonIndigenous; 7 months ago
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shannon_8
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(Original post by NonIndigenous)
Start these kinds of exercises by trying to imagine what you would feel like if one of your closest relatives that you care about what shot dead by a gang.

I know that risks removing the 'objectivity', but your own mind and experiences ought to be to run the most accurate simulation on what the other person was feeling, and how that might drive their actions. It will not give certainly, obviously not. It's just another way of thinking about the problem.

Loss of his brother would have likely done two things:
1) Traumatised him
2) Undermined his sense of 'belonging'

Undermining his sense of 'belonging' would have triggered him into looking for other social contexts to 'fit in' to, such as a gang. This would be especially true if he did not have a supportive family around him, or if they were on the other hand over-protective ('over-protective' parenting tends to arise from egotistically motivated insecurities, not genuine concern for the other person). The need to find a new sense of 'belonging' would have made him more conforming, and more likely to succumb to peer pressures, positive or negative, initiating the drug problem (you already described this).

The drug problem was then probably sustained by his need to escape his problems. Drugs (or addictions of any kind) are often used as escapism. Especially by people who have been traumatized in some way.

There is another possible angle/motive behind his actions... that not only he doesn't care much what happens to him or what risks he takes as a result of the trauma, he may even be looking forward to the potential confrontations and violence arising from these actions (though not necessarily wanting to take responsibility for instigating them personally), as a means to re-create the original event of his brother dying so he could 'do something differently' next time.

What exact motives there are behind his actions would depend on his underlying personality, which you have no information on it seems. Sociopathic personality traits would incline someone towards revenge that way. More empathetic people, will react to a situation like what he experienced by looking for other contexts in which to socialise (like a gang). Realistically it may be a mix of several of these.

________________________________ ________________________

I can't cite you any references as such. All that is based of loose memories of what I've read here and there and observations. Well, actually now that I think of it the most recent book I'm reading is on "Games People Play" by Eric Berne... and it lists one game that goes by the name "Alcoholic". The premise in the book as that some 'alcoholics' are not addicted to the alcohol itself per se, but the validation they receive from other people as a result of their addition. There is one case study described where a group of attendees in an 'alcoholics anonymous' group all recovered from their addiction, only to relapse back into it because they had nothing else to talk about with each other asides their addiction. It made them feel lonely. To make someone susceptible to such a behavioral pattern they will have needed to experience something emulating it in childhood already, that subconsciously 'programmed it' into them and laid the bedrock for increased odds of such an addiction in adult life.

I imagine this applies less to 'strong' addictions to harder drugs, which often create a physical dependency on the substance.

"Games People Play" is a subset of "Transactional Analysis", that is a branch of "Social Psychiatry". It's an old book which you ought to be able to access online probably, copyright free, if you like.
Thanks a lot, that really helped. the whole alcoholic thing you were on about sounds interesting, I'll look into it. thank you!
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