Brain Misconceptions, Part II – FINALLY!

Here it is! The Brain Misconceptions, Part II. If you read my previous post, I have been entrenched with exams and work, and I haven’t had much time to write, much less do research for this blog post. But here it is – finally! The “Crimeful Men” section took the longest to write just based on research and attempting to sort through the points I wanted to make. I was honestly caught between explaining two different disorders and a subsection of a disorder before I could really understand what I wanted to say. Since Crimeful Men is also a section comparing genders, I felt it was my responsibility to look at underlying media themes in the portrayal of women in crime and scholarly articles ranging from the late 90’s to now to try to find the most precise analysis of the subject I chose.

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6. Crimeful Men

On behalf of all the men in the world, antisocial personality disorder has a 3:1 ratio of men versus women affected. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by, “aggression towards animals and people, destruction of property, deception or stealing, impulsiveness, hostility, engagement in dangerous acts, irresponsible behavior, and an absence of remorse,” by at least 18 years of age. In addition, the individual must fulfill at least 3 of the following characteristics,

  1. “A failure to observe social norms which can result in legal action
  2. A deceitfulness including lying to and using others
  3. Failure to plan ahead
  4. An irritability and aggressiveness that escalates to physical fights
  5. A reckless disregard for the safety of others
  6. An irresponsibility such as a failure to pay debts or perform duties at work
  7. A lack of remorse when another person is hurt.”

Let’s be honest, sometimes we all feel numbers 3 and 7, like I tend to laugh when a little kid falls down. Although antisocial personality disorder is not the only disorder which may lead to violence, it is one of the most commonly referred to in the media, usually by the term psychopathy. Despite the fact that psychopathy is a subsection of antisocial personality disorder, it, and sociopath have recently become interchangeable in society even though the terms defining very different behaviors. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize the terms sociopath, and other interchangeable descriptions, as an actual medical condition to fit within the umbrella antisocial personality disorder.

Now, personality disorders, in general, have a higher prevalence in women than in men; however, as I stated above, antisocial personality disorder is seen thrice more in men than in women. In the cases in which women were diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, the symptoms and signs were less apparent than in men. Though men tended to use violence more often, have a history of arrests, starting fights, and cruelty to animals women showed an array of different behaviors. This could suggest antisocial personality disorder may be just as common in women as it is in men; however, either due to biological predispositions or social expectations on how women should act, women are less likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. To expand further, there may be a difference in the ways women react to a threat in comparison to men – the “Tend and Befriend” Theory. This theory states when a female is stressed by a threat or environmental circumstances, they tend to befriend others in the community and tend to any offspring. Although this is most likely not true when it is applied to individuals with personality disorders (and is a general theory, therefore shouldn’t be applied to individual cases), it portrays a difference in sex which may have been overlooked when creating diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder. In fact, women diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder were found to be more irritable, lack remorse, and have multiple sex partners, and higher incidences of childhood trauma and neglect.

However, the data is limited to individuals who are either mandated therapy or seeking therapy for their problems (typically, antisocial personality disorder is comorbid with substance abuse disorders). This leaves a large portion of individuals who do not seek help or who are antisocial but do not see fault in their actions. An additional hindrance to data research is the lack of observation in support groups differences between men and women, for example, close friends. For instance, women may talk more often about issues they are facing with their close friends versus their male counterparts. The support group may be an integral part of why there is a diagnostic difference in sex. Further research showed women with antisocial personality disorder also had higher rates of adult adverse events than men. These adverse events may have preserved or increased the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. Also, it may be a woman’s physical strength which acts as a hindrance to both defending themselves from adult abuse and encountering physical fights.

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7. SPLIT

Let’s redefine this movie- the character portrayed by James McAvoy suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. This disorder has been portrayed (and dramatized) many times in Hollywood, firstly by Sally Field playing Sybil in 1976.  Dissociative Identity Disorder is less multiple personalities or beings inhabiting one mind, and more like all the personalities, or faces, not meshing completely into one unified individual. For instance, the personality you use at work is different than the personality you use around your roommates which is also very different from the personality you use around your parents. Imagine all those different “faces” you wear not meshing correctly and, instead, projecting in multiple directions and developing separately on their own. In that sense, it is similar to having multiple personalities, but in reality, it’s one’s self not creating a unified whole. Dissociative personality disorder is typically 1-3% in a population with more diagnoses in men than women. During an “episode” the affected individual may shift between completely different personality sets. The personality – separate from the “host” personality – can have separate memories, behaviors, and traits. Additionally, the host can be completely unaware of the separate personality or occurrences during the personality’s control – giving the host a sense of amnesia and lost time. Sound familiar? These are some of the same symptoms Christianity defined to “diagnose” demonic possession. Regardless, 90% of individuals suffering from this personality disorder had severe childhood trauma and almost 100% of them suffered from amnesia during one event of their life – which may have played a key role in their personality incongruence. 

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8. Vaccines Cause Autism

Let me take a moment to break this argument down to its bare bones since there are multiple angles to misinterpret information. Firstly, mercury derived preservatives were removed from vaccinations in 1990. Secondly, and most importantly, Andrew Wakefield, the gastroenterologist who originally published false data stating that the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccination caused autism was banned from the scientific community after his findings were proven false – mainly because he lacked a control group and his findings were not reproducible in any lab setting.

Here’s a historical example in which a case was made: Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss who championed hand-washing during surgery. Dr. Semmelweiss worked at a maternity clinic, trying to determine why so many mothers were dying of puerperal fever. He compared two wards of the clinics, one with doctors and their medical students and the other with midwives. He found the mother in the doctor’s clinic were five times more likely to contract and die from puerperal fever than the mothers in the midwives’ ward. Dr. Semmelweiss needed to know what was different in either case so he varied each environment. Sometimes he would vary the way the woman was laying on the bed, etc. It wasn’t until a pathologist pricked his finger and died from puerperal fever did he realize that the fever was not restricted to just the mothers in bed, that it had been transmitted from patient to doctor. What was the difference between the doctors and the midwives though? The doctors and medical students were performing autopsies on individuals who had already died from puerperal fever then going to the maternity ward and transmitting the fever to the mothers. Once doctors and medical students began washing their hands between patients, deaths decreased significantly. How does this relate to the autism debate?

Dr. Semmelweiss’s procedure, although incidental, is a perfect example of cause and effect and scientific study. In contrast, Dr. Wakefield’s study did not even have a significant correlation to the data. For instance, Wakefield’s main argument was based on autistic children’s gastrointestinal sensitivity. He theorized the vaccinations induced intestinal inflammation which released encephalopathic peptides resulting in autism spectrum disorders. If this was a key ingredient to developing autism, then all autistic children should have gastrointestinal sensitivity prior to developing autism but after having the vaccinations. Based on the children’s medical records this was not found. In fact, some autistic children did not have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts both before and after autism symptoms appeared. Additionally, the same time individuals develop autism is roughly the same time they receive the vaccination. To further diminish parents’ fears, a comparison study was made in countries which did not have the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccinations. In these countries, the incidence was the same as our developed countries, if not less. Thus, based on basic scientific theory, autism is not caused by vaccinations or the mercury-based preservatives in vaccinations. If this was the case, large populations of children would be suffering from autism spectrum disorders.

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9. Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks

The aging process has two main aspects: an inability in reestablishing homeostasis and demyelination of neurons resulting in a slowed neuronal action potential. Despite these setbacks, older individuals are still able to learn new information and maintain their quality of comprehension. Mainly through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This has a lot to do with having a healthy circle of friends – loneliness is a leading cause for the development of physical illnesses. Additionally getting enough sleep every night, eating healthy, and exercising plenty. Essentially, enjoying your life. Sleep, exercise and keeping positive energy help with maintaining your brain; however, there is little that can be done to prevent the reduction in homeostasis. But, on the upside, there are the Tarahumara people of Mexico who run 200-mile marathons, regardless of age.

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10! My Brain Made Me Do It

You are your brain and body – they are not separate but work together in equally different ways. Which means you should take care of your brain the same way you would care for your body. For instance, you wouldn’t go to sleep without brushing your teeth, right? It’s the same concept applied to your brain. It’s constantly working and making sure every aspect of the body is in order whilst dealing with your consciousness. It needs a break – you need a break- from everyday life and a good tidying through self-reflection.

Now, when I mean you are your brain that is not to give an excuse to anyone for bad behavior – if at any point in time, you’re conscious of an action being wrong or hurtful then that should be a clear sign to you that it probably is. What I mean by this is that people have the ability to change. Information is so widespread and all people have to do is click – and the answers are all there – but I think we’re just so caught up in social media and opinions of other people, news, etc. that we’re missing all this knowledge we could be gaining. With knowledge comes power, and with power comes the responsibility to make the world change for the better. First, people, including myself, should reflect on themselves, and try to find the changes they want to see within them.

Hey, guys! I have sources! If you have any questions or concerns about the data presented in this blog please write or comment and I will post/send my resources!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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