Medicine is a science. Jacob Bronowski said, “science is not a mechanical, but a human progress, and not a set of findings, but a search for them" (Shelby, 2006). He also states that science “refers to all attempts to answer questions through the systematic collection and logical analysis of objectively observable data” (Gray, 2010). I am a psychologist thus this means that I practice science through medicine.
Psychology uses scientific methods to accomplish its goals by conducting experiments to understand how people feel, act and think (Nielsen, 2001). By observing people in a clinical, lab, or natural settings psychologist gain the information that they need and interpret it to develop hypothesis about our feelings, actions, and thoughts. The military is a unit that has very strong willed people, to be in the military one has to have a really strong character and be of strong will. This are the kind of people that I work with everyday, people that have seen and gone through such traumatic events that they need help to deal with these ordeals inorder to lead normal or quality lives. The authorized ratio is one behavior health officer (Social worker or Psychologist) per every four thousand soldiers. This is putting too much pressure on the few psychologists that are practicing within the army as of today. It is one of the major reasons that I decided to major in psychology. It is both a rewarding and satisfying career especially when I am able to help a soldier deal with a traumatic event and see them finally overcome it. The challenges are enormous but with proper understanding and professional practices,we make it through a day at a time. The beauty is in the overall results as well stated by Albert Einstein, “the whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” (Shelby, 2006).
My daily schedule also involves screening the soldiers when they come to the hospital in need of medical care. This is necessary because some soldiers are out to have a sick day off and avoid doing chores. Only the genuine cases get to see the doctors who also are few and don’t need to waste time attending to pretending soldiers at the expense of saving lives. When caring for the soldiers I have to find a medium between being stern, compassionate, and friendly all at the same time, in order, to ensure that the soldiers open up and are treated physically and emotionally thus are ready when the time comes for them to be deployed for combat. It was really difficult in the beginning to find a balance between these qualities leave alone affecting them. This has since become easier for me to do once I decided to major in psychology.
Billikoph (2006) described the greeting of the day to be equivalent to the stroke a parent gives a child. It helps let people know that you mean them no harm and makes them feel at ease thus they open up and share all their pain making it easier for the medics to attend to them. Patience and tolerance are necessary in my career every day. I have come to know that one has to be very careful about how they handle each and every individual case and at the same time remain professional. Dealing with human beings of the caliber of soldiers is a test on itself on how well one can apply all that we learn in class about human behavior without coming out as being judgemental to the subject. I have to analyze people at all times and try to read and understand them whilst maintaining calmness and not at any given time letting the subject be aware that am analyzing them.
This is extremely necessary since I interact with people with all kinds of trauma and the way I handle each individual case can make or break the subject. Free will is the belief that we have complete control over our actions and thoughts, while determinism is the belief that our actions are caused by external or mental events.
For a patient to freely come in seeking for help is a major step in their way to recovery. As much as I and my colleagues may single out a certain patient as one who needs psychological help, only they can initiate the healing process. This is because psychology requires that one comes in for help out of their own free will. I am not under any professional obligation to impose or start treatment of psychological nature on a patient without their consent. Out of free will we all make every day decisions about our own lives, e.g. when one is hungry you go out to have some food. The choice you make on whether to have a healthy meal or have fast food is your free will. But what happens in the end? There are numerous numbers of people who blame their obesity and health problems on the fast food joints! The same places have smaller portions of food and even healthy alternatives but its ones free will to make the choice on what to take. Some of the choices we make are influenced by nature, the environment or even our state of mind. These are the same factors that psychology puts into perspective when trying to understand why a person did what they did or acts the way that they do. Free-will is needed to explain why people in the same environment act differently and choose different paths in life.
I think that determinism is a way out. It makes people not assume responsibility for their actions. If determinism were the common way of thinking no one would be in jail because external causes or physiological processes would be held responsible (Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2001). However, at some point in time we have to come to the realization that we are responsible for our actions and our success (free will).
Immanuel Kant, a philosopher during the 18th century believed in free-will. According to Kant, freedom played a central role because of the possibility of moral judgments that presupposes it. “Freedom is an idea of reason that serves an indispensable practical function. Without the assumption of freedom reason cannot act. Free-will makes us who we are. How can you have a reason for doing what you do if you have no choice in the matter? Being in the military there are plenty of times when you are told to do something with no explanation but it is interesting to see the responses of the subjects. The military practices strict rules which are enforced at all times through a command hierarchy. If your platoon leader orders that you pass barefoot over hot coal, is it your free will or respect to command that guides one on the way to go?
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Besides the trauma that is inflicted on the soldiers during combat, some of them may also go on to develop mental illnesses. Mental illness is any kind of ailment which interferes with the normal functioning of the brain. This ultimately influences the feelings, moods, behavior, thinking, and how an individual relates to another. This is of uttermost importance in the army since people live and work in groups and therefore need to be in their best state of mind at all times in order to correlate and work together. The army makes major decisions and a soldier needs to be alert at all times to be able to make those necessary decisions with a conscious state of mind, e.g. when and at whom to pull the trigger. An affected person will develop medical conditions that greatly impair his or her capacity to be in control of the usual requirements of existence. Mental illnesses are of various levels of seriousness and the most detrimental include schizophrenia, major depressions, bipolar disorders, and the obsessive compulsive disorder (Bennett, 2004). Other illnesses include post traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and borderline personality disorder. It is important to note that mental illnesses are not selectively acquired because they can affect people of all genders classes, ages, and even religion and do not, in any case, arise from individual predisposition or poor parenting. It has however been found out that mental illness affect individuals when they are at their most productive ages like the ages that most soldiers are in active form therefore fast action needs to be taken to ensure that their general state of mind is well monitored and rectified to prevent disaster like a soldier going on a shooting spree endangering lives.
A psychologist can help a mental patient by applying psychotherapeutic treatment. This is done by a psychotherapist who is specially trained to deliver treatment with limited medicinal use. This may include therapy with family or individually and an assessment of their behavior (Compton & Kotwick, 2007). An example of therapy administered for example is the psychodynamic psychotherapy where treatment is done through identification of unconscious pre-existing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Interpersonal therapy on the other hand involves treating individuals to improve their relationships with others. Cases that need medicinal intervention may include the prescription of selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Celexa. Such illnesses can also be treated through the administration of antidepressant to the patient and use of anti-anxiety medications among others. The possibility to identify a particular cause of a mental illness has led to the formulation of suitable ways to treat the disorders. It is important to note that mental illnesses are treatable just like other ailments and best results are achieved when affected the person takes the initiative. This shows the extent to which our decisions are controlled by our own free will.
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The two most important individuals that have made an impact in modern psychology are Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck. One of them who is credited for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) Albert Ellis who is Cognitive Therapist, and Aaron Beck who also is a Cognitive Therapist. Their perspective along with the behavioral perspective of psychology is most consistent with my personal beliefs of psychology. Behavior therapy’s goal is similar to that of cognitive therapy. However, in behavior therapy the focus is on the behaviors and not the mental processes that make the person act in an unhealthy way. According to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, human beings are responsibly devoted to pleasure in the sense that they wish to remain alive and achieve happiness. Cognitive therapy helps a patient to deal with difficulties and resolve his problems; to achieve this, this therapy helps patient to identify dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses and further helps him to change it (Aaron T. Beck).
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With the help of cognitive therapy patient can modify his beliefs, he can identify illogical thinking to add to it patient can relate to different people in many different ways. Success of cognitive therapy highly depends on belief of the patient because it is joint effort by patient and therapist.
Peoples lives are as good as they think they are. The degree of pain that one feels is also proportional to the pain that your mind tells you to feel. There is the case of a patient who came in with what he thought was the nastiest bruise on his arm, he was yelling for attention and many nurses and doctors rushed out to check on him. You could see the disapproval on their faces once they saw his injury. Still asking about how long it would take to heal and if it would leave a scar, the patient next to him opened the curtain and asked him, “what if you had lost both legs and an arm like me? My scars won’t go away!’
The categories of psychology that are mostly studied in the modern science world include, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, social, educational, developmental and biological psychology (Borade, 2010). Despite the fact that all the mentioned fall under the category of psychology, they address different areas in relation to human growth and development and understanding each of them separately helps scientists and psychologists be in a better position to monitor the human behavior. The rapid growth of the information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors did not only affect areas that are related to computers alone but it also had a great impact in the medical field. For instance with the introduction of information and communication technologies in the medical field, doctors are in a better position to conduct surgeries more accurately and prevent complications. This is where the world of psychology is heading to. With the advancement of medicine, any psychiatrist will be able to deal with any medical condition related to psychology and administer proper medication. For instance a psychiatrist who specialized in educational psychology will be able to use brain-imaging-techniques like the fMRI and other computer based programs to detect and deal with cases related to cognitive psychology without having to refer the patient to another psychiatrist. Psychiatrists will have the freedom to attend to cases outside their specialty; the same case will apply to other doctors too. For example it will be able for a dentist to attend to a patient with a psychological condition with the help of the special designed computer programs.
It is important to note that in the modern day world internet is used in nearly all areas of economic growth and development. It is through the same internet that the world has been converted into a digital village. Psychiatrists will be able to attend to a patient from any geographical location and they won’t be required to be there in person or it won’t require the patient to fly all the way to meet his/her psychiatrists. This will not only be a cost saving measure but also a time saving measure to both the patient and the doctor.
As the world makes advancements into the future, so does the entire medical field including psychology. New treatments are being developed every day and patients continue to approach us with new challenging psychological problems.
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