Clinical Psychology

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Emotions Are Cognitive, Not Innate

Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information through experiences. Emotions are an innately programmed in the brain’s subcortical circuits. As a result, emotions are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. In other words, emotions aren’t a response to what our brain takes in from our observations, but, rather, are essential to our makeup. Emotions are “higher-order states” embedded in cortical circuits. The brain mechanisms that give rise to conscious emotional feelings are not fundamentally different from those that give rise to perceptual conscious experiences. ”Emotions are not tools of cognition”, said Ayn Rand. Innate emotions come from the brain’s limbic system, a part of the primitive hind-brain. Cognitive processing of emotion is the business of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in the human brain.

Cognition and emotion – this phrase-connects two concepts, but it is ambiguous. For some people, it means the cognitive approach to emotion. For others, it means joining two domains, cognition and affect, that were previously thought to be disparate. A Handbook of cognition and emotion, implying as it does a productive marriage between the two research areas in its title, is something of an achievement. Cognition in emotion is like concept and action of valence, arousal, and control. A not uncommon reaction to claims about the role of cognition in emotions is to agree with the proverbial farmer, who, when asked for directions to the city, replied: “you can’t get there from here.”Emotions are both (conceptually) defined by appraisals and (empirically) constituted by them. Although recent research has shown that social cognition and emotion engage overlapping regions of the brain, few accounts of this overlap have been offered. Cognition and emotion are closely linked to music. The researcher concludes is a part of an ongoing program investigating how the dynamic aspect of musical emotion relates to the cognition of musical structure. Some research suggests that the expression of emotion in music shares properties with the expression of emotion in speech and dance.

Faculty of Behavioral Science
Department of Clinical Psychology
SGT University, Gurgaon, Haryana

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A Paradigm Shift and Innocent Children

As there are many shifts during the century to century and different types of highs and lows face by society. Now we are facing the challenges of the 21st century and the major concerns are the empowerment of minority groups/population and westernization. Human resources are increasing as females are also contributing to the nation-building but simultaneously they are leaving behind their most precious and loveable part of themselves i.e. their children. This is an irony of this so-called educated society when parents ask someone to evaluate their children and provide the reason for their particular behavior. Educated parents are able to keep a very well record of their children’s progress in terms of achievements more specifically academic achievements but they are failing to keep a record of their innocent wishes and emotions. I have heard so many psychologists who advise the parents to spend quality time with their children however as a psychologist I can firmly say there is no way to compensate these sixteen wakings/Conscious hours of children with 2 hours of quality time. With these two hours of quality time, most of the children are developing Social anxiety, School anxiety, Internet addiction, Depression, and Conduct issues. Parents are the best identifier of their children’s covert and overt problems or insecurities. Not a single assessment tool and no one else’s observations and management would be so promising as parents. So many times children try to knock their parent’s consciousness but parents easily ignore these soft and warm knocks because of their preoccupations to justify themselves in this unjustified world. Conclusively the major concern of this 21st century should be the protection and care of these innocent children as they are the basic building blocks of any nation in the long run.

Soniya Vats
Assistant Professor
Department of Clinical Psychology
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences,
SGT University Gurugram

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What do you understand by the term Autism? What do you think when you see a child with some unusual behaviour or what you call such kids whom you see repeating words, staying isolated, facing difficulty in doing their routine tasks, problems in recognizing other people’s emotions and responding accordingly, having poor interaction with peers, has a problem in expressing etc. People call such kids mad, retarded, insane and provide them with many such synonyms, but they fail to understand the causes behind them. Thousands of parents have noticed such traits in their child but are unable to understand the causes behind it or name it.

This is a pervasive development disorder or we can call it in simple words as autism. Some time back down the lane no one had an idea about the causes behind it but now researchers are trying to deliver related answers. So, first of all, we should know that there is no single cause for autism. In most cases, it is a combination of genetic risk and environmental factors both during and after childbirth, they include advanced parental age at the time of conception, maternal illness during pregnancy, extreme prematurity, very low birth weight and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation in baby’s brain, vitamin deficiency etc.

Parents with such children face difficulty in upbringing them, for which they should know and learn some techniques to bring change in the areas of social interaction, speech, language and behavioural anomalies.

Tips for parents of autistic children

  • Use objects and actions along with words to teach skills, e.g. show the child a shoe and demonstrate pulling the lace through.
  • Keep your message very clear, brief and direct.
  • Teach both through actions and words e.g. teaching big, use your hands to show big size along with the word big.
  • Reinforce/ reward behaviour when it is done by the child. Use tangible reinforcers like toys, stickers, stars, etc and pair them up with social reward like patting, saying very good etc. Keep changing the reinforcers to avoid satiation meaning that reinforcers will lose their value if are continuously used.
  • Teach the concepts of self and name by pointing to the child e.g. you are Sam. Always teach concepts like you, your, me first then he, him, their etc.
  • Provide the child as many opportunities as possible to interact with well-functioning/ non-disabled kids who are at a more normal level in terms of social and language development.
  • Use pictures/ photos as much as possible to teach concepts.
  • Teach the child to look at the object along with you, e.g. “let us look at the fan”.
  • Establish a predictable environment and daily schedule.

There is one more category very less known which is a cognitive phenomenon known as “Autistic Savant”. “Autistic Savant” refers to individuals with autism who have extraordinary skills not exhibited by most persons. Earlier people with these skills were called as ‘idiot savants’ a French term which meant unlearned skills. The estimated prevalence of savant abilities in autism is 10%, whereas the prevalence in the non-autistic population, including those with mental retardation is less than 1%.

For learning more techniques specific to your child, seek help from professionals. Always remember that these general techniques need modification from child to child. Every child is unique in him/herself. Always remember- “Your child’s mental health is more important than his grades”.

Devika Raje
Assistant Professor
Department of Clinical Psychology
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences
SGT University, Gurugram

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‘Health’ Without Mental Health is an Illusion

Human Beings are hard-wired to avoid pain and maximize pleasure and yet they struggle to pursue Eudaimonia (Happiness for happiness sake). When it comes to pursuing happiness and well-being, they find it increasingly challenging to think of long term gains and suffer due to short-sightedness of pursuing goal-linked happiness (hedonism).

Our happiness and well-being are inherently linked to our health – it is common knowledge that unless we feel ‘fit and fine’, we cannot function optimally in any of the spheres of our lives. Yet it is only recently that physical fitness has become a ‘fashion’ and everyone from the young to the old are after physical fitness – maybe it’s the fear of disease and the desire to have socially acceptable bodies that is the driving force behind this mass movement towards physical fitness. We are now extremely health conscious and are ready to adopt a variety of diets and fitness routines to keep ourselves healthy.

Older people have always been vary of the importance of keeping fit may be due to the wisdom they have gained through their time on this planet and the desire to age successfully. However, it is quite an achievement of this decade that the zest for physical fitness has permeated all boundaries of socio-demography. In fact, it is kind of humorous to see many people wearing fitness bands on their wrist to keep a count of the steps taken by them in a day, as an indicator of physical activity.

However, mental fitness is still doesn’t fit in the list of human priorities – until we get down in the dumps or face emotional challenges in our life. Despite being very well aware of the fact that there cannot be any success or physical fitness till we are mentally active and fit, human beings are scared to talk about it and still vary of visiting a mental health expert when required. We are still okay to suffer in silence, take medication or tonics and go to faith healers or astrologists to deal with mental health issues. It is still considered shameful to be undergoing any mental trauma or disturbance.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all accept that the mind is above the body and there can be no health without mental health? It would then truly make human beings ‘health-conscious’.

Maybe the time has come to wear ‘Mental health fitness bands’ on our wrists and keep a count of our negative emotions, self-defeating thoughts as well as positive deeds and go after psych-health diets for a change. Just like Clinical Psychology deals with mental disorders and getting back to ‘normal’, Positive Psychology deals with Mental growth and getting from ‘zero’ (normal) to life above zero. If only little more attention is paid to that neglected part of our health – mental health – then maybe human beings would become truly fully functioning beings and be able to utilize their full potential. Being ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ should not be equated with being mentally unwell but rather with neglecting or stigmatizing mental health. Society is a product of human perception – it’s about time we re-perceive the world we live in.

Dr. Nimisha Kumar
Associate Professor
Department of Clinical Psychology
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences
SGT University, Gurugram

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