Paige Wilson's Archive

Blog Post #6

1 Commentby   |  04.23.13  |  Student Posts

Third-force psychology (AKA humanistic psychology) began to develop in the early 1960’s as a movement against psychoanalysis and behaviorism.  Third-force psychologists wanted to emphasize human uniqueness and positivity.  It assumes that humans are responsible for choosing their on existence, rather than genetics or early experience.  For me, this brings to mind the popular television show called The Biggest Loser.  This show makes weight loss into a competition.  Obese individuals are taught how to eat right and exercise.  The show runs on the basic premise that we can change our negative habits and replace them with positive ones by using our will.  Bad genes and a life of couch-sitting does not mean that an individual cannot change his or her body for the better.  The realization that we have the power to choose how our lives and bodies will be shaped empowers contestants on the show to work through emotional issues, while improving their physical health.

I generally have a more negative outlook on things; however, I have found that owning my choices not only forces me to face reality, but also reminds me that I have the power to change my reality.  This field may not have all the answers, but I do feel that it has something valuable to offer.

Blog #5 Psychoanalytical Thinking

2 Commentsby   |  04.11.13  |  Student Posts

One example of psychoanalytical thinking in everyday life can be found in the popular television show Criminal Minds.  This show follows a team of FBI profilers who travel from state to state in search of serial killers.  The team collects the details of each unique case.  After identifying the killer’s pattern, the team predicts what kind of life the individual is most likely living, with the hope that it will lead them to the killer more quickly.  Their search for the truth often leads them to investigate the dark pasts of suspects.  The show often links childhood trauma and abuse to the psychotic behavior of criminals.  Additionally, nearly every episode presents a criminal going through a stressor.  This stressor is the extra push that sends the criminal over the edge of reality.  In a way, the show is rationalizing the criminal behavior that takes place.  This is just one of the many reminders of psychoanalysis in modern society.


1 Commentby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts


The National Geographic Channel airs a show starring Cesar Millan called “Dog Whisperer.” In the show, Millan enteres the homes of distraught dog owners.  In most cases these dogs are presenting with behavioral abnormalities that are dangerous to themselves or their owners.  Millan begins by listening to the dog owners explain their concerns and then silently observes the animals in the setting or situation that triggers their problem behaviors.

Millan then begins to work his magic.  The dog owners watch in amazement as Cesar is able to practically eradicate a behavior that has been ingrained in their pets for months or even years within a matter of a few minutes.  His influence has saved the lives of many precious pets and empowered countless pet owners.  So… how does he do it?  Is it magic? NO!

The answer can be found in the principles of behavioral psychology.  Think back to Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs and salivation.  We all know that when a dog smells meat, he will begin to salivate.  This is known as an unconditioned response.  Pavlov found that the sight of the attendant, the sight of the food, and even the sound of the attendant’s footsteps were eventually enough to make the dogs salivate.  The sight and sound accompanying the attendant are known as the conditioned stimulus.  When the dog salivates in response to the conditioned stimulus, it is known as a conditioned response.

Dogs form certain associations in accordance to Pavlov’s findings, which can occasionally lead to less than desirable behaviors.  Millan builds off of this principle, using reinforcement.  He immediately and consistently provides consequences for negative behavior.  More importantly than training the animals he encounters, Millan trains their owners.  He forces them to see that they have the power to change any behavior IF they are consistent with consequences and rewards.

This training is fascinating and makes me wonder…  How effective would something similar be if it was applied to individuals with violent tendencies?  What about applying it to people with depression or personality disorders?  Could behaviorism be used more?  Is it dehumanizing because it is focused solely on the behavior?  One thing that cannot be questioned however, is its overwhelming effectiveness.

Blog Post #3 Evolutionary Psychology

1 Commentby   |  03.05.13  |  Student Posts

Evolutionary psychologists attempt to explain human behavior in terms of evolution. It may be true that we choose mates based on what our ancestors have deemed as desirable physical characteristics. Altruism may simply be a behavioral adaptation. Compassion may have evolved to encourage the protection and nurturing of our offspring.

But does the evolutionary source of our behavior matter?

Knowing the origins of our behaviors does not necessarily reveal a key to fixing behavioral abnormalities. Evolutionary psychology assumes that science is the only way of truly knowing. As a human with feelings, thoughts, values, and religious beliefs it is difficult for me to accept this.

Is this an effective method for understanding our bodies?

Undoubtedly the answer is yes. Science is paramount in explaining our capacity to reason and hold various principles and beliefs. In my opinion, science and evolutionary theory cannot explain these principles and beliefs themselves. Francisco J. Ayala states that, “science has nothing decisive to say about values… nothing to say about the meaning of life and its purpose; and nothing to say about religious beliefs.” In other words, science is not the only way of knowing and learning. For example, science cannot explain the origin of the physical laws of the universe. These laws were not man made or evolved, they simply exist.

The evolution of the human race is an important piece of the puzzle to examine and attempt to understand, but it is important not to stop there. I believe that, in the field of psychology, focusing on human behavior in relationship with modern society would be more useful.

Blog Post #2

1 Commentby   |  01.31.13  |  Student Posts

Scholasticism is one school of thought that has influenced contemporary thinking, which resulted from an attempt at synthesizing Aristotle’s philosophy with Christian theology.
Peter Abelard was a prominent proponent of this movement. Abelard believed that because God undeniably existed, all methods of inquiry would prove just that; therefore, Christians should not fear reason, logic, or scientific study of any kind. In his book, Sic et Non, Abelard presented a dialectic method. He penned many theological questions and included a variety of contradicting answers to these questions from well-known Christian theologians. Although this method was controversial for obvious reasons, he firmly believed it was a reliable way to arrive at truth. Abelard exposed inconsistencies within the Christian church, presuming that the Bible would consistently prevail.
His work paved the way for dialectic behavior therapy, which is a psychotherapy commonly used today to treat individuals with borderline personality disorders. His willingness to search for truth without fear of questioning the authority of the time can be seen today from universities to various social movements. Today the value of holding the experts accountable is easily understood. Additionally, Abelard helped to bridge the gap between realism and nominalism with his theory of conceptualism. He believed that universal essences did not exist. Instead, we form concepts of things such a beauty and pain that may summarize specific experiences, but exist apart from those experiences.
His scandalous sexual relationship with his 17 year old Heloise is a reminder that even the most rational of men are not above their own physical and emotional desires. This type of behavior continues more often than not on a daily basis. I do not believe that it makes his faith in God or his work in philosophy any less valid. It simply proves that he was human. We have made significant advancements in medicine, science, and technology; however, human lust and passion remain a constant in all societies today.

Blog Post #1 “The Good Life”

3 Commentsby   |  01.18.13  |  Student Posts

The question of “the good life” is nothing new. Philosophers, scientists, theologians and countless others have devoted their lives to the search for an answer. I do not believe that “the good life” can be defined in universal terms. It seems to me that it depends primarily on the individual’s understanding of what is “good.” Humans throughout different cultures and times will inevitably value and define these concepts differently.

In my opinion, which is heavily influenced by my Christian upbringing, I believe that a “good” life should be focused on creating and nurturing fulfilling human relationships. These relationships help us not only to understand a variety of different perspectives on life, but also to help us better understand ourselves. To live in a society in which public service is freely and joyfully given would be my ideal. Individuals would care for the community before the self, supporting one another in every phase of life. Government would not have to bear the burden of caring for the poor, sick, and homeless because the community would provide the best care for its members. Sharing resources because they wanted to, and spending time together out of love for one another.

While this is my ideal, I do not believe that this could ever work in the world we live in today. I believe that humans are essentially selfish, not out of pure disregard for others, but simply for survival purposes. We cannot escape our wants and needs. Everything we do is done for some type of personal gain, whether it is spiritual or material. Therefore, in this life, I believe that showing love and compassion to others when they have only rejected and abused you is the way to live a “good” life. In my opinion, a true state of selflessness is one of the most beautiful things that a human can achieve.

Paige Wilson's Comment Archive

  1. Paige Wilson on Blog 1: "The Good Life"
    1:25 pm, 01.21.13

    Emily, I think that your perspective of the good life is very insightful. The reality of this life is that it is hard. Bad things happen to good people. Bad people go unpunished daily. The world is a confusing and dangerous place where innocence is corrupted daily and trust is shattered. I love your idea that the good life is a choice. If we chose to make the best of every terrible situation that arose I believe that the world would be a radically different place. It is not easy to actively search for the good in a painful situation. It requires diligence, faith, and a sense of hope, which I find to be incredibly admirable. Great thoughts!

  2. Paige Wilson on The Good Life
    1:13 pm, 01.21.13

    I completely agree that the good life is entirely individual and subjective in nature. We are all driven by different goals in life, from money to personal relationships. I also agree that happiness is one of these goals. In the world today, we have so many resources at our fingertips. Instant gratification of our desires is the name of the game. We can find virtually any information at the push of a button. We can order a meal at any time of day, and eat it without even setting a foot out of our cars. I believe that living life in search of nothing other than happiness is not only a form of self gratification, but also self medication, distracting ourselves from the ever present pain of reality. In my opinion, to live a good life requires the discernment to know when temporary happiness should be sacrificed for some greater purpose outside of one’s self. Great insight! I enjoyed your post.