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Psychological Issues: Self-Identity and Sexual Meaning Issues, and Memory Processing Research Paper

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Benefits and problems with sex surveys

Sex surveys are done so that an individual can compare his/her sexual experiences with other people who are also involved in the surveys. Sex surveys are meant for educational purposes and to study issues of sex that affect society. The surveys are done in newspapers, on the internet, in magazines, and by professional organizations. Except for the professional organizations, the results posted by the other pollsters are mostly erroneous. This is because the surveys are done within a defined sample rather than an all-inclusive sample with variable opinions. “A number of studies have since shown that volunteers tend to be more sexually experienced, sensation seeking, and unconventional, and to have more relaxed sexual attitudes and behaviors than those of recruited from the general population,” ( Dunne, 1997; Copas, et al, 1997). In addition, interviewees tend to give peculiar behaviors that they necessarily do not practice. For instance, the findings on gay practice could be misleading given the conservative motives of samples towards anti-social behaviors.

Another problem associated with sex surveys is the fact that samples involved could have no understanding of terms used in the surveys; for example, the meaning of heterosexual, bisexual or masturbation. Most sex surveys are run by firms dealing in other products and the motives of the surveys are for marketing of their primary products. It is highly unlikely that the questionnaires used are based upon any credible observation. They are not approved by any ethical body. In most cases, the surveys are never analyzed properly and compared with previous surveys. This makes it difficult for the sex surveys to feature in peer-reviewed journals that continually give an argument in a given line of thought and trends. In any meaningful research, first there is a review of existing literature on a topic; in this case, sex surveys. Then based on the shortcomings of a preceding study, a study then establishes the truth using an appropriate methodology. All these research basics are not used in most sex surveys and results are therefore not reflective of the real situation at the grassroots. Fenton et al, (2001) note that, “A key challenge for all sex survey research is to generate unbiased and precise measures of individual and population behavior patterns.”

On the other hand, sex surveys have been hailed due to the fact that they create an avenue for sharing opinions and from such surveys, individuals with ‘strange’ sexual behaviors have gained confidence and broke the silence on their sexual orientation and sexual identity. The survey done by Alfred Kinsey revealed the ratio of homosexuals in the society has given voice to those homosexual activists who base their argument on Kinsey’s report when fighting for gay and lesbian rights.

Issues of self-identity and sexual meaning

Issues of sexual identity and sexual meaning are more to do with psychological perceptions than they are personal choices. The society at times defines what behaviors are to be considered either good or bad. The same concept applies to sex matters. People do have different sexual orientations and sexual identities if gender is considered. According to Mohr, (2002), “While sexual orientation typically refers to more stable behavioral characteristics, sexual identity is typically conceptualized as recognition, acceptance, and identification with one’s sexual preferences.” The case of sexual orientation for male and female take a totally different course. A group of researchers embarked on a study to distinguish the variation among women in college because it is at college level that sexual orientations and identities are nurtured. The research was also to compare conventional sexual behaviors of women and to unique sexual behaviors like lesbianism, and bisexuality. After completion of the tests, the study came with a number of issues that affect sexual identity and meaning among college women. To begin with, the quantitative interpretation of data showed that “Most straight women were more same-sex oriented than exclusively straight women but less same-sex oriented than bisexual women and lesbians regarding sexual attraction and fantasy in past, present, and ideal situations,” (Morgan, 2008).

The study also found out that different trends were manifested in relationships; comparing past and present relationships. Conventional sexual behaviors did not change for present and past relationships. However, there was slight difference for both same-sex and bisexual women. The only similarity between bisexual and straight women is that their behaviors were same in the past relationships but not so in the present relationships. All these observations bring the conclusion that , “This particular finding likely has more to do with opportunity than desire, as the linear results returned regarding ideal sexual relationships, with all groups differing from each other along the other-sex only to same only continuum, “ (Morgan, 2008).

To understand how sexual identity manifests itself, the study showed straight females had an uncertain view about sexual identity because this group feels straight females are a prototype that is acceptable in the society, (Diamond, 2005; Essig, 2000). This group remained unsure of their future sexual identities since there was little or no chance of same-sex relationships. However, not all straight females held that opinion as others felt strongly bound to their identity. The uncertainty of this group shows that the group is still undergoing the process of sexual identification. Thomson, (2008), notes that “However, unlike the behavioral variables, mostly straight women shared similar levels of exploration and uncertainty (and synthesis) with both bisexual and lesbian women.”

Amnesia in Korsakoff’s Syndrome

According to Visser et al, (1999), volumetry on high-resolution MRI showed that the volume of several brain structures that are involved in memory processing was decreased in subjects with Korsakoff’s syndrome. The anterograde amnesia of the subjects with Korsakoff’s syndrome correlated significantly with the volume of the third ventricle, suggesting that lesions in nuclei in the midline of the thalamus are responsible for the anterograde amnesia of these patients.

The findings of study above depict that there is a relation between Korsakoff syndrome and anterograde amnesia. Midline nuclei of amnesia involved in Korsakoff syndrome are: rhomboid, paraventricular nuclei among others. The degree of seriousness of anterograde amnesia relies on the number of nuclei impinged on. However, some studies of the Korsakoff group reveal that those of anterograde amnesia did not correlate in regard to level of impact. Estruch et al, (1998), observe that “This is by contrast with earlier studies that showed a positive relation between mamillary body size and memory.”

The study was conducted via the use of brain volumetry and it applied and it was successful for both Korsakoff syndrome and anterograde amnesia. On the other hand, the study had limitations in that, “It did not assess all brain structures in-memory processing such as the frontal lobe, the amygdala, and the cingulated gyrus,” (Visser et al, 1999). The overall deduction from the study establishes that anterograde amnesia and “Korsakoff syndrome are both linked with nuclei atrophy of the thalamus but not with atrophy of the mammillary bodies, the hippocampus, or the parahippocampal gyrus,” (Visser et al, 1999).

Another study was conducted to establish correlation between retrograde amnesia and bilateral medial-temporal lobectomy. Unlike the case for Korsakoff syndrome, where anterograde amnesia was used, the correlation study for bilateral medial-temporal lobectomy is achieved via correlation study with retrograde amnesia. The study was conducted by a group of researchers and in the methodology, “Fifty-five patients with major depression were randomly assigned to right unilateral (RUL) or bilateral (BL) ECT, each at either low or high electrical dosage. The Personal and Impersonal Memory Test was administered by blinded raters at baseline,” (Lisanby et al, 2000). From result analysis and interpretation, it was found out that Bilateral ECT led to notable amnesia; more so, for collection of impersonal memory. Lisanby et al, (2000) affirm that “The amnestic effects of ECT are greatest and most persistent for knowledge about the world (impersonal memory) compared with knowledge about the self (personal memory), for recent compared with distinctly remote events, and for less salient events.” From the two comparisons of amnesia and bilateral medial-temporal lobectomy and that associated with Korsakoff’s syndrome, different test methodologies are involved and the general observation is that they lead to different amnesic conditions.

Implicit and explicit memory

There are differences between implicit and explicit memories and this necessitates an amicable comparison between the two. Implicit memories are hard for a person to declare by use of word of mouth; hence, it is at times referred to as non-declarative memories. According to Hall, (1998), “Implicit memories are non-conscious, and often involve memories for specific step-by-step procedures, or specific feelings/emotions.” An example of implicit memories is flying an airplane. It is a step-by-step procedure that one can carry out successfully and on many occasions but has no consciousness of any of the steps involved. This event can also be related to reaction to a bloodcurdling situation. One might respond with an abrupt shout or wailing without consciously noting.

In the contrary, explicit memories are declarative and can be verbally remembered. Another characteristic of explicit memories is that they are complex in nature. “They are more complex types of memories because they are often holistic, in that they involve the recall of many different aspects of a situation.” An example of an explicit memory is one’s ability to recall all the processions in a wedding. It is possible to not only remember the events of the show but also the context in which proceedings took place. It will go deep in the memory even for a number of years if not for life for one to remember the venue, the most predominant type of car and the date of the wedding. From the above observations, explicit and implicit memories can be distinguished. Implicit memories are emotional, follow a procedure, are non-verbal, and are non-conscious. Explicit memories are contextual, verbal, and conscious. In addition, implicit and explicit memories are represented by different neurological conditions.

A case study that can be used to illustrate the difference between implicit and explicit memories was conducted by researchers among atheists in Washington. “The lack of explicit bias against atheists among our subjects is indicative of both the religious people of any state in the nation,” (Edgell et al., 2001). The observation made by the researchers was confirmed in yet another study that established that there exists both implicit and explicit racial bias geared at African-Americans, (Dovidio et al, 2001). There is a striking observation that was made in this study; that there are divergent opinions in the same situation, explicit impartiality and implicit bias against atheists. These cases demonstrate how explicit and implicit memories are exactly opposite in application and character.

References

Copas, A., Johnson, A. M., and Wadsworth, J. (1997). “Assessing participation bias in a sexual behaviour survey: implications for measuring HIV risk.” AIDS. 11:783–90.

Diamond, L. M. (2005). “I’m straight, but I kissed a girl:” The trouble with American media representations of female–female sexuality. Feminism and Psychology, 15, 104–110.

Dovidio, J. F., Kawakami, K., & Beach, K. R. (2001). Implicit and explicit attitudes: Examination of the relationship between measures of intergroup bias. In R. Brown & S. Gaertner (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Intergroup processes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publications Ltd. (175-197).

Dunne, M. P., Martin, N. G., Bailey, J. M., et al. (1997) “Participation bias in a sexuality survey: psychological and behavioral characteristics of responders and non-responders.” Int J Epidem; 26:844–54.

Edgell, P., Gerteis, J., & Hartmann, D. (2006). “Atheists as ‘other’: Moral boundaries and cultural membership in American society.” American Sociological Review, 71, 211-234.

Essig, L. (2000). Heteroflexibility. Web.

Estruch, R., Bono, G., Laine, P., et al. (1998). “Brain imaging in alcoholism.” Eur J Neurology. 5:119–35.

Fenton, K. A., Johnson, A. M., McManus, S., et al. (2001). “Measuring sexual behaviour: methodological challenges in survey research.” Sex Transm Infect 77: 84-92

Hall, R. H. (1998). .

Lisanby, S. H, Jill, M. D., Maddox, H. et al. (2000). “The effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy on Memory of autobiographical and public events.” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 57:581-590.

Morgan, E. M., & Thompson, E. M. (2008). “Mostly straight young women: Variations in sexual behavior and identity development.” Journal of Development Psychology. 44 (1) 15-21.

Mohr, J. J. (2002). “Heterosexual identity and the heterosexual therapist: An identity perspective on sexual orientation dynamics in psychotherapy.” Counseling Psychologist, 30, 532–566.

Visser, P. G., Krabbendam, L., Verhey, F. R. J. et al. (1999). “Brain correlates of memory dysfunction in alcoholic Korsakoff’s syndrome.” J Neurol neurosurg psychiatry. 67:774–778.

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