Hunger and obesity
One of the most interesting topics discussed by Myers is that of hunger and obesity. It appears that hunger and obesity are culturally-mediated (Myers 407). In other words, culture and social conditions play a huge role in how individuals perceive hunger and how they cope with overweight.
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Myers’s point is that motivation to eat and motivation to stay hungry to lose some weight are also influenced by numerous biological, genetic, and physiological factors (411). However, I do not fully accept Myers’s position. The role of genetics and biology in the development of obesity can hardly be underscored. Still, it is more about psychology and individual motivation to pursue healthy lifestyles.
Motivation can help win the struggle with genetics and physiology because motivated individuals can set ambitious weight-loss goals and achieve them, even if their bodies work against them.
Motivation at work
Another important topic is the motivation to work. We often ask ourselves why, in the presence of equal rewards, some employees are more motivated than others. Myers writes that it is always fascinating to have individual talents and skills fully engaged in the work process (451). Simply stated, individuals are much more motivated to work, when they enjoy their workplace obligations.
Look at Bill Gates – a person who is inspired by his work – and you will see how far a passion for work can go. Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine that any leader or industrial psychologist will ever achieve a perfect employee-workplace fit.
This is the problem of the curse of knowledge, which Myers describes (455). More often than not, industrial psychologists and leaders implicitly assume that the level of their knowledge is equal to that of their subordinates or followers. They may not be able to deliver the knowledge and skills needed to motivate workers, and the level of motivation will always be lower than expected.
Cognition and emotions
Have you ever heard somebody telling you that you do things before you think? Emotions often come first, and people do things they would have never done, had them a chance to think them over. Different theories were developed to explain the relationship between cognition and emotions, one of the most interesting being that of Zajonc, LeDoux, and Lazarus (Myers 462).
This theory helps explain why emotions override cognition. In certain situations, our emotional stimuli bypass our cortex; as a result, we make decisions based solely on our emotions, not reason. That emotions do not involve any cognitive thinking is a very important suggestion.
However, it also implies that there is nothing we, as psychologists, can do to reduce the power of emotions. What we can do is to evaluate the extent of emotionality in our clients and help them adjust their responses and utilize their best cognitive potentials.
Stress and health
The relationship between stress and health is well-documented (Myers 482). On the one hand, stress impacts all organs and systems of the human organism; in this sense, almost any physical disease can be regarded as having psychological roots. On the other hand, because stress generates physiological responses, it can also be categorized as a physiological disorder.
To a large extent, the concept of stress is slippery, but the negative impacts of prolonged stress on individuals’ cardiovascular system cannot be denied. What makes me curious and even concerned is the way Myers describes the relationship between stress and AIDS (Myers 493).
If stress is at the heart of all immune problems in humans, then why are antidepressants not used to treat and prevent HIV and autoimmune diseases? I believe that it is too early to say that stress is responsible for every health problem, although timely psychologist’s help could potentially save thousands of people from long-term health complications.
Traits and personality
Trait theories represent one of the essential approaches to personal psychology (Myers 526). However, I am confident that the excessive use of trait and other personality theories is the source of hidden professional dangers.
Whenever it comes to personality theories, including trait theories, the boundary between effective analysis and stereotyping/standardization becomes very blurred. I think that no theory can fully explain why and how certain individuals choose to behave. Thus, one of the main functions of a professional psychologist is to consider each case individually and avoid unreasonable generalizations, based on theories.
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The current research provides abundant information about self-esteem. Myers also speaks about the benefits of self-esteem. We are used to believing that individuals with high self-esteem have better chances to find themselves in life. They do not give up their positions easily and are more prone to struggle with challenging assignments and difficult tasks (Myers 545).
The question that lingers in the air is whether too much self-esteem good for a person. I can imagine a person who, due to increased self-confidence and unreasonably high self-esteem, assumes the responsibilities and accepts obligations, with which he (she) is not able to cope. This is why I would encourage a deeper analysis of the accepted levels of self-esteem and the impacts, which high self-esteem has on individual productivity and personality growth.
While trait theories consider personality to be the central element of decision making, the role which the environment plays in our decisions should not be ignored (Myers 554). Attribution error occurs when we place too many hopes on our capabilities and talents and do not account for the potential environmental influences (Myers 554). In most cases, the fundamental attribution error keeps us from making objective and reasonable judgments.
I think that this attribution error comes into play when we evaluate our first impression from meeting a new person. For example, we can see a young man, who is sitting silently at his table and is keeping at a distance from other people in the room. We may come to believe that he is dull and uninteresting.
He may simply be in a bad mood, or he may not like his surrounding, or he may have family problems. The attribution error tells us that we should not be prejudiced and stereotyped, as well as avoid judging people by their appearance.
Myers describes prejudice as a product of both emotional and cognitive processes. Myers recognizes that prejudice can flourish because of the social conditions, which favor it and grow from the passions of the heart (577). However, prejudice is not only about holding rape victims and individuals with AIDS responsible for their mischief. Prejudice is associated with conservatism and does not allow legislating major social changes.
I think that we should start to look at prejudice as a complex cognitive, not social, process. Myers provides interesting information as to how prejudice impacts the human brain (577). I am sure that this is one of the best ways to understand the mechanism of prejudice and prevent it.
In this chapter, Myers describes the way anxiety disorders develop and how they work. The researcher also discusses the relationship between observational learning, genes, and cognition and their relative contribution to the development of various anxiety disorders (614).
However, I still feel that none of the existing explanations is compelling. I have seen people with fears and phobias, and I cannot say that they have an anxiety disorder. I also cannot say that any of the abovementioned factors were responsible for their fears.
In most cases, the roots of fears and phobias are difficult to explain. I think that present-day philosophy of anxiety disorders requires further analysis. The boundary between simple anxiety and an anxiety disorder is very vague. I am confident that future researchers should focus on the development of more valid criteria for various anxiety disorders.
To my mind, schizophrenia is one of the most controversial topics in Myers’s textbook. Myers compares schizophrenia to psychological cancer. Myers also writes that schizophrenia will develop in 1 out of 100 people, 60 percent of them being men (631). The number is very high, which means that thousands of people around us can face the risks of the disease.
Still, is schizophrenia a disease? I have read several studies and books, which question the relevance of schizophrenia. Myers takes a position that schizophrenia is the most heavily research mental health disorder, but is the objective in his judgments? (633) In my view, the reader should be able to create a complete picture of the diagnosis and evaluate all existing perspectives and viewpoints.
However, Myers does not say a word on what is going on about schizophrenia in professional research. Reasons, why the validity of the schizophrenia diagnosis should be better understood, are numerous. The social implications of the diagnosis can be profound. Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia can experience considerable economic and social problems. This is why it is important to pay more attention to this problem.
I believe that, when it comes to psychological therapies and disorders, no theory or approach can be universally effective. The choice of the most appropriate treatment model should be based on several factors, including personality, social conditions, and individual preferences. Still, humanistic therapies described by Myers can serve as a universal basis for the development of novel psychological theories and practice approaches (655).
Humanistic theories reflect the fundamental tendency of modern psychologists to promote client-centered care and provide their assistance in ways that help clients grow in their self-awareness and self-fulfillment. Humanistic theories rest on the assumption that all individuals have the capacity and resources to grow, and this is also why I am going to use these theories in my practice.
Traditional and alternative theories
One of the main questions facing psychologists is how to evaluate the relative effectiveness of various therapies, especially alternative ones. My opinion is that everything in our science should be evidence-based. Both traditional and alternative therapies can have positive impacts on our clients, but we should be very thorough while making the final choice.
We may certainly judge the effectiveness of these therapies, based on our experiences and clients’ responses. When it comes to using traditional or alternative therapy for the first time, empirical evidence should always govern our choices.