Psychology Of Physical Health Essay, Research Paper
In today’s society, a large portion of advertising dollars is spent on media hypes that deal with physical health. People are constantly bombarded with the “new and improved” ways to look good, feel better, live longer and achieve more. One can only wonder what effect this has had on the human psyche. I have personally been a victim of this type of hype. Starting in my early years, I was always bigger and heavier that the kids in my own age group. As a result of trying to be like every one else, I became very self-conscious. There have been a number of studies conducted by well-known psychologists regarding this matter. A few decades ago it was widely believed that obesity is a function of personality. Obesity was thought to occur mostly in depressed, anxious, compulsive people who over eat to deal with their emotions, (Greeson, Janet Ph.D.). I never subscribed to this theory; I ate because I like food. In 1989 a study indicated and research showed that there is no such thing as an “obese personality.” (Robin, Schank, and Striegel, Moore). Instead, research showed that a complex network of interacting factors determines whether people develop weight problems. Obesity, the condition of being overweight, is a common health problem in society today. The guideline used to determine obesity varies considerably. It is assumed that people are obese if their personal weight exceeds their ideal body weight by 20% (Atkins, Robert C. M.D.). Current surveys indicate that in the United States, about 24% of men and 27% of women are overweight. While it is a known and proven fact that being overweight can lead to a host of physical health related problems, it should be understood that a host of psychological problems might develop. There is a direct link between the body and mind, (Simonton, O. Carl M.D.). If a person is in questionable physical health, this can have a direct effect on the person’s state of mental health, just as if the person is in a poor state of mental health, this could have direct influences on the person’s body. Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illness in many individuals.Stress, is a major factor in everyone’s life today. It comes in many different shapes and forms. Seventy five percent of the general population experiences at least some stress every two weeks (National Health Interview Survey). It is estimated that as many as 75 percent of all medical complaints are stress-related (Charlesworth and Nathan). In my case, I was always trying the newest and latest fad that came down the pike trying to lose weight. During these many adventures, which were destined to fail, I was on an emotional roller coaster, and I was not understanding the emotional stress I was feeling. It is much like what I’m now experiencing in this psychology class! The term “stressed out” is often used as a crutch to explain personal failures. Many a marriage has dissolved between a man and a woman for reasons that seemed trivial at the time, but the underlining factor could easily have been stress. Studies have shown that daily stress and mood fluctuations have strong ties. (Affleck et al., 1994 Repetti, 1993). A person may have had a very bad day at work. He may have been under extreme pressure, come home and take his frustrations out on his spouse. Pressure in anyone’s life can be translated into stress. Stress is defined as any circumstances that threaten or is perceived to threaten one’s well being and thereby taxing one’s coping abilities. Coping is the key factor in dealing with stress and people cope with stress in many different ways. Researchers have attempted to identify and classify the various coping techniques that people use in dealing with stress. For instance, in a study of how 255 adult subjects dealt with stress, 28 different coping techniques could be identified. (McCrae,1984). A study showed that coping tactics could be sorted 14 categories, (Carver, Scheier, and Weintraub, 1989). Individuals have their own styles of coping with stress, even though there are a number of tactics used, most people rely on some of the same strategies more than others, as reported in a study conducted by (Folkman et al., 1986; Heszen -Niejodek, 1977). Of course, an individual’s coping strategies are influenced by the situation the individual is in at the time. One of the most popular strategies is denial, where a person refuses to believe what has happened in their life. Another strategy is the use of alcohol; they drink in order to think less about their problem or hope the problem will go away. Some people turn to drugs to cope with their problems. While the aforementioned strategies are not considered the best way to cope, a large part of society seems to be under that belief for some unknown reason. Some of the better strategies that can be used are as follows: 1) the active coping method, this is when a person takes additional action to try to get rid of the problem. 2) Planning, this is when a person comes up with a plan to combat the problem. 3) Religion, occasions people will seek religion to help with the problem, while other will just seek advise from a close friend or family members. I personally prefer one of these strategies when I’m faced with a problem that causes me great stress. It helps me to control that urge to do a “drive-by”! The desire to rid society of that element which keeps people from living a safe life.
All too often when people are confronted with stress they sometimes just give up and withdraw from the problem. This response of apathy and inaction tends to be associated with the emotional reaction of sadness and dejection. This was the observation Bruno Bettelheim, reported when he observed the reactions of prisoners of war in 1943, while at Nazi concentration camps during World War II. (Seligman 1974,1992) developed a model of this “giving up syndrome” that appeared to shed light on its causes.In Seligman’s original research, animals were subjected to electric shocks that they could not escape. The animals were then given an opportunity to learn a response that would allow them to escape shock. However, many of the animals became so apathetic and listless they didn’t even try to learn the escape response. In 1975, a similar type test was conducted with humans, substituting inescapable noise, rather than electric shocks, as a stressor. The results of this test parallel the results from the pervious test, as reported by (Hiroto & Seligman). This syndrome is referred to as learned helplessness, passive behavior by exposure to unavoidable aversive events. One other behavior that sometimes is used in coping is striking out at others. In today’s world we hear the term “road rage”. This is a form of striking out at others, and is also referred to as aggression. Aggression is any behavior intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally. Many years ago a team of psychologists proposed the frustration-aggression hypothesis, which held that aggression is always due to frustration. (Dollard et al., 1939). Decades of research have verified their idea of a causal link between frustration and aggression. However, this research has been unable to show an inevitable one-to-one correspondence between frustration and aggression. I personally believe that stress can lead a person to become very frustrated, which may turn to aggression if not properly addressed. This in my humble opinion, this can be linked to one of the paradox of progress we studied earlier in this class: technology. There are more and more automobiles each year produced and on the roadways, highways, streets, parking lots, vacation spots and other locations. They are backed up bumper-to-bumper, causing massive traffic jams. People are in a hurry to get from here to there. Stress sets in, followed by frustration, which can and often does lead to acts of violence. It’s simply amazing to me how one person will respond to another over the smallest matters.Stress can be a very serious matter to some and not so serious to others. Stress can and does come in many forms. I have experienced stress and frustration over my weight and the way people treated me in my younger years, but I learned how to cope with it and refused to allow it to govern my life.In conclusion, I was able to turn the stress I had into a positive thing. I believe that in my profession (law enforcement) my size on more than one occasion may have helped to avoid a nasty situation! Several times I have witnessed a situation where an officer, small in stature, had to resort to using psychical force to affect an arrest. I have also witnessed what I believe is termed as the “Napoleon Complex” in officers who are (to be politically correct) vertically challenged. There is a noticeable difference when two uniformed officers, one tall and big the other short and small, walk into a potentially rough situation. While researching the information for this report, I read the 14 categories of coping that were listed by Carver,Scheier and Weintraub in their report from 1989. I would like to add one more to this list, I’ll call it the McLeod theory, in memory of my late brother, Peter A. McLeod; sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, bat your ears, trust in the LORD and give’em HELL!!!!!! . Work Cited1. Affleck et al. 1994, Repetti 1993, Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA.1999.2. Atktins Robert C., Dr. Atkins’New Diet Revolution, Avon Books, New York, New York.1992.3. Carver, Scheier and Weintraub, 1989, Psychology Applied to Modern Life 6th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA.1999.4. Charlesworth and Nathan, Stress Management, Ballantine Books New York, New York, 1982.5. Dollard et al. 1939, Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA. 1999.6. Folkman et al., 1986: Heszen-Niejodek, 1977, Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA. 1999.7. Greeson Janet Ph.D., It’s Not What You’re Eating It’s What’s Eating You, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 1990.8. Hiroto and Seligman, Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA. 1999.9. McCrae, 1994 Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA. 1999.10. Nation Health Interview Survey, www.stresscure.com.11. Robin, Schank and Striegel, Moore, Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed., Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA. 1999.12. Seligman, Martin 1974,1992, Psychology Applied to Modern Life, 6th ed., Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont CA. 1999.13. Simonton O. Carl, Getting Well Again, Bantam Books, Des Plaines, IL 1992.