Pulling the brain apart

Pulling+the+brain+apart

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IQ does not equate success

A man is presented with a test of intelligence, and he passes with flying colors. Based on that single test of general intelligence, the man is awarded a high-paying job.
However, there is a slight problem. The sole job he is told to do on a daily basis is to sit down with a group of his peers and communicate and collaborate to come up with intelligent, smart ways to do business.
While he is a very intelligent person, his collaboration skills are terrible. In every discussion he engages in, he ends up furious.
He was fired from his job shortly thereafter. Even though his intelligence level was far above average, his boss soon realized he was not a benefit to the company.
When people try to belittle someone or glorify someone, they often point to that person’s low or high IQ, or Intelligence Quotient. One’s IQ has largely determined their intelligence and, in general, their smartness.
For instance, Albert Einstein, a very intelligent physicist of the 20th century who discovered the speed of light, had an IQ of 160. Galileo Galilei, a famous astronomer who, among many other things, found the circumference of the Earth, had an IQ of 185.
A “normal” IQ ranges from 85 to 115, according to the Stanford-Binet test, a widely used IQ tester. According to their website, “The Stanford-Binet measures five factors of cognitive ability: Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing and Working Memory.”
However, in the past couple of decades, researchers have realized IQ alone does not always determine someone’s capability, just like the hypothetical man.
Someone could have the IQ of Einstein, but could have neglected to use that advantage to their personal benefit. Researchers formulated there had to be something else in the equation besides IQ in order to make a person more successful and more beneficial to the people they interact with on a day-to-day basis.
A new theory emerged claiming Emotional Intelligence, or EI, the ability to distinguish between different emotions and use that knowledge to guide one’s thinking and behavior, is also a part of the intelligence equation.
Since the idea first came about, three models of EI were founded. Dr. Peter Salovey, president of Yale University, and Dr. John Mayer, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, developed the most popular model called the ability model.
 

emotions-infographic
infographic by Abby Kempf source: psychology.about.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“IQ largely overlaps with g, or General Intelligence,” Dr. Mayer said. “General Intelligence is often regarded as at the top of a three-party hierarchy, called the three-stratum or Cattell-Horn-Carroll model. At the second level are broad intelligences such as verbal and spatial intelligences. Personal intelligence—the capacity to understand personalities—is probably at that broad intelligence level. Emotional Intelligence is also a broad intelligence, or a more specific mental ability nested within personal intelligence.”
While these different types of intelligence coexist in the Cattell-Horn-Carroll model, the issue of which type of intelligence is more important and which plays a bigger role in a person’s life is heavily debated. If someone has a very high IQ level but lacks all social and emotional skills, would he succeed more than someone who has a moderate level of both?
“It makes sense that both should be important. Traditional intelligence includes the kinds of language and reasoning skills that are necessary for functioning well in our modern world,” Dr. Michael Strube, a psychology professor at the Washington University in St. Louis said. “But that is a social world and so our ability to understand our emotional lives and the emotional lives of others is vitally important. Often success depends on our ability to manage the social and emotional aspects of daily lives as much, if not more so, than managing the technological aspects. Some studies show the two are related, but that makes some sense. Being able to adapt socially and emotionally relies on sound verbal abilities and general problem solving that are traditionally viewed as part of IQ.”
Many teaching groups are attempting to incorporate emotional and social learning into the normal academic curriculum taught at schools. For example, the mission of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, according to their website, is to “help make evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of education from preschool through high school.”
In 2010, CASEL, along with the NoVo Foundation, launched the CASEL/DuPage ROE Partnership, which gives support to 12 school districts in Chicago and helps them implement emotional learning in curriculum.
At RBHS, some faculty attempt to teach social and emotional skills in their classes. In Katherine Sasser’s AP World classes, Sasser is experimenting with just that.
“Some of the 21st century skills that we teach are collaboration, problem solving, creativity or creative thinking, cultural literacy [and] technological literacy,” Sasser said. “Things that we kind of consider more soft skills that are still incredibly important, if not more important for students encountering the world that they have to encounter after high school.”
Sasser said when she first started teaching, she expected student to be able to do certain things, but she soon realized that students did not know how to. She expected students to be able to talk and collaborate with their peers effectively and to know how to work with each other.
“When I realized after a few years was that actually, those skills of being able to self-direct and having to advocate for one’s self, being able to collaborate effectively with peers, also have to be taught intentionally, not only to further the content or the curriculum that I am trying to teach but also just to further the student as well,” Sasser said. “For me, they weave together very seamlessly.”
Sasser said a teacher should not expect his or her students to know how to manage their social skills with their school work, but that the teacher should show the student what it looks like to do so effectively.
However, she also sees an obstacle in her way. She said it is difficult to balance the material and the curriculum necessary for students to learn with the social skills that she and so many other teachers think are vitally important for a student to succeed after high school.
“I do think that when, as a teacher, I attend to those social and emotional skills, as much as the other things that I have to do, it works. The problem is that, as an AP teacher, I have all of these things that I feel like I need kids to know so they can be prepared for the exam so they can be prepared for what they expect to get from me,” Sasser said. “For me, it is not about being ineffective in execution; it is about am I being effective in keeping those important skills in the forefront, in my mind, when I am planning teaching so that I can continually come back to these soft skills, these 21st century skills, in execution.”
Sasser’s AP World classes are not the only classes that attempt to teach 21st century skills, even if they are named differently. Sophomore Becca Wells said in her freshman year at RBHS, her Civics Studies class tried to balance teaching curriculum and teaching soft skills.
“It was things like the use of technology, communication, collaboration,” Wells said. “A lot was focused on how you interact with other people in order to get a task done.”
While Wells worries about teachers possibly prioritizing teaching these soft skills over teaching curriculum, she also thinks that it should be integrated within the curriculum throughout school.
Both Dr. Mayer and Dr. Strube believe intelligence, whether it has to do with the school curriculum or whether it has to do with social and emotional skills, is not technically something a person is born with. They believe a person’s own struggle could allow him or her to become more intelligent.
“Intelligence isn’t set in stone, but it is hard to raise,” Dr. Mayer said. “It is, alas, easy to lower with disease, head injuries, etc. More to the point, everyone can think better in whatever area they choose, be it verbal or spatial or emotional, through education. I think it involves becoming involved in relevant education—that’s either prescribed by society or a conscious choice, I think.”
While Dr. Mayer believes there is technically no limit to intellectual growth, Dr. Stube thinks there is, but it all depends on education.
“Learning plays a big role,” Dr. Strube said. “It might be best to think of heredity as setting boundaries within which a person can move as a function of environment and learning.”
With the move toward teaching students not only book knowledge, but also the soft skills that Sasser talked about, students may be able to move around more easily in the boundary that Dr. Strube talked about.
“Yes, [21st century skills should be implemented in all curriculum], 100 percent, and if I think that  if there was a common language for those things, and I think we are working on it in some ways, just as if we have a common language across curriculum about what we mean about evidence, it makes students make connections,” Sasser said. “If there was a common language and the idea of collaboration or being able to advocate for yourself or other elements of social and emotional skills, were not only present in all other areas, but attended to in the same way and there was some intentionality in how we present it to students, it would make a profound difference.
“I think anywhere you can make connections, if you can make connections anywhere, those kinds of skills would be the easiest because they are kind of overarching,” Sasser said. “They are applicable in all areas.”
By Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi

Social stigma behind mental disorders causes struggle

As a sophomore, senior Mikala Roach played tennis for RBHS, performed with the show choir and spent hours studying for her AP and honors level classes. Under the pressure from her activities, she felt stressed, but the stress went deeper than what she believed was normal for a teenager.
“I would not sleep all week. On average I slept eight hours a week for all of sophomore year,” Roach said. “I wouldn’t sleep. I wouldn’t eat. I lost a lot of weight and when I was stressed it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I need to take a breather.’ It was like spasms; I could not function. I would cry and pull my hair and just couldn’t function at all.”
These periods of seemingly high energy, mixed with stress, alternated with periods of depression in which Roach felt “nothing” and lacked energy to do anything besides sleep, eat and sit around. Her outbursts scared her, and she didn’t want to scare other people or be thought of as “weak” when she couldn’t function because of homework due in the morning.
“In the back of your mind you know there are other people dealing with it … I have friends, close friends, that have depression or anxiety or eating disorders,” Roach said. “It’s something that’s all around you, but there’s so much stigma that even with your closest friends you don’t really talk about it, or you do, but you only share that much because you still don’t want to seem crazy even though you are.”
On her own, Roach used the internet to research possible causes and felt anxiety and depression could be the answer. She opened up to her youth pastor and her boyfriend at the time, and through talking about depression and anxiety, she realized hiding the problem wouldn’t help her.
“I was like, ‘I’m not normal.’ If I had cancer, and I noticed a lump, … I wouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the doctor about that, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed when my depression [or] anxiety is suddenly a big lump,” Roach said. “I should be able to go get help, and that’s a hard place to get to: when you realize your brain is a part of your body, too, and you wouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the doctor for anything else, so you shouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the doctor for your brain.”
Roach’s therapist suggested she visit a psychiatrist who specialized in adolescent psychiatry and could treat her for more severe kinds of depression. Roach received an initial diagnosis of bipolar disorder II, then later bipolar disorder I.
“It was really scary at first because suddenly I was somebody with a disorder, so I kept it hidden again because I still didn’t want to be the crazy person,” Roach said. “Everybody deals with depression and anxiety when they’re in high school, but suddenly it wasn’t just high school that was wrong with me. It was my brain that was wrong with me, and that’s a difficult thing to deal with.”
For a doctor to diagnose a patient with bipolar disorder, the patient must exhibit a certain number of symptoms for a certain amount of time, Dr. Sultana Jahan, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at MU Health Care, said. Dr. Jahan said psychiatrists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
“The symptoms must cause functional impairment to fulfill the DSM criteria for bipolar disorder,” Dr. Jahan said. “Additionally, these symptoms cannot be caused by medical illness, drug use or medication.”
While the criteria in the DSM do not differentiate between adult and adolescent bipolar disorder, Dr. Daniel Gih, assistant professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan, said youth may not present full-blown mania, which is one characteristic of bipolar disorder. When manic, children and adolescents may be more irritable and destructive, while adults show more euphoria, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In a recent study, as many as one percent of teens aged 14-18 met the criteria to be diagnosed with bipolar depression.
Beyond difficulty in diagnosing adolescents, Dr. Gih said depending on the time, day and even number of hours a psychiatrist sees a patient, it can be difficult to discern whether the patient has just depression or both depression and manic episodes.

infographic by Abby Kempf source: nimh.nih.gov
infographic by Abby Kempf source: nimh.nih.gov
“In bipolar disorder, they often have what’s called manic episodes, and they can also shift into depression as well,” Dr. Gih said. “Really, bipolar disorder is kind of the extremes of moods, so you might have mentioned that your mood is like the temperature of the room and if you’re very low, you are depressed and if you’re very high, we might say that you’re manic.”
Some medicines used to treat bipolar disorder are called mood stabilizers, Dr. Gih said, and they can be a part of the antipsychotic drug family. While not all bipolar patients are psychotic, meaning they perceive things that are not true in reality, Dr. Gih said over time antipsychotic medications can significantly decrease symptoms and even the progression of bipolar disorder. Additionally, according to NIMH, psychiatrists prescribe antidepressants and mood stabilizers to help balance levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
“Mental disorders are probably contributed to by those chemical imbalances, and by and large the treatments that we use for many psychiatric conditions are by chemically intervening,” Dr. Gih said. However, he said, “one of the reasons mental illness is not completely eliminated is that if we just use the biochemical explanation, then we on some levels would have figured it out and probably fixed it by now so that people wouldn’t have these problems anymore.”
Defining mental disorders by chemical imbalances is an inadequate way to think about disorders or medical conditions in general, Dr. Gih said, and many treatments in psychiatry and in medicine are systemic, meaning they don’t necessarily treat the root causes. He said mental illnesses including mental retardation, schizophrenia, eating disorders and bipolar disorder can root in biological risk factors as well as environmental factors.
“Oftentimes people use the analogy that biology loads the gun and the environment finally pulls the trigger. So whether it’s age, being exposed to illegal drugs early [or] abuse, … all those things potentially trigger mental disorders,” Dr. Gih said. “Those people may be predisposed, but saying that it’s just a biochemical thing that you can take a pill for is probably way too simplistic an explanation, and I think a lot of disorders now are being considered way more complex than just saying, … ‘It’s just a pill. You lack this medicine, and that’s why you’re having this disorder.’”

When Roach’s first psychiatrist diagnosed her with bipolar two, she started treatments with mood stabilizers as well as an antidepressant, which she said made her mania worse. Six to eight percent of patients diagnosed with severe depression experienced a switch in mood from depression to mania when treated with antidepressants, according to International Consortium for Bipolar Disorder Research, and this mood-switching is more prevalent in adolescents. According to a survey by the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, 69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are initially diagnosed.
“The first psychiatrist I went to diagnosed me with bipolar two, which is a more mild – just as serious – but more mild form of bipolar, so they gave me medication for that and that medication ended up doing more bad than good,” Roach said. “They had given me antidepressents and a mood stabilizer, which when you’re bipolar one antidepressants are really bad for you. They make your mania even worse, and that’s when I started seeing things and hearing voices.”
As a result, Roach was placed in the Missouri University Psychiatric Center (MUPC) at the start of her senior year. While she was there, she underwent intensive therapy and received a new prescription, which helped, but she also realized living with a mental disorder could be much worse.
“I think a lot of what got me comfortable with it is going to the hospital and realizing that you’re not alone. … There were two people who were relatively my age. They were about 20,” Roach said. “They kind of helped me realize that it could be so much worse, and just because you have a mental disorder doesn’t mean that it has to disable you.”
After leaving MUPC, Roach said she no longer feels the need to “hide [her] crazy,” and she is more comfortable accepting her limits and doing what she needs to do to take care of her own mental health. She said while she wants to be an over-achieving students, she knows she can’t handle the stress of an extra book assignment or too many activities. Now, she said, all she has been stressed about are college decisions, which is the way it should be.
From her experience in the past two years, Roach said the most important step to getting help and recovering is being able to talk to someone. Even though depression made her want to isolate herself, she said, it is important to reach out to others.
“When you’re afraid and ashamed, like I was for two years, to talk about it, these things just build up inside and it just gets darker and grosser and it becomes even messier when you do try to talk about it,” Roach said. “You can’t do it alone, as much as you want to believe that you can do it alone. If you can do everything else alone and you’re a super independent person, you can’t do this alone. You just can’t. People need people.”
By Emily Franke

Predisposition to success not a guarantee

Success isn’t an exact science, but rather a path that is easier for some than others

Last year, senior Saja Necibi took a questionnaire in her AP Psychology class. The results were supposed to help her find study habits that suited her personality. This test, the Myers-Brigg indicator assessment, aims to reveal how personality affects the way people think. However, Necibi found the test was useless to her.
“I am an INFJ (introvert, intuition, feelings, judgement),” Necibi said. “But, knowing that never really helped me in any way, I never used it afterward and aside from being able to reflect a little bit on my personality and who I am as a person, it wasn’t really helpful to me. I’m not really sure how it could be useful to anybody.”
While Necibi did not over value the results of the test, psychology teacher Tim Dickmeyer has seen some people label themselves with the Myers-Brigg and allow it to influence their ambitions. Dickmeyer, like Necibi, does not think it is a predictor of success.
“I don’t believe there is a certain personality type that is more successful than others. I don’t buy into any of that,” Dickmeyer said. “Success is much more about resilience, and there are two challenges to that: personal, internal trait based and external, environmental based. How does one have resilience in the face of both of those challenges? If I knew, if I could teach it; I’d be a millionaire. I’d be living on a beach because that’s the golden question to success.”
Despite what Dickmeyer says, the belief that success is linked to certain personality traits persists. Research at Gallup has shown people who are articulate, conscientious of others and plan ahead of time are more likely to achieve their goals. According to the research, highly successful entrepreneurs are more likely to clearly articulate the competitive advantage of their companies to their clients when compared to less successful businessmen. In her experiences senior Sonia Clark said she finds people who are well-spoken and more charismatic are more often viewed as successful.
“If you look at history, the successful people are the people who are adamant and passionate about their beliefs and do everything they can to get others to recognize it,” Clark said. “[Martin Luther King Jr.] is a person who faced adversity, and used his public speaking skills and activism to bring about success to his movement. [Adolf] Hitler was also someone who was very skilled in speaking and was able to gain control, although obviously he did not use his skills for good and obviously his success hurt everyone else.”
However, Clark believes other factors often play a role in success. Many of these traits are not decided by the individual, Clark said, and can give people an unfair advantage.

“Success is much more about resilience, and there are two challenges to that: personal, internal trait based and external, environmental based. How does one have resilience in the face of both of those challenges?” Psychology teacher Tim Dickmeyer said.

“In the end people do control their success when they are given ample opportunities, but I think a lot of it rests upon luck and hard work,” Clark said. “Childhood problems or trauma, income and support truly affect a person’s ability to succeed and sometimes dictate their self-worth which can lead them towards success or failure. ”
While a person’s personality and other environmental factors influence a person’s success, Clark also believes a person has control over characteristics that inhibit success. Laziness, Clark said, is a trait that leads to failure but can be controlled with self-discipline.
Necibi agrees with Clark, and said there are a few methods to curb laziness and lack of drive.
“It seems like the least successful people are the ones who are lazy in all aspects of life and do not put effort into their goals. Being successful isn’t just about wanting to achieve something, but it’s about taking the initiative to make it happen,” Necibi said. “I think if people don’t have a passion for the goal they are trying to achieve, and if they don’t have a real interest in it, then they may be less motivated and more lazy, so then they will be less successful than another person who truly loves what they are doing.”
Both Clark and Necibi agree passionate, determined people are more successful than lazy people. Though personality does affect success, Necibi said, every person still has the ability to become successful.
“There are multiple types of success, and each person might have a different way of defining it,” Necibi said. “Everyone can become successful by using their personal strengths and talents to make the best out of any situation that they might be in.”
By Humera Lodhi