Psychology

Is Knowledge Really Everything?

I remember reading a short story during Freshman year, called Flowers for Algernon.  (I might reread it, since I forgot most of what happened).  It was about a mentally challenged man, named Charlie, who worked as a janitor in a factory.  He became the subject of a series of experiments, to see if it was possible to make him more intelligent.  A former experiment was done with a lab rat named Algernon, and it seemed to be working.

Charlie started off with a low IQ of 68.  With the surgical techniques, his intelligence tripled.  It was sad though.  He figured out that his coworkers had been manipulating and making fun of him when he had special needs. Although he became smarter, he also became less happy.  As we read the story in class, my teacher asked us if we would rather have been the happy Charlie or the intelligent Charlie.  The happy Charlie had no idea of what the “real world” was like, just living his days, but again, he was happy. His IQ shot up so high as he his procedures got longer.  So I thought about that, as a little Freshman in high school.  I thought that having his insane knowledge would be better.  He could have been a millionaire, with his mental ability.  Why wouldn’t you want to be smarter, right? But knowledge comes with a price.  For Charlie’s point-of-view, it turned bad.  He became too smart, that it was hard to communicate with the “average” people he was around with.

{It ended up that the rat, Algernon, was declining in his mental abilities, just as Charlie got smarter.  He noticed this and figured that he, too, would soon be like the rat.  Eventually, Algernon died and Charlie dropped down to his normal IQ level again. (There is more to the story, and I suggest reading it).}

Even if Charlie did stay as “smart” as he was, would it have been better than being clueless but happy? Now that I think of it again, I start to wonder.  Of course, knowledge is very important to me.  I think that it is one of the greatest gifts that is given to us in this world. Humans are curious.  We want to know things.  I’m going to school, not only for a career, but also to have more knowledge of the medical field.  I think it is something that I can use to help others out.

However, I think back to the very young me. I was like Charlie in a way.  My head was full of wonder, but I didn’t know much.  The world seemed perfect to my eyes.  I never had a real bad day, I think, until I turned 13.  It was then when people started telling me “facts” about the “real world.” Bad things happen, they say. That’s just life.

That is true to a certain extent.  But what if I didn’t know everything that I know now? I’ve seen and known how awful the world is.  So would it be better if I was happy and didn’t know anything?

Maybe I’m more in the middle now.  I think knowledge isn’t everything. Happiness is more important.  We should use our knowledge smarter, to make us happier.

If you have it, might as well use it for the better, right?

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The Mind’s Power Over Health :)

I usually dread having to do reports and analyses for school, but I actually found my Psychology homework to be interesting. (Say WHAT?! I know, I know… haha) I had a choice of reading and writing a report about one of the several articles that my professor provided. The one I chose was called “Mind Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect” (Crum & Langer, 2007).

Basically, Crum and Langer did an experiment on female room attendees (those who cleaned rooms). They split them into two groups; one was told that their daily labor of cleaning excceeded the CDC’s recomendations for an active lifestyle (meaning that all the vaccuming and moving around was good exercise for them). They posted posters to remind the women everyday of how their work benefited their health (Exercise-wise). The other group (control) was NOT told of any of this. They surveyed both groups in the beginning, asking them about their perceived and actual work out hours. They also took their weight, BMI, etc. A month passed, and Crum and Langer returned to redo the tests on all the participants. The experimental group who recieved the placebo (given information) actually lost weight and had lower blood pressure, than what they started with. The control group didn’t have any significant changes.

So what’s my point??

My point is that People have psychological control over their health. Giving those women that extra information transformed their bodies, thanks to their brains! Those who didn’t receive the placebo weren’t THINKING of their job as a benefit to their exercise. Therefore, they didn’t change. We can trick our whole being by controlling our thoughts.

Also, I just love the PLACEBO EFFECT. There have been many experiments that showed the mind’s power. People who have taken fake pills (thinking it’s the real drug) felt the same effect as those who took the actual drug. Others were told that doing a certain activity (which isn’t truly proven) would cure them… and it worked!

Health perceptions have been related to actual health
There was another study, this time by Idler and Kasl, that concluded perceptions are related to actual health. What does that mean? Well, they concluded that elderly people who PERCIEVED their health as poor are actually SIX TIME MORE LIKELY to die than those who thought their health was excellent, regardless of their current state of health (1991).
Woah. I think that’s pretty cool. Their brains controlled their overall health being!!!

So, what should you learn from this blog article thing then? It’s not just me blabbing (ok, maybe it is… I just want to feel smart haha).
But seriously, shift your perspective. Next time you feel like you’re dying, say to yourself: Girl!! (or boy) you are going to be JUST fine

You have a brain. Learn to control it. You’ll find yourself not only happier, but healthier. 😀

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