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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘mental health’

Vulnerability to Stress #2

ART 2 Life events and stress For most people life can be very challenging at times. Everybody experiences major ‘life events’ or ‘life changes’ which can prove acutely stressful and bring about illness – eg: marriage, divorce, death of a close friend or family member, etc, etc. Even Christmas can be acutely stressful! And stress-related illness can contribute to further illness. The idea of ‘life events’ causing stress to the point of illness had begun in 1919 with the ‘life chart’ work of Adolph Meyer. His work became the foundation for the Schedule of Recent Events developed by N G Hawkins, R Davies & Thomas Holmes in 1957; this looked at the cumulative effect of life events in causing stress. (Amusingly Holmes’ interest in the relationship between stress and illness came from finding his mother-in-law’s visits so stressful that he developed a cold every time she came to stay!) In 1967 Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe added the idea of the magnitude of different life events – measured in ‘life change units’ (LCUs) – to get a more precise understanding of the cumulative effect. They examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might… Read More

Vulnerability to Stress

Updated: 31 March 2020 Clearly some people become stressed more easily than others and some have the experience of stress – fight or flight  – more strongly than others. So what are the factors that influence these phenomena? A vMEMETIC approach One way of looking at this is to take a Maslowian viewpoint – ie: people have needs and having those needs unfulfilled causes stress. The vMEMES identified via the work of Clare W Graves are then the drivers to fulfil those needs. Of course, Graves held that motivational systems (vMEMES) emerge in symbiotic interaction with the life conditions in the environment – an internal response to external stressors and almost certainly the first emergence of a vMEME is an example of epigenetic modification. Graves’ position has been upheld completely by Chris Cowan (2004). However, Don Beck (2002a), with his concept of the prime directive, does imply that there is a maturational factor in the emergence of vMEMES. He has not said explicitly that vMEMES are programmed to emerge in sequence as someone develops through life, irrespective of the life conditions; but the implication that maturation matters is inescapable. The position Beck appears to be working towards is perhaps best represented… Read More

Stress & Illness

Updated: 27 January 2020 Stress can make you ill! Stress can even kill you! Hans Selye (1936) was arguably the first theorist to carry out scientific research linking illness to chronic stress. Selye noted that the rats in his experiments and hospital patients showed a similar pattern which he termed the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) because it represented the body’s attempts to cope in an adaptive way with stress. GAS has 3 stages – see graphic below. Stage 1 involves increased activity in both the SAM and the HPA systems. In the case of elongated stress, the Alarm reaction occurs 6-48 hours after the trigger of fight or flight and includes loss of muscle tone, drop in body temperature and decreases in size of the spleen and the liver. Stage 2 involves the body adapting to the demands of the environment, with activity in the HPA. As this stage proceeds, the parasympathetic system requires more careful use of the body’s resources to cope. The system is being taxed to its limits, with an increase in the size of the adrenal glands and a decrease in certain pituitary activity such as the production of growth hormones. If the stress is not too… Read More

Can vMEMES cause Clinical Depression..?

Updated: 24 January 2019 The Gravesian approach lies at the core of Integrated SocioPsychology. The following is a plea to psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health workers and those involved in research into various areas of psychopathology to examine rigorously Clare W Graves research with a view to its implications for mental health conditions. There are literally millions of people whose suffering could be alleviated if we understood more of the psychological processes underlying it. There are a multiplicity of reasons why the work of Clare W Graves (1970, 1971b/2002, 1978/2005) needs to be taken up much more comprehensively by the academic communities and investigated rigorously for its validity. (Which will result in a much higher profile and wider acceptance of his theory.) One of these reasons, I propose, is the applicability to mental health of the Gravesian approach. Strangely enough, for all the many champions of Graves’ work and the Spiral Dynamics ‘build’ developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), little has been said about the relationship between Graves’ Spiral of motivational systems (vMEMES) and psychological disorders. Although my plea is for research into the Gravesian approach related to all forms of mental illness, in this piece I will be focusing primarily on… Read More

Maintenance and Breakdown of Relationships #2

PART 2 Conflict resolution or breakdown…? Paul Amato & Stacy Rogers (1997) set out, in a longitudinal study (1980-1992), to examine the degree to which reports of marital problems were an accurate predictor of divorce. In 1980 telephone interviewers used random-digit dialling to locate a national sample of 2033 married persons aged 55 years and under. Of those contacted, 78% completed the full interview. The analysis was based on individuals for whom information on marital status existed at 2 or more points in time – ie: 86% of the original 1980 sample. It was found that wives were more likely to report their marital problems than husbands – this was not because husbands had fewer problems; but simply because they tended not to report them. Infidelity, wasting money, drinking or drug use, jealousy, moodiness and irritating habits were found to be the most common grounds cited for divorce. The researchers a high correlation between marital unhappiness and divorce actions. Amato & Rogers concluded that, in many case, it should be possible to predict divorce from reports of marital unhappiness. Of course, the study is vulnerable to criticisms of cultural bias and historical bias as it was conducted in an era when divorce was relatively practicable and relatively accepted… Read More

What is Romantic Love? #3

PART 3 Triangle of Love Following on from their work on the famous  Love Quiz, Phil Shaver & Cindy Hazan  (Phil Shaver, Cindy Hazan & Donna Bradshaw, 1988) proposed that love is composed of 3 behavioural systems:- attachment caregiving sexuality The 3 systems interact to produce the adult love style. According to Shaver, Hazan & Bradshaw, the attachment and caregiving systems are acquired in infancy. The latter is knowledge gained about how one cares for others, learned by modelling the behaviour of the primary attachment figure – effectively an internal working model of John Bowlby’s Continuity Hypothesis. The sexuality system is also learned in relation to early attachment – eg: insecure-avoidant individuals, with their PURPLE vMEME’s safety-in-belonging needs unfulfilled, are more likely to have the view that sex without love is pleasurable There is considerable correspondence with the work of Berscheid & Walster, as well as the Triangle of Love theory of Robert J Sternberg (1986). Shaver, Hazan & Bradshaw, for example, proposed that companionate love would include attachment and caregiving but not necessarily sexuality. Passionate or romantic love might involve only sexuality. Sternberg’s theory is, in his own words, a theory of ‘consummate love’, comprised of components or elements. The model is illustrated below… Sternberg explains the… Read More

Separation, Deprivation & Privation #4

PART 4 Romanian Orphan Studies Much of the Western world went through a GREEN-tinged liberalisation of cultural norms during from the 1960s onwards. One outcome of this was the increasing acceptance of couples living together without being married and of children being born out of wedlock. The result was that far fewer babies and young children ended up in orphanages and similar institutions. Those that did were cared for much better and much more holistically, with much more attention paid to their psychological and emotional well-being. This was very much a consequence of psychological  research into the damaging effects of institutionalisation in preceding decades. Cleo Dontas et al (1985) provide a good example of a Greek orphanage where each baby was allocated a member of staff to care specifically for them and form an attachment. 15 babies, aged 7 to 9 months, were observed in the 2-week adjustment period of adoption and were found to be forming good attachments with their new adoptive parents – perhaps reflecting J0hn Bowlby’s (1953) Continuity Hypothesis of a good internal working model. However, such progress meant there was little opportunity for a new generation of developmental psychologists to replicate the kinds of studies René Spitz (1945) and… Read More

Separation, Deprivation & Privation #2

PART 2 MATERNAL DEPRIVATION If separation can damage – sometimes seriously – the bond between child and mother/caregiver, maternal deprivation is the disruption of the bond so that the attachment ceases to be, at least temporarily. Sometimes this disruption is permanent: Bowlby (1969) estimated that 25% of children experiencing maternal deprivation are irreparably damaged. He attributed maternal deprivation to lengthy or many separations, leading the BEIGE/PURPLE biological driver to form and maintain attachments to eventually become frustrated – often with pathological results. Bowlby based his ideas partly on the work of other developmental psychologists and partly on his own research – most notably his famous ‘Forty-Four Juvenile Thieves’ study (1944). Between 1936 and 1939 an opportunity sample of 88 children was selected from the London Child Guidance Clinic where Bowlby worked – he literally picked suitable children from consecutive referrals. Of these, 44 were juvenile thieves and had been referred to the clinic because of their stealing. The other 44 ‘controls’ had been referred to him due to emotional problems – though they did not display anti-social behaviour. The 2 groups were roughly matched for age and IQ. On arrival at the clinic, each child had their IQ tested by a psychologist… Read More

Breaking-Up Britain needs a National MeshWORK

It’s to be seriously hoped that Theresa May doesn’t get the landslide victory on 8 June that was initially predicted – and which she clearly aimed for in calling a snap general election on 18 April. As discussed in 8 June: Time for a Change!, she clearly thought she would be able to crush a weak and ineffectual opposition. To her chagrin though, Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran speaker at  public rallies, has proved a robust and highly effective on-the-stump campaigner. Although greatly under-reported in the largely right-wing dominated mainstream media, he has consistently pulled crowds in their thousands to his campaign events. In spite of the under-reporting, there has been enough grassroots and social media activity to get at least some wider attention to them. In comparison Mays’ carefully stage-managed appearances before mere handfuls of Tory activists would have seemed pitiful if not for ‘doctoring’ of the photos to make the audience seem that much larger. (See the examples below.) Slowly but surely Labour have closed the gap on the Tories in the opinion polls. Whether they can close it enough by 8 June – assuming, of course, that the polls are reasonably accurate –  is a different matter. The third factor in all of this is… Read More

My SAD Experience

A few weeks ago I self-diagnosed myself as experiencing a mild dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This milder form of SAD is known colloquially as ‘the Winter Blues’ and clinically as Sub-Syndromal SAD. Starting on the Sunday of that week, I grew increasingly miserable and even became tearful at times. Over most of the next week I was lethargic, missed the gym, couldn’t be bothered with going out and really struggled to put on ‘a happy face’ for my tutees and adult education evening classes. Sub-Syndromal SAD is estimated to afflict some 21% of the UK population while full-blown SAD reduces a further 8% to a dysfunctional state (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, 2017) The influence of the seasons on health was recognised in ancient times – viz Hippocrates writing (c400 BC): “…whoever wishes to pursue properly the science of medicine…[must] consider what effects each season of the year can produce”. Over 2 millennia later Philippe Pinel (1806), one of the founders of modern Psychiatry, reflected Hippocrates when he encouraged medical students to ensure “due attention is paid to the changes in the seasons and the weather”. One of the earliest and most poignant descriptions of what we now know as SAD… Read More