Who is Alan Whitcomb Now?

Walden University

 Mock Case Study for Psychology 101

Who is Allen Whitcomb Now?

Allen Whitcomb is 47-year-old man, who is married with two children is college. For the most part he has been healthy his whole life until recently he got in a bad car accident and lost his leg due to texting while driving. He claims that the car that hit him was further away and slower than it was, and he is also color blind. Since the accident he has been experiencing pain for which he takes over the counter medications and has gained 20 pounds and has trouble sleeping. He has also reported that when he hears the song that was playing during the accident his heart rate increases. His wife reports that he seeks a quiet and calm environment and is quite mean to her after he watches violent television, she describes him as quiet, tense, anxious, unfriendly, and on edge. In regard to work he has been having attendance problems, either being late or not showing up at all. His manager reports he has problems with memory and processing the new filing system that has been put in place at his job. He also seems to forget information after a few moments.

Allen’s reports can be attributed to a few topics and studies in psychology, including the central core of the brain and how behavior is affected by damage to the limbic system, sensation, association areas of the cortex, which includes memory, learning, and emotion and I will talk about these individually and discover who Allen Whitcomb is now with the information I have learned about the brain

Brain and Behavior

            When talking about the brain and how it relates to Allen’s behavior I want to talk about the central core of the brain and the main structures as most of them pertain to Allen. Starting with the medulla, which is what controls heart rate and this is the part of the brain that causes Allen’s elevated heart rate every time he hears the song that was playing during his accident. More specifically the hypothalamus because it triggers a survival response, otherwise known as “fight or flight” response. Feldman, R. (2020). This response is activated when he hears that song or similar sounding song because his body associates this with survival. Feldman, R. (2020).

            The next structure is the forebrain, and located in the forebrain is reticular formation, which determines whether or not a specific action or reaction is necessary. Feldman, R. (2020). With the information that I have, I can determine that there is damage to the forebrain that causes Allen to react when a reaction is not necessarily called for in a given situation. But the reticular formation also controls sleep and sleep patterns, Feldman, R. (2020), so this could be the reason that Allen has trouble sleeping, since he claims his sleep-wake cycle has been disrupted.

           

Sensation and Perception

            Sensation as it relates to Allen has everything to do with the amount of pain that he has had since his accident. Pain could be a reaction to a few different things, one being perceptual, meaning it could be a reaction to how he feels about his accident or even a thought. Feldman, R. (2020). In Allen’s case, he attributes his poor work ethic to pain while his therapist suggests it is most likely anxiety. Both could potentially be factors. Something extremely small in the grand scheme of all of Allen’s issues could cause anxiety. Feldman, R. (2020).

            Allen also claims that he is depressed and in response his therapist has suggested that he smile more. This specific request might sound unnecessary, but it does have a purpose. It is a cognitive treatment that some psychologists have been known to use and it involves reconstructing the way he may think. If he swaps his negative thoughts for positive ones, that sense of control, no matter how big or small, that does have the potential to decrease the pain he has. Feldman, R. (2020).

            Allen is also an amputee, which could explain his discomfort in the form of phantom limb pain, which can be offset through a therapy called mirror pain therapy. Feldman, R. (2020). In mirror pain therapy, mirrors are used to make it look like both limbs are intact, Feldman, R. (2020), for Allen it is his legs. This is supposed to make the brain stop sending messages that are perceived as pain to the leg that is no longer there Feldman, R. (2020). This could help Allen stop having pain and get back to work if employed properly and by the correct psychologist.

Learning and Memory

            The limbic system is actually involved with thinking and memory as well as emotions and aggression. Feldman, R. (2020). Allen has substantial damage to this part of his brain, more so, than any of the others. His boss has reported that Allen is having trouble learning the new filing system at work and that he frequently forgets things after a couple of minutes. This is caused by damage to the hippocampus, which renders him unable to remember recent events, while leaving the memories prior to the accident intact. Feldman, R. (2020). More specifically, damage to the hippocampus is especially sensitive to tasks where objects need to be linked together and placed in specific locations. Rolls ET. (2018). This could be the cause of Allen getting confused by the new filing system that has been implemented at his job, seeing as significant damage has been done to the hippocampus.

            Allen reports that his problems at work are because of pain, however, his therapist disagrees, she believes his problems at work are the cause of anxiety. This anxiety is why he now feels that he will not be good enough at work, which directly translates to why he does better work with others than he does on his own. He lacks the confidence in himself to be able to live up to the standards his job expects of him.

He has reported feeling judgement since the accident and has claimed that people look at him differently. His boss reports that he is often late or calls in sick, anxiety about feeling both judgement from others and the anxiety that he may not be able to perform well is most likely the cause of his attendance problems. Not to mention he works the night shift, and that may be why he has problems sleeping.

Motivation and Emotion

            The motivation to eat is seen as a primary drive and is controlled by the hypothalamus which regulates food intake. Feldman, R. (2020). This relates to Allen because he has gained 20 pounds since his accident which would imply that there has been some damage to this area of the brain. The hypothalamus affects the weight set point, the specific measure of weight that the body attempts to maintain, either telling the body to eat more or less to manage this weight set point. Feldman, R. (2020). Certain drugs, such as the over the counter medications that Allen takes for pain, can also be the cause of his weight gain, they can distort the weight set point, causing the hypothalamus to tell the body to increase the amount of food that is eaten. Feldman, R. (2020).  

            His manager has reported that he is currently working with Allen to resolve his attendance issues by setting attendance goals with him, Allen is working toward earning lunch for his entire team based on timely attendance. This is an example of a positive reinforcer, Feldman R. (2020).  Something is being added or given as a reward, the lunch for his team, to encourage or increase a certain behavior, timely attendance, Feldman, R. (2020). This reward should motivate Allen to be on time, and maybe increase the judgement he feels from co-workers as well.

            The amygdala, which is located in the temporal lobe of the brain, is crucial to the expression of emotions. Feldman, R. (2020). The amygdala supplies a connection to the perception of a cause of an emotion and the recollection of that cause at a later time. Feldman, R. (2020). This sequence of events applies to Allen’s accident, because he doesn’t remember the accident but remembers the song that was playing, causing him to associate that song with the accident. Because of damage to amygdala, this display of classical conditioning could also be the cause of Allen’s elevated heart rate when hearing the song, it causes him to feel stress and fear in anticipation of the accident. This could also be a symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is reliving the traumatic experience, in this case his accident, either in the form of a vivid flashback or a dream, Feldman R. (2020). This flashback can be caused by something that seems irrelevant, like the song playing during the accident, but it elicits a very strong reaction in the person who is suffers from the disease. Feldman R. (2020).

Development

            Development that is impaired or stunted in childhood can affect adulthood, Feldman, R. (2020). Nature and nurture is a common debate among developmental psychologists, because some biological factors like genetics and maturation have an effect on how people may develop later on in adulthood, while some factors that affect development in adulthood are the cause of the environment, such as how well the family functions and what the family’s SES (socioeconomic status) is. Feldman, R. (2020). For Allen, his mother always said he was not good enough. This is most likely the cause of Allen’s anxiety, as he does not want to fail and lacks confidence to even try for fear of failure. His therapist also has pointed this out to Allen as a cause of his anxiety, especially when it involves work.

            His wife has stated that Allen does not have many close friends. This can affect development in that people normally have a need for affiliation, this just means that people have a desire to make friends and keep them. Feldman, R. (2020). People who withdraw themselves from friends or do not have any, as in Allen’s case, have the potential to become depressed and experience sadness. Feldman, R. (2020). Allen has reported to his therapist that he is experiencing feelings of sadness and fatigue, which are two symptoms of depression as well. Feldman, R. (2020).

Personality

            Allen’s personality has been affected in a few ways. His wife has described him as quiet, tense, anxious and unfriendly. These are part of the neuroticism dimension in Hans Eysenck’s theory of traits. Feldman, R. (2020). Eysenck referred to the neuroticism dimension as being able to decide how stable a person’s emotions are, which in turn, allowed Eysenck to research people across all of the dimensions and gain the ability to foresee how they may behave. Feldman. R, (2020). Allen also displays low self-esteem in the work environment, low self-esteem is also a trait in the neuroticism dimension as described by Eysenck. Feldman, R. (2020).

            Allen’s wife has also reported that he watches television a lot since the accident, and after he watches violent television shows he treats her unkindly, but he seems to feel bad and is trying to stop that. This aggression, is directly correlated with the violence he sees on TV, psychologists believe that the frequency and the amount of time spent watching violent television makes them more likely to act aggressively than they normally would if they did not engage in watching violent television. Feldman, R. (2020).

Social Behavior

            Allen’s social behavior has been largely affected due to his injury, it has caused people to look at him differently and to judge his abilities based only on his disability. Allen’s attitude toward certain situations and people have also been affected. Allen thinks that all of his managers at work are unfair and overly directive. Attitudes have the potential to change our behavior toward a person or a belief, Feldman, R. (2020), in Allen’s case his attitude about his managers affects his motivation at work and his willingness to perform well. Allen has also developed an impression formation about his managers, which is how one categorizes the facts he knows about an individual, his managers, to form a generalization or impression of that individual, they are overly directive and unfair. Feldman, R. (2020). Allen has developed a schema, or an expectation about how these managers act, so that he can anticipate how he will later interact with them. Feldman, R. (2020).

Allen is especially susceptible to stereotype vulnerability, in which he is aware of how other people view disabled people. Feldman, R. (2020). Allen is directly connected to this because of the judgement he faces at work and because of his mother always saying that he is not good enough. As a result of his co-workers judging him, coupled with his mothers belief that he is not good enough, he has come to accept this belief, and actually think that they are not good enough. Since he has accepted this, he fears that he will confirm his mother’s belief, and will fail or will not even try because he is under the impression that he is not good enough and won’t be good enough regardless of the efforts he puts in. Feldman, R. (2020).

Allen may also be a victim of poor coping skills when it directly involves stress, the more times we try to beat stress could cause psychological issues that cause issues in our health to arise. Feldman, R. (2020). Allen has chosen to deal with his stress by watching television and overeating, also known as avoidant coping, where one uses a more direct path in order to cope, which has causes unhealthy habits that normally are out of character for them, Feldman, R. (2020), the weight gain and most likely the fatigue he feels is a result of his avoidant coping. The more he is exposed to stress, the more his immune system deteriorates, and causes a decrease in the ability to fight off infections or diseases. Feldman, R. (2020).

Allen could also be in the third stage of general adaptation syndrome, which is exhaustion, as is described by Hans Selye a stress theorist, who studied the consequences of long-term stress and their effects on the body. Feldman, R. (2020). During this final stage the person’s fight to overcome the cause of the stress decreases to the point where physical damage and psychological damage can start to be seen. Feldman, R. (2020). This could be the cause of Allen’s lack of focus at work and his irritability which causes him to lash out at his wife, unintentionally. His wife has suggested that Allen remain as active as possible, which is one thing that can be used to offset the damages that can cause stress, and promote healthier habits and coping mechanisms. Feldman, R. (2020).

Conclusion

Allen has a lot of hard work ahead of him in order to fix and cope with some of the damage that has been inflicted on him because of his car accident. He suffers from depression and anxiety that severely hinders his attendance at work, a lack of self-confidence and motivation that affects his willingness to work and work hard while ignoring the preconceived notions that his co-workers have toward him. Poor coping skills, have caused his weight gain and excessive amounts of television has made him aggressive toward his wife. He has significant damage to some of the systems in the brain, most notably the limbic system, association areas of the brain, and the hippocampus, which has caused problems with memory and learning new information related to new systems at work. Damage to the amygdala is responsible for expression of emotion, and therefore has caused his aggression. His therapist has suggested cognitive restructuring and biofeedback techniques, like mirror therapy could be applied to Allen for pain management of the amputated leg. The aggression from damage to the amygdala may imply that serious personality changes are present and it is too soon to tell if he will ever be able to restore the damage done to it. In short, proper nutrition, intensive therapy, exercise, and the proper dosage of medications are the only ways that any of this damage can start to repair and it may only repair some of it. Only time will tell what is in store for Allen Whitcomb, but we all have gained a little bit more of an understanding of who Allen Whitcomb is now as a person since his unfortunate accident.

References

Feldman, R. (2020). Psychology and Your Life with P.O.W.E.R. Learning (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. Rolls ET; Oxford Centre for Computational Neuroscience, Oxford, England. (2018). Cell and Tissue Research [Cell Tissue Res] 2018 Sep; Vol. 373 (3), pp. 577-604. Berlin, New York, Springer-Verlag

Which topics would you like to be more informed about?

       There are many topics that I would like to be more informed about and am in the process of learning. The first one being the foster care system. The reason is obvious when you learn that I am writing a book about adoption with my experiences woven into it, and because adoption is an option in almost every facet of this country’s social services, I don’t think it would be a waste of time to learn about those intricacies and those issues. The only problem I have faced thus far in trying to write about this subject is I’m not sure how to structure it. I’m essentially doing all of this on my own and I have no sense of direction whatsoever. How do thread it all together when adoption is the glue that glorifies the entire system and makes it “okay” on a moral level. It’s the number one thing people bring up when abortion, foster care, divorce rates, and women’s rights are discussed in any type of capacity. How do I talk about those things without making it a dissertation? A long-winded informational essay that not even the bravest of researchers dare touch.

       Another thing I would like to be more knowledgeable in is gender studies, on the chemical level. It’s another one of my future essays or articles on my to-do list. Neuroscientists have recently denounced the notion of the male and female brain and now discuss those parts of the brain as the left and right. The former being associated with language development and emotions, while the latter is associated with memory and perception. Language being the part of the brain that develops faster in women and girls, leaving perception and dexterity to develop faster in boys and men. Since there have been a whole host of bad opinions when it comes to being transgender and a teenager or young child, I’m going to briefly mention my issues with the discussion as a whole and what sorts of things aren’t being mentioned or talked about at length. The first question I think I would ask is what is the process of diagnosing gender dysmorphia? How long is that process? And at what stage is hormone therapy recommended if at all? In terms of sports, how many transgender students are beating out the cis-gendered students within the pool of individuals whose gender they identify with? These questions are systematically ignored. That and as a mother, I’m not understanding why parents have lost the ability to discern between a child whose going through a phase and a child who genuinely doesn’t feel as if they’ve been given the correct body, like, for example, my “scene” or “emo” phase was an obvious phase. My being bi-sexual was not. Trying to conform to the tagline of “lesbian” also didn’t fit me. When you’re a teenager and you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you will contribute to the world. As a teen, you’re also trying to figure out how you fit and are coming to the realization that the “land of opportunity” may exclude you. The American Dream, is dead. I realize that this is said by a modicum of different people, with a propensity for lying and distorting the truth to fit their desired narratives, but are they wrong? It’s just the only thing that’s being left out of the conversation is the fact that the same people who claim they aim to fix it, are the same ones that are allowing (and secretly encouraging) this to happen. My point is, being a teenager is confusing enough as it is, and when we don’t allow children the space to experiment and allow them the ability to accentuate the parts of their personalities that they believe to be special, you end up with unhappy, disillusioned, and filled with hatred at am unfair world, so why would we make this time any more challenging than it already is? Over what? Because your son wants to wear a skirt to school? Who cares? Just ensure that they understand the consequences and what it could mean for the future. If he’s willing to accept that, then who cares? We need to quit coddling these children, that’s the real issue at hand. Also what about the lives of the children who are the bullies? I bring this up because one of the arguments that’s being peddled to the watchers of Fox News is that your child will ultimately be bullied, ridiculed, and humiliated by their fellow classmates either in the future for having changed their mind or for expressing their gender openly and honestly even if it differs from the gender given to them at birth. And my response to such nonsense and reaching that this statement implies is who the fuck are the parents of these children who are so mercilessly torturing their transgender counterparts, and why the fuck aren’t you doing anything about it? It’s like “they will be teased, so no you aren’t allowed to express any gender other than the one that was assigned to you at birth, instead of addressing the issue of bullying and tolerance that’s often reinforced in the home” or “instead of teaching my child to be nice to everyone no matter what and that any form of bullying is wrong, and if you wouldn’t want to be treated like that don’t treat others like that, I’d rather allow my child to continue being an intolerant piece of garbage who definitely judges a book by its cover, and doesn’t see the value in diversity because I don’t see the value of diversity and view it as an inherently bad thing when in reality diversity is good for everyone and benefits us all.” Like why would you want your child to be a bully? I don’t want that, I’d like to teach my child to love and accept everyone, even if they are different, what an odd thing to defend, the bully’s right to bully? Rather than the transgender boy to wear a skirt and participate in sports.

       Another thing I think I would like to learn about is hormones and gene therapy. It relates to the issue of transgender people because a soccer player in Africa was denied the ability to play I think in the Olympics or Olympic Qualifiers or something of that nature, because her testosterone levels were higher than that of an average woman. Now you may be asking, well was this person biologically female, to which I will tell you that YES, she was born a woman, and NO they did not allow her to play. That story, while I do not have the link, was briefly featured by Yahoo News, and received little to no attention, which is surprising to me because the “Left-Wing Snowflakes,” didn’t jump to say “I told you so,” and the “Alt-Right Defenders of Truth,” didn’t even try to debunk it or discredit the article. Life just kind of moved on. It’s this reason I’d like to learn more. I’ve heard rumors that are within the circle of sociologists and neuroscientists that there have been some deeply insightful discoveries into the hormone of testosterone. I have yet to confirm these, however I do know of some places to potentially start this research, including a documentary and new studies available, thanks in part to transgendered people being involved in clinical research studies. Regardless of whether or not you believe in the idea of transgender people, it’s happening, it’s a “social phenomenon” and should be studied just as vigorously as anything else, let’s find out if it really is an anomaly among the human population or is this a normal progression of human society and behavior? Does it really matter if it’s “brainwashing” our children? What’s so bad about it? It’s not our future, like, we won’t be living in it, so who are we to tell the next generation of adults how society should be operated, when at the end of the day, they will be the ones to live it? What if the future for them is free of the judgement and social norms that we all grew up with, wouldn’t that make for a happier society? And what’s so bad about wanting a fair, more free, more connected, and more globalized world? What is so wrong about inclusion and equality and why do so many men feel as if they are being marginalized? Why does the rights of a few groups of marginalized people finally gaining their rights, mean that yours will be taken? Has someone explicitly said that it is now you who must pay for the debts of your ancestors? Is that a part of this movement that I have yet to be aware of? Is it some unnamed law? What has caused this? Are men not going to college for fear of “being accused of rape?” Or does it have more to do with the different learning styles of boys/men and girls/women? I’d argue that it does. That’s why I’m so interested in learning about it. The importance of sociologists cannot be overstated, and they couldn’t be anymore underfunded.

       Another potential topic for me is to dig deep into the military and its affinity for making animals actual soldiers with actual ranks. This may seem a bit weird, but there is a fascinating story about a Marine, Sargent Reckless, who was not regarded as a horse, but a fellow soldier, and one with rank to boot. Let me repeat that, Reckless was promoted to Staff Sargent in the Marine Corp. How insane is that? She carried ammunition to the front lines and was instrumental in our victory over Korea. This horse drank beer, only needed to be taught things one time before she was able to retain and execute any task given to her and complete it, not flawlessly, but recklessly. The story of Reckless calls into question whether this is normal behavior for our soldiers. Does the military promote animals often? How often are animals used in the military and for what purposes other than to sniff bombs or find cadavers? Have there been any animals recently that have been employed by the military and if so what are their purposes? Are there any highly secret or confidential operations where animals are currently being used? In the past? Does the military use horses for this purpose often, or was it only in special circumstances because of the technological innovations in transportation and aviation? I just have many questions, we often hear about the relationship between law enforcement and their dogs, dogs being rehabilitated by prisoners, and service dogs that help people with debilitating PTSD live their lives on a day-to-day basis, so what about the military? I’m sure there are many examples of this within the organization, I just don’t think anyone has bothered to even ask.

       Another topic of interest, of which is almost comically “on brand” for me, is the Polyvagal Theory. This is a relatively new theory within the field of neuroscience but a vastly growing one. Seeing as it is on this list, you should assume that I do not know a whole lot about it. However, since this is the internet, I feel the need to make a disclaimer about my discussing the theory anyway, for austerity purposes. I am going to do my best to explain this theory to the best of my ability. Polyvagal Theory draws a direct and concrete link between the stress hormone cortisol, heart rate, and emotion expression and emotional states. It claims that if heartrate is controlled so too are emotions, and gives evidence for this conclusion. Then, using this evidence, it alludes to the implication that an individuals resting heartrate is a good indication of what their emotional state is all the time, arguing that if these could be controlled disorders like anxiety and depression (or any personality disorder really) can be cured or treated by teaching the patient to control their heartrate. Basically, another potential lead into the insights of these disorders and how they may be helped in the future, avoiding the painful processes of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and traditional “talk” therapy that could involve reliving painful experiences and traumatic events and emotions that could be unpleasant and that often hinders individuals from seeking out mental health services in the first place; the fear and shame of being vulnerable and exposed is enough of a deterrent for some to avoid treatment altogether. To avoid unpleasantries of dealing with your emotions out of an unfounded assumption that such an act is somehow weakness, and any show of weakness comes at the cost of respect from your peers. While I don’t necessarily believe in the idea of avoiding discomfort altogether, because I believe that being uncomfortable can sometimes be beneficial to the overall wellbeing of an individual because it’s a critical part of actually living and experiencing your life to the fullest; however, I will acknowledge that in certain circumstances it may be necessary for some patients to forgo that kind of approach either because they have already attempted to and it wasn’t successful or based on the recommendation of the attending physician, therapist, or psychologist. However, if this theory does prove to be fruitful what sorts of valuable insights would we gain from this? How many more people would be open and willing to seek out treatment if this were explained to the general population? How many people would it be beneficial to? And what are the larger implications if the findings prove to be true? What does it mean for society? Would it even be effective, or would it be akin to taking a placebo, the “power of positive thinking,” if I believe it to be true, then it is true, that kind of mindset?

       Those are only a few of the topics I wish to be more informed about, as a writer, I have many more and the list continues to grow, but no one ever achieves anything without asking the correct questions. You know, the questions that causes the orator to pause mid-sentence and genuinely think about the answer. Those are the questions that, when answered, have the power to move mountains, look over the edge of a cliff, see the crashing waves below, and with their hearts pounding at incredible speeds, their stomachs lurching in their throats in perfect tandem with the waves, as they peak over the ledge and their limbs grow numb from fear and anticipation, and they jump. They take the leap of faith. They trust fully in the universe, themselves, and what they believe in enough that they never question the impulse to leap, never look backwards, and never doubt a decision once it is made. The great minds of this world are never content with being idle. They are always moving, innovating, and asking all the right questions. They leave no stones unturned.

       I think we could all benefit from such a frame of mind. Give it a try, what answers do you seek?

The Twin You Didn’t Know You Had

The medication you took this morning traveled an extended path to get from the lab to your capsule pack. First, there’s intensive lab analysis. Then,…

The Twin You Didn’t Know You Had