While surfing the Bad Science blog, a post caught my interest. In his post “The golden arse beam method” Dr. Goldacre mentioned a study that looked at whether or not behaviors changed after practicing different ways of thinking about the goals they wished to achieve (in the case of this study the goal was to eat more fruit).
The participants were split up into four groups, and each group was assigned to either repeat “eat more fruit” to themselves, imagine themselves enjoying fruit, repeat verbal plans for what they would do when they see fruit, or create a detailed mental image of themselves finding fruit, picking it up, touching it, and finally eating it. Although a short study, it found that the group that imagined themselves doing the latter task doubled their intake of fruit.
Just how effective is our mental willpower? If we sit and imagine detailed plans of how we are going to accomplish our goals (both small and big) and how we will experience them, will it affect the outcome?
I personally have a hard time creating goals and then following through in order to reach them. While I don’t necessarily believe that this method of ‘positive mental thinking’ that’s described in the study will magically make the outcome of my actions different, I think that it could be a beneficial way to put people in the right mindset and help them focus to work on ways to accomplish the task they are thinking about.
For my First Year University Writing Seminar, I chose a session called “Issues in Healthcare Controlling African American Minds and Bodies”. Only one of our representatives presented. The presentation was named “Mind Control: The Effects of Poverty on Black Mental Health”. The Presentation discussed the reasons why Blacks don’t get the mental health they need. One of the points that hit home to me was the discussion of the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community. Later, evening I read Priyanka Kaur’s blog post “Science and Disney” and I wondered if may we should spice up our blog posts. So, here is a video I found on blacks and mental health called “Snapping the Chain: Ending Mental Health Stigma in the African American Community” from youtube.
This video really hit home for me. I have family who refuse to get psychological evaluations because of the stigma of mental illness. Additionally, the outside world’s only view of African Americans with mental illness are prisoners, homelessness, and extreme violence. It is those views that continue to push down those with mental illness and make others afraid to get diagnosed.
What do you see when you think of people with mental illness? Are their other cultures that place a stigma on mental health? What do you think about this problem in the African American community? Does the media perpetrate these ideas about the mentally ill? Do you see a solution in science? Tell me what you think.