Roe et al (2006) offer an intriguing commentary on community in this country and a unique counterpoint on how it should function.  The United States is seen as stereotypically individualistic, which is, unfortunately, a reality in a majority of this country, while AIDS is seen as an area where “effective prevention must be community-based, ecologically dispersed, locally relevant, adequately funded, responsive to change, and sustained over time.” Roe, et, al, 2006).  In ways that are economically as well as socially constructed, these realities had been generally met with unrealistic barriers until mandated by the CDC in communities across the country that utilized community planning initiatives that were remnants of 1960s through 1980s activism and planning initiatives.  The authors look at this initiative in depth, viewing it as a possible model to organize communities through similar social planning.  Key here is the inclusion of parity, inclusion, and social representation which allowed for what the authors call mobilizing of subcommittee organizing combined with empowering evaluation (taking stock, setting goals, developing strategies, and documenting the process and repeat where necessary).

While not exactly asset-based community development, the parameters of inclusion were mutable enough to allow equitable participation in community planning, allowing them to evaluate, correct and evolve as they progressed.  I see possibilities in this, allowing for applications to other areas of community development where flexibility is wise and necessary. For this initiative, diversity was necessary and key to reflect the makeup of the local community, but in the event that certain cities and groups were not interested in allowing that necessary diversity, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) mandated diversity, which could be viewed as intrusive by some and necessary to others.  The mandate recalls a community radio station in Texas where I volunteered briefly that began with the promise to reflect the makeup of the overall community, but in the end the staff, the board, and the radio show hosts were and are primarily White and Male.

As an anti-authoritarian, I bristle at even the suggestion of control, but with White Patriarchy and, especially, institutionalized racism, there are laws and beliefs on the books that privilege certain groups of individuals that those individuals don’t see.  If one is not affected, there is little that one is going to look for.  Men are not going to see the disadvantages thrust upon women daily through microagressions and will cry out that women are being too sensitive.  The same can be said for White Gay Men where they don’t consider the inclusion of Black and Latinx Gay Men as valid because they are not affected by racism and prejudice (in the same way).  Because of the historical precedence of the above, guidelines and rules are necessary, and in this case, they proved to be valid and effective.  This planning initiative can be used to apply to other programs that require groups within communities to work together effectively to solve an overarching issue. I also believe that planning elements can be incorporated into other methodologies designed to incorporate the individuals of a community into a evolutionary problem-solving group.

 

References:

Roe, K. M., Berenstein, C., Goette, C., & Roe, K. (2006). Community building through empowering evaluation: A case study of HIV prevention community planning. In M. Minkler (Ed.), Community organizing and community building for health (2nd ed., pp. 386-402). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

 

 

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While humanism is admirable and multiculturalism is admirable and ideal, Comas-Dias (2012) does not operationalize either term, relying instead on a commonly accepted definition without defining it.  Additionally, examples of what the author believes other cultures view as humanistic and multicultural are cited, but all without an operationalized definition.  This is obviously dangerous because anyone reading this or the article will have their own ideas of what it means to themselves.  If there was room to explain further here, a better justification could be made for intersectional feminism which could be viewed as humanistic and certainly is multicultural, but that is a discussion for another day.  Instead, the author waxes enthusiastic with a few references but does not explain their views in much detail.  The references citied, while discussing multiculturalism are secondary Western sources, rather than primary sources of the culture in question, which is suspect because those cultures are not necessarily viewing things through a patriarchal Western lens.

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Intelligence, defined strictly, is qualified as educational intelligence, but this is a definition I don’t necessarily accept.  From my father and a shelterless man named Uriel, whom I met decades ago, I learned clearly that education is not a sign of intelligence.  My father is an immigrant whose original language is not English and Uriel was completely illiterate. But beyond a dictionary definition, the referenced readings explore several types of intelligence, including emotional and cultural.

However, Brody (2000) does not explore those additional intelligences that we all possess.  Instead, intelligence quotients (IQ) are explored a little more in depth, but thankfully differences that affect it are explored.  General concepts of IQs are not questioned throughout the utilizing a description of averages throughout the population without acknowledging allowing for cultural differences amongst individuals.  Like many other articles I have read recently, I find this to be the unspoken bias of the author.  Additionally, Brody states that generational intelligence has increased, citing an example of a 20-year-old in 1900 and a 20-year-old in 1970, the latter having more intelligence than the former.  Again, I question what Brody (2000) is defining as intellectual intelligence that is never defined other than an IQ test standard.

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Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) cover all aspects of community building from individuals to associations to local institutions and taking those assets and rebuilding and mobilizing.  I may have reiterated this before, but while this book is powerful, it is large and not portable and there are no printable forms.  Since its printing in 1993, it has not been revised and it has not been released in a portable, e-book format, which is necessary for communities to facilitate many ideas in this valuable resource.

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For reasons of in depth analysis and to allow study participants their full voice, qualitative research and inquiry is where my heart, mind, and soul are, because, to me, people are more than mere numbers and statistics, though, in a very limited capacity, I can see where quantitative research may be useful when a certain population is difficult to reach for part of a research project.  Particularly, due to previous study and their potential to reveal more as well as engage participants more fully, grounded theory (where the critical areas of research are revealed in the data) and participatory action research (also known as action research to some) greatly appeal to me, even if more work is required in the long run.

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Rieber defines perception in context as, “an experience that results from stimulation of the senses. It can be examined by verbal description and by psychophysical experiment, or it can be related to the processes in the nervous system that accompany the experience.”  He also cites Aristotle’s classification of the five senses.  Yet, Rieber spends the extent of his entry on perception as vision only.  After searching and searching, the academics and theorists that he cites and explores were only interested in vision as a perceptual experience and completely ignores the other four or five senses (if you include intuition as another sense), and doesn’t even address the phenomenon of individuals who lack one sense, e.g. the visually impaired, whose other senses are heightened as a result.  While the theorists he includes are important in their pursuit of visual phenomenon, that is not even the full extent of perceptual phenomenon and as an entry in an encyclopedia should have not been as narrow and should have been clearly clarified.

Schroeder on the other hand, explores a subject near to my interests and curiosity, sex and gender in sensation and perception.  Gratefully, the article does not seem to evolve into an excuse for eugenics or gender superiority in regards to whether one is fit for certain careers or positions and that others are not.  No.  While the author indicates some of these differences are well documented, others are more subtle and difficult to detect, modern brain imaging techniques utilized to track brain activity has allowed for a closer look.  While the article indicates that fluctuating sex hormones provide differences in sensory perception, he doesn’t indicate that this may be due to heightened senses during ovulation or during pregnancy that increase during periods of sexual arousal or periods where women become more protective of their unborn child through a heightened sense of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell.

 

References:

Wade, N. J. (2012). Perception. In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the history of psychological theories (pp. 773-788). New  York, NY: Spriner. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-0463-8_198.

Schroeder, J. A. (2010). Sex and gender in sensation and perception. In J. C. Chrisler & D. R. McCreary (Eds.), Handbook of gender research in psychology (Vol. 1; pp. 235-257). New York, NY: Springer. DOI 10.1007/978-1-1465-1_12.

 

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Abstract

What follows is a critical overview of key articles from 2001 – 2011 that investigate the intersection of consciousness and neuroscience.  While analysis of many of the articles will be addressed from a perspective of humanistic psychology, some articles will not necessarily lend themselves to this approach, and a general critical approach will be employed.  The articles range from psychiatric medical aspects of neuroscience to behavioral neuroscience to humanistic psychology.  Throughout, the author utilizes a humanistic and intersectional viewpoint that it is possible to unify sections of competing and opposing philosophies that may have more in common than researchers and practitioners may realize.

 

Introduction

While a high number of academic papers and articles on consciousness (referred to meditation in some contexts) have been written since the 1950s (Lutz, et al, 2006), most of them utilize research that is restrictively reduced to a particular methodology or field of thought, whether sociology, medical science, non-humanistic psychology, or another school of thought without considering research or ideas from disparate, but often, related fields, fields that impact the brain’s functions or personal fulfillment. In the spirit of the intersectionality of all things, this article is an attempt to critically review disparate literature and find commonalities.

The purpose of this first section is to unite the various definitions of consciousness from the articles and determine a common theme.  While a humanistic psychological perspective will dominate, other perspectives will not be considered invalid, due to the fact that consciousness does not have one primary meaning across disciplines, or even in all cultures. Even Buddhist perspectives on consciousness are fluid, with no commonly accepted viewpoint (Encyclopedia of Buddhism, p 175), though like science there are some points of intersection.

While Thompson and Varela (2001) restrict their research to the neuroscience of consciousness from the perspective of cognitive science within an “enactive” viewpoint (especially where consciousness intersects the brain-body world  rather than just being centered in the head), their approach to the research provides a new perspective that can provide an opportunity for intersectional understanding to a humanistic psychological approach of consciousness as much as any research included in this overview.  Dietrich (2004) unites creative action with consciousness in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, equating consciousness with awareness.  Lutz, et al (2006) explore the initial findings of neuroscientific research upon meditation. Chiao, et al (2008) dissect visual perception to self-consciousness and its implications on cultural neuroscience.  Graziano and Kastner (2011) look at the adaptive nature of consciousness within social neuroscience that individuals access to understand another’s behaviors.  Each view of consciousness is valid but it reduces each aspect of it to a part, not a whole.  What each misses is what an intersection of the whole becomes:  a complex analysis of consciousness in body, mind, and perhaps spirit.

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Kretzmann & McKnight (1993) have codified, more or less what I have done to research necessary information, be it looking for research materials for a report, digging up an obscure musical recording, and especially resources to help individuals with personal or health crises.  Here it is codified neatly into one compact place, this time with a logical procedure to connect with and to local groups and associations.

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Zelenski, J. M., Murphy, S. A., & Jenkins, D. A. (2008). The happy-productive worker thesis revisited. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(4), 521-537.

Introduction

Zelinski, et al (2008) look at over 70 years of research realizing that little has been revealed regarding whether happier workers are more productive.  Utilizing a longitudinal literature review and experience sampling methods, they examine this relationship amongst Directors in the public and private sectors and attempt to reconcile the long history of mixed findings of this happy productive worker thesis.

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Neuroscience and humanistic psychology are part of an area of study that I believe is, by definition, designed to help people achieve, in one form or another, their highest possible evolutionary state.  Both are part of a long evolutionary process, within psychology, of learning and growth.  While Eugenics may be part of that evolutionary process, and I cannot claim it as an anomaly, it is very disturbing and I’ll discuss Eugenics more below.  The fact remains that there have been too many of these “anomalies” throughout the history of psychology, most recently the revelation of psychologists’ participation in the torture of political prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

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Kretzmann & McKnight (1993) provide us with the equivalent of a bible, one to implement asset-based community (or capacity-focused) development from the ground up.  This isn’t about assessing needs, deficiencies, and problems, but discovering a community’s capacities and assets.  This is an important distinction because it takes the standard way of solving community problems with bureaucracy and a band-aid and puts that power into the hands of community to help themselves and utilize their already present resources.

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While quantitative research is easier to understand after several readings (Locke, et al, 2010; Creswell, 2014), I am still not as comfortable with statistics as I would like to be in spite of two statistics classes and the insistence of a professor that I would eventually understand it.  If I utilized any method, be it true experimental, quasi-experimental, or causal-comparative, it would have to be in collaboration with a statistician.  My area of interest, the influence of sexism in media propaganda upon the self-esteem of Black American teen girls and women may be best researched within the quasi-experimental approach.  Due to the preexisting group that I am working with in the Unconquered Minds Service Group, this approach could be helpful to research preexisting interpersonal relationships and how those relationships influence individual attitudes towards sexism.  While this approach does not cover the completely subtlety of this topic, it may be valuable for some aspects of it.

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Existentially and in every other way, I see everything as connected. But philosophically? Yes. Since my immersion into the social sciences a few years ago, I have noticed that the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) divide themselves into several divisions each. Even with major philosophical differences, I can still see points of agreement as I look at both of these worlds and their myriad divisions. While there is some need for subdivisions, their separation also perpetuates the bureaucracy of corporations and government. I’d like to get away from that.

While not everyone is interested in clinical psychology as a profession (including me), there is value in reading and applying ideas from a variety of disciplines that can help each of us in some way. Hoffman & Trash (2010) explore this division in miniature with the neuropsychology and existential APA divisions and their several commonalities, including cognition and emotion, and the intersection of the interpersonal and intrapersonal that can certainly benefit clients in the clinical space. While not every division can meet and join with another, certainly we would all benefit from more of this exploration, resulting in a more socially and emotionally healthy society.

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What is personality? It is made up of thoughts, ideas, relationships, feelings, dreams, aspirations, environment, even rebellion. At the same time, it is nothing but the figment of our dreams if one takes the Eastern and Buddhist view of existence. The readings here are becoming more fascinating and challenging, though I still find flaws in the Western bias (Blatt, 2008), though it is probable that personality is viewed differently in the East, but defining personality as it has developed in Western culture alone, necessarily denies the inclusion of the Middle East and parts further west that are not Western Europe as well as Eastern cultures themselves. While individuality was suppressed in the Middle Ages, I have to wonder if it actually suppressed all of society. I suspect individuality was not completely suppressed in isolated pockets of community who did not adhere to the dictates of the political church until they were forced to. And please remember that Africa and Muslim Enlightenment was dominant in Europe for 700 years. This is never mentioned, not even in passing.

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While, I still don’t see a benefit to relying upon quantitative studies to the exclusion of all others when complex conversations, action research, and asset-based community development yield so much more nuance into a study, I do see the benefits of employing some quantitative methods to determine a direction for a qualitative study, but I’ll never see it as an exclusive fix. Quantitative data is too dry and cold for me, and effecting real change in my world is going to necessitate qualitative research and activism.

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Understanding Health, Community, and Community Health

How health, community, and community health are examined, utilized, and defined depend upon the representatives of the community involved. All are key, all are vital, and all are based upon the perspective of key individuals and groups. A politician will obviously differ from a health care provider, a social service agency, and, most definitely, a recipient of various services. Whose perspective is most important? Ultimately, the recipient is paramount, but from a community perspective, every member of the community concerned with its successful and healthful evolution is a recipient of the community organism and must be considered for the community to thrive, grow, and continue to nurture its members, helping them to thrive.

My understanding of health, community, and of community health is complex and biased by what I have seen and what I have experienced in a variety of communities from birth throughout my life. Let’s be honest here. Objectivity is very difficult to achieve, and I didn’t become interested in humanistic psychology to be apathetically objective. I’m here because I want to help people thrive and evolve and to learn from them. Health, to me, is social, emotional, and physical. Health is well-being in a community that allows its members to thrive and contribute personally and socially after being provided rightfully necessary shelter, healthy food (with space to grow it), preventative medicine, and the ability to work. Community is all of that and allowing a space where people feel safe and accepted, safe enough to be themselves, valued enough in the community to suggest and contribute unique solutions to community challenges, no matter the youth or the age of the member. Community health is all of the above.

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While a research methods class isn’t necessarily an ideal venue to receive revelations of a personal nature, the latest readings on quantitative analysis have made me aware of how my ever devouring mind works as it continues to seek out and absorb valuable information and higher-level knowledge. Here, there is the qualitative side that is always talking to people, making new friends, learning their stories, and offering help. That’s the creative side. Then there is the quantitative side, the side that wants to break down almost everything into a method, into a process, to make things work like a factory assembly line. That’s the logical side, but it’s also the side that realizes humanity is not a factory and will not evolve successfully if we treat it like a government program of numbered live bodies. Both get along as I work to help people help themselves while I develop simple systems they can use to learn and grow.

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What is personality? It is made up of thoughts, ideas, relationships, feelings, dreams, aspirations, environment, even rebellion. At the same time, it is nothing but the figment of our dreams if one takes the Eastern and Buddhist view of existence. The readings here are becoming more fascinating and challenging, though I still find flaws in the Western bias (Blatt, 2008), though it is probable that personality is viewed differently in the East, but defining personality as it has developed in Western culture alone, necessarily denies the inclusion of the Middle East and parts further west that are not Western Europe as well as Eastern cultures themselves. While individuality was suppressed in the Middle Ages, I have to wonder if it actually suppressed all of society. I suspect individuality was not completely suppressed in isolated pockets of community who did not adhere to the dictates of the political church until they were forced to. And please remember that Africa and Muslim Enlightenment was dominant in Europe for 700 years. This is never mentioned, not even in passing.

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I propose, as I have in many of my academic writings and conversations that within all of us is a vital need to create, even within the most anti-creative of us. My father may be a perfect example of this when he eschews all creative activity because it distracts from “more important things” in life, like making money, making babies and raising a family, and a myriad of other activities that he does not view as creative, viewed through the lens of his Italian family culture. Yet, my father can take a broken down bicycle and lawnmower and make them sing. And he sculpts, but not in a traditional “artistic” sense. He can take a piece of animal flesh and carve it into shapes that no other meat cutter I have ever met can do. I call my father the anti-creative artist. And then there is me with the need to write, a need for music and making music mixes, and a need to draw that out of others. Perspective is everything for all of us.

Krippner (2011) explore creativity from a waking consciousness and a variety of alternative states, primarily the latter, but it is more of an overview. While important and valuable, overviews of such complex topics don’t include everything and they always compel me to dig deeper into the sources that are referenced. This is no different. However, I did find it intriguing, but not surprising that early researchers equated schizophrenic psychotic states with altered consciousness states stimulated by a variety of natural and manufactured drugs. Interestingly, I have read recent accounts in a few journals where researchers are experimenting with LSD to help minimize psychotic states in schizophrenics.

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Charet’s encyclopedia entry serves as an entry point, a definition, of consciousness. As such, it is aa general introduction, but given the work done by others in this area, including the Buddhists, Jung, and others, this definition barely cover the territory. I concentrated the majority of my analysis on the other two articles.

While Early’s The social evolution of consciousness (2002) makes many valid points, he misses others. His emphasis on reflexive consciousness is key, his emphasis on the suppression of participatory consciousness (community and communal – usually matriarchal – is ignored) is particularly one-sided and biased from a Western viewpoint (i.e. not Asia, part East of Africa and Africa which he rarely takes into account contemporarily or historically) with its emphasis upon the mindset of a white Western Patriarchy, though he does not make a note of that.  Especially when he states, “Participatory consciousness (emphasis author’s) is characterized by a sense of aliveness and belonging to the world. In this mode, people relate to the world primarily through intuition, emotion, the body, and the immediate present.”  These are particularly if stereotypically maternal characteristics that are typical of matriarchal and communal societies in Africa and Asia).
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