I still can’t believe my last exam was three days ago.
Do you ever feel like end of exams can be kinda anticlimactic sometimes? I’ve been spending 10+ hours in the library everyday, dreaming of the day all this would be over like it was a big light at the end of the tunnel.. 😛 but now it’s just like any other day, and even though I have more free time I still worry about my dissertation and my upcoming essay. I really can’t relax, can I?
And before exams are too far away in the past, I wanted to talk about my last exam, PS3013 Clinical Psychology. The reason why I want to talk about it is simple. At this point you might know/have gathered that my main interest is anxiety disorders. Therefore I was super excited to revise that topic as part of the exam! The lecture we were delivered focused a great deal on PTSD and the different models that have been proposed for its development. Therefore I made sure to prepare especially on that! But unfortunately a question on Panic Disorder came out, one I didn’t even like too much :/ Sooo now I want to make you understand why I felt so prepared on PTSD 😉 Briefly, after an overview on the main clusters of symptoms (avoidance, hyperarousal, re-experiencing) the question was: what is it about a traumatic events that triggers such a persistent change in one’s brain, especially considering not everyone is affected in the same way? One model, the Dual Representation Model (Brewin et al., 1996) posits that PTSD develops when contextual representation is weakly encoded due to stress, and at the same time sensory/affective encoding is dissociated from it. This way, re-experiencing symptoms would be triggered by several cues, since there is no proper link to contextual elements, and conscious memories would lack detail, which is exactly what is likely to happen in a case of PTSD. The second model I looked into is the Theory of Shattered Assumptions (Janoff-Bulman, 1992).This model suggests that traumatic events can cause a dysfunction in our anxiety buffering system, which is mainly based on the assumptions that the world is just and predictable. In fact, patients of PTSD seem to have easier access to thoughts of death, and the primary psychological function of worldviews has been suggested to be keeping thoughts of death at bay. And the last model I focused on was the Cognitive Model (Ehlers & Clark, 2000). This model is all about appraisal. It’s not just what happens that influence the outcome, but especially how we interpret events and their effect on us. It is easy to see how traumatic experiences could trigger negative thoughts about the world or even worse, about oneself (guilt, blame, anger…). Furthermore, this model suggests that conscious memories would be kept in an unprocessed state, a concept similar to the one explained in the Dual Representation model.
Okay, these were the model in a nutshell. These descriptions are very shallow, but honestly if you’re interested go read a few articles on them. It was great reading. I think I got it out of my system now, I can happily move on! 😉