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THE UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL PSYCHOLOGY MAGAZINE
MANY FACES OF ANXIETY why seminars are scarier than skydiving | LIVING IN FEAR the worrying problem of sibling bullying | BLACK DOG PROJECT tackling stigma in mental health | TOP 10 PSYCHOLOGY FILMS
CLINSOC: CATCHING UP WITH THE NEW KIDS IN THE SCHOOL
BLACK DOG PROJECT
LIVING IN FEAR
THE MANY FACES OF ANXIETY
CAREERS IN STATISTICS
TOP 10 PSYCHOLOGY FILMS
by Amy Jane Hall
by Ruth Byrne
by Rebecca Drissi
by Andy Paphiti
by Robyn Dean
by Amy Brockett
by Danielle Taffel
EDITORIAL Editorial Team Editor-in-Chief Julie Lee Layout Design Julie Lee Rachel Tung Manuscript Editors Robyn Dean Alex Drake Andrew Gordon Julie Gosheva Imogen Smith Danielle Taffel Cover Art Rachel Tung
APPY new year! Our revised layout design is thanks in part to our new graphic/layout designer Rachel Tung. She is also responsible for the cover and an exciting infographic on Daniel Kahnemanâ€™s Thinking Fast and Slow. To start, we have a quadruple feature showcasing the wonderful efforts of student-led projects. The theme is anxiety and fear, beautifully illustrated on our cover. First is an interview of a seminar speaker, Dr. Lucy Bowes, on sibling bullying. Then, we have a scientific exploration of why different situations can provoke different levels of anxiety. Another poem appears, as well as a personal account of life as an assistant statistician. Lastly, if you want to unwind after exams, the issue ends with a breakdown of the top 10 psychology films. Thanks sincerely for the efforts of the contributors, the new editorial team and of course the School of Experimental Psychology for funding/supporting our work. Enjoy reading! â€”J
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catching up with the newcomers at the School
INCE its inception last year, ClinSoc has flourished, finding great success as a source of interesting talks centred on clinical psychology. Initially intended as a support group for those in the midst of applications, it has expanded dramatically, now boasting 130 members from a mix of backgrounds. The society was founded as a response to the paucity of resources offered by the university for those interested in clinical psychology careers. These days, it is wellestablished as an academic society, with a solid place in the department alongside PsychSoc.
attendees to be exposed to more than just the ‘typical’ clinical psychologist. Further, this appeals to the range of members, from psychologists, to medics, chemists, and even lawyers.
Meetings take the form of fortnightly talks with speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds, including PhD students, nurses and heads of doctorate schemes. By showcasing a line-up of established clinical psychologists, President Lucy Karwatowska hopes to convey the different career trajectories available for aspiring clinical psychologists. The society tries to recruit speakers from different areas of specialisation such as chronic fatigue syndrome, trauma and HIV.
After she graduates next year, Karwatowska hopes the society will remain. She intends to apply for PhDs in neuroimaging herself, and harness this knowledge of neuropsychiatry by performing clinical research in a prison setting. This illustrates that a passion for clinical psychology doesn’t limit your career options.
The diversity is intentional, says Karwatowska, as it allows
So far, the society has been academically focused, but Karwatowska is keen to change that. She hopes to start socials, as she has personally found it most valuable to chat to like-minded individuals in the society. These events may be held with PsychSoc, as they have already collaborated during the AtBristol Brains event in autumn.
If you are interested, check out the next meeting of the society. ClinSoc welcomes sign ups through its website:
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TOP THREE TIPS FOR ASPIRING CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS Lucy Karwatowska, President of ClinSoc 1. Keep going. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted this in the first place. 2. Have a Plan B, no matter how determined you are to succeed. 3. Get experience — even the most menial of roles is useful.
TARTING as president of PsychSoc this year, I knew there was a lot to be done. Recently, the society has not been very active so the current third year students didn’t get a chance to know each other in our first year. We don’t want the same to happen with the new students, as we know it can be difficult to get to know people in big open units. We first held a “fresher’s lunch” with lots of free food for all new students, as a chance for them to meet and get to know each other. Then there was the exciting bar crawl down Whiteladies road, including students from all years and lots of shots! We then held a very successful parenting night, at which first, second and third years had dinner with their “families” then came for drinks at the Brass Pig, in fancy dress as ‘famous families’, including the Kardashians, the Simpsons, the Royal family and 101 Dalmatians. Then came the Brain Night at At-Bristol. There were brain dis-
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President of PsychSoc Amy Jane Hall looks back on the successes of autumn term
section demonstrations, brain dishes to try and experiments on a cockroach’s leg, as well as a bar, party music and all the usual amazing displays and activities. You can listen to music through your teeth, see how your eye adjusts to light and make huge bubbles! There was also a film and pizza night where we watched ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and ate huge quantities of free Dominoes pizza that we won through a RAG competition on Facebook. This term, don’t forget to look out for the Sciences bar crawl, Sciences ball, careers evening and many more! All in all, I think the society has been a success this year but we want to continue putting on great events. If you have any comments and suggestions, please email me at email@example.com. Amy Jane Hall BSc Psychology third year 5
Black Dog Project
EFORE the age of 15, 1 in 10 young people will develop a mental health disorder (Office for National Statistics, 2005). Despite this, it is still largely a taboo subject in our society, entirely ignored in the national curriculum. Schools promote physical health with compulsory lessons, but often fail to encourage mental health. We aim to change that.
Black Dog Project is a new initiative run by students at the University of Bristol that offers assemblies in local secondary schools that focus on key mental health issues and promote good mental health. Thanks to the tireless work of our volunteers our assemblies are interactive, engaging and educational — with myth-busting quizzes and positive wellbeing pledges. By providing information on mental health issues we equip young people with the skills to support both themselves and their peers should they feel vulnerable to mental health issues throughout their lives. Our assemblies also aim to reduce the stigma of mental health diagnosis. Nine out of 10 young people 6
with a mental health problem will experience negative reactions to their diagnosis from friends and teachers, often in school. These negative reactions lead to a quarter of sufferers giving up their hopes and dreams and, for some, their lives (Time to Change, 2012). Our hope is to start an open and thoughtful discussion of mental health in young people in order to reduce these heartbreaking statistics. Because of the challenges children face at this time of their lives — secondary school education and the transition to adulthood — it is an opportunity to create a strong support system for those suffering or at risk of mental health problems. This is our goal. If you’d like to learn more about the Black Dog Project or get involved as a volunteer (planning or leading assemblies, creating information leaflets or contacting schools), please email us at ubublackdog@gmail. com or like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/ 478010718992998 Ruth Byrne BSc Psychology third year VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2 / PSYCHE
Bristol Nightline *
recent national survey shows that 20% of students consider themselves to have a mental health problem. Fortunately, students can turn to support services such as Nightline, an anonymous and confidential listening service which prides itself on being there for students all night, every night. The Nightline Association advocates that every student should have access to confidential, non-judgmental support. From 8pm to 8am every night during term time, trained student volunteers answer the phone at Bristol Nightline, providing a listening and support service to other UoB students. The Bristol Nightline motto, “we’ll listen, not lecture”, is one that embodies every aspect of the service, with volunteer recruitment and training geared around this key policy. Anonymity of both volunteers and callers ensures a confidential listening service that is non-directive, nonjudgmental and non-advisory. Bristol Nightline volunteers believe that every student should be able to speak openly about their feelings, whatever they may be, in a safe, nonPSYCHE / VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2
judgmental environment. Student volunteers come from all degree course backgrounds and are trained to help callers to reach their own conclusions about any difficulties, big or small, that they may be facing in their lives. Unsurprisingly, Nightline has numerous celebrity supporters, including Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench, Graham Norton and Gordon Brown. In the words of Dame Judi Dench, “If you are worried, need help, or just want to talk to someone, call Nightline. It is completely confidential and well worth a phone call”. So, whether your studies are getting you down, you’re struggling with a mental health issue or that you’ve fallen out with your flatmates over bin week, you can call Bristol Nightline on 01179 266 266. Bristol Nightline is open every term-time night 8pm-8am. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about volunteering, email us at: nightline.coordinator@ gmail.com Rebecca Drissi BSc Psychology third year 7
Living in Fear:
why sibling bullying is a serious problem
A chat with Dr. Lucy Bowes, University of Oxford
S part of the School of Experimental Psychology seminar series, Dr Lucy Bowes (University of Oxford) presented her work on sibling bullying — an under-researched area. She found that people who were bullied by siblings several times a week were both more depressed and prone to selfharm — but not more anxious — than people who were never bullied by their siblings. Andy Paphiti speaks with Dr Bowes about her research and career. Why does the impact of early life stress on psychological and behavioural development interest you so much? We all experience stress, but our reactions to it vary enormously. Some people are susceptible to psychological disorders while others can endure even extreme adversity. I’m fascinated to find the cause of these differences. Your research features social epidemiology, developmental psychology and behavioural genetics. How do you use these different methods? Research in this and other ar8
eas is increasingly interdisciplinary, which is really exciting. The research is in its infancy right now, but we are using huge samples to look at associations between single genes. My research also uses old-school twin methods as they still answer questions about changes over time in development and gene-environment interplay. What was it like to conduct research with a sample of 6,900 participants? I was fortunate to use data from the Children of the 90s (ALSPAC) study which is based in Bristol and follows the health of 14,500 families since the early 1990s. I encourage everyone to look at the research generated from the ALSPAC study. The sample is a fabulous publically accessible resource that I started using when working in Bristol as a post-doctoral researcher. I’ve continued using the sample because it’s so fantastic. The bullying information was collected when the kids were twelve and we were able to collect information on depression, self-harm and anxiety when they were eighteen. VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2 / PSYCHE
What’s your view on the nature-nurture debate of trauma and mental health problems? It’s never one or the other; it’s a complex interplay that will keep many in research for a long time. Disentangling the interaction is extremely hard and perhaps fruitless. We should investigate how identical environments differentially affect people with different genes and the mechanism for these differences. I’m also interested in how gene-type influences the environments we place ourselves in and how we perceive them. How do you hope your research will help vulnerable children? I would like my research to translate into interventions. There are some good interventions for peer bullying, but these are usually delivered within schools. My research demonstrates the importance of families, so I would like to see more parents involved in peer bullying interventions. Unfortunately, there are only a few sibling bullying interventions in the US and none in the UK. I hope sibling bullying can be integrated into existing parenting and family interventions in the UK. The lack of sibling bullying interventions mean people are unsupported until cases become severe and prompt a referral to child and adolescent mental health services. PSYCHE / VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2
When do you think the line between sibling rivalry and bullying is crossed? It’s a mercy line. There isn’t really a clear distinction. We describe bullying as repetitive intentional harm when there is an imbalance of power. Siblings often fight, but have equal power and confrontations aren’t systematic — the weaker sibling isn’t being persistently targeted. Sibling bullying occurs when a powerful sibling repeatedly targets a vulnerable sibling who cannot escape or find support. What’s the take-home message from your research? Victims of sibling bullying were twice as likely to develop depression and to report self-harming compared with children not bullied by siblings. Although this type of bullying does lead to longterm psychological consequences, more research is needed. Your education is impressive. What advice do you have for aspiring academics? Follow your passion, study topics that interest you and find research teams that are dynamic and give opportunities to young researchers. Also, look for mentors to help you develop throughout your career. Andy Paphiti BSc Psychology first year 9
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the many faces of
Why do you get anxious in some situations but not others?
N Sunday, I happily jumped out of a plane from 15,000 ft, trusting a parachute to save my life.
On Monday, I had a panic attack while giving a presentation to a small group of people I’ve known for years. I was perplexed by this stark contrast in response to anxiety-provoking situations but, from speaking to other skydivers, I knew I wasn’t alone. The fight or flight response occurs in humans – as well as other animals – in response to stressors, and can be advantageous in promoting survival. Symptoms include increased heart rate, nausea, dry mouth, and difficulty breathing. These result from the amygdala and hypothalamus signalling the presence of a stressor by activating the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). What ensues is that the adrenal medulla releases adrenalin and noradrenalin — ‘stress hormones’ — into the blood. This has widespread effects, including increasing lung efficiency, 12
which then results in greater oxygen supply for the brain and muscles. Simultaneously, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) into the pituitary gland, which activates the adrenal-cortical system and makes the pituitary gland secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH acts on the adrenal cortex and leads to the release of around 30 other hormones. The fight or flight response is maintained until the stressor is removed, at which point the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) begins to return the body to its normal state. A strong physiological response to stress would have been potentially life-saving when escaping from predators or hunting. However, for modern day humans, most of these dangers have been eliminated. Who needs adrenaline-fueled strength to bring down their steaks in the Tesco meat aisle, after all? The fight or flight response hasn’t left us, though, as most of us are familiar with the VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2 / PSYCHE
rush of anxiety in stressful social situations or when walking down a (usually safe) street late at night. In most people, this response isn’t too problematic and can help in the few dangerous situations they might find themselves in. However, certain individuals suffer from crippling anxiety in discrete situations. To investigate this, I’ll be comparing those with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and specific phobias, to those termed ‘adrenaline junkies’ — people who actively seek out highstress situations, like skydiving. Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder, with 12% lifetime prevalence in the United States of America. It involves more than simple shyness or worry in social situations; it can be a crippling condition that stops sufferers talking to others or going outside. Often, this is linked with a fear of being evaluated. Social encounters may be scrutinised by sufferers for a disproportionate time afterwards to look for flaws in their performance and methods to tackle future problems. During the social event itself, people with social anxiety disorder may show fight or flight symptoms like nausea, breathing difficulties, and sweating. Research supports this as being an inappropriate and overactive fight or PSYCHE / VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2
flight response. For example, an increased amygdala response was found in SAD patients in response to frightening faces and situations (Phan, Fitzgerald, Nathan, & Trancer, 2006). As socialisation is present in many human activities, social anxiety disorder can seem to have a generalised effect. Indeed, there is a high comorbidity of SAD with other anxiety conditions as well as depression. However, other forms of anxiety are very specific in nature — in-
Social anxiety disorder is linked with a fear of being evaluated. cluding specific phobias such as agoraphobia, fear of the outside. Sufferers tend to have anxiety over being in particular situations, including being in a crowd or in a closed vehicle, standing in a line, or going to a wide, open area like a field. When dealing with such an event, the symptoms are similar to those seen in fight or flight responses to real danger, and in social anxiety disorder. People tend to deal with this by avoiding those situations or dealing with them by taking a trusted companion. Despite the severity and debilitating nature of these anxiety disorders, when out of the specifically feared situation, in13
dividuals can behave and feel relaxed. Put differently, individuals who tend to be more ‘trait’ anxious by default can still have a similar or lower ‘state’ anxiety level than non-anxiety disorder sufferers. However, it may seem paradoxical for a person with a severe response to one situation, like giving a presentation, to be comfortable in another, such as participating in an extreme sport. After all, aren’t skydivers, snowboarders, rock climbers, and other extreme sportsmen just adrenaline junkies? Some studies have linked sensation-seeking personalities and low anxiety levels with a tendency to participate in extreme sports like rock climbing (Robinson, 1985; Feher, Meyers & Skelly, 1998). In general, theories have worked on the basis that extreme sports are ‘an outlet for “crazy” individuals with an unhealthy relationship to fear, who are pathological in their search for risk or living out a death wish’ (Brymer & Schweitzer, 2013). While anxiety levels may be lower amongst extreme sportspeople, fear and anxiety are still felt (Robinson, 1985). A series of interviews across extreme sports found a tendency to want to face their expected fears (Brymer & Schweitzer, 2013). Further, Fave, Bassi, and Massimini (2003) have suggested that, contrary 14
to expectations, the motivation to participate may come from a desire to deal with and manage their response to risk, in fact improving their self-control. Trait anxiety may predispose individuals to be anxious in a number of circumstances, as shown by the high levels of comorbidity. However, sensations of fear and anxiety are based on an evolutionarily old system that induces differential responses to different situations. This can mean that, as well as there being great inter-individual variation in responses to anxiety-provoking situations, there can also be variance within one person in their response to different events. On a basic level, this can allow someone who may often be very fearful to enjoy a different ‘risky’ experience, but might go further and offer a way of increasing control and reducing anxiety in other, normally fear-inducing, situations. In summary, a review of the literature shows that anxiety and fear are multi-faceted experiences that are not yet fully understood. It is thus important they are examined in relation to the specific anxiety-provoking situation, rather than being thought of as a generalised sensation. Robyn Dean BSc Psychology third year VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2 / PSYCHE
Sheer Vanity She has a Secret Life and in her Secret Life she is a forest fire caught in a rainstorm. In her Secret Life she concerns herself with the kinds of things you don’t talk about at parties, because nobody has time for those kinds of things these days. Hurt feelings, existential confusion, the irresistible urge to just stop trying, lingering numb anger dressed in a nightdress stained with discontent and bleached with a borrowed inspirational mantra, curled fingers aching from the weight of the hope that feels more like a tenuous excuse. In her Secret Life she begs The Past to listen and (out of sheer vanity) tries to convince Her that she’s wiser, better, stronger now… (The Past sees right through it.) Sometimes the phone will ring and she’ll expect The Past, she’ll be armed with borrowed comebacks and adrenaline, but instead it’s her mother, from the Real World. And it feels like exploring a brand new dimension, having an unrehearsed conversation with someone who cares. Soon she’ll remember how to smile, stop painting monsters across her own cheeks, she’ll laugh and start to feel at home. But lately it seems the Real World is starting to fall so deeply for her Secret Life that He can’t keep away. Sometimes the Real World will disguise himself as something whimsical just to steal a kiss from Secret Life. Some days it’s hard to tell them apart, hard to find comfort in the limbo between the two; she feels like a footnote on a page, like an emotion swelling at the brim of its glass — wanting so much to let go.
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STATISTICS at the Ministry of Defence Disclaimer: this feature is presented for interest only and does not constitute an endorsement by Psyche
Amy Brockett is an assistant statistician at the Ministry of Defence and an alumna of psychology at Bristol. Below she reveals what her career is like, and why psychology grads are the perfect candidates. Statistics in the MOD The role of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is to protect the security, independence and interests of the country at home and abroad. Statistical work in the MOD serves a wide range of purposes including:
• Responding to Freedom of Information Act requests from the public and journalists and to parliamentary questions from MPs; and • Surveying military and civilian personnel to measure attitudes and experiences.
• Facilitating effective, evidencebased decision making; • Allowing the department to be appropriately transparent and accountable to Parliament and the public; • Reporting on the health of Armed Forces Personnel; • Monitoring and forecasting manpower and equipment supplies;
As well as being highly numerate, government statisticians need to be able to think critically about data quality issues and be excellent communicators. An undergraduate degree in Psychology can provide a very good grounding in these skills and so, unsurprisingly, many of our current team come from a psychology background.
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More Information & Links Please email any questions about recruitment to DefStrat-Stat-HoPS-Recruitment @mod.uk Civil Service Jobs https://www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk/csr/jobs.cgi Government Statistical Service Recruitment https://gss.civilservice.gov.uk/ people-and-careers/jobs/ Civil Service Fast Stream https://www.gov.uk/faststream Ministry of Defence Statistical Publications https://www.gov.uk/government/ organisations/ministry-of-defence/ about/statistics
The MOD as an employer The main sites for statisticians in the MOD are Bristol and London. As a statistician you could be employed as a Statistical Officer, Temporary Statistical Officer or an Assistant Statistician. Statistical Officers are part of the Government Statistical PSYCHE / VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2
Service (GSS) and Government Statistician Group, providing a professional community that encourages continuous professional development and gives guidance on professional standards and career progression. There is excellent access to training in statistics and general skills, including the possibility of a fully funded and supported part-time 17
MSc in Official Statistics. Lastly, there are opportunities to move roles on level transfer between the statistical teams within the MOD and to apply for promotion within the MOD and also in other government departments. Temporary Statistical Officers are employed at the same grade as Statistical Officers, on contracts of up to 48 weeks. These roles can be applied for directly, but may also be offered to promising candidates who need more relevant experience before they are able to demonstrate the level of statistical expertise expected of Statistical Officers. Employees in these roles will be supported to develop their skills and encouraged to apply for permanent positions if that is their aim. Statistical Officers and Temporary Statistical Officers are recruited by the GSS and by the Ministry of Defence directly. The process involves an application, interview and written test. Candidates must have, or expect to receive, a minimum of a 2:2 degree in a numerate discipline that includes formal statistical training. Posts are advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website and the GSS website and recruitment happens frequently throughout the year. Lastly, Assistant Statisticians are on the analytical stream of the Civil Service Fast Stream. 18
Recruitment for these posts happens separately from Statistical Officer Recruitment, twice a year. Assistant Statisticians are recruited at a higher grade so starting pay and responsibility level is higher.
Further, there is an expectation that Assistant Statisticians will move posts approximately every year and be willing to take posts in different locations and/or Government Departments. Candidates must have, or expect to receive, a minimum of a 2:1 degree in a numerate discipline including formal statistical training. Posts are advertised on the on The Civil Service Fast Stream Website (previous page). Amy Brockett BSc Psychology alumna (2014) Assistant Statistician in Defence Statistics Health Branch VOLUME 2 / ISSUE 2 / PSYCHE
Danielle Taffel BSc Psychology second year
PSYCHOLOGY FILMS TEN. The Notebook
Illustrates retrograde amnesia in the context of a Hollywood romcom. For anterograde amnesia see Dory from Finding Nemo.
NINE. Girl, Interrupted
Based on a memoir by Susanna Kaysen, who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in the 60’s.
EIGHT. Donnie Darko
Finest characterisation of schizophrenia. Also see A Beautiful Mind.
SEVEN. The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Portrays a classic explanation of adolescent maladjustment.
SIX. Edward Scissorhands
Depicts treatment of ‘out-group’ individuals in a classic dark style.
FIVE. The Breakfast Club
Teens from different social groups forced together in detention.
FOUR. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Based on a book and sparked public outrage at treatment of mental health patients, leading to widespread reform.
THREE. Black Swan
Shows ballet dancing and eating disorders combined; remarkably accurate to the real life case of Heidi Guenther.
TWO. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Unwanted memories are selectively erased if characters bring objects that serve as retrieval cues to a clinic.
ONE. The Shawshank Redemption
Highlights several psychology themes. ‘Brooks’ illustrates how institutionalised people may fail to adapt to the outside world without support. Other subtleties include abuse of authority, plausible given the Stanford Prison Experiment. It is not all doom and gloom; ‘Andy’ shows how minority influence can prevail.
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Published on Feb 17, 2015