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    aimee

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    Discussion Paper

    Post  aimee on Mon 27 Sep 2010, 12:16 pm



    I find myself nodding as I read the article and I laugh because I see myself described in it, not merely in thesis writing do I experience Fraud Paranoia and Reading Depression but it has been a way of life throughout my years in the academia. I have this unexplainable obsession in buying books (or at least acquiring a copy) that up to now I haven’t read even the introduction part. As a result, piles of books and references accumulate in my room assembling like a mini library every after the school year ends. What was I thinking? All I know is that it gives me a sense of security and comfort, to have all the needed information accessible. Also, I have this habit of lying down or sleeping on my books the night before an exam, presentation or anything of that sort. I didn’t really care; it was not a problem for me not until now after reading Chris Fleming’s “Diseases of the Thesis”. I just can’t help but say “Oh, that explains why”. Indeed a very enlightening piece. As stated by the author “… predicated perhaps on a belief that mere proximity to books in a room could be absorbed by some mysterious process of osmosis… Now, this all seem to be produced by the vague feeling that you don’t know enough.”… so true.

    On the other hand, I have witnessed a few overly passionate and intellectual people cross the line and lose their sanity while in the process of thesis writing. Allow me to share with you a real-life experience with a very close friend who was a student at that time in the “University of the Scholars” as what it is known for, where thesis panel grill you heartlessly because thesis dissertation bears a high significance in this institution. She was actually the first thing that popped out in my mind after a quick review of the article. A very promising student, she even graduated cum laude of her batch. It was the time when she was just a semester away from graduation when she had this mental crisis. She was in the verge of her thesis dissertation and was preparing for the defense when she got hospitalized…I haven’t studied nursing yet so I wasn’t really paying attention to the medical terms, but as far as my knowledge is concern, she had a nervous breakdown. I am a few years ahead of her so she would usually seek advice from me on almost about anything. When I finally got the chance to talk to her and asked her about what had happened, she confided that she was having extra ordinary thoughts of anxiousness on her academic competency, she was thinking that she can never keep up with the high expectations - dead worried of what people will think if they found out that she is not knowledgeable enough as what they expected her to be. – FRAUD PARANOIA that is. I had my fair share of this "nutsy" experience too, but in a moderate state. One reason probably, is because of my mother’s undying love and support. She would always remind me to find time to relax and take things easy. From this ,I concur with the author’s suggested treatment “… taking it seriously is not a step towards a cure, but a leap in the direction of madness.”

    The risk of such mental crisis due to thesis writing may be contributed by several other factors, thus resulting to different outcomes. I am not in the position to generalize or make a concluding statement but with the way I see things; it is a case-to-case basis.

    What triggers then this mental crisis state during thesis writing? Is there a biological basis on this? Should factors such as nourishment and rest be considered? How can we cope up with such situations?

    There was a study made on the relationship of cortisol levels and the psychosocial stressors that was experimented on undergraduates who were doing their thesis. Results confirmed that stress associated with writing a graduation thesis caused an increase in cortisol levels. (1) Cortisol,“the stress hormone”, is secreted in higher levels in response to stress. It is important though to maintain the balance on cortisol secretion and relaxation response so that the body’s functions can return to its normal state following a stressful event. If imbalances occur, we enter into a state of chronic stress wherein prolonged high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream causes negative effects such as impaired cognition and hormonal imbalance. How to go about this? Maintaining an adequate amount of cotrisol levels by relaxing the body and mind. (2) There is mounting evidence that adversity and stress contribute to emotional problems in general and to depression in particular. In varying forms and degrees, life stress has multiple roles in relation to major depression (3) Furthermore, both biological plausibility and existing empirical evidence lend strong support to the causal links between nutrition and depression. Research has proven that deficiency in nutrient intake and imbalanced diet may have an effect on mental status. Nutrients that have received particular attention with relation to depression include omega-3 fatty acids, folate, cobalamin, zinc and Antioxidants. Dietary strategies are inexpensive prevention or treatment of depression and therefore, are worth focusing on. (4)

    I have a few more to add to the research too: 1. Chronic Laziness (the inexplicable decline of strength and willpower despite bursts panic) and 2. Last-minute Genius (the art of cramming) (5) Also, a study about technological devices should touch on the subject as to why computers crash one second before the ‘Save’ button is hit, why USB flash drives always manage to corrupt that single, most important thesis draft or why printers work well at any given day of the week except for that early morning when it is just minutes away from the deadline.

    Although factors that I have mentioned are to be accounted, it still remains that stress related to academics is a danger to mental health. Thesis writing is indeed strenuous and demanding, and looking at it with humor, the way the article does, is refreshing. The mere thought that others have felt the same way gives me a sense of relief that I do not bear this on my own. It essentially gives us, thesis writers, a sound reason to justify our ineptness. With this, it is enough for me to appreciate the article not only for its wit but also for the comfort of knowing that all around the world, others also stay up late worrying about their thesis.



    REFERENCES:
    (1) Kentaro Shirotsukib, Kosuke Chris Yamadad, Kazuhiko Machidae, Masahisa Kodamae and Shinobu Nomurae , Episodic stress associated with writing a graduation thesis and free cortisol secretion after awakening b, International Journal of Psychophysiology Volume 64, Issue 2, May 2007, Pages 141-145

    (2) Elizabeth Scott, M.S., Cortisol and Stress: How to Stay Healthy
    Cortisol and Your Body, About.com Guide Updated February 05, 2008

    (3) Scott M. Monroe and Mark W. Reid, Life Stress and Major Depression, Current Directions in Psychological Science 2009 18: 68 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01611.x

    (4) Kathleen J. Melanson, Nutrition Review: Relationships of Nutrition With Depression and Anxiety, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE 2007 1: 171 DOI: 10.1177/1559827607299725

    (5) Shelby H. McIntyre and J. Michael Munson, Exploring Cramming: Student Behaviors, Beliefs, and Learning Retention in the Principles of Marketing Course, Journal of Marketing Education, December 2008; vol. 30, 3: pp. 226-243., first published on July 30, 2008


    Last edited by aimee on Wed 29 Sep 2010, 2:49 am; edited 3 times in total

    mariekathleensantos

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  mariekathleensantos on Mon 27 Sep 2010, 7:40 pm

    You did a great job for this one. I totally agree with the facts you have stated.Indeed making a dissertation is the most stressful part of our grad life. and i would like to share some tips i got from net on how to manage our "dissertation stress"
    How to Reduce Your Dissertation Writing Stress Levels
    Facing the prospect of completing a 10,000 words (plus) dissertation, with very little structured support can be extremely daunting, even to the most confident student. Throughout the majority of your academic life, you will have followed teacher's orders, a government agreed syllabus, a well researched reading list. And now, for the very first time, you are being given the freedom to undertake your own research project, to explore areas no man has gone before, to learn and read and write and create within your own timescales and study structure. Great isn't it?! A breath of fresh air...but scary!

    The process under which your dissertation will be completed can be, and potentially should be, quite structured. Its needs a planning stage, a literature review, an outline developed, a first draft, further development and a final draft. All of these stages make up the process for completing a dissertation, and all deserve an in-depth review of what work is involved to ensure the stage is completed successfully. But before you commence the planning stage of your dissertation, you must make sure you have got the preliminaries sussed! An excellent dissertation relies heavily on great planning, but if it doesn't conform with the formalities, if it doesn't tick the examiners boxes, then it has the potential to become a big fat flop! So, ensure that Step One of any dissertation you're going to be completing is, 'understand what is required of you!' To do that, you need to answer the questions (helpfully posed by Peter Levin from the Open University Press) below:

    - What requirements does your dissertation have to conform to? And what documents do you have that state these requirements?

    - What type of dissertation are you being asked to complete? Are you able to use the advice and guidance of your tutors? Does the dissertation have to be based on subject-matter that has already been covered in your classes, or are you able to carry out a piece of original research?

    - Is there any form of marking scheme that you can digest?!

    - What is the word limit of the dissertation? And what is included and excluded from this word limit?

    - What referencing system are you to use?

    - Is there a specific layout preference? For example, do you need to use sub-headings and double spacing of lines?

    - When and where does your dissertation need to handed in? And to whom? And is there a specific 'handing-in' process?

    - How much freedom do you have over your title choice? Does it have to be agreed by your tutor before you can commence your research?

    - How much assistance are you entitled to access? Where will this assistance come from?

    - Can you use, access, or pull on previous student's dissertations?

    - Does everybody else in your class / group have the same answers to the questions posed above?! It's always best to clarify your understanding of the formalities with others in the same position as you!

    It is very easy to misinterpret guidance, or misread a deadline..., but easy mistakes can have awful consequences! So take the time to speak to your fellow students, and make sure there is a consistency of understanding, before you embark on your own, unique, dissertation journey!

    reference:
    http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Reduce-Your-Dissertation-Writing-Stress-Levels&id=1067081

    therese
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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  therese on Tue 28 Sep 2010, 8:00 pm

    The true to life story you had stated truly made me better understand what fraud paranoia is. After reading it, I remember the son of Senator Miriam Santiago who committed suicide which we all knew what his story was.I think it's almost the same of what your friend confided, that, she has "extra ordinary thoughts of anxiousness on her academic competency, she was thinking that she can never keep up with the high expectations - dead worried of WHAT PEOPLE will THINK if they found out that she is NOT knowledgeable ENOUGH as what they EXPECTED her to be." So, no one is really exempted in developing those mental illnesses. Even if you belong in a highly regarded university or any institution, "university of the scholars" as you said, indeed, a person still feels anxious though a school or university has honed you well academically or provided you with all the materials you needed, you still have the thought of maybe you will not be able to meet some or everybody's expectation. Neutral
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    roseanne.catalan

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  roseanne.catalan on Tue 28 Sep 2010, 9:11 pm

    Good job!
    I appreciate your in dept discussion about the possible causes of fraud paranoia.
    I would like to add interventions on how to make our "sailing" smooth, making it more bearable.

    A while ago, I've read an article which says that depression helps writer to think creatively. After reading it, I arrived with this question. Do we need to be depressed to the point of madness in order to write creatively? In my own experience, depression did help me construct a good output. Perhaps what we need is not depression or pain solely. We need a bit of depression, a kiss of inspiration, a touch of intelligence and a quite amount of hard work.


    Last edited by roseanne.catalan on Thu 30 Sep 2010, 12:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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    khayee_07

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  khayee_07 on Tue 28 Sep 2010, 9:14 pm

    i must say that i enjoy reading your post! Smile
    in my case, i had this friend as well who's been on the top of the class. she always receives the highest academic award during School recognition and graduations....

    she never admitted that she was experiencing difficulties, but somehow she opened up about the possibility of not being on the top this school year. the rest of my girlfriends, including me, noticed that she became paranoid lately... she has the tendency of not following our conversations, she suspects that we are talking at her back, and she usually raise her concerns whether their teacher is mad or not-----all these unreasonable thoughts made some of my friends become distant to her...
    ..... and guess what happened during her Graduation, she still got the highest academic position in their school...

    some of her classmates who are my friends as well, told me that this friend of mine was too paranoid of not getting the position, so she pretended to be sick and came up with wicked ideas to get everbody's attention even her parents. what her parents did, they talked to her teachers and had an agreement to still award her the highest position.

    i think, based from this happening, it is acceptable in the part of my friends to become distant from her, and unaccpetable in her part to acted that way..

    anyhow, it still shows that each one of us has a contributory part for someone to be a better person. maybe... if we were just concerned enough to ask what she was going through, maybe all the negative things tha happened were prevented..., and maybe she still have the friendship she used to have...
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    aimee

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  aimee on Tue 28 Sep 2010, 11:04 pm

    @mariekath Posting a step by step procedure on how to reduce stress during thesis writing will definitely be of big help to us. I agree on every element that has been pointed out. Truly, I must say that Practice builds confidence and makes perfect.
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    aimee

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  aimee on Tue 28 Sep 2010, 11:22 pm



    @roseanne There has been an argument on which comes first creativity or madness? Some say artsy types are prone to mental illness, while others argue that it is the other way around. In my opinion, depressed people tend to crave for expressive outlets leading to creative output. Manic, on the other hand, while in a state of elation leads to creative outbursts. This maybe is the reason why mental disorders are associated with creativity.To your question: Do we need to be depressed to the point of madness in order to write creatively? my answer is NO. It is not mandatory to be crazy in order to be creative. Creativity on those who have mental disorders may just be an unconscious occurrence. But I say yes to inspiration, wit and hard work in order to produce a good output. Very Happy
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    aimee

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  aimee on Wed 29 Sep 2010, 12:00 am

    @therese I was surprised when you mentioned about the case of the senators son. I forgot all about that story and since you brought it up . I agree that It might have been a case of fraud paranoia to the maximum level. Laughing Plus, male are suicide committers . No one can predict who will be infected by this mental condition and the result may depend on the success of developed coping mechanisms. Chris Fleming's work has served its purpose - an eye opener to all of us. Affirming that these conditions do really exist.
    Smile
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    aimee

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  aimee on Wed 29 Sep 2010, 12:51 am


    @khaye Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Chris Fleming's work is indeed an eye opener to each and everyone of us. We struggle, we learn , and we live.
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    AC Ver

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  AC Ver on Thu 30 Sep 2010, 12:02 am

    That story definitely pictured out the person Chris Flemming was trying to present. Being creative and intellectual really have its own pros and the cons. True to what you said, Chris Flemming is somehow an eye-opener in letting us know that depression really happens, not only to ourselves but in fact to many. As for the person you were describing in your discussion, probably (but I'm not saying that this is the case) the fraud paranoia has totally got her, totally affecting everything she is doing, especially the very thing she is good at, academics. That is the sad part of it, when we allow depression to get the best of us but this shouldn't always be the case. Seeing depression in the part of thesis writing or in-depth thinking can probably help us too. According to Anderson Thomson, a psychiatrist, and Paul Andrews, an evolutionary psychologist in their article Depression's Evolutionary Roots, depression should not be thought of as a disorder at all since it is in fact an adaptation, a state of mind which brings real costs, but also brings real benefits.

    Coping in this aspect could really be of help to make us continue to our constructive thinking and not dwell more on depression itself. Same with what you have said about your mom, I also find my parents as my primary motivators especially when I'm feeling down and totally in doubt of my capabilities. They are the people who can completely get me back on track Smile In our situation right now in making our dissertation, simple motivation from others can give us a long way to continue what we have started.
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    aimee

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    Re: Discussion Paper

    Post  aimee on Thu 30 Sep 2010, 12:42 am



    @ AC Depression creates a crave for expressive outlet. Depressed writers express themselves through writing and would usually end up creating a masterpiece. I agree that depression may be of an advantage to some but for others it may not be the case. It will still depend on how each individual takes it , either you indulge in it or overcome it. Your choice. Very Happy

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