Course Description

Science Research Program – Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year – Level H: Incoming freshman and sophomore students must apply for admission to this program in January of the prior academic year. Acceptance into the program will be based on a science teacher recommendation, a written essay, and excellent academic grades.

This is an ongoing program that is taken in conjunction with the student’s regular science course. There are several tiers to the program. During Year 1 students learn the components of scientific research including the scientific method and apply these concepts in various settings including designing and conducting an authentic science research project and communicating results by participation in at least one local science fair. Students also explore various applications of science topics through field trips, guest speakers and class projects. Advanced students (Years 2-4) select their science research topic, locate an out-of-school mentor (either in industry or at a local university) and compete in a variety of science fairs including the CT State Science Fair, Southern CT Invitational Science and Engineering Fair (SCSEF) and the CT Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (CT JSHS). Advanced students pursue their selected research in depth, perform statistical analysis and compete at a number of local and/or national science fairs and competitions. In Years 2, 3, and 4 students are grouped together in a non-traditional classroom setting and are required to meet individually outside of class with their Science Research Instructor biweekly to review individual goals and assess progress. All students participate in the culminating annual activity, Amity’s Science Symposium.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Emotional Life - PBS Documentary

Harvard psychologist and host Daniel Gilbert explored ways in which we can improve our social relationships, learning not only to cope with every day stress and problems such as depression and anxiety, but to become more positive and resilient individuals as a result.

In your blog comment, reflect on each of the three discs in the series (Family, Friends and Lovers; Facing Our Fears; Rethinking Happiness) by stating a) what was most interesting about the content including interviews, personal stories and/or testimonials b) what scientific research is being done to better understand human emotions and c) one area of behavioral science you would like to learn more about.

Lastly, rate this PBS video series on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)


  1. My period 6 class and I have seen the majority of the first two videos so far, and both of them present some very interesting psychological topics, as well as several interesting individual experiences:

    Alex had Reactive Attachment Disorder, possibly because his sister Nadia may have received more attention. Alex had spent the first two years of his life in an orphanage, whereas his sister had only lived a few months as an orphan. Scientists have conducted several studies showing the importance of loving parents, as demonstrated by the study involving the monkey that was forced to choose between one fake monkey covered in soft, warm blankets and another covered in food and other necessities. The monkey consistently choose the one covered in blankets because its comfort and warmth resembled the qualities of a motherly figure. This research demonstrates that one can provide humans and animals with the basic "necessities" of life, but that loving parenting is required for a child to be truly happy.

    Jason was a child with Asperger Syndrome, which is a higher functioning form of autism. This means that he is unable to recognize social cues and struggles in forming relationships. One interesting fact was that Asperger's did not become an official diagnosis until 1994. The film focused on a research project in which Jason watched a movie filled with social and vivacious characters. The researchers equipped Jason's eyes with a special camera so that they could see exactly what Jason was seeing. The results showed that although the movie focused primarily on the characters' interactions, Jason was entirely focused on insignificant objects in the background, such as a hanging chandelier. This research shows the extent to which Asperger's affects Jason's life and helps us to understand the difficulties of living with this disorder.

    Additionally, the film provided an interesting example of relationships in the workplace, in which two acrobats were constantly fighting. However, research shows that conflict can actually be helpful in relationships, on a business level as well as a personal one. In this instance, one woman was extremely creative and risky, whereas the other was more experienced and conservative. Ultimately, the two women were able to set aside their differences and put on a fantastic acrobatic display, which confirms scientists' observations that conflicts can be beneficial, as it allows all parties involved to consider a single issue from several perspectives.

    Other topics in the film included bullying, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and the struggles involved in maintaining strong relationships. Another interesting topic was fear and how the complexity of our brains actually hurts us in a sense. We humans are able to recognize potential future outcomes, which can often lead to anxiety. "Phobias" were also explored, as new therapy techniques were successful in forcing fearful participants to confront their fears rather than to avoid them. This concept was also applied to Post Traumatic Stess Disorder (PTSD), as a 30-year PTSD victim pieced his life back together through life-changing therapy sessions. PTSD is certainly an area of behavioral science that I would like to learn more about. I actually teach tennis clinics with Sam Krystal, whose father is Dr. Krystal, the Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University. Dr. Krystal delivered an extremely interesting lecture at SCISEF earlier this year, and he is a world-renowned authority on PTSD and other psychological topics. I'll be sure to talk with him about this topic when I see him again over the summer.

    Overall, I believe that this PBS video series deserves a perfect 10. I am extremely interested in psychology, so I may be rather biased in my rating, but I thought that the videos were not only informative, but also extremely interesting and applicable to my everyday life.

  2. I must say that I immensely enjoy watching This Emotional Life, and it is very hard to pick one topic that appealed to me more than others. On an entertainment level, I think we all enjoyed watching couples battle it out during couples therapy. I never quite believed commonly held stereotypes about marriage (of which my father is very fond of repeating) but after watching some of those clips, I can see how these stereotypes came into being.

    What I was impressed with were two things: one was the research done in Asperger’s Syndrome. Because socializing is, as researchers say, so integral to human survival and existence, we never really think about how and why we interact with others. It never occurred to me that people, like Jason, can have trouble reading facially expressed emotions or tone of voice so that he can respond accordingly. Reading other people’s emotion is just such an integral and basic human function that it’s hard to imagine having trouble with it.

    The other topic that really fascinated me was the very early research done with Rhesus monkeys. It is true that I have gotten the impression that those who are loved are generally more happy and are successful in many different walks of life. I never imagined that in the absence of care, one can develop problems that shape how we live for the rest of our days. First of all, this struck me as another testament to the malleability of the human mind during infancy. Second of all, perhaps the Beatles and Dumbledore WERE correct; all we need is love.

    Research that is being done in this field are wide-ranging. Many of the therapies developed from decades of research are by no means cure all’s. With our increasing familiarity and dependence on medications that, upon simple ingestion, are promised to solve any assortment of physical or even mental ailments, the treatments used to address phobias and PTSD only mitigate. They emphasize thinking one’s way AROUND the fear rather than supplying a cure all method. Overall, there seems to be a focus on actively confronting our fears and familiarizing ourselves with them so that we can better cope with our problems, but not eliminate them completely.

    More research being done is on how stress hormones, such as cortisol, can aid memory. I can relate very strongly with this, as experiences that are associated with particularly strong emotions always remain vivid in my memory. I also feel that any kind of memory that you can associate with something quirky. For example, I can remember certain things in my social studies textbook because I remember drinking a certain cup of tea while looking at certain picture on a certain date. Or remembering certain notes in a musical composition because I remember what I was thinking of while I played it last week.

    Overall, I would rate the video a 9 out of 10. My only complaints are that I wish the documentary had included more scientific research. Also, nothing can every be 100% perfect.

  3. This three disc series was very educational and enthralling. Throughout the movies things that I took for granted were explained as being very complex and scientific. Most of the movie was on psychology which was interesting to me specifically, because my project was in that field. Also, in this segment was a story about clinical depression. Fortunately, due to new and old sciences this story had a a happy ending. This victim of clinical depression was given an electric shock therapy which created new neurons in her brain, which helped to ease the symptoms of her depression. This process is old but new technology has helped to perfect it. I would be interested in helping people become happy through technology.

    Overall this movie is an 8 out of 10 because while it was interesting, it dragged on quite a bit.

    In the first video: Family, Friends and Lovers, the most impacting section to me was the one about Alex. This was a boy who spent nearly two years of his life in an Eastern European orphanage. This orphanage didn't provide the love necessary for children to bond and it caused many problems for Alex. These problems are know as Reactive Attachment Disorder. Members from his family noticed these signs very early on, such as incessant crying. Later, Alex began to develop anti-social habits such as being too physical with his peers and generally not understanding boundaries. Some may not think that this is an actual problem and that it is specific to Alex. However, a scientist did a study about bonding with rhesus monkeys and it showed that too a baby, love is more important than food. This leads me to wonder about other types of psychological disorders that are caused by environment or outside factors.

    The next disk: Facing our Fears a few interesting stories. However, the most horrifying and therefore memorable was the PTSD victim. This unfortunate man suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to a horrifying scene he witnessed in war. After spending only one year in a war zone, his whole life was drastically changed. After returning home, he lost sleep and couldn't leave his home for days. He couldn't keep a job or do anything for that matter, all because he kept replaying one awful event in his mind over and over. Thankfully he went to a university were they offered not medicine but therapy for his problem. This new science taught this man to accept what had happened to him and not let it control his life. It basically taught him to not be afraid. This is an interesting topic for me because we are learning a little about it and its death toll in World War I. Originally it was thought of as a sign of cowardice and sometimes the victims of it were killed. This field of study is very interesting because the nature of humans will always cause wars and this will cause more PTSD victims, so finding better ways to treat this disorder is a must.

    The final video: Rethinking Happiness, is the one that is the clearest in my mind. This is because it has the most relevance to my life as of now. The most interesting thing that I learned was that a common myth about happiness is not actually true. The saying "Money doesn't buy happiness" is false and this is exemplified in a lottery winner in New York. His life was miserable until he stumbled upon forty million dollars. This would later allow him to explore opportunities that would make him happy. An interesting scientific process helped a girl with clinical depression. This treatment involved shocking the girl. This caused her to create new neurons in the brain which resulted in easing the symptoms of her depression. I would be interested in helping people, not with my inner ding, but with scientific knowledge, to become happy.

    Overall this movie is an 8 out of 10 because while it was entertaining, it did drag on a bit.

  4. The series This Emotional Life explores different aspects of social and emotional life, and the many ways they can affect us daily. The first CD is about different peoples relations with Friends, Family and Lovers. The most interesting that I found in this disk was the story about Jason, the guy that had Aspergers syndrome, which didn’t allow him to interpret other peoples’ feelings. In order to test this, researchers had Jason watch a movie that had a lot of facial expressions, then they recorded Jason’s eye positions; that is, where he looked while he was watching the movie. It turns out that the reason why Jason has problems interpreting others’ feelings is because he doesn’t focus on their faces, therefore he cant tell how they’re feeling. The most interesting story from the second disk, Facing Fears, was about the Vietnam War veteran that was suffering from PTSD. In order to treat him, psychologists made him, instead of keeping his memories bottled inside, made him talk about his memories the most. From the third disk, I found the story about the lady that thought that only thinking affected whether or not somebody gets diseases or not the most…interesting. I use the term loosely because, in my opinion, that is complete nonsense. Even though positive thinking may help when fighting an illness, it cannot cure cancer; there is no scientific research backing it up. Scientists are finding however, that people diagnosed with depression have smaller hippocampuses than those without depression. This sort of backs up the lady’s claim, but still there is no significant, reliable research backing her up. I would like to learn more about social neurology because it offers a more physical (rather than mental emotional) grasp on human psychology. I rate this video an 8/10.

  5. The PBS series “This Emotional Life” was a very interesting series. Personally, the most interesting parts of the series were the parts about the boy who spent part of his life in an Eastern European foster home and couldn’t love anymore, the student who was afraid of planes, and the monks who were having their brains tested to see how meditation affected it. They showed a scientific test in the first part of the series where they gave mice a choice of a metal structure with food or a structure which was fluffy and comforting. Almost every time the mice would choose the comforting structure. In the second, they showed how anti-depressants can actually stimulate the hippocampus in the brain to grow. Finally, in the last disk they showed that during meditation the monks’ brains were focused and stimulated. Finally, I would like to learn more about the science of depression. I find it very interesting that anti-depressants can make the brain grow and that depression can impair it. In conclusion, this series was very entertaining at times, but did drag on at times. I think it deserves a solid 7 out of 10.

  6. Elliad Dagan

    Harvard psychologist and host Daniel Gilbert explored ways in which we can improve our social relationships, learning not only how to deal with every day stress and problems such as depression and anxiety, but to become more positive and resilient individuals as a result.
    In the first disk Family, Friends, and Lovers, my favorite piece and what I thought was the most interesting was the story about Alex and the Eastern European orphans. While there were no real tests in the video but they talked about some very interesting scientific studies where they found that children from Eastern European orphanages were more likely to have behavioral problems.
    The second disk, Facing our Fears, was also interesting. The most interesting one was the man with PTSD after serving in the Vietnam War. He was tested by undergoing and reliving all of the things that bring back the memories until they went away. I found it was surprising that these scientific studies were proven to work.
    The last disk, Rethinking Happiness was also very intriguing. My favorite topic in that disc was the one about the Buddhist monks. The science behind the study in which they monitored the monks brain activity while they meditated I found very interesting.
    Out of all of the three discs the most intriguing study for me was the study on the monks. I was very surprised that while meditating the participants actually had increased activity. At first this seemed surprising but upon further thought it made perfect sense because it takes a lot of focus to think about nothing.

  7. This Emotional Life explores the many complex emotions of humans. For example, in the first disk, it explores the concept of attachment. It examines the problems faced by some people to form relationships in the form of friends, parents/children, and lovers. For example, we learn the stories of a man with Aspergers, a child from a Russian orphanage, and a couple going to marriage counseling. Some of the scientific research done on this topic included looking into the science behind therapy. The second disk addresses fears and sadness. It tells stories of a girl with a phobia of flying, a veteran with PTSD, and a girl who is severely depressed. I found the depression part most interesting in this disk. The science behind depression involves a shrinking of the hippocampus, and can be treated with medicines that produce more brain cells. The final disk in this series was about happiness and human resilience. Among the stories in this disk were a formerly poor man who won a huge lottery, a POW from Vietnam, and a man who was in between jobs. It also examined the benefits and shortcomings of self-help. There was interesting science in this section about how brain activity increases during meditation. In conclusion, I would rate this series a 7 out of 10, because though it did dwell on certain areas, it was very educational and fairly entertaining.
    -aaron O'Neill

  8. Harvard psychologist and host, Daniel Gilbert, explored ways in which we can improve our social relationships, learning not only to cope with every day stress and problems such as depressions and anxiety, but to become more positive and resilient individuals as a result. In the movie “Family, Friends, and Lovers,” I thought the man with aspergers was most interesting. Jason, the man dealing with aspergers syndrome, was tested by watching a short film. During the film, scientists examined his eye positions while the diseased man was watching the film. Scientists noticed the people with aspergers cannot focus on a single target and tend to look off to the side. Jason tended to look in the corners of the screen and was not focused on the center of attention. In the second disc, “Facing Our Fears,” I felt that the man who suffered with PTSD was most interesting. He fought in Iraq War and suffered from PTSD. Every night, he didn’t get any sleep because his dreams and visions of the war. He felt that he needed his PTSD treated. He went to therapy to treat his PTSD, and after weeks of sessions, he finally got over his fear. The third disc, “Rethinking Happiness,” I felt that the story about the monks, the POW, and the lady with the “inner ding” was most interesting. In the third disc, scientist tested monk who meditated versus regular everyday people. The monks showed to had more mind activity than everyday regular people, which showed that meditation is actually good for the brain. Also, I found the POW man to be very interesting. His plane was shot down in Vietnam and he was held in prison for eight years. During these eight years, he developed a tapping code in which he could communicate with other prisoners through the various walls of the prison. The lady with the “inner ding” truly interested me the most. She believed that people could cure diseases and other life problems if they thought positive thoughts and got rid of their negative thoughts. Instead of scientifically testing this, she believed that she knew it was true because of her “inner ding.” If I had to rate this PBs video series of a low (1) to high (10), I would rate this video an 8. I would rate it an 8 because it was a very educational video that was very interesting and inspiring, however, some parts felt too long and seem to carry on for too much time. Truly, this PBS “Emotional Life” series was a very educational series that spread the ideas of emotions to the person watching the discs.

  9. Jared Loewenthal
    The Emotional Life Video Series was very interesting in how it talked about ways we can improve our social relationships and learning not only to cope with every day stress and problems such as depression and anxiety but to become more positive and resilient individuals as a result. Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and host, explored these ways.
    In disc one, (Family, Friends and Lovers) the most interesting thing to me was the family with the orphan, Alec. Alec could not get used to his family like his sister and had behavior issues. Scientists are seeing how biological parents react to their children’s emotions verses non biological parents with results. I am curious to know how parents think that makes the results scientists are finding, different.
    In disc two, (Facing Our Fears) the most interesting thing to me was the PTSD guy who could not get over his scary thoughts. He needed a lot of help to be a “happy camper” again. Scientists are trying to find out about how a certain chemical burns memories into the brain that cause things like PTSD. I would like to know more about the chemical and what other things affect remembering certain events.
    In disc three, (Rethinking Happiness) the most interesting thing to me was the POW who had a way to communicate with others in the cells next to him for eight years. They had a knocking system and the guy was taught by the other people new things during his time in the cell. Scientists are researching on how humans need a social connection to live with a healthy mind. I would like to know how humans react to complete solitary confinement for a long time.
    If I were to rate this PBS video series on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) I would give it an 8 because it was interesting, talked about a lot of scientific research, and is important for humans’ current lives.

  10. I think we all benefitted from this video, whether the students want to believe it or not, the video helps us have a better understanding of why we feel the way we do.
    On the first disc about friends and family, there was a story about a teenage boy with aspergers. He could never understand how people were feeling by their expressions or actions, and his mother always knew something was wrong. He had to go to a lot of doctors until somebody diagnosed him with aspergers, a syndrome where people with it show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. I liked this story because the boy still was able to have a successful life.
    On the second disc about facing fears, there was a story about a girl who was terrified of flying on planes. She would start to breath heavily, she would get dizzy, and her heart rate would go up. She wanted to face her fears so she started going to a therapist to cope with the fear. He had her do exercises that would cause her to have those same symptoms, so she would be used to feelings those things. I thought this was an interesting way of therapy for her fears, and I would like to study this further. She was able to go on a plane and fly, although she was nervous and scared, she was still able to face the fears.
    On the third disc about happiness, the stories were not that happy. There was a family, a father, a mother, and a son, and the father used to work on Wall Street. However, when the market crashed, he lost his job, this time happened to be right when his son was born. Instead of dwelling on the fact that he had no job and the future was frightening, they rented an RV and travelled around the country. When they came back to reality the father was in a slump and a little depressed, so he got someone to help him get back on track. I thought this was interesting because it made me realize there can be scientists for any kind of problem, and therapists to help anyone. I am definitely interested in going into this field.
    This video benefitted all of us in different ways, and it is important to know about our emotions and feelings.

  11. The first of the three discs was about family, friends and lovers. The first story was about the two Eastern Russian adopted children. The male orphan, Alex, had trouble attaching to peers, and attaching to his family. His sister however, had no problem connecting and dealing with friends and family. This, in my opinion, was one of the more interesting stories in the video, because I know adopted children that have similar problems. Like Alex, these children act impulsively and have trouble connecting. Also, Jason, a young man with Asperger’s syndrome, had trouble reading emotions and understanding the rules of social interaction. In this disc, they tested Jason by watching his eyes observe a TV show and saw what he observed.
    The second of the three discs was about facing your fears. To me, the most interesting story in that disc was the two PTSD veterans. Even when they risk death, they also risk their peace of mind. One of the PTSD guys went to special therapy which forced him to face his old combat fears. However, the other one was not at ease and could not bring himself to do the therapy. Research has shown that the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher percentage chance of getting PTSD.
    The third of the three discs was about rethinking happiness. Two stories in this disc really interested me. One was about the Vietnam veteran who was captured and finally returned to the state. The other was about the guy who won the lottery. The POW was compared to monks that meditated. It was shown that the monks who meditated have higher brain activity than those who don’t. They also did a test to show how before working out, the people at the fitness center said that they would want food if they were lost for two days. After working out, they said they would want water, because at that time they were thirsty.
    In conclusion, all of the discs of this series all have interesting stories and scientific research to back it up. The series was interesting but seemed to be repetitive and after a while, they just seemed to be sob stories after a while. I would definitely like to learn more about brain activity and how meditation affects the mind. It would be very interesting to see the effects that silence and inner peace have on a person. Research in this series was extremely interesting but in general, after a little bit after the third disc started, it just started to drag on.
    Rating: 8

  12. Thomas Meeahn

    I must say I really enjoyed watching these videos. They’ve really opened up my mind to how the human mind interacts to others.
    One of my favorite parts of the videos was the story about eastern European orphans. The fact that we can have every physical need taken care of and still not attach properly to our parents because of emotional issues is fascinating. The rhesus monkey demonstrations are absolutely amazing. I never would have believed that they would have chosen comfort of sustenance. That seems to contradict everything I thought I knew about survival. I’d really like to learn more about aspersers syndrome. The movie study is fascinating.
    The man suffering from PTSD was also really interesting. I’ve always wondered about the mental stress combat creates on our soldiers. What I really liked was how they tried to deal with his trauma. They actually had him relive his traumatic experiences. At first I this didn’t see how that would help him but now I understand. By reliving them he became more comfortable with the experiences and started to fear them less. The research done to study depression where they were asked to tell whether the face was becoming happy or sad was fascinating. I would really like to learn more about depression and how it affects people’s perception.
    Rethinking happiness was my favorite video. I always wondered about the science of happiness and what in life provides it for us. One interesting aspect of happiness is marriage and children. Apparently people who are married tend to be happier. Children have an interesting effect however. While they decrease happiness they increase the likely hood of the married couple staying together. This makes sense because children create stress but also create a reason for the couple to stay together for the child’s sake. I liked the painting experiment. The way people adapt to circumstances to create happiness is very interesting. If they know their choice is final they force themselves to like it. The way money affects happiness is also fascinating. I’d really like to learn more about it.
    Overall I’d give the program a 9/10

    Thomas Meehan

  13. Zhang said
    This Emotional Life provides an insightful glimpse into the way we as humans behave, think, and feel through the inspirational stories of everyday people trying to overcome their psychological struggles. The first disk Family, Friends, and Lovers laid the foundation of human nature and attachment. The most interesting story was Alex, the Eastern European orphan who stayed in an orphanage for the first two years of his life. It was believed that his long stay in the orphanage, combined with neglect and lack of loving nourishment, caused his inability to build and keep healthy relationships. It is fascinating to see how our beginnings change us for the rest of our lives. I feel lucky that I was fortunate enough to have been provided with a nourishing and healthy childhood, so that I can grow up with the necessary tools to be successful in life. One interesting experiment on attachment involved rhesus monkeys who were asked to choose between comfort, or food provided by a fake mother. Scientist today continue to study
    Meghan, who had clinical depression, amazed me with her resilience and self awareness of her thoughts and emotions. Every day she struggled to get out of bed, feeling no motivation to live life. Yet she kept living, kept trying, and undergoing constant treatments, finally succeeding with ECT treatments. Her willingness to live and love for her family members truly shows the spirit of the human being. Today there are many treatments such as pills, therapy, or shock therapy aimed to combat clinical depression. But as Meghan discovered, many of them may not work and if you always keep trying, you will find success.

  14. Andrew Chen

    This Emotional Life from PBS was pretty informational and interesting. It went into the thought processes of regular people, married couples, adopted children, people with mental disorder. Each of the person’s personal stories were very touching and emotional, and some of them were very sad.
    The first person that they talked about was about Alex, an adopted child from an orphanage in Siberia. He wasn’t able to cope with people and interact with peers because since he was in the orphanage for a long time. Now, he can’t communicate well with other people and has daily fights with his parents. This showed that when a child is growing up, he or she needs love too, in addition to food and shelter. They even showed this with a test of baby Rhesus monkeys. Without love and nurturing care, when people grow up, they won’t know how to love others, because they missed out on such an important part of development.
    They also talked about love and relationships, and why some people cheat, and how couples with children are actually not as happy as couples who don’t have children. The film also went over fear, with a girl who was afraid of flying and a guy who still had nightmares of the war he fought in because of PTSD. They went over sadness, with a twin sister who was suffering from chronic depression before she went to college. They went over anger, with a woman who couldn’t control her anger. The last disk, Rethinking Happiness, was supposed to tell us about happiness, and even be not as serious or sad than the other disks, but watching that disk made me feel really depressed afterwards.
    I really liked the stories, and I felt that some of them were very emotional for me. Each of their own personal stories were touching and some a little sad. This video made me more sad than happy. I also learned a lot about the science of different emotional feelings. One area of behavioral science that I would like to learn about is more about depression. Sadness is never any good and living with chronic depression must be horrible. Overall, I would rate this video a 7/10. The information was good, but it just made me feel really depressed, and the video was really sad.

  15. The movie Emotional Life was interesting. Although I did not think it was that good. Out of ten I would give it a three. This is because it dragged on and on. Repeating the same images over and over again. The reason I gave it a three instead of a one was because it did give some good points. It had a good section on happiness and a long repeating one on depression. The one on depression dragged on with no point in ten minutes you could have stated what was needed but instead the section was around an hour. The movie was good but some information in it but some of it was not creditable. For example the inner ding lady. She had no scientific evidence and she also didn’t believe in science because without it she would not be able to print the book or drive in a car to an event or signing. And same with the lovers section it did not make sense because when would it be right to cheat on a wife? Never. So why would someone think so. The most interesting part would be when the said what made people happy. And also the part on mediating and how you don’t actually relax your mind but you use it to meditate. Overall, the movie was ok but it could have been better if they shortened it to only about one disk.

  16. The Emotional Life from PBS was informational and it discussed the problems of various people with diseases. It discussed regular people, mentally disabled people, and people of all ages. Everybody had very personal and they truly touched people. Alex was an adopted child from an orphanage in Siberia. He wasn’t able to go through the times that other people put him through. The first disk also discussed the daily fights that Alex has with his parents. People require the human interaction and food/shelter. A test on monkeys was done to prove this. Harvard psychologist and Daniel Gilbert proved that love and nurturing care, won’t know how to interact with others. They missed out on a very important part of their life and they won’t know what to do. They are similar to war victims because they don’t know how to meet and talk to other people. People with PTSD that have gone through heart-breaking events and once they are released they are similar to people with mental disorders. The stories overall were really good and emotional. Behavioral science is interesting and I think that studies with the brain and social relationships are very interesting. The studies with the hippocampus was very interesting. They were finding the relationship between hippocampus growth or shrinking and the development of depression. Overall, The Emotional Life would be rated an 8 because it was very interesting and it gave me a lot of knowledge about the field, but it was too long to maintain interest.

  17. Physiology Research
    Jacob Laser
    The video we watched with Daniel Gilbert was very informative. In the section family, friends and lovers I was interested by the boy who was kept in the nursery and had attachment disorder. Researchers preformed tests with a cloth mother with no food and a wire mother with abundant food on monkeys. The monkeys chose the cloth mother every time because they actually need love to thrive. I would like to see a fallow up session with the boy who had attachment disorder and see if he has trouble raising a family. In the section facing our fears I was interested in the twins where one had depression. It surprised me that the doctors still use electroshock therapy. I did not know this could actually help. I would like to see if this person’s depression reemerges once she stops electroshock. Are the benefits temporary or permanent? In the section rethinking happiness I was very interested in the self help lady that who did not believe in science. It surprised me that research shows that money dose buy happiness. The study that showed that people you don’t know can affect your happiness was interesting too. I would like t have seen more of the brain effects of meditating. I would like to see more information on the different studies done in this video.

  18. Emotional Life broadcasted by PBS was a very interesting and unique experience for me. I learned about various different disabilities that people are dealing with in everyday life on this very Earth. Throughout the entire film there were many examples of people who were thrust into horrible situations, however by using positive psychology, these people have survived through these ordeals and look forward to a bright future. The most interesting part of this three disk series for me was the part where the Vietnam War veteran told his story. He explained that he was shot down in his plane and we broke his back. Then he was kept as a prisoner of war. He was tortured for 8 years. Then he was finally released and now he is living a nice and healthy life. This just shows the power of human resilience.
    There are many different fields of scientific evidence that is being studied in this world. There is also a lot of research going on that is helping us understand the emotional aspects of life. Some research that is being done is that numerous people are being tested on their brain to see the brain activity that is going on in a human’s brain.
    One area of behavioral science that I would like to learn more about is the field of the study of depression. I would like to know more about the facts of depression.
    shahryar ahmed

  19. The Emotional Life is a great documentary about the different emotions and how humans can deal with those particular emotions. I found it amazing about the needs that all humans had. For example, in the interview with the prisoner of war, he had been able to develop a communication system with a person in the cell across from him. People have said that if he had not found that way of communicating, he might have died, just from having nobody to talk to. Also, from listening to all the interviews was the different ways in which people think and react do different situations and the different emotional disabilities that people have. It is interesting, for instance, how people could “heal themselves” by thinking positive thoughts. Their inner ding would tell them that thinking positively would help them overcome their sicknesses and overall help them.
    Current research is being done so we people as a society can understand how and why people think certain things and it will help us understand different peoples’ mental disabilities. For instance, there is research going on about the effects of meditating on the mind. At first, it was thought that meditating makes it so the mind is a lot calmer. But, as it turns out, it makes the mind think faster and makes the thought process faster and more active than most people when they are not meditating. Also, with a person with Asberger syndrome, there was a test when they would have the person look at a movie and the scientists would monitor their eyes and see that they would only look at the detailed backgrounds and not at the action.
    If there was a behavioral science shown in this video that I would like to pursue, it would be the effects of different actions, like meditating, on the human brainwaves. This kind of science interests me because I think it is fascinating that different simple actions will affect the brain waves and make a person think in different ways and speeds.
    Finally, if I were to rate this movie, I would either give it a 6 or 7 out of 10.

  20. My class watched “Family, Friends, and Lovers” and most of “Facing Our Fears.” I have so far found these videos very interesting, as I am fascinated by psychology. In “Family, Friends, and Lovers,” I learned how important relationships and social behavior are to us as humans. In fact, loneliness can apparently affect our biology, and thus companionship is just as important for our physical health as food or shelter. I also found it interesting how people can be so socially different, such as people with Asperger's Syndrome. I thought that Dr. Ami Klin’s research was very innovative, in which he had subjects with Asperger’s and healthy subjects watch a film that relied on expressions to convey the plot. By looking at eye movement, it was found that the subjects with Asperger’s focused on physical features such as the light and that the healthy subjects focused on facial expressions. This shows how people with Asperger’s interact socially with others. I also found the part on romantic relationships and what allows for a successful relationship interesting. It was somewhat depressing to learn that after 5 years, only 10% of couples say they are no less happy than when they got married.

    In “Facing Our Fears,” I found it interesting to learn about how we can control our emotions. In a study at Stanford, the perspiration and bodily functions of 100 women were measured while they thought about something that angered them. Due to their bodily responses to these thoughts, these women showed clear emotion and anger. However, when they were asked to think of the same event as a neutral observer, they did not have this physical and emotional response. This shows how much our perspective influences our emotions. For instance, people who are depressed may see the world differently. They are less aware of things that are normally happy and positive, furthering their depression. Finally, I would rate this film as a 9 or 10. I find it very enjoyable and interesting.

    -Laura v.D.

  21. In the first disk, "Friends, Family, and Lovers", I thought the most interesting part was the married couple and their counciling. I really sympathized with both of them in their quest for marital stability. I did not, however, like either of the egocentric flying-dance women, and I thought that part of the friends section was really weak and boring. One of the more interesting research things was Harry Harlow's experiment with the Reeses Monkeys; it was interesting the infant monkey prefered the cloth surrogate to the feeding one. I would like to learn more about the person with Asperger's syndrome and how people with that and similar conditions interact with the world.

    In the second disk, "Something About Fear," I thought that the airplane-phobia girl's story was very interesting. I was glad when she overcame her anxiety and conquered the skys! The study which correlated memory to traumatic experience, such as putting one's arm in ice water, was very interesting, and the results can be very applicable. Perhaps the best method of studying for school involeves self-inflicted physical pain. I would like to learn more about the Cognitive-Behavioral approach to therapy, as was used on airplane girl, and the method of therapy used for sufferers of PTSD.

    T. Mattessich, P.6

  22. Justin Bunnell
    I enjoyed watching The Emotional Life. Many of the experiments and interviews we have seen in the video can be related to the material I learned in my psychology class. For example, in the Fear section, a video was shown on the baby monkey. The monkey preferred the fake mother who was furry and soft rather than the fake mother with food and made of iron. The monkey spent most of its time with the soft parent and only went to the wire one for food. Once a threat was introduced to the monkey, it went to the soft parent for comfort and gained courage from it to threaten the foe. I learned about this experiment in psychology class and it was a good way to build on the material.
    The video also included current research being conducted. For example, to help understand social problems, peoples' eyes are tracked while watching a very energetic show. This research suggested that people with certain types of social problems might have developed problems because of what they focus on. Another research experiment was the depression experiment. People with and without depression were asked to view a slow motion video of someone smiling or frowning and identify when they think they know what the person id going to do. Depressed people had a tougher time seeing that the person was becoming happy, which tells us that depressed people have a harder time being aware of happy or positive emotion in others. This can cause more depression symptoms.
    Overall, I would give this video a 9/10. The only thing I don't like about it is the host, who I find very annoying.

  23. Ishan Sinha
    I really enjoyed this PBS video series. They made it very easy to understand and were still able to portray advanced scientific concepts through their interviews. My favorite moments from “Family, Friends, and Lovers” were the therapy sessions between the couples. It was actually really funny to watch the man’s face as his wife rambled on and on- I really felt bad for him to have to put up with that. It was also interesting to see how his wife changed her emotions towards her husband completely when he just took the time out to explain certain things to her (for example, the basketball his father gave him when he was two years old). From the first disc, the scientific research that most appealed to me was the research done on autism with Jason. He focused on things in the background while watching a movie rather than the emotions of the characters in the film. I found this interesting because I have a friend who worked in an autism lab at Yale over the summer and I would frequently talk with her about the work she was doing on my breaks. I would see similar patterns in the kids who were brought in to be tested. They were actually given the little animation made by Jenny’s mentor with the two triangles being chased by the larger triangle, though all they saw were shapes. They could not relate emotions to them. I would like to learn more about this disorder as I am also interested in music cognition and I have heard a lot about musical savants and autistic children with surprising musical talent. I feel like that field of music cognition is not studied enough and warrants more attention.
    The second disc, “Facing our Fears,” was equally as interesting. I liked the segment on PTSD the most, as it was really interesting to see that people still struggled with memories of a war after thirty years. I felt really bad for the man who lost his job because of this disorder as it really wasn’t his fault that he was traumatized in the war by the Iraqi man who died in his arms- I am not quite sure how I would react to a situation like that. The research that appealed to me the most was that of Stanford professor Ian Gotlib. I actually got a chance to meet him last year when I went to Stanford to present, and his research involving depression and anxiety disorders seemed really interesting- especially the fact that depressed people see the world and facial features differently than others. I would really enjoy doing research in this field as the concept of perception interests me. Overall, I would give this movie an 8 or a 9. It was very interesting and is definitely worth showing kids who will be joining SRP in the years to come.

  24. This Emotional Life Video was really interesting; period 7 only watched 2 of the 3 discs but I really enjoyed the two parts because it explored people on a different level. I think the most interesting part was to see how different fears for different people can consume their lives, for example, the Harvard girl who was deathly afraid of flying. To me, flying is a normal concept but to her, it’s something that she cannot physically accomplish. It’s cool how the video portrayed different perspectives and really got into a person’s head. We saw how afraid the girl was and how much it took her to face her fear.
    Another part that I enjoyed was to see the development of a relationship, for example the couple who said they met each other when they themselves were on separate dates. The man “fell in love at first sight” when he saw his wife. He was completely mesmerized with her and only wanted to make her happy. But as marriage life went on and they had kids, their marriage fell apart due to stress and money worries. It was interesting to see how different issues can so drastically change something that started out so blissful. The video talked about how most marriages fall apart after the honeymoon stage is over and about 10 percent of married people say that they are happy.
    One of the experimental aspects that I enjoyed on the video was a study where scientists measured the saliva of a person for 10 minutes while they are trying to count backwards from 400 by 7. A lot of the subjects got really frustrated and couldn’t complete the task and the scientists could clearly see the chemical changes during this stressful period.
    Overall, I really enjoyed the video and would rate it a 9 out of 10. Some parts were a bit boring and the narrator looked sketchy just walking around observing people, but the majority was insightful and I learned a lot.

  25. The “Family, Friends and Lovers” section focused on our relationships. One of the most interesting parts of this segment was the part about our very first relationships as humans: our parents. This relationship is known as “attachment,” and is essential because all our social skills build off this initial relationship. Dr. Harry Harlow investigated attachment by taking Rhesus monkeys from their mothers at birth and presenting them with two artificial mothers: one offering food and one offering comfort. The monkeys continually chose comfort over food, representing that a maternal love is more important even than the drive for food. Furthermore, Dr. Harlow showed that these monkeys who were taken from their parents had psychological problems later on in life, showing how important attachment is. Dr. Pollock added to Dr. Harlow’s research by showing the importance of rewards to early relationships. Another interesting study was Dr. Hackman’s investigation of groups. This dealt with social relationships at a later stage in life. Dr. Hackman created a musical orchestra that did not have a conductor, and studied how people had to interact with one another to create a successful masterpiece. One area that I would like to know more about in this subject is the deterioration of relationships. Based on this movie, there were plenty of experiments regarding early social interactions up to mature adults, but nothing that really showed how relationships change in the elderly. The “Facing Our Fears” section of the movie focused on the psychological aspects of fears. One interesting fear that was addressed was a person’s phobia of flying. The psychologist that worked with her helped her attack her fear head-on by forcing her to not only fly on an airplane, but act normally and stand up while the plane was flying. I found this fascinating because she knew that her fear was irrational, but still had a hard time cooperating and being mentally okay with the situation. One aspect of fears that I would like to know more about is how they are associated with brain activity, and exactly what causes them. Overall, I would rate this video an 7 out of 10. It was very thorough and well-done, but it was just not a topic that I find too intriguing.
    ~ Dave S

  26. This video series has been a very interesting experience for me. If anything, it has only increased my interest in pyschology and human behaivor.

    I found the segment on family very interesting. I never knew about attachment disorders, that people like those who spent time in Eastern European orphanages, had developed. It is also interesting to note how that issue affects the family structure. I can personally relate to this region of behaivoral disorders because my older sister has a history of social problems, which affect the family in unique ways. I found the attachment tests performed with the monkeys extremely intriguing. This is certainly an area of research I'd like to learn more about.

    The section on friends and love was just as interesting. The topic of love longevity was most interesting to me. The research on the field described in this film interestingly stated that although relationships that had children were unhappier than others, they were more stable. I think that this is because a child brings people together. I also believe that increased life expectancy in recent years has added new challenges to maintaining lifelong relationships.

    The segment on facing fears was another stand out. The problems of both phobia and PTSD were engaging. I think that the experiments with experience based therapy (like flying in the airplane) and electic shock therapy were both methods that not until now did I fully understand or appreciate for their effectiveness. My interest in this line of research has similarly increased.

    Overall, I would rate this series and 8 out of 10. It both intellectually engaged me, and garnered my furhter interest in psychology. I would reccomend it to anyone interested in the field.

  27. Zelun Wang--

    I was actually a little disturbed by this video series, as I do not really know anyone with emotional problems as severe as the people in the video. I could not really know how a person can be so sad or so angry for no apparent reason. Yet, emotional disorders do exist, and this is why much research is being done into depression, phobia, bullying, etc. I was most interested by the portion with the girl who suffered from depression who received ECT treatment. From television programs, I got the impression that ECT is an almost torture like treatment that causes people to come out brain-dead. Through the PBS series, I learned that ECT is a pain-free, effective treatment that stimulates the growth of brain cells, and multiple sessions helped reduce the girl's depression symptoms. I was also quite interested in how the stress hormones of chronically depressed women was found to be produced at higher levels than the control group, showing that depression is related to stress. I also saw how emotional health can be modeled in mouse. I would like to learn a bit more about hapiness-what causes it, what causes it to go away, what chemicals are secreted in or brains, etc. Overall I would rate this video series a 7, as it was inspiring and informational

  28. I believed “Family, Friends, and Lovers” to be an extremely interesting video. Psychology is very fascinating and extremely important in our lives. This video stressed the importance of interpersonal relations among humans. I found it surprising that depression is actually a biological state rather than a mental weakness. For this reason, emotional relationships are just as as important to our wellbeing as food. The married couple was also very interesting in that it portrayed not only love, but the requirements needed to make it work- showing that conflicts are sometimes essential. It was saddening to learn that after 5 years, 90% of couples said that they were less happy than when they first got married. I feel like that is a situation which everyone can relate to, and a good topic for a video. I also found the experiment with the rhesus monkeys was extremely interesting. The rhesus monkey experiment proved that emotional nutrients are just as vital as physical nutrients to live. I would also like to learn more about ECT and how that causes people to become less depressed. Asperger’s syndrome was depressing because reading emotions is such an essential part to become integrated into society and it seems second nature, but people like Jason need to suffer the consequences.
    I found “Facing our Fears” to be extremely interesting as well. I learned that many times we do not have to suppress our emotions, but rather use them to our advantage. The research experiment with the 100 women found a clear physical relationship between emotions and the body. When the women were asked to think of an initially angering event as a neutral observer, they did not have the same response. This proves that humans have the ability to control our physical states through our emotional states. It also was surprising to find that people who were depressed had a tougher time seeing when the person was starting to become happy. All in all,l I realized that emotional responses are intimately related to physical responses, and the difficulty is in recognizing and controlling them. I would give this video a 8/10 – I would have preferred there to be more explanations into the research conducted

    -Eric Z

  29. We only got through the first two discs in 7th period, but I enjoyed both very much. In the first one, I especially liked the first part called “family.” The story of the two kids Nadia and Alex adopted from the east European orphanage was interesting because of how different the two children grew up to be even after very similar conditions in the orphanage. It was hard to see how much Alex struggled to integrate into society while Nadia seemed to have no trouble at all. I thought that the documentary kind of glossed over possible explanations for this, saying only that Nadia was probably a more sociable baby who got more attention than Alex.
    In the second disc, I thought that the Harvard student’s fear of flying was very relatable, but I had trouble understanding the extent of her phobia because she couldn’t seem to describe exactly what she was scared of. I also thought it was strange that she was able to more or less overcome the fear with just 3 sessions of an accelerated therapy plan. She obviously struggled a lot, but the documentary just showed her crying a lot and not really communicating her fear.
    I think the personal stories were the best part of the documentary because it brings unfamiliar topics and complex theories down to everyday aspects of life. I think the documentary lacked in the actual science research department because the tests they showed very relatively simple or not explained in detail. We saw a lot of computerized image tests, video tapings of subjects, and MRI scans of brain activity, but the significance of the various tests was not well demonstrated. I would like to learn more about depression and the parts of the brain that correlate to depression. The study they did that showed how people with depression have smaller amygdalas (?) was very interesting and I would like to see how various drugs can help the brain reconstruct those areas.
    Overall, I would rate the documentary a 7.


  30. The PBS video series This Emotional Life was very enjoyable to watch. It was not only entertaining but it was filled with scientific research and some very interesting conclusions. Unfortunately our class was only able to watch two of the three discs in this series.
    Throughout the first disc family, friends and lovers were discussed. On a personal level the research that I had found most interesting in this disc was the experiment conducted using Rhesus monkeys. In this experiment monkeys were given a choice of two “mothers.” One of the two had a soft material on it and the other had food. In most cases the monkeys chose the mother with the soft material. This data was used to show that even in other animals love is a necessity of life, sometimes even more than food. Not only that, but the fact that the monkeys with little care and little attention ended up growing with problems and becoming nearly depressed surprised me. I had never realized how much of an effect love and care can make in one’s life.
    I had also taken an interest in Asperser’s syndrome. Before this video I had never heard of this and was completely unaware that some people are unable to connect socially with others because they can’t read facial expressions well. For most people this ability comes natural but unfortunately for many people it’s not that easy.
    On the second disc I had found the research testing depression medication interesting as well. After examining the effects of the medication on rats it was discovered that antidepressants have the ability to cause the brain to recreate cells that have been broken down. Up until this experiment it had just been thought that the medication only had to do with the brain’s chemistry but it is actually much more.
    If I could I would learn more about relationships with friends and family and how it affects an individual’s happiness. Also I would rate this series an 8 out of ten.

    -David Powers

  31. I thought that the series The Emotional Life was very interesting. We have only had enough time to see the Family, Friends, and Lovers as well as the Facing Fears portions of this series; however, from what I have seen so far it is very insightful.
    The most interesting part of these two episodes in my opinion was the personal stories because they allowed us to relate to the topic and provided real life examples of problems faced by people. One story in the first episode that I really enjoyed was the story of the two European kids who were adopted by an American family. I thought that it was interesting how one of them was able to adapt easily whereas the other one had much more difficulty. Alex had much more difficulty adapting than Nadia because for the two years that he was in the orphanage he was not given enough attention. As a result of this, Alex had Reactive Attachment Disorder and was unable to become very close to anyone. Several studies were conducted including the study with the monkeys. In this study the baby monkey chose the mother that provided comfort rather than food most of the time. This reveals that babies need a great amount of comfort and if they do not receive it then they will end up not being able to form close relationships with anybody.
    I also thought that the story about the depressed girl was interesting because it made me realize just how difficult it is to live with depression. In this portion of the video it talked about the treatments of depression. These treatments included drugs, therapy, and shock treatments. While the prescribed drugs oftentimes work, doctors do not know how they are able to lessen depression. A study was done in which anti-depressant drugs were given to rats. The rats’ brains were then examined and it was found that they had more of a certain type of neuron. Another treatment that I thought was interesting was shock therapy. However, I do not understand quite how it works.
    Overall, I thought this series was very interesting and on a scale of one to ten I would give it a nine. I thought it was good how the disease was explained through both personal stories and by examples of scientific studies that were done concerning the disease.

  32. In the first disc, I thought the most interesting part was where a couple more months in an orphanage can make a difference in the behavior of the child for the rest of its life. It is amazing to learn about how at an early age we start learning social behavior and how it can change the way our brain works. When the Russian boy lived in an orphanage for about a year and a half longer than his sister, it was amazing to see that the girl was well liked and happy, while the boy had anger issues and did not fit in well with his peers. Research was done that compared what the psychological differences were between kids who were raised by a family, and kids who were raised in an orphanage. I would like to learn more about how the kids in the orphanages act when they are adults, the ones that were never adopted. I would like to know if they still have the lack of trust in others that the kids seem to have.

    In facing our fears, I thought the depression part of the video was most moving. The way that the girl’s whole family was torn apart by her depression was extremely interesting and sad. I did not know that depression actually changed your brain by shrinking your hippocampus, which can only make the depression worse. Also, it was interesting that depression is like any other illness in the fact that catching it earlier and treating it earlier will lessen the damage. Also electric shock therapy was interesting and not as brutal as the name sounds. The craziest part about it is the fact that it worked for the girl and greatly improved her life. Scientists are currently researching why the electric shock therapy actually works, and they are continuing research on the hippocampus and the way it shrinks. I would like to learn more about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Our class (period 7) did not get to see the last video.

  33. So far I have really enjoyed watching “This Emotional Life.” I greatly enjoyed the first disc that focused on Family, Friends, and Lovers. Mainly it was because it featured a segment on babies. I thought that it was extremely interesting that love played an important part in the growth of a child. I guess I never considered to what extent relationships had on our growth. This idea was conveyed well through the story of Nadia and Alex. One could clearly see the toll that Alex’s experiences as a young child had on his life in the long run. The problem that he battled not only affected him emotionally but also affected his adoptive parents. It was really hard to see the struggle of the parents to relate to their son. The father spoke of how difficult it is to have a son who might not completely accept them as his parents. I can only imagine how awful that would feel—to have someone who you love so much, not accept or like you. When asked about if they ever regretted adopting Alex, the father stated that it was difficult for him to alter his dream of being a different kind of father. The second disc focused on facing our fears. This is something that I personally can relate to. My fears aren’t as extreme as the ones shown in the video, but I can relate to the emotions experienced by the people. I found the story about the girl with the fear of flying to be inspirational. You could see that she had an intense fear of flying, but in the end she was able to conquer it. After the flying experience there was a segment where she commented on how she felt, there you could see that she was really proud of her achievement because it forced her to step out of her comfort zone and do something that would be really beneficial in the long run. Overall the film features a vast array of interesting topics that are backed up with data from scientific research. In the world today the type of research that is really accepted are those with practical applications. Scientific research focusing on the emotional and the behavioral aspects of life are often brushed under the rug. The research that this film features demonstrates that it is vital to the survival of humans that we understand the impact that relationships and emotions play on our lives. I am not fully aware of current scientific research being conducted in this field but some of the ones featured in the movie are: the response of the Rhesus monkey to an artificial mother and the response of mothers to the facial expressions of their babies. This film has gotten me really interested in learning about how we are affect by our relationships and emotions. I would like to learn a bit more about Asperger’s syndrome and how people affect by it deal with everyday life. In my opinion this movie shows that all areas of scientific research are important. We should not always gear our attentions to those with practical applications because it is important to understand how we are affected by people and our emotions. Overall I would give this video a 9 out of 10.

  34. I have seen the first two discs of “Emotional Life,” and I can genuinely say that I have enjoyed both. I typically dread in-class videos and movies, however, this video presented cutting edge psychological and behavioral research. Unlike most science related films, “Emotional Life” incorporated personal stories relating to each topic, which made it all the more meaningful.

    In the first disc we met Alex, who had Reactive Attachment Disorder. He spent the first two years of his life in an eastern European orphanage, which researchers feel may be the source of his psychological troubles. In a study in which a young monkey was given a choice between a fake “parent” monkey wrapped in soft, comforting blankets or a monkey that provided food and other basic necessities, the young monkey chose the “parent” that provided warmth and comfort. Scientists concluded that the young monkey was attracted to the “parent” monkey with blankets because it gave off a feeling of motherly love and comfort. Using this idea that a child needs love and nurture, psychological researchers theorize that Alex was not given attention as an infant and consequently struggles to connect with his adoptive parents and peers. Using various techniques in therapy, Alex’s condition has improved.

    After hearing Alex’s story, the video introduced Jason, a man with Asperger Syndrome, a milder form of autism. Asperger’s inhibits Jason from independently recognizing social cues and impedes on his ability to form relationships. The video described Jason’s condition using the results of a study done at Yale University using film. Jason watched a movie filled with dynamic characters. As Jason watched, researchers used a special device to track what aspects of the film Jason’s eyes focused on. Results indicated that although the movie was filled with characters and social interaction, Jason’s gaze primarily zoomed in on objects in the background. Despite his condition, the film showed that Jason expresses himself through an online blog and manages to hold a steady job.

    This first disc also covered relationships. We met a couple that was struggling to recover their marriage as well as two acrobats who were finding it difficult to work together because of their very different personalities and visions for performances. Ultimately the video illustrated that conflict in relationships is not necessarily negative. Instead, arguments and difficulties can eventually help to create stronger relationships by helping groups understand the perspectives of their opposition.

    The second disc focused on fears and phobias. It tracked a Harvard student’s journey to overcome her fear of flying through therapy as well as a man’s triumph over Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The man who had been suffering with violent memories from the Vietnam War tried a new form of therapy in which he was encouraged to face his fear and overcome it as opposed to ignoring it and allowing it to take hold of his life. After dedicating himself to this sort of therapy, the veteran claimed that he was finally free from most nightmares and haunting recollections of war.

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this video. Although I had already been interested in behavioral science, this video expanded my appreciation and admiration for the world of psychological science. I feel as though Alex, Jason, the student from Harvard, and the war veteran have made me realize the important role of psychology in our society. In all honesty, I think that some science fair judges should watch this video to understand that physical and cancer related biological sciences are not the only important area of science. Psychology and behavioral science is not just philosophical fluff—it is practical and imperative for understanding the human habits and emotions. This film’s effective presentation of psychological research and its applicability to the real world, earns it a 10/10 in my book.

  35. A) I think the most interesting thing in this video was the studies with the monkeys that were taken away from their parents and had to choose a new mother of comfort or food. I think that comfort and love are a big deal in a person’s life and does make sense of how we are today.
    B) Research that was shown in the movie for comfort was the computer programs that they had children do and measured the levels of endorphins in the child before and after the experience. This showed that children who were born and kept with their parent were happier than a child that was adopted.
    C) Although I do not want to go into these studies I think the topic of happiness is very interesting. It is amazing how the human brain works and how the topic of happiness is so controversial over self help books and “home remedies.” I don’t think that any of the self help books even come close to the truth of happiness.

    Overall I’d rate it a 7.

  36. Zhang Liu
    This Emotional Life provides an insightful glimpse into the way we as humans behave, think, and feel through the inspirational stories of everyday people trying to overcome their psychological struggles. The first disk Family, Friends, and Lovers laid the foundation of human nature and attachment. The most interesting story was Alex, the Eastern European orphan who stayed in an orphanage for the first two years of his life. It was believed that his long stay in the orphanage, combined with neglect and lack of loving nourishment, caused his inability to build and keep healthy relationships. It is fascinating to see how our beginnings change us for the rest of our lives. I feel lucky that I was fortunate enough to have been provided with a nourishing and healthy childhood, so that I can grow up with the necessary tools to be successful in life. One interesting experiment on attachment involved rhesus monkeys who were asked to choose between comfort, or food provided by a fake mother. Scientist today continue to study
    Meghan, who had clinical depression, amazed me with her resilience and self awareness of her thoughts and emotions. Every day she struggled to get out of bed, feeling no motivation to live life. Yet she kept living, kept trying, and undergoing constant treatments, finally succeeding with ECT treatments. Her willingness to live and love for her family members truly shows the spirit of the human being. Today there are many treatments such as pills, therapy, or shock therapy aimed to combat clinical depression. But as Meghan discovered, many of them may not work and if you always keep trying, you will find success.

  37. Zhang Liu
    This Emotional Life provides an insightful glimpse into the way we as humans behave, think, and feel through the inspirational stories of everyday people trying to overcome their psychological struggles. The first disk Family, Friends, and Lovers laid the foundation of human nature and attachment. The most interesting story was Alex, the Eastern European orphan who stayed in an orphanage for the first two years of his life. It was believed that his long stay in the orphanage, combined with neglect and lack of loving nourishment, caused his inability to build and keep healthy relationships. It is fascinating to see how our beginnings change us for the rest of our lives. I feel lucky that I was fortunate enough to have been provided with a nourishing and healthy childhood, so that I can grow up with the necessary tools to be successful in life. One interesting experiment on attachment involved rhesus monkeys who were asked to choose between comfort, or food provided by a fake mother.

    Meghan, who had clinical depression, amazed me with her resilience and self awareness of her thoughts and emotions. Every day she struggled to get out of bed, feeling no motivation to live life. Yet she kept living, kept trying, and undergoing constant treatments, finally succeeding with ECT treatments. Her willingness to live and love for her family members truly shows the spirit of the human being. Today there are many treatments such as pills, therapy, or shock therapy aimed to combat clinical depression. But as Meghan discovered, many of them may not work and if you always keep trying, you will find success.

    In the third disk, I was truly shocked by the tangible difference between a monk’s brain and a ‘normal’ person’s brain. It is a fascinating concept that we can alter our own brain with time with repeated sessions of meditation. It opens up a completely new way to approach our own thoughts and feelings and relates very much to another part of the video in which showed how we can be aware of our own thoughts, control them, and act on them differently.

    Today scientists study topics such as attachment through research on children and animals alike, clinical depression through the effectiveness of a variety of drugs and therapies, and happiness in careful observations and surveys of people who are happy such as couples and those who are not such as the depressed. Overall the video deserves a 10 for its openness and insight, with the scientific research, data, and corroboration to support it. I wish we saw this video earlier, because it is truly inspirational and probably would have provided many more posters from Amity SRP to be submitted to the CT Psychology Convention.

  38. Even though in our period 6 class we only got through two of the threes discs in the This Emotional Life series of videos, and even then we didn’t actually even get all of the way through the second one (although I’m pretty sure that we were at least somewhat close to done with it), I feel I can give an adequate and accurate account of my views on and feelings towards these videos. That being said, I found these videos about ways in which we can improve our social relationships, learning not only to cope with every day stress and problems such as depression and anxiety, but to become more positive and resilient individuals as a result to be both interesting and informative, which unfortunately seem to be characteristics that coincide disproportionately infrequently.

    Anyway, I felt that the most interesting parts of these videos were the parts dealing with depression and post traumatic stress disorder. It was fascinating to me to see how these people were able to deal with some of the most defeating of psychological disorders (while still retaining the awareness of their own situation given their psychological condition). The same principle applies naturally to the bit about the guy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Watching these people struggle to deal with the most basic of human social interactions and go through similar daily challenges was fascinating to me, especially when that was combined with the stresses of politics, as in the case of the Senator (or at least I think he was a senator) who had depression. The struggles of the Vietnam War veteran were also rather intriguing to listen to, and his successes were, of course, inspiring.

    On the other hand, in terms of the entertainment value, I absolutely cannot deny that watching the couples’ squabbles was one of the more amusing scenes in an ostensibly informative series. Even though the couple that received the main focus managed to fulfill every single possible stereotype remotely applicable to them in their situation, it was still vastly entertaining to watch; we should absolutely watch more videos of this caliber in class, if possible.

    The research being done on the Rhesus monkeys was also interesting. This study that was mentioned in the videos was the study which demonstrated that given the choice between the comfort and warmth of the semblance of a maternal-type figure which was created through the use of some simple blankets and a wire structure that provided life giving water, the fully sapient monkeys consistently chose the more maternal figure -- choosing the comfort of social interactions over water.

    I'd absolutely like to learn more about studies like that one, about the Rhesus monkeys. It coincides well with my interest in behavioral evolutionary biology.

    Finally, overall I would have to say that I would give these videos a score of 8 out of 10. They were much, much better than a number of other programs from this particular genre (educational entertainment films, or else entertaining educational films), but they still definitely dragged on a bit at times.

    -Gregory Loscalzo

  39. I missed watching these videos on Monday, but I still got to see them Tues, Wed, and Thurs, and it was a very interesting experience. I saw a bit of Family, Friends, and Lovers but most of Facing our Fears. The videos were very informative and allowed me to understand the emotions that we feel every day. Not only that, but after understanding the reasons and causes of one's emotions, one can better act to help themselves and improve their social life in general.

    The personal examples were really what made many of the experiencs more than a simple lecture. They made you emotioanlly involved, and allowed you to relate. For example, in the disc about social relationships, we learned a lot about marrital relationships. And yes, we did get statistics and expert opinions. But, the way I felt I learned the most was through the examples they gave, such as the black couple struggling through therapy. They showed their arguments during therapy, but then analyzed what they said, connecting it to the issue at hand. The man had problems not communicating enough, while the woman had lost all trust after her husband's affair. On the second disc, I felt the example they gave with the Harvard student afraid of flying was a bit odd. She said she was afraid of nothing specifically, just flying in general. However, she would become more afraid as, say, the plane had some turbulence. This makes one wonder whether or not she was subconciously afraid of the plane crashing.

    Throughout the videos, they interviewed many scientists currently working in the field, drawing from experts from Stanford to Yale. One of the more interesting and counter intuitive experiments they showed was one about PTSD. Generally, the belief is that you will NOT remember something after a traumatic experience. However, the study found otherwise. It showed its subjects a series of scary images, then asked them to submerge their hands in cold water vs lukewarm water. They found that the subjects who underwent stress after seeing the images could better remember than those who didn't. This showed research in the field that drew some cool conclusions.

    I would like to learn more about social relationships. However, specifically, I would like to learn about moralls and how they affect our social interactions. Additionally, it would cool to see what sort of events influence morals in society; things such as twin experiments would be interesting as well.

    Overall, I would give it an 8 out of 10.

    - Arian Jadbabaie

  40. I thought the series was very informative and interesting. The story that stuck with me the most was about the man who was a POW for eight years. Even though he was tortured and held in solitary confinement, he found a way to keep his spirits up. The prisoners created a secret taping system to communicate. When asked if the POW experience could be erased, the man said no because it built character and made him appreciate life more. I thought the scientific research about happiness was very compelling, even if the inner ding lady doesn’t believe in science. I also thought the story about the twins was interesting. It was hard to watch the depressed twin’s struggle after nothing seemed to work. However the electric shock therapy began to work and she could go to college. And it was fascinating how the happiness of your friends works in a web. Also the happiness of people you don’t know could affect yours. In the first video Jason with aspergers was inspiring. Despite of his disability Jason learned social skills and is able to hold a wonderful job in the medical community. The uplifting stories combined with state of the art scientific research created a great series.
    I would rate this series a 7 out of 10.

    -- Melissa Viezel

  41. I thought that the movie was veryu interesting. It had some very emotional and hard topics that it covered. I think its great that mental science is finallty being brought out as a big part of life and how we function and not just this out side theory of life. I thought that it was crazy how much our emotions effect what we do each day. I thought it was really cool how they followed certain peoples stories through out their struggle with their emotional problems. However some of the people i just found winy and annoying. I liked how each segment had the narrator confrencing with different doctors about there specialties and their research.