Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Effect of Extraordinary Experiences (EEs) on Healing, Recovery, and Adaptation in Grief

Barbara S. Howard, Fielding's School of Psychology

Continued bonds between bereaved individuals and deceased loved ones are important for the process of mourning. Previous research has shown that survivors often report seeing, hearing, or sensing the presence of the deceased. These encounters have been called After Death Communications (ADCs), Post-Death Contacts, Death-Related Sensory Experiences, Exceptional Human Experiences, or Extraordinary Experiences (EEs); the latter term is used in this study. These encounters may have a profound effect on mourners, altering their beliefs in an afterlife and attitudes concerning life and death. They may also facilitate healing and adaptation to loss. This qualitative study utilized a semi-structured questionnaire to interview eight individuals who lost their spouses and who reported at least one EE. The process of intrapsychic development, meaning-making, and resulting changes in the participants’ attitudes was investigated. Further, it was hoped that survivors’ narratives would provide information on how other people’s perception of their EE reports affected their adaptation after a loss. The purpose of this study was to facilitate the use of these phenomena for healing, recovery from grief, and posttraumatic growth. This study aimed to add to the body of knowledge of health care professionals and grief counselors, so that they can better assist individuals who report EEs and utilize these experiences in therapy, as well as facilitating the development of theory for future quantitative investigation.

An Examination of the Relationship Between Cosmetic Surgery–Related Reality Television Show Viewing and American Women’s Desire for Cosmetic Surgery

Bernadette Blondie Chitunya–Wilson, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study sought to examine the relationship between Cosmetic Surgery–Related Reality Television (CS–RRTV) show viewing and American women’s desire for Cosmetic Surgery (CS) in the United States and its territories. In addition, the study also examined individuals’ attitudes about CS and personality traits to determine the existence of any mediating factors affecting an individual’s desire for CS. Based on research literature reviewed, this is probably the first study to investigate the relationship between CS–RRTV program viewing and American women’s desire for CS, in a sample population of students and nonstudents. In this study, online and on–paper structured questionnaires were administered to 350 adult American student and non–student participants between the ages of 20 and 70 years old; 300 questionnaires were returned. Descriptive statistics and Pearson product moment correlations were used to determine any relationship between CS–RRTV and desire for CS. Of the total participants 34% were students and 66% were nonstudents. Eighty–four percent of the participants watched Reality Television (RTV) shows, while 16% never watched RTV. Sixty–three percent of the and CS–RRTV show viewers agreed that such shows influenced their desire for CS. Results indicated a statistically significant correlation between CS–RTV / CS–RRTV viewership attitude and the desire of adult American women for CS. Self–esteem mediated the effect of CS–RTV show viewing influencing women to have the desire for CS. Personality traits and body image were negatively but significantly correlated with desire for CS. These findings establish a significant relationship between CS–RTV show viewing and American women’s desire for CS.

Key Words: Reality Television, Cosmetic Surgery, Body Image, Personality Traits, Self– Esteem, Cosmetic Surgery-Reality Television, Cosmetic Surgery-Related Reality Television.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wisdom and Leadership: A Constructive-Developmental Perspective

Sharon L. Spano, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This qualitative study explores how executive leaders who assessed at the conventional and post-conventional stages of development experience wisdom. It examines a linkage between how these executive leaders understand their leadership role in terms of the cognitive, reflective, and affective domains of personality. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to determine participants’ experience. Participants were also assessed for their meaning-making capacity to determine their stage of development using the SCTi-Map instrument. Findings suggest that participants experience wisdom within the single and integrative domains of wisdom. Findings also suggest that there is no direct relationship between how leaders experience wisdom and their adult stages of development. Participant responses indicated a capacity for wisdom at both the conventional and post-conventional stages of development in different ways. Thematic analysis indicates that this experience involves (a) access to a moral code of ethics as a source of wisdom, (b) an understanding of self in relation to others and adverse phenomenon, and (c) wise acts of leadership that stem from a commitment to doing the right thing for the organization or society-at-large.

Key Words: constructive-developmental theory; wisdom theory; leadership development

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Assessment of ADHD in Clinical Practice

Marquerite Laban, Fielding's School of Psychology

The essential purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of single-measure, single-modality assessment of ADHD commonly used in clinical practice today. There is a school of thought held by many professional clinicians that making a single measurement of some parameter is a proper test procedure. Specifically, some clinicians argue that it is reasonable to diagnosis ADHD based solely on the results generated from self-report questionnaires designed to assess symptoms commonly associated with attention deficits. Frequently cited reasons for using the single-method, self-report questionnaire results include effectiveness of modern ADHD questionnaires in differentiating ADHD patients from non-ADHD patients, efficiency of evaluation, reduction of costs, and rapid results. However, research supports the multifaceted nature of attention, implying that a comprehensive assessment of brain function is necessary for accurate diagnosis. This study examined the consequences of the single modality approach by examining the effectiveness of the Brown ADD Scales in comparison to results generated from the standard-of-care full neuropsychological evaluation recommended in the evaluation of ADHD. The sample consisted of 196 adult and adolescent case files containing comprehensive neuropsychological assessments including self- and other-report questionnaires, test results, and interview data conducted by a clinician in the context of clinical work. The overall results of this study strongly support the use of neuropsychological test measures in the diagnosis of ADHD in clinical populations. Overall accuracy in correctly differentiating between individuals with and without ADHD improved by over 20% when neuropsychological test scores were used to aid in the diagnosis when compared to use of the Brown ADD Scale scores alone. Overall accuracy did improve slightly (between 1-3%) when both the neuropsychological test scores and the Brown ADD Scale scores were used. However, it appears that including the Brown ADD Scales in the neuropsychological battery was particularly advantageous in the adult population because accuracy of predicting the presence of an ADHD diagnosis improved by approximately 6% over using the test scores alone in the sample tested in this study.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Educational and Personal Needs of Adult Learners in Higher Education: A Quantitative Exploratory Study

Lisa Moison, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in determining the personal and educational needs of adult learners in higher education. This may be due to the rise in the number of students age 25 and over who have been returning to college (NCES, 2012). The purpose of this study was to survey adult learners on their personal and educational needs so university and college services could be improved to serve them. Another goal was to determine if self-reported needs of adult learners validated or refuted theories of adult learning. Data were collected from the Adult Learner Needs Assessment Survey (ALNAS) by American College Testing and the findings indicate that adult learners need help in five distinct categories: having associations with others, educational planning, life skills, career development, and managing family issues. The research suggested that some demographic factors were associated with particular needs. There was a statistically significant difference in the needs of several groups: widowers, students who had children, students who were continuing their education, students with an income level below $14,999, and women who expressed a need for help with associations with others. The findings did not show a difference in the needs of adult learners based on their ethnicity nor was there a difference in the needs of the learners between the ages of 23 and 61. The three main conclusions are that (a) adult learners have definable educational and personal needs as they return to college; (b) marital, job, income, and gender variables can be factors in identifying those needs, but ethnicity and age were not; and (c) the findings support theories of adult learning by Knowles, Cross, and Mezirow.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Exploring Attachment and Defense Styles Effects on the Self-Reflective Ability Among Individuals with Addictive Disorders

Cara Church, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study included 219 participants, consisting of 104 participants from a methadone maintenance program and 115 participants from an outpatient drug-free program (46% females and 54% males). The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised was used as a measure for attachment security and assessed the two dimensions of avoidance and anxiety. The Defense Style Questionnaire-88 was used as a measure to evaluate defense mechanisms through conscious derivatives of defenses. The Observing Ego Function Scale was used as a measure of the self-reflective function. Multivariate analyses of variance, analyses of variance, and discriminant function analyses revealed that attachment style and defenses used impacted self-reflective capacity. The drug-free group demonstrated greater use of non-factor and adaptive defenses and the methadone group showed greater use of inhibition, regression, and the immature/maladaptive style. Significant interactive effects were found among the drug-free, dismissing, and avoidant defenses (suppression, withdrawal, and isolation). Those in the dismissing methadone group showed greater use of an immature/maladaptive defense style and regression. An interaction was found between methadone, fearful attachment style, and an immature/maladaptive defense style. Supplemental analyses revealed that not clean participants in both groups had more immature/maladaptive defenses, regression, and inhibition. A significant relationship was found between defenses and self-reflection. The immature/maladaptive defense style significantly related to all aspects of self-reflection. Regression related to impaired self-reflection. The ability to experience affect related to immature/maladaptive and adaptive defenses, regression, splitting, and suppression. Internal awareness related to the immature/maladaptive defense style, and use of inhibition, withdrawal, and splitting. Significant relationships were found between attachment style and self-reflection. The drug-free dismissing group had less ability to experience affect, but overall greater self-reflective ability and impulse control. The methadone dismissing group had greater ability to experience affect, more impulsivity, but less overall self-reflective ability. The drug-free fearful group had greater ability to distance the self without becoming overwhelmed by affect and resulted in overall greater self-reflective ability. The fearful methadone group demonstrated less ability to distance the self without becoming overwhelmed by affect, but resulted in less self-reflective ability.

Keywords: attachment style, defense mechanism, self-reflection, observing ego, mentalization, addiction, methadone

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Daughter’s Story of Long-Term Care for Her Mother Who Lived and Died With Dementia: An Autoethnographic Account

Lynda C. Silva, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The purpose of this study was to investigate my experience as a daughter caring for a mother while we dealt with the insidious effects of dementia that caused changes in behavior, mental, and physical abilities for a period of approximately 20 years. A second purpose was to investigate how a difficult mother-daughter relationship affected the caregiving experience. This autoethnographic study would contribute stories that provide personal introspection to the literature surrounding the mother-daughter caregiving dyad and its effect on caregiving and the mother-daughter relationship. Aging mothers and adult daughters are unique in many ways, and the mother-daughter relationship could be said to epitomize intergenerational relationships in later life (Fingerman, 1995, 1996). For those daughters with the responsibility of caring for a mother with dementia, the unknown issues associated with the progressive disease and especially during the dying process can be a mystery, as in my case. My story tells of a burdened daughter who in the end, after years of tension, found peace in her relationship with her dying mother. My mother’s last gift to me was the gift of forgiveness.

Key Words: Caregiving, dementia, mother-daughter relationship, autoethnography