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The different approaches to psychology and how they would be relevant to a study of diabetic teenagers adherence to a diet

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Introduction

Psychology The different approaches to psychology and how they would be relevant to a study of diabetic teenagers' adherence to a diet Diabetes or Diabetes mellitus is a medical condition where the body is unable to maintain correct sugar (glucose) levels in the blood. The condition is treatable, either in the form of insulin injections, tablets, adhering to a diet that will help maintain correct sugar levels, or in some instances a combination of the above. The most common course of treatment is the use of a controlled diet. Diabetics are often told to pay special attention to carbohydrate intake. But why is it that when given this information, some people are more likely to adhere to the program than others? With reference to the different approaches of psychology I will try to begin to answer this question, with special consideration towards teenagers. There are five main different approaches of psychology, each one of which will throw different theories and explanations as to why some diabetic teenagers adhere to a diet, and others do not. Each approach focuses on different aspects of human behaviour, and has different ideas, beliefs, attitudes and view points. Cognitive psychologists study the different ways in which the mind processes information. They study through experiments and natural observation, how people acquire, store and use knowledge, (processes which in turn lead to our beliefs and understanding). They believe that our behaviour is controlled by mental processes including memory (how we remember information), perception, and problem solving. ...read more.

Middle

to revert back to previous eating habits that are accepted and encouraged by their family (operant conditioning); whereas a child who's family actively encouraged, and possibly even adopted the new diet themselves would be more likely to adhere as they would see what they are doing as something positive (social learning theory). The behaviourists do not believe in looking in detail to the cause of behaviour, but instead looking for ways to overcome it. Both the behaviourist and the cognitive approach are very different to the psychoanalytic approach. The Psychoanalytical approach (psychodynamic approach) in contrast to the behaviourist approach, looks at the inner causes of behaviour, in particular the role of the unconscious mind and the importance of early experience. It uses psychoanalysis and in-depth case studies to uncover and bring to the conscious mind, deep, hidden, repressed memories, drives and instincts to help explain behaviour. The psychoanalytic approach believes that events in childhood are strongly related; if not the key to adult problems (this can be broadened to suggest that past experience in adult-hood can be the cause of problems later in life also). Freud (1856-1939) put forward a number of different theories about behaviour. His first was that there are three parts to the mind: the conscious, the pre-conscious and the unconscious. He compared it to an iceberg in that we are only aware of what is on the surface, and therefore a large amount of the contents of our mind we are unaware of. ...read more.

Conclusion

All are valid; however some are more useful in relation to this study than others. The cognitive approach is the most practical for this study, as it gives both possible explanations of the behaviour, and can be used to predict (and influence) future behaviour. It is therefore utilised more in the health service as it highlights ways in which health care professionals, and the media influence behaviour, and therefore enables them to increase the future compliance with medical treatment. This theory is even more useful when combined with the behaviourist approach and their 'conditioning theories'. The cognitive approach is of more use than the behaviourist approach when used alone, as the behaviourist approach is generally of more use in reference to young children. Although the psychoanalytic approach also has explanations for behaviour, it is of least use in this case study, as only trained psychoanalysists are able to use analysis, not the professionals who will be involved in the teenagers care. It is also only able to explain things after they have happened, and not predict future behaviour. It is therefore of very little use in this study. The humanistic approach is also of little use in general health care, as it uses non-directive counselling, which is very time consuming. (However it has a larger application in mental health settings). The biological approach can be used to explain behaviour in reference to an individuals genetics and internal biological functions, possibly that a teenager eats a lot of sugar because the body craves it, but offers little prediction for future behaviour. It therefore has limited use in this study. ...read more.

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