Looking at Psychological Issues Arising From 'To The Power of One' by Duncan Campbell.

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Looking at Psychological Issues Arising From ‘To The Power of One’ by Duncan Campbell

The newspaper article ‘To The Power of One’ by Duncan Campbell looks at the life of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. The article reports what happened in the immediate aftermath of the attack and how Bethany is living her life now. The following piece looks at a few of the many issues that emerge from Bethany’s story.

When reading the article, the first thing comes to mind is the extraordinary fact that she actually managed to paddle her way back to shore with only one arm despite the obvious shock and extreme pain that she must have been experiencing at the time. This brings to mind a question of survival instincts: do we as human beings have an innate instinct to survive? These are said to be abilities and reactions which are imprinted in humans by millions of years of evolution. Examples of such instincts are searching for food, shelter and clothing. These are all essential for survival and can be traced back to the very earliest of primates, yet are still fundamental in modern day life.

Evolutionary psychologists believe that over time, humans, as well as other species, have adapted to their environment and surroundings in order to survive; this could be a physiological or a psychological adaptation. As a result, they are in a better condition to mate and because of the innate human instinct to survive; these adapted humans will become more desirable in terms of mating. The features are passed onto the offspring and over a period of time the proportion of humans with the adapted qualities will rise, and eventually wipe out the ones without this new trait. Charles Darwin called this natural selection or ‘Survival of the Fittest’.

Dr. Beetle, however, suggests that this survival instinct is purely a myth; however mammals have better memory than other animals, so they remember what joy is like and want more of it. This is what makes them want to survive. This can be illustrated when hearing the words of people who have been in similar horrific situations to that of Bethany. Doug Goodale was forced to cut off his arm to free himself from winch hauling lobster pots up from the sea floor. He later said that he had lost hope and was sure that he was going to die, but the thought of being back with his wife and children made him amputate his limb. Similar accounts have been given by others, including those who have fought in war or captured and tortured by terrorists.

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So do we have some innate survival instinct, as Darwin suggested, or, as Beetle believes, in this a false hypothesis and we simply want to experience past pleasures a bit longer? This is something that scientists and psychologists have been in disagreement of for many years – and surely will be for many more. This argument becomes even more interesting when one looks at the action of committing suicide. Whilst this affects only a small proportion of the population, it can be argued that if human beings do possess an innate instinct for survival then it would be virtually ...

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