A N***** IN CLEVELAND, OHIO, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Cleveland in the 1980s was strange to me. My family felt isolated. No one knew who we were or how we came to end up in this city. No one knew our story. We were refugees claiming sanctuary in America, fleeing a genocide that had killed over two million Cambodians.
It would be in Cleveland, where I would experience 'State Curfew'. The state curfew made no sense to me and as a child I only wanted to run around catching fireflies at night. I could not understand this 'fear' my uncles had about being out pass curfew time.
It was until one day just after curfew hour, my uncle and I were walking to the corner store and then a man across the street shouted, "HEY N*****!". I was holding my uncle's hand and I felt his hand froze, then clenching my little hand tightly. I remember looking up at his face and the light was green for us to cross. But we did not cross. The man shouted again, "HEY N*****! Get the F*** outta here!"
The light turned red and I saw my uncle holding his breath in fear and then he let out a gasp of air. I remember being puzzled and confused. I don't know if I was expecting for my uncle to have a reaction or for him to acknowledge the guy's presence. Instead, when the lights went green again, my uncle calmly walked us across the street and into the corner store. He remained silent the entire time as we walked back home. I remained quiet daring not to ask any questions, but I couldn't help asking myself the very question, "Why was that man calling my uncle a N*****?"
THE TERM "BLACK"
Upon arrving in the United States as refugees, my family had been thrust into America's social ills and issues without even realizing it. We now arrived in Cleveland entering another battle of oppression without any means of arms or preparation.
As Cambodians, we had a distinct look. We were the darkest of Asians and often were mistaken as African-Americans or East Indians. Because of our darker complexion, prejudice America would begin to define us as "Black Asians". We were now labelled and felt we could not escape it.
The racist slurs and discriminatory remarks continued over the years. I recall asking one of my uncles why do some people call us the 'Black' Asians and why do some White Americans call us "N*****s".
I was six-years-old and I could not understand the race relations in America. For the longest as a child, I had a hard time understanding how Cambodian could be "Black" in America. My younger self even had times debating with people saying, "My family isn't Black, we're Cambodian!"
How could you not see the difference between a Black person from an Asian person? Then, there it was...the answer was in my very own question. To prejudice followers, we weren't seen as being different. We were seen as the same.
My uncle sat me down and said to me: " It does not matter what your background is, we're all in the same battle. Even if you're Asian, Hispanic, Indian, African-American...we're all Black."
It was then and there the word "Black" for me became this contemporary definition of representing every victim, survivor, advocator and fighter against racism, discrimination, prejudice, and injustice; and all whom a corrupt system is trying to silence and oppress.
And so for me, it is fitting to use 'Black Lives Matter' rather than 'All Lives Matter' because "Black" today includes every group and persons challenging systematic oppression.
However this contemporary use of the term "Black" shall also recognize the historic struggles and sacrifices of African-Americans and many other groups, which includes Aboriginals and Hispanics. We shall also recognize and acknowledge the leaders before us who had made every effort to pave way for our privileges today, which include having: citizenship, status, the security of legal recognition, the right to vote, the right to education, and the right to freedom of speech.
Our confidence in vocalizing injustice today is heavily rooted in the foundation of what our family members have previously built for us. Our struggles and experiences connect us as One Family; and so for our story, our suffering, our grief to be heard, we need to come together and support each other.
“BLACK LIVES MATTER” (BLM) MOVEMENT
On September 21, 2016, I viewed the Charlotte police shooting which was captured by the victim's wife. I had been following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement since its conception and had been aware of all the prior events pertaining to the unjust shootings.
On September 24, 2016, the Charlotte police body cam was released and to my horror as I watched the footage, I was overwhelmed and stricken with hurt and pain. I could no longer contain myself. I went from feeling shock to anger to grief to I NEED TO DO SOMETHING!
I had been receiving daily notifications from the BLM movement through my email and then I received the newsletter announcing how the BLM letter had been translated into 30 different languages for reading, which included Cambodian. However, with literacy being one of the largest problem in the Cambodian-American community, reading the BLM document may come with difficulty. That was when the thought of doing a video with audio and a closed caption translation came about.
I wanted to help expand the BLM cause and I felt by doing a translation video for Cambodians, it could further communicate and educate those in the Cambodian community about the movement. I also wanted to ensure that I was able to provide a bit of historic narrative so that those watching the video, would understand some of the roots of the BLM cause.
On September 25, 2016, I sat down and began writing a Cambodian translation document for the BLM movement. The document was read, filmed and posted on social media for sharing.
Since posting the video on Facebook, it has now reached over 10,000 viewers in Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, China, U.S.A and even Cambodia. The video reached such a wide audience that I also received news from Cambodia that teachers are sharing the video in the classroom to help translate the BLM social issue to students.
I strongly believe that if the Cambodian community is given the opportunity to understand and learn about the BLM Movement, many will support the cause. It will also help enable Cambodians to connect to the cause through their very own shared experiences with prejudice, discrimination, racism and injustice.
So, why should people help support the BLM cause? The answer is in the very question:
Who is Black in America in today?
Help us #Spreadtheword #BlackLivesMatter
Lifespan Development in Clinical Psychology
By Dany Pen
The relationship between psychologists and clients are heavily dependent on communication and when language becomes a barrier, informing clients of research participation, mental health assessment and diagnoses becomes very difficult. For the Cambodian community where mental health vocabularies are still being developed and introduced, both psychologists and clients are having to use cultural expressions and idioms to interpret and translate mental health symptoms. The following paper will explore the ethical issues with the translation of the Cambodian language in the field of psychology and how culture influences communication for therapy and treatment.
The Ethics of the Cambodian Language Translated in Psychology
Imagine a psychologist who is in a therapy session with a client and there are no words to translate depression or trauma. One of the major difficulties for psychologists with clients is the barrier of language. For Cambodians, there are very few medical terms to describe the different symptoms in mental health. Psychologists have to find way to interpret words such as post-traumatic-stress and depression that do not exist in the Cambodian language. When psychologists have clients who have a different culture and language, proper ethical procedures need to take place to ensure that communication of data is understood. Clients can then make informed decisions about their participation in research and/ or therapy. To explain why psychologists may have ethical difficulties in communicating with Cambodian clients, I will discuss how culture, trauma, collectivism, and human relations impact the interpretation and translation of the Cambodian language for informed consent, research participation, diagnoses assessment and data release protocols.
Culture transmits ideas, values, customs and a way of living for people. Culture heavily defines Cambodian people and language helps support that system of communicating their identity, belief system and experiences. From 1975-1979, Cambodia was under siege by the Khmer Rouge Communist Party, which was responsible for murdering over 2 million people and destroying 90% of cultural objects such as books, artworks, and music (Chandler, 1999). Many of the remaining survivors fled to the various refugee camps in neighboring countries with over 100,000 Cambodians being sponsored to the United States (Soksreinith, 2016). The priority to preserve culture became an immediate duty to those who survived the genocide. For Cambodians, culture includes the visual arts, literature, music, dance and language.
The Khmer Rouge Regime and Trauma
It has been over
40 years since the atrocity of the Khmer Rouge genocide but many of the
survivors today are coping
with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and various other symptoms related to trauma that were left
untreated. The Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders ed. 5 (DSM-5) defines trauma as an event that is
life threatening, could lead to serious injury, and/or involves sexual violence
(American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The four groups of symptoms that
characterize PTSD are: intrusion, avoidance of situations that elicit memories,
alterations in cognition and mood, and increased arousal; all symptoms must
last more than one month (Paris, 2015).
In the Leitner Cambodia Report, 14.2%-33.4% of war survivors, both living
in Cambodia and the United States, were diagnosed with PTSD, compared to the
worldwide prevalence of PTSD estimated at less than 0.4% (McLaughlin and Wickeri, 2012). For Cambodian survivors
who were exhibiting signs of PTSD, they were often left untreated due to lack of services and
communication. It is possible that many Cambodians diagnosed with PTSD have
gone untreated for over 40 years.
It was just recently in the late 1980s, that the first few research studies were carried out to find out if surviving Cambodians were dealing with mental health issues as a result of the trauma from the war (Hansen, 2014). Treatment for Cambodians, who were assessed for trauma, did not begin receiving treatment until 1999 (Hansen, 2014). The result from the research studies revealed many survivors had been exhibiting trauma symptoms for years but without treatment. Many of PTSD symptoms exhibited with Cambodian survivors included the following: nightmare, sleep paralyses, chest tightening and shortness of breath (Hansen, 2014). According to Thakker and Ward (1998) many of the conducted research studies in the field of psychology have found a relationship between culture and depression in the variation of somatization which is the experience of physical symptoms rather than psychological. Over 60% of Cambodian survivors living in the United States have mental health issues and many of the individuals are left without care and social support by the United States system (Soksreinith, 2016). The epidemic of PTSD by survivors is a major problem but as of 2010, the country of Cambodia had approximately only 35 trained psychiatrists with an annual budget of $30,000 to treat about 400 patients a day (McLaughlin and Wickeri, 2012). The lack of doctors to treat patients is a problem because it force doctors to limit their therapy time with each client therefore cutting down on important information that needs to be communicated. Communication is important for doctors in order to understand the signs and symptoms their patient may be experiencing and exhibiting so that an accurate diagnoses and treatment can be established (American, Psychiatric Association, 2013).
It was discovered that the development of PTSD after a traumatic event varied and approximately one-third developed PTSD within the first year. Findings also suggested that traumatic events also depended on the degree of exposure (Santiago, Ursano, Gray, Pynoos, Spiegel, Lewis-Fernandez & Fullerton, 2013). Research on Cambodians who were diagnosed for PTSD from the Cambodian genocide did not begin until the late 1980s, which is at least 10 years after the war. It is possible that one-third of Cambodians are at risk of having PTSD but for many survivors, the assessment of PTSD has been long overdue. For those who have not been treated for the diagnoses may be left to continue coping without any aid or support for their symptoms.
Language and Translations
Language helps to express the experience of emotions in cultural variations (Thakker & Ward, 1998). During the Khmer Rouge era, the Cambodian language was censored and a new controlled language was developed (Chandler, 1999). For the Khmer Rouge, the regime strongly believed that the Cambodian language had already been altered to include foreign vocabularies due to colonialism and therefore the use of it would be promoting resisting ideologies (Chandler, 1999). For those who survived the war, the preservation of the Cambodian language had become a priority because it is believed that language helps to communicate and teach about cultural identity (Chandler, 1999). For Cambodians, language was an essential tool to educating their children about the Cambodian genocide, the struggles, hardship and more importantly the culture. However, communicating mental illnesses has been very difficult due to the lack of vocabulary and definitions that are not available in the Cambodian language.
Although Cambodians were exhibiting symptoms of mental disorders post-war, many lacked the language to express them (Hansen, 2014). Because there are no literal words for defining trauma or depression, psychologists have had to resort to the use of “idioms” and cultural experiences to define symptoms (Hansen, 2014). According to Hansen (2014), from studies that have been carried out over the years, psychologists have been able to gather some forms of idiom statements that best express the different mental health symptoms that Cambodians experience such as the following: Dam-douem-Kor (planting a kapok tree) means depression and Khyal goeu (wind overload) means anxiety. In the Cambodian language, there is no word for schizophrenia and the best description for PTSD is translated as Baksbat meaning broken courage, which is still debatable among psychologists (Wright, 2015). In an attempt to create the first Cambodian psychosocial dictionary, the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s psychology department has managed to reach 30-40 words for the glossary (Wright, 2015). If research is not gathered and conducted properly, psychologists are at risk of violation of Standard 7.01, which is the design of education and training programs. It is important for psychologists to develop correct language translations to the best of their ability so that it promotes competency under Standard 2.01 (Bersoff, 2008). When clients fully understand what the research methods or treatments are being provided by the psychologist, it can help with their decision-making processes whether to participate in the research study, accept the treatment or not, speak about their concerns and allow them to ask questions. By having an on-going discussion about care, support and risks involved, it can help create a much more trusting relationship between client and doctor. Under Principle E: Respect of People’s Rights and Dignity, psychologists must maintain this when working with other individuals especially those of another cultural group (Bersoff, 2008). It is important for psychologists to respect and learn about the client’s belief system. By understanding the client’s experiences, it can help with the interpretations of symptoms that the client is having.
Because Cambodians are a collectivist group, gathering information from the family as well as the community is crucial to the client’s assessment. In collectivist societies, an individual’s experience is also connected to members of his/her community (Berk, 2012). To understand the collectivist effect on the individual, psychologists must also research and seek information from members of the community. For Cambodians, because all members of the society experienced the genocide, the trauma is also seen as a group experience affecting everyone. Psychologists may encounter language and pronouns, which speaks to the group’s experience as a whole versus the individual’s own experience. This is important to note because individuals may associate the experience of others as their own. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), trauma can also be experienced through it occurring to family member or close friend and also being a witness to it. An individual does not have to experience a traumatic event directly in order to develop PTSD, which is why for Cambodians, as a collectivist society, each member often internalize the pain and suffering of community members as their own trauma (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It is recommended that psychologists acknowledge the culture’s collectivist belief and try group or community therapy instead.
Informed Consent Protocols
Under Principle C: Integrity and Principle D: Justice, psychologists must ensure informed consents are communicated and fully understood by clients (Bersoff, 2008). Having language as a barrier makes it difficult for psychologists to educate their clients about the methodologies, possible risks and benefits for participating in a research study (Fisher, 2012). According to Fisher (2012), individuals from different cultural communities may lack understanding in how assessment, treatment, and research procedures work and how terminologies are used. Furthermore, it also makes it difficult for psychologists to translate assessment data to a client and provide the various treatments available. If a client cannot understand the psychologists, they cannot make an informed decision making it an ethical violation under Standard 3.10 for informed consent (Bersoff, 2008). To help clients in understanding informed consent, psychologists can work with interpreters or consult with clinicians who are culturally competent to develop a consent form, to help translate assessment and explain test data (Johnson, 2013). In Cambodia, problems over the shortage of mental health service providers and doctors not having enough time to explain diagnoses, often results in the lack of explanation about the medications and treatment being given to patients. According to the Leitner Center Report (2012), a Cambodian woman who visited a public health facility stated, “I only know the color. Sometimes white, sometimes yellow”. This comment from a patient is of great concern because it proves individuals who seek public care in Cambodia are not being fully educated and informed about the medication they are being prescribed, which could cause harm such as wrongful dosage intake of the drug or development of harmful side effects which may not be addressed due to lack of communication. It is recommended that psychologists for best practices to try to provide an explanation of assessment and/or prescribed medication to the best of their ability even if there are time constraints.
Human Relations and Working with Others
Under Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity when research involves participants from another culture, psychologists must ensure A) there is an avoidance of harm, and B) proper consultations and cooperating with other professionals (Bersoff, 2008). Respecting the client’s culture also creates a trusting relationship with the doctor. To avoid harm to a client, psychologists should take measures into understanding the client’s belief and cultural background. By negating the client’s identity and belief system, the psychologist can make decisions based on bias and also violate the human rights act on grounds of discrimination.
Because Cambodians regard culture as a major influence to the way they live their lives, many often believe in having a Cambodian healer known as Kru to help with the therapy treatment and/ or explanation of the mental conditions (McLaughlin & WickeriLeitner, 2012). Many Kru healers will often suggest homeopathic therapy as a form of healing the mind and body using techniques such as “coining” or “cupping” (McLaughlin & WickeriLeitner, 2012). It is important for western doctors to respect these cultural healing beliefs and techniques. By cooperating with other professionals to integrate those healing aspects into the treatment processes for clients, psychologists would be promoting Standard 3.09, which is cooperating with other professionals (Fisher, 2013).
Using interpreters to help translate for clients could also help psychologists. Professional interpreters should be used versus using family members because of professional standards and conducts that are already understood by trained interpreters (Blake, 2003). Having a family member or volunteer community member to help translate can infringe on a client’s confidentiality and privacy, which would violate the Ethical Standard 4.01 of maintaining confidentiality. Interpreters can help translate literal word for word and also act of a cultural broker to educate psychologists on the client’s culture perspectives (Blake, 2003). Furthermore, by using interpreters to help those who are not proficient in English could allow clients to decide an appropriate program of treatment, evaluate effectiveness, identify diagnoses and help to develop a therapeutic relationship with their doctor (Miletic, Piu, Minas, Stankovska, Stolk, and Klimidis, 2006).
Education and Data Release
Under Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity, when research is completed and information has been gathered from a cultural group, proper protocol must be in place especially on how information is ethical shared (Berk, 2012). Psychologists must be aware of their own bias and not formulate research models based on European American cultural values, beliefs and practices (Miller & Prosek, 2013). Psychologists should strive to create more culturally sensitive scientific methodologies for research (Miller & Prosek, 2013). The development of education and training programs need to include the accuracy of the data gathered (Thakker & Ward 1998). When incorrect, misleading or false information is released about the research, this can harm all parties involved and could violate Standard 3.04 to avoid harm, and 8.10 for reporting research results (Bersoff, 2008). Participants who feel they are misrepresented can feel disrespected and deceived while psychologists could have their work discredited and their integrity compromised. To develop competency with different cultures, psychologists are encouraged to have experiences with the diverse groups, which can help inform them of their analytic and diagnostic skills as well (Johnson, 2013.). Language studies are considered one of the important factors for influencing clinical interviews, interpretations of the assessment tools and diagnoses; and so psychologists must take proper measures to ensure communication is done correctly (Johnson, 2013).
Because psychologists will be working with a collectivist group who are be all victims of the same trauma, psychologists should try to understand the history of violence that occurred with Cambodians, learn about their cultural beliefs and try to understand the language barriers that may be in place. If language is a barrier for communicating with clients, psychologists should work with interpreter and/ or community leaders to help with translation. Consulting with colleagues and other professionals who are familiar with research studies carried out on the Cambodian community and language are also recommended. As a collectivist society, Cambodians reflect on pain as something experienced and affecting every member in the group. Psychologists should also try group therapy so that communication of shared experiences, pain and suffering are acknowledged thus reinforcing the collectivist approach to shared healing and support for one another (Berk, 2012).
Language translation is very important for clients who may have difficulty communicating with their doctor and vice versa. Communication is the foundation for a relationship between doctor and client and without it; it could make it very difficult to develop a relationship that includes trust and support. When a doctor takes the time to try to help their client by trying to understand their culture and language, it makes the client also feel confident and appreciated. When there is a break down in communication whether it is the translation or the lack of vocabulary descriptions, psychologists should take measures to ensure that their client is at least partially able to understand the assessment, data, and information provided (Bersoff, 2008). Any ethical violations will need to be amended by the psychologist and they must take the steps to correct their mistakes. By researching and understanding a client’s culture and language, psychologists can ethically make an informed decision without bias or barriers defined by language. For the Cambodian language, with further research and commitment from psychologists, mental health vocabularies in Cambodian can be increased, which will help with breaking down language and translation barriers.
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Berk, L. E. (2012). Development through the lifespan, Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, Laureate Education Inc.
Bersoff, D. N. (2008). Ethical Conflicts in Psychology. Washington, U.S: American Psychological Association.
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Chandler, D. P. (1999). Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Colorado, U.S: Westview Press.
Fisher, C. B. (2013). Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists. California, U.S: Sage Publications.
Hansen, L. (2014). Mental Health Trauma among Cambodians and Cambodian Refugees after the Pol Pot Regime Conflict. Washington D.C: The George Washington University.
Johnson, R. (2013). Forensic and culturally responsive approach for the DSM-5: Just the FACTS. Journal of Theory Construction & Testing, 17(1), 18–22.
McLaughlin, D. and Wickeri, E. (2012). Mental health and human rights in Cambodia. Leitner Centre for International Law and Justice. Fordham Law School, New York City. Accessed: April 19, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKE wiM4LWZ57bMAhVLrB4KHcDnAT0QFggdMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.leitner center.org%2Ffiles%2F2012%2520Leitner%2520Cambodia%2520Report%2520%28wit h%2520photos%29.pdf&usg=AFQjCNFnoeW7wqtd1HGoMMZbtMxZsVFAKQ&sig2=i 0ha3ybh7qWnFfq2fTTNlg
Miletic, T., Piu, M., Minas, H., Stankovska, M., Stolk, Y., and Klimidis, S. (2006). Guidelines for working effectively with interpreters in mental health settings. VictorianTranscultural Psychiatric Unit. St. Vincent Hospital, Australia. Accessed: April 12, 2016. Retrieved from
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKE wjPs7av57bMAhXQPB4KHffEDgUQFggdMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vtmh.org .au%2Fdocs%2Finterpreter%2FVTPU_GuidelinesBooklet.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEOZjsLfC 63PvytkMkbHmr2fgyeEg&sig2=OThqSbKnSmWJYLhRBrDLow
Miller, R., & Prosek, E. A. (2013). Trends and implications of proposed changes to the DSM-5 for vulnerable populations. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 91(3), 359–366.
Paris, J. (2015). The intelligent clinician’s guide to the DSM-5 (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Santiago, P. N., Ursano, R. J., Gray, C. L., Pynoos, R. S., Spiegel, D., Lewis-Fernandez, R., & Fullerton, C. S. (2013). A systematic review of PTSD prevalence and trajectories in DSM-5 defined trauma exposed populations: Intentional and non-intentional traumatic events. Plos ONE, 8(4), 1–5.
Soksreinith, Ten. (2016). The failure of Cambodian resettlement in the U.S. Voices of Cambodia. Washington DC. Accessed April 23, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.voacambodia.com/content/the-failure-of-cambodian-resettlement-in-the- us/3298576.html
Thakker, J., & Ward, T. (1998). Culture and classification: The cross-cultural application of the DSM-IV. Clinical Psychology Review, 18(5), 501–529.
Wright, L., (2015). Finding the right words to translate trauma. Phnom Penh Post. Accessed: April 16, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.phnompenhpost.com/post- weekend/finding-right-words-translate-trauma
sure to use the city and then the publisher. E.g. Washington DC: Publisher.
Check out some common reference examples here: http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/apa/references/examples.
Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge
Leader: Saloth Sar (Pol Pot)
Clinical Psychology: Lifespan Development
By Dany Pen
Saloth Sar was born in 1925 in the country of Cambodia. His ideas of building a society free from foreign rule, influence and trade would be introduced through his communist party known as the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge party took over Cambodia from 1975-1979 under the leadership of Saloth Sar, also better known as Pol Pot. The mass killings of the Cambodian people by the regime became known as the Cambodian Genocide or “Killing Fields”. Saloth Sar’s idea of a society free from colonial influence led to a dystopia filled with murder, execution, rape and starvation. To understand Saloth Sar’s way of thinking and his outlook on life, which was politically projected onto the country of Cambodia, his life development is examined in this essay by reflecting on how family, culture, education and politics impacted his cognitive and socio-emotional development.
Key words: Saloth Sar, Pol Pot, Cambodia, communism, Khmer Rouge, genocide, xenophobia
Clinical Psychology: Lifespan Development
For over 100 years, the country of Cambodia has witnessed and experienced numerous civil wars, violent uprisings and attacks from other nations wanting to colonize it, and one man would lead a resistance to ending colonialism; but instead he become a tyrant. He would be known as Pol Pot but in fact his true name was Saloth Sar (Chandler, 1999). The Khmer Rouge Party under Saloth Sar’s leadership saw the death of over 1.5 million people kills in order to eradicate foreign influences in Cambodia (Becker, 2003). To understand the development of Saloth Sar’s xenophobic attitude, I will explore nature versus nurture in his early life, the cognitive, socio-emotional and physical developments, diversity, and major milestones in his life.
Early Life: Nature versus Nurture
Saloth Sar was born in 1925 in the Kompong Thom province of Cambodia (Chandler, 1999). The revolutionary name Pol Pot had yet to exist and for the first forty years, the world would only know the name Saloth Sar (Chandler, 1999). Both of Sar’s parents were Cambodian peasant farmers and had nine children; seven of them were boys and two were girls. Pol Pot was the eighth youngest child of the family (Chandler, 1999). There are no evidence or reports of Sar having any negative relationships with his family members (Chandler, 1999). In the Cambodian culture, it is widely believed that all Cambodians are descendants of the ancient Khmer civilization and because of this notion it is also believed that biologically by nature, all Cambodians inherit natural strength and power from their ancestors (Chandler, 1999).
In 1934, Sar’s father made the decision to send his son to go live with his older female cousin name Meak in the city of Phnom Penh, who was a dance teacher at the Royal Palace. Meak chose to nurture Sar by teaching him the traditional Cambodian formal dances and having him in constant attendance at the palace with her (Chandler, 1999). Because Meak was an older female, but still young enough to be a sibling, she would be viewed more like an older sister to Sar. In Susskind (2008), there are positive aspects to sibling relationships especially for those who have sisters. Sisters provide social support, serve as role models, and mentors to younger siblings, and aid in cognitive and social developments (Susskind, 2008). To further nurture Sar’s intellect, from 1937-1942, Meak enrolled Sar in a private primary school known as Ecole Mache, with all fees being paid for by her (Chandler, 1999). From 1934 to 1940, living in the palace and in private corridors sheltered Sar from the real conditions of Cambodia (Chandler, 1999). Although Sar did not witness the harsh living conditions outside the palace, he was constantly hearing anti-French remarks in the palace and discussions concerning economic oppression by the French (Chandler, 1999). This may have contributed and shaped the beginnings of Sar’s anti-foreign perspective.
Socio-Economic Status and Social Development
Saloth Sar’s early life included many transitions, which involved the changing of locations, socio-economic statuses and family dynamics. Until the age of six years old, Sar lived in a rural village with his parent and eight siblings to transitioning as an only child cared for by his older cousin, living in the Royal Palace and receiving private education. Sar’s parents were of low socio-economic status compared to his older cousin Meak. Many lower socio-economic status parents who have limited education may feel that they are unable to sustain an influencing relationship among their children (Berk, 2012). By sending Sar to go live with Meak, it offered Sar opportunities that his family would not be able to provide. According to Vygotski, the cognitive development of young children is heavily dependent on the assistance of adults in order to tackle new challenges (Berk, 2012). By emphasizing on social interactions and the transmission of knowledge from adults to young children, it can help children shape their own social development (Berk, 2012). For Sar residing in the palace meant he was constantly around adult dignitaries and scholars who enforced proper mannerisms. High etiquette expectations would help mold Sar’s personality into a dignified gentleman of the courts (Chandler, 1999).
Collectivism: Identify the Self with a Group
According to Vygotski Sociocultural theory, the values, customs and skills of a cultural social group is passed on to the next generation by its previous members (Berk, 2012). Social interaction plays an important role for children in order for them to learn, receive knowledge from adults in their group, master skills and to create meaning to activities (Berk, 2012). It was important for Sar to development social interaction with others at the palace while at the same time build on the processes of self-construction (Miller, 2005). In collectivist societies, people tend to receive knowledge and skills from other members thus defining themselves as being part of that group (Berk, 2012). Cambodia is a collectivist society stressing group goals and all experiences whether emotional, physically or psychologically, to be affected and shared by all members of the group (Berk, 2012). Collectivist cultures that stress social interaction to achieve competency often rely on observational learning and practice in daily life (Keller, 2000). In the Royal Palace, Sar would have seen how collectivism was emphasized through social dialogues and interactions. According to Hulsizer and Woolf (2005), in the development of social cognition, it is highly important for individuals to identify their social identity and know which group they belong to and this in itself will allow the individuals to view themselves positively by the extension of being in a group.
Industry versus Inferiority
Self-Concept and Achievement: Cognitive, Socio-Emotional Development
In 1948, at the age of 17 years old, Sar tried to enroll at Lycee Sisowatch but failed the entrance exam (Chandler, 1999). Sar’s rejection from Lycee Sisowath is significant to the development of self-concept. Failing the entrance exam forced Sar to reflect on his abilities and explore his own strengths and weaknesses, which saw him enrolling at a technical school thereafter (Chandler, 1999). The foundations of self-concept begins in the early years of a child’s life from three to five years old where they begin to look at what defines them in terms of attribute, abilities, attitudes and values and by middle school, many self-evaluate based on social comparisons which is the judgment of their appearance, abilities and behaviors compared to their peers (Berk, 2012). By not being accepted into Lycee Sisowath and unable to continue his studies with his peer group, it was a sign of rejection by the social group (Berk, 2012). Lack of achievement can also make children feel inept and less intelligent than their peers (Berk, 2012). However, according to Chatham (2005), achievement can be influenced by culture also and can help motivate children. Culture effects the cognitive, social and emotional development of children where it can encourage them to take on responsibilities and challenges in order to obtain achievement (Chatham, 2005). Sar's need to excel academically and be accepted by his social peer group, especially after failing the Lycee entrance exam, challenged him to study even harder, resulting in him receiving a scholarship in 1949 to study radio electricity in Paris, France (Chandler, 1999).
Diversity: Identity versus Role Confusion
arriving in Paris, Sar and the other Cambodian students stepped out of the
train only to be greeting by giant tableaus and statues, one of which was of a
young Cambodian girl naked to the waist exhibited amongst what was titled: ‘Our
Possessions in Asia’ (Chandler, 1999). The other tableaus reinforced
stereotypes of Cambodia as childish, exotic and sexually adventurous (Chandler,
1999). Sar and his fellow peers would become subjected to those stereotypes
while studying in France (Chandler, 1999).
According to Erikson’s theory,
“Identity versus Role Confusion”, are the conflicts concerning the ‘Self’ that
adolescents must face when entering adulthood. Recognizing one’s identity is
crucial to the development of adolescents because it can help with major
personality achievements and to become an adult who is productive and content
(Berk, 2012). When one cannot construct or define their identity, this can
cause confusion and lack of preparation for the challenges of adulthood in
establishing abilities and desires (Berk, 2012). For Erikson, the development
of identity is a process followed by commitment and this can include gathering
information about themselves and their environment in order to create a
self-structure (Berk, 2012). Sar becomes uninterested in his studies in France
and looses his scholarship but instead becomes interested in his Cambodian
identity (Chandler, 1999).
According to Hulsizer and Woolf (2005) “Ideology of Antagonism”, the identity of the individual is influenced by the perception of the self in conflict with the ‘Other’. The foreign ‘Other’ in Sar’s case was the French. While still in France, Sar joins the Communist-Marxist Group with other Cambodian students to support his need for self-affirmation as a Cambodian (Chandler, 1999). In 1953, France granted Cambodia its independence and Saloth Sar returns home, immediately joining the Indochina Communist Party and began teaching at a private college in Phnom Penh (Chandler, 1999).
Marriage and Relationships
In 1956, Sar married Khieu Ponnary who was seven years older
than him. She was recognized at the time for being the first Cambodian female
to graduate from high school with a baccalaureate (Becker, 2003). It was highly
unusual at the time for young men to marry a woman older than them but both Sar
and Khieu shared similar views regarding politics and social issues (Chandler,
1999). According to Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, there are
three components to a relationship, which include intimacy, passion and
commitment. For Sar and Khieu, their commitment to one another was probably the
stronger element of their relationship because they accepted, respected each
other’s hopes and dreams and shared the same political goal of developing
collectivism in Cambodia (Becker, 2003).
Khieu Ponnary played a major part in
the building of the Khmer Rouge Communist Party with Sar. However at the height
of the Khmer Rouge’s regime in 1972, Khieu collapsed into chronic schizophrenia
forcing Sar to send her secretly to Beijing to be institutionalized (Becker,
2003). Before Khieu was sent to China, she was still lucid enough to grant Sar
permission to wed another wife (Chandler, 1999). In 1985, Sar took a second
wife, Mea Son, who was only 21 years old while Sar was 60 years of age and it
would be Mea Son who would give Sar his first child, a daughter in 1986
(Chandler, 1999). According to Bernice Neugarten’s social clock theory, there
are expectations by society and culture for certain major life events to occur
such as marriage and having children (Berk, 2012). Because Khieu was
mentally unstable and unable to conceive due to her old age, she granted
permission for Sar to remarry a younger wife who was much more healthy to
conceive (Chandler, 1999). The impact of marrying again but later in life and
then having a young child to care for made it difficult for Sar. He was unable
to care for his family due to constant illnesses that kept reoccurring but was
always regarded by both his wives and his immediate family members as loving
and caring (Chandler, 1999).
To examine Sar’s successful relationships with both his wives, John Bowlby’s theory of early childhood attachment can be used to address how individuals can develop positive relationships (Susskind, 2008). According to Bowlby, children who had warm attachments to their caregivers will end up having positive relationships later in life (Susskind, 2008). In Sar’s case, his early childhood relationship with his older female cousin Meak was very positive and nurturing which is later reflected in Sar’s future relationships with women. Of all Sar’s relationships, his wives and daughter were exempted from cruelty and were only exposed to a warm, loving and caring man (Chandler, 1999).
Fulfillment: Imitation and Make-Belief
Anti-colonialism in Cambodia originated as far back as 1876 when the French first invaded and colonized the country (Chandler, 1999). In 1976, Saloth Sar declared himself as Pol Pot, a revolutionary name he gave himself that was imitated from previous communist leaders such as Mao and Ho Chi Minh who also changed their names during political revolutions (Chandler, 1999). Sar’s imitation of previous communist dictators correlates with Vygotski’s theory of development where he believes society offers opportunities for children to play make-believe to represent cultural activities (Berk, 2012). For Sar, his admiration and idolization of Mao and Ho Chi Minh saw him tracing steps and imitating decisions by previous communist leaders who were anti-foreign and anti-colonialists. Sar, as Pol Pot, would go on to reiterate quotes from Mao to his followers (Chandler, 1999). The Khmer Rouge’s mission was to renew Cambodia into a state free from foreign ideologies; influences and trade were met with the mass murder of over 1.5 million Cambodians (Harris, 2008). This socialist model was extracted from communist techniques also enforced in China and North Korea and was then imitated by Saloth Sar (Chandler, 1999). According to Staub (2003), human view fulfillment as a need and when they feel parts of them whether it be their culture or social affiliation are being oppressed, the need for fulfillment intensifies and to obtain it can result in destructive behaviors. Sar and like many other Cambodians felt their cultural identity was being suppressed by French colonialism and therefore their need for fulfillment was threatened (Staub, 2003). Like many nationalistic ideologies, Sar’s development of the Khmer Rouge party came about due to the idea of trying to make Cambodia a better place by promising a better future (Staub, 2003).
Trust versus Mistrust
At the height of his power, Sar also became very insecure and paranoid (Chandler, 1999). Sar began thinking everyone around him were foreign spies ready to assassinate him which led him to executing many of his own ministers (Chandler, 1999). In Erikson’s theory of basic trust versus mistrust, it can be resolved in a positive way if the child received a balance of care, which is sympathetic and loving. The child, who resolves in such a way, would expect the world to be good but a child who cannot find resolution will be mistrustful and will not see kindness and compassion (Berk, 2012). Although Erikson’s theory speaks of the early development of children, it is comparable to Sar’s reaction in his state of mistrust because due to his lack of compassion, he even executed many of his own childhood friends who had been by his side throughout the building of the communist party for over thirty years (Chandler, 1999).
The Forest Monk: Physical Development
April of 1979, Communist Vietnam succeeded in invading Cambodia and
over-powering the Khmer Rouge Army (Chandler, 1999). The Khmer Rouge dissolved
and Sar went into hiding in the jungles of Cambodia (Chandler, 1999). For over
15 years, Sar disappeared into the wilderness and stories about him became
mystified (Chandler, 1999). It was until 1997 when he re-emerged from the
jungles for an interview with a Japanese broadcasting company, as an 85 year
old elderly man, white haired, hunched back walking frailty with a cane
(Chandler, 1999). During the interview, Sar revealed he had gastrointestinal
problems along with suffering a stroke in 1995, which affected his body on the
left side, and had impaired his eyes (Chandler, 1999).
His time in the jungles
had made him a “forest monk” where he also went back into teaching, which
relates to the continuity theory (Chandler, 1999). The continuity theory is
when an individual maintains their personal interests, roles and skills in
order to replace their lost social roles due to old age and by maintaining
those interests, it can help promote satisfaction between their past and future
(Berk, 2012). For Sar, becoming a teacher again allowed him to narrate about
Cambodia’s history to young children about anti-French demonstrations,
Cambodia’s Independence, to the almost succession of a state free from foreign
influences but due to old age, his body and mind were becoming less functional,
which he admitted in the 1997 interview to experiencing waves of depression
(Chandler, 1999). According to Berk (2012), physical illnesses resulting in
disabilities for seniors are risk factors for depression and hopelessness.
Those who are 65 and older are at the highest risk for suicide (Berk, 2012).
For Sar, the year 1997 saw his health deteriorating even more, which resulted
in his wife Mea Son caring for him constantly by his bedside (Chandler, 1999).
On April 15, 1998, Sar turns on the radio as usual per his routine and heard the worldwide announcement that ‘Pol Pot to face charges against humanity’. The day after on April 16, 1998, the announcement came that Pol Pot (Saloth Sar) died in his sleep, passing away quietly in the jungle with his wife and daughter by his bedside (Chandler, 1999).
Saloth Sar’s cognitive and socio-emotional development along with nurture helped him in obtaining achievements; one of which enabled him to lead a political regime. Saloth Sar had a utopian dream for Cambodia to be an independent state where its people would led it, instead of being oppressed and controlled by foreign rule. His utopia turned into a dystopia.
Becker, E. (2003). Khieu Penury, 83, First Wife of Pol Pot, Cambodian Despot. The New York Times Company. Accessed: April 4, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/03/world/khieu-ponnary-83-first-wife-of-pol-pot- cambodian-despot.html
Berk, L. E. (2012). Development through the lifespan, Laureate Education Inc., Ally & Bacon, Boston, MA
Chandler, D. P. (1999). Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Westview Press. Colorado, U.S.A.
Harris, D. (2008). Defining Genocide: Defining History? Eras Journal. Accessed: April 4, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/publications/eras/edition-1/harris.php
Chatham, M.L. (2005). Child development across culture. Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science. 244. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412950565.n90
Harris, Y.R. (2005). Cognitive development. Encyclopedia of Human Development. 276-280. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412952484.n138
Hulsizer, M. R, & Woolf, L. M. (2005). Psychosocial roots of genocide: risk, prevention, and intervention. Journal of Genocide Research. 7(1), 101-128. DOI: 10.1080/14623520500045088
Keller, H. (2000). Developmental Psychology I: Prenatal to Adolescence. The International Handbook of Psychology. 235-260. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781848608399.n14
Miller, J.G. (2005). Essential role of culture in developmental psychology. New directions for child and adolescent development. 109. DOI: 10.1002/cd.135
Staub, E. (2003). The psychology of bystanders, perpetrators, and heroic helpers. The Psychology of Good and Evil: Why children, adults and groups help and harm others. 291-324. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615795.023
Susskind, J. (2005). Social development. Encyclopedia of Human Development. 1192-1198. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412952484.n574
Schools, Peers, and Media Influences on Childhood Behavior and Beliefs: Janissa Valdez
By Dany Pen
On April 5, 2016 a cell
phone video went viral on YouTube showing a police officer body-slamming a
young teenage girl onto the ground. The media quickly picked up the story. Further investigation revealed Officer Joshua Kehm restraining and then
throwing onto a concrete cement ground a sixth-grader female, name Janissa
Valdez, in Rhodes Middle School, Texas.
The whole world watched the 33-second
film witnessing an adult physically assaulting a minor as other students
watched in horror shouting if Janissa was okay versus other students laughing
in the background. The moment Janissa Valdez was slammed onto the ground; her
unconscious body was laid out on the floor as Officer Kehm proceeds to
handcuff her and then forcing her to get up.
Janissa reported the incident to
her mother who approached the media with the footage after feeling like no one was acknowledging the matter as a serious issue. Janissa was suspended from the
school even though there were no physical altercations that occurred between
her and other students. Janissa claim that she had only approach another female
student about rumors she had heard.
Officer Khem responded to the site due to reports of two students arguing.
In explaining this event within the framework of social-emotional development,
Erikson’s theory: Industry versus Inferiority will be used. According to
Erikson, when children enter middle school they begin to develop a sense of
competence and discover their own unique capabilities, however a lack of confidence
could result in a belief of inferiority. This feeling if
inferiority can result from lack of family, teacher and peer support, which would make
it easy for middle school age children to absorb negative responses and have
their feelings of confidence destroyed. If the negative responses continue, the
child will begin to self-label as being stupid and as a failure.
For Janissa Valdez, it was important for her address
the negative rumors in order to establish a sense of self in a
positive and satisfying manner, relating to her identity and how others
perceive her in the social sphere.
According to Film Media Group video (2001), peer pressure, friendships and acceptance by other peer members are the most important factors for social development with children ages 7 – 12 years old. With the incident that occurred, having Officer Kehm restraining Janissa forcefully in front of all her school peers, automatically associated her behavior as being aggressive and violent. The incident could feed a negative outlook on her identity to her school peers, resulting in a risk of being negated and shunned from her peer group. It could also further damage Janissa’s self esteem and confidence resulting in negative responses to her own perception of the self. The changing content of how one perceives the self-concept is largely influenced by one’s cognitive ability and feedback from others in the social groups.
In terms of how diversity might impact individual responses to this event, culture and gender belief are two major factors. Janissa Valdez is a young Mexican female.
First let’s address culture, for Janissa, there are stereotypes about Mexican culture that young students in the school may automatically associate her with. Examples of stereotypes associated with Mexican women include illiteracy and criminality. According to Berk (2012), young children may unintentionally exhibit signs of injustice and discrimination without any awareness such as the laughing that occurred in the background of the video by some of the other students. Laughing in such a situation could be signs of nervousness but could also show the lack of concern and seriousness of the situation by others. This lack of concern is also seen where there are no immediate call to action by the school or police for investigation, until Janissa’s mother personally addressed it herself through the media.
Another diversity factor is that Janissa is a young female. There are many
stereotypes for identifying how girls and boys should behave. In Berk (2012)
society typically associate boys as being masculine, which include being tough
and aggressive, while girls as feminine, which is being soft, gentle and
passive. When an individual goes against society rules on gender roles, it can
be perceived as a negative behavior.
For Janissa, to be restrained forcefully
by an officer may feed the notion that maybe her behavior was aggressive,
therefore it is unacceptable and thus needed to be controlled. However, because
the officer physically restrained her in an extreme manner, Janissa’s mother
had the right to report the matter, claim it as assault and take legal action.
What made the incident extreme in this case was that Janissa was a female minor
being over-powered and abused by an adult male who was physically much more
stronger than she was.
The role of the officer in this case as a male and adult,
instilled fear and power over the students. In this event Janissa was vulnerable. She was unable
to protect herself physically, emotionally and psychologically. Although many
of the students watch the incident occur, none intervened to help her or stop
the officer. It was Janissa’s mother who would take matters into her own hands
and fight for justice for her daughter.
One week later after the incident, the video footage went viral on the Internet and even aired on CNN and BBC. The media later announced that Officer Khem was fired from the police force for the body slamming of Jannisa Valdez.
Berk, L. E. (2012). Development through the lifespan, Laureate Education Inc., Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA.
Films Media Group. (2001). The Child from 7 to 12. Accessed April 14, 2016. Retrieved from http://auth.waldenulibrary.org/ezpws.exe?url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=150769&xtid=11846
Films Media Group. (1998). Harm's Way: The Lessons of Youth Violence. Accessed April 14, 2016. Retrieved from http://auth.waldenulibrary.org/ezpws.exe?url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=150769&xtid=30378
Ford, D. (2016). San Antonio school officer body slam fired, CNN Online news, Accessed April 14, 2016. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/11/us/san-antonio-school-officer-body-slam-fired/index.html
Rahman, K. (2016), Shocking moment Texas school police officer is caught on camera body slamming 12-year-old girl face first on concrete, DailyMail.com, Accessed: April 14, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3527558/Shocking-moment-school-police-officer-body-slams-12-year-old-girl.html
The behaviorist perspective believes language is developed from environmental influences, while the nativist perspective emphasizes that babies are born with an innate system for understanding grammar and the interactionist perspective focuses on both the inner capacities and the influence of the environment.
The implications of missing the milestone of language development
during the early years can result in the lack of understanding between
child and caregiver, thus leading to needs not being met. By meeting the
milestone of language development, young children who begin to increase
their vocabulary after the appearance of the two word utterance
will start to learn faster and continue those skills into preschool
(Berk, 2012). However babies who babble late in development may show
signs of slow language development. Parent involvement with
toddler conversation also strongly predicts stronger language
development and academic success later in school years.
It is important to also have parents and care-givers play a role in language development and encourage dialogue with toddlers. In Berk (2012), children who receive less verbal stimulation in the home often result in small vocabularies and a delay in language development. It is important to note that among different cultures, there are different expectations for what the first few basic words are, such as in English speaking babies, object words are much more common compared to Chinese, Japanese and Korean babies where words are more revolved around social routines. For many Asian mothers, the emphasis is having young children learn words that relate to social routines and group membership first because of the cultural demands. By identifying the different group membership, young toddlers are able to refer to the different care-givers/family members in terms of needs and wants especially when we consider that many Asians live in a collectivist group and every family member contribute to the development of the children in the family.
Language development is important for toddlers so that they can communicate the different range of emotions that they experience along with the physical needs that their bodies demand such as food and water. It is also important for parents and care-givers to help nurture the cognitive development of young children by encouraging conversations and vocabularies. By supporting toddlers in their language learning, it will provide a foundation for interaction and social development later in life.
Berk, L. E. (2012). Development through the lifespan, Laureate Education Inc., Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA.
In genomic imprinting, alleles are marked so that one pair member of the chromosomes is activated for a disorder regardless of its makeup. However in genomic imprinting, it is possible for the mark/imprint to be erased in the next generation but there would still be a high probability of the disorders being pass on directly from mother/father to child genetically. For example in Berk (2012), many childhood cancers and in Prader-Willi syndrome is often caused through genomic imprinting. The negative effect on the development of fetus is the damaging of genes during DNA sequencing which could cause mental retardation.
Mutation is a sudden change in a segment of DNA, which could drastically alter the development of a fetus causing lifelong impaired physical and mental functioning. Mutation can be caused spontaneously or through environmental factors that produce hazardous agents. Women who live in areas that produce radiation, electromagnetic waves and microwaves are at a high risk of miscarriage and giving birth to babies with hereditary defects. However when the mutation is cause by defective DNA, this is called somatic mutation, which can also cause cancers and disabilities. When somatic mutation is identified in the development of a fetus, doctors can look to the parents’ DNA sequence for genetic disorders and identify early disorders and seek early treatment.
Cocaine is highly addictive mood-altering drug (Berk, 2012). According to the “U.S Department of Health and Human Services”, nearly 4% of U.S women have taken illegal drugs such as cocaine during pregnancy (Berk, 2012). The negative influence for a fetus if cocaine is found in the mother’s system will result in difficulties such as the fetus experiencing its blood vessels constricted thus making it difficult for oxygen to be delivered to the developing organs. The use of cocaine by a pregnant mother can also alter the production and functioning of neurons and the chemical balance of the fetus’s brain, which may result in physical defects, deformities, severe growth and cognitive development.
Environmental pollution should also be considered as an environmental
influence on the development of a fetus because of the potentially
dangerous chemicals that are released into the air and on land. Environment pollution includes toxin and pollutants that are
released into the air by way of industrial plants and cars while toxic
waste is dumped onto land and into the waters. The toxins found in
released waste includes mercury, which has been found in water and in our
seafood. Pregnant mothers who digest high levels of mercury can cause
to her fetus brain damage. It is best for pregnant mothers
to avoid food such as predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish, which
are known for their high levels of mercury content.
Berk, L. E. (2012). Development through the lifespan (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Psychology from a Clinical Perspective
By: Dany Pen
When a nation declares war, the entire country will feel ripple of the emotional anxiety associated with going into combat. Individuals who are eighteen years of age or older, all men and women, are called to serve the country by enlisting in the army, navy or marines. To serve your nation in the military and to publicly announce your self-sacrifice for the betterment of the country is often seen as national pride with the community bestowing the greatest honor and respect upon those who enlist.
Joining the military will create great changes in one’s lifestyle and perspective. In the United States of America (U.S.A), the military culture puts great emphasis on traditional masculinity, which is imposed on both men and women (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). During U.S.A military training, one of the main focuses is to control emotions under stress in order to promote survival and mission completion (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). By not showing any emotions, military individuals learn to create the perspectives of avoidance, rigid emotional control and how to “turn off” feelings because if emotions are expressed, that would be perceived as being weak (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). By restricting emotions, individuals in the military will have great difficulty in recognizing and even acknowledging signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Furthermore, because men and women have been trained to suppress their feelings during active duty, those who are diagnosed with PTSD upon their return from war, often have great difficulty with emotional regulations and awareness (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). When individuals with PTSD attend psychotherapeutic processes, the situation is further complicated by the individuals’ lack of emotional responses and communication due to the prerequisite of military training of emotional suppression (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). Those diagnosed with PTSD often find it hard to attend therapy sessions due to the stigmas attached to help-seeking because in military masculinity and culture, to seek help, process emotions and express emotions is strongly disfavored (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). To explore how military individuals cope with returning from combat, over 1000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were surveyed for their reintegration process back into civilian life (Sayer, Noorbaloochi, Frazier, Carlson, Gravely and Murdoch, 2010). In “Reintegration Problems and Treatment Interests Among Iraq and Afghanistan Combat Veterans Receiving Veteran Affairs Medical Care”, the article published their survey findings on veteran reintegration where 27% were diagnosed with PTSD followed by 24% with depression (Sayer et al., 2010). The study has showed during screening process an estimate of 41% of the surveyed veteran population having a probable diagnosis of PTSD (Sayer et al., 2010). The highest variable for the difficulty of veterans reintegrating into civilian life is the confiding and sharing of personal thoughts and feelings marked at 56% of the population surveyed (Sayer et al., 2010). By not sharing emotions, it reinforces the masculinity issues, which explains one of the reasons why veterans drop out of psychotherapeutic sessions (Lorber & Garcia, 2010). If veteran do not treat their PTSD symptoms, they will have much more difficulty in recovering and reintegrating back into society. One of the therapeutic strategies in helping veterans’ recover from PTSD is through prolonged exposure where veterans are encourages confronting their traumatic memories in order to eliminate avoidance (Lorber & Garcia, 010). If one does not seek help for PTSD and continues to try to suppress their emotions, it will make the trauma and memories intrude into the consciousness, known as the “rebound effect” and intensify PTSD symptoms even more through re-experiencing, intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares (Lorber & Garcia, 2010).
To help returning veterans with PTSD seek and continue treatment, clinicians need to de-stigmatize the process of seeking help, provide psychoeducation, and normalize and regulate certain experienced emotions (Lorber & Garcia, 2010).
Lorber, W., & Garcia, H. A. (2010). Not supposed to feel this: Traditional masculinity in psychotherapy with male veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 47(3), 296–305. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases
Sayer, N. A., Noorbaloochi, S., Frazier, P., Carlson, K., Gravely, A., & Murdoch, M. (2010). Reintegration problems and treatment interests among Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans receiving VA medical care. Psychiatric Services, 61(6), 589–597.
How culture and gender may influence diagnoses of clients with personality disorders
Psychology from a Clinical PerspectiveBy Dany Pen
DSM-5 defines personality disorder as an enduring pattern of inner
experience and behaviour that deviates markedly from the expectations of
the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in
adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to
distress or impairment (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In the
DSM-5 published by the Psychiatric American Association (2013)
personality disorders are grouped into three clusters:
Cluster A: includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.
Cluster B: includes antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders.
Cluster C: includes avoidant, dependant, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.
In order for clinicians to diagnose clients with personality disorders, gender and culture must also be considered as influencing factors.
Culture is an important influence on how we perceive gender roles in society. When attempting to diagnose a client with personality disorders, clinicians must consider the cultural background of the client in order to understand certain beliefs and behaviours. A client’s traditional sex role in one environment may be different in another society; clinicians may therefore be susceptible to personal bias. Clinicians must be open to the concept of gender roles being different from an individual’s biological sex.
However let’s not negate sex from gender completely when diagnosing a client. The importance of the client’s sex in personality disorder must be considered in terms of genetics. In the DSM-5, individuals who have family members with personality disorder are at a higher risk of inheriting the disorder. For example in the DSM-5 for anti-social personality disorder, it is more common among the first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorders than in the general population and for borderline personality disorders, it is five times more common among first-degree biological relatives also (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Sex role is one controversy that is associated with the diagnosis of women with borderline personality disorder. In Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J. (2004) examination of the influence of patient sex and clinician sex and sex role, resulted in findings that stereotypes about gender and/ or sex roles may be more strongly associated with a diagnosis than with its diagnostic criteria (Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J., 2004). The association with a diagnosis that Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J. (2004) speak of is the comparison to prototypes approach. In the DSM-5, clinicians may consider that borderline personality disorder is diagnosed predominately (about 75%) in females (Psychiatric American Association, 2013). With the statistic that more females are generally diagnosed with borderline personality, clinician may diagnose a client based on the bias of certain disorders being associated with women.
In Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J. (2004) sex roles are societal prescriptions for acceptable behaviours for men and women. According to gender schema theory, early in life, individuals develop schemas or ways of organizing information regarding gender roles. These schemas center around characteristics and behaviours expected of men or women and often are organized in direct relation to “masculine: and “feminine” prototypes (Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J., 2004).
A controversy in the diagnosis of men with antisocial personality disorder is how language is used to define the criterions of the disorder in the DSM-5. Certain criterions use language that may encourage “gender weighting”. Diagnostic criteria language in the Psychiatric American Association (2013) such as impulsive, aggressiveness, and reckless are often associated with masculinity (Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J., 2004). In the DSM-5, it states that antisocial personality disorder is much more common in males than in females however the DSM-5 also admits concern that antisocial personality disorder may be under-diagnosed in females, particularly because of the emphasis on aggressive items in the definition of conduct disorder. In Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J. (2004) their study found that undergraduate students in psychology viewed the criteria for certain disorders as prototypically masculine (i.e., antisocial, sadistic) or feminine (i.e., dependent, histrionic), which was interpreted as evidence of “gender weightings” within the criteria. Over the past twenty years, the topic of sex bias in the diagnoses of personality disorders has received increasing attention from investigators; and from those prompted concerns, it was noted that more men were diagnosed with antisocial, and possibly obsessive-compulsive, paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorder (Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J., 2004) Bias diagnoses makes men more vulnerable to being over or under-diagnosed. Although it is possible that clinicians may resort to their usual method of diagnosis for the study, the results suggest that the instructions affected the way they approached the case and in particular, a prototype approach will be predictive of over-diagnosis of antisocial while the alternative criterion approach may predict under-diagnosis of antisocial (Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J., 2004). If clinicians continue diagnosing men with antisocial personality disorder based on the prototype approach, clinicians risk bias and even incorrect diagnosis.
Personality disorder needs to be distinguished, qualitatively and quantitively from normal personalities (Paris, 2015). The diagnoses of personality disorder needs to be also free from sex role bias.
A diagnosis of personality disorder requires longitudinal data and to identify a personality disorder, clinicians need to focus on long-term course rather than on current problems, so a symptom checklist will not do the trick. But if you carefully interview patients it is not difficult to establish whether problems in behaviour, emotion, and thinking patterns are stable over time, begin early in life, and have led to dysfunction in multiple contexts (Paris, 2015).
Culture and gender must also be considered as influencing factors for diagnosis of personality disorder. Clinicians need to determine what is normal, what is extreme and what is truly dysfunctional (Paris, 2015). Patterns in Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J. (2004) study also suggests that clinicians may respond to a patients symptoms based on their own sex role. Clinicians need to be aware of their own personal bias when determining a diagnosis for a client, especially when it comes to their perspective on sex role.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Paris, J. (2015). The intelligent clinician’s guide to the DSM-5 (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Crosby, J. P., & Sprock, J. (2004). Effect of patient sex, clinician sex, and sex role on the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder: Models of underpathologizing and overpathologizing biases. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60(6), 583–604.
By: Dany Pen
What is trauma? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5) definition describes trauma as an event that is life threatening, could lead to serious injury, or involves sexual violence (Paris, 2015). The DSM-5 allows for directly experiencing the traumatic event, witnessing in person an event occurring to others, learning that a violent or accidental event occurred to a close family member or close friend, or exposure to details of traumatic events in the line of work (Paris, 2015).
Disorders considered to be “post-traumatic” reflect biological predispositions as well as social factors that shape their clinical presentation (Paris 2015).
In the DSM-5, a client must meet specific symptoms and criteria in order for a clinician to establish the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). If we suspect that all individuals who encounter or witness trauma are automatically susceptible to PSTD, then the tools of the DSM-5 would only serve the purpose of treating rather than diagnosing.
However, most people who are exposed to trauma do not develop PSTD and will not meet diagnostic criteria or will need follow-up treatment (Paris 2015).
In Paris (2015) PTSD is a syndrome that reflects intrinsic sensitivities as much as adversities and most people exposed to trauma, even severe trauma, never develop PTSD (Paris, 2000).
Some individuals who never develop PTSD could also be seen as being resilient. Emotional resilience has been used as a concept to imply the flexible use of emotional resources of adapting to adversity (Davydov et al. 2010). One of the key emotional resources used by resilient individuals are positive emotions, which are seen as active ingredients within trait resilience, which reduce the risk of depression and promote thriving (Fredrickson et al., 2003) (Davydov et al., 2010). Resilient individuals can cope, accept the trauma, deal with their emotions and reactions; and all at the same time still function with the every duties of life (e.g. work, family, school).
If the client does not meet the diagnosis of PTSD, a possible alternative diagnosis could be acute stress disorder where the individual must experience a traumatic event, which results in an intense emotional reaction spanning no more than 1 month (Armour, 2011). In Armour (2011), for a client to meet ASD, three factors need to be considered: dissociation, reexperiencing and anxiety/hyperarousal; the PTSD model is assessed using a 4 factor model. The four groups of symptoms that characterize PTSD are: intrusion, avoidance of situations that elicit memories, alterations in cognition and mood, and increased arousal; all symptoms must last more than 1 month (Paris 2015).
A number of studies have examined broad classifications of trauma exposures, including natural vs. human-made and intentional vs. non-intentional (Santiago, 2013). In Santiago’s review (2013), he discovered that the trajectories of PTSD after intentional traumatic events show wide variability, but on average, approximately one-third of these exposed developed PTSD in the first year. Importantly, nearly two-thirds did not. In Santiago (2013) the consistent findings in their study suggests that the difference in outcomes between intentional and non-intentional traumatic events is mediated by the severity of exposure, the characteristic of the populations exposed and the recovery environment. They calculated that the percent of individuals who were never diagnosed with PTSD were resilient (Santiago, 2013).
Overall, trauma does not always necessarily lead to the diagnosis of PTSD. Some individuals may only encounter ASD while others may never develop any symptoms at all.
Armour, C., Elklit, A., & Shevlin, M. (2013). The latent structure of acute stress disorder: A posttraumatic stress disorder approach. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy, 5(1), 18–25. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Davydov, D. M., Stewart, R., Ritchie, K., & Chaudieu, I. (2010). Resilience and mental health. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(5), 479–495.
Paris, J. (2015). The intelligent clinician’s guide to the DSM-5 (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Santiago, P. N., Ursano, R. J., Gray, C. L., Pynoos, R. S., Spiegel, D., Lewis-Fernandez, R., & ... Fullerton, C. S. (2013). A systematic review of PTSD prevalence and trajectories in DSM-5 defined trauma exposed populations: Intentional and non-intentional traumatic events. Plos ONE, 8(4), 1–5. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Youth and Violence
By: Dany Pen
Violence is something we often hear is innate among us as humans. Barbarism and savagery are often associated with the idea of human origins, especially when we think of Darwin's evolution theory of mankind evolving from primitive cavemen-like beings. Have we really accepted violence as a norm of human nature that now we can only set boundaries to what is tolerable? To play fight with a friend in public is considered the norm in most society but to over react and kill another human being is a tragedy that would bare major consequences.
We display aggression in the early stages of our lives as children: playing fighting in the schoolyard, shoving, throwing small objects at one another, and even whipping each other playfully with sticks and towels; these kinds of behaviors are often dismissed as child play. However, when primary level children grow into youths and adolescents, the tolerance level of aggression becomes less accepting by society. If a youth continues to play out his/her aggression, the label of delinquency is often tagged.
When a child is considered a delinquent, so often society seeks to find quick resolutions for the “betterment” of its community by rushing him/her to social services or the juvenile correctional facility. Counseling is often recommended where most will delve into trying to find the “root” cause for the aggression whether it be a social, behavioral, or a psychological problem. Investigations into if it is a community or locale issue are rarely considered unless the residence of the child is deemed to be in a high-risk area, as labeled by society.
It is easy to blame the youth for the high level of violence in a community and easy to forget that the community is also responsibly for their upbringing.
Society imposes boundaries for different violent behaviors and claims what is acceptable versus unacceptable, but how can it be this be understood when the tolerance level is often changing. When society glamorizes a murderer on the front page of the newspaper, we now then have the celebration of violence. When society turns a blind eye to a woman being beaten by her husband, trapped in domestic abuse, we now say it is okay to allow women to endure that level of pain. When society says no to gun violence but supermarkets sell placebo guns as toys to children, we then change the definition of violence and shift the placement of its boundary.
Children growing up in an environment where tolerance is often shifting or even absent will assume that any degree of violence could be the norm.
The Textbook DebateFutureale Magazine- Arts & Culture Entertainment
College or university? That is the textbook debate. To decide whether to attend college or university is a very complicated one. In making our decision, we must factor in: the reputation of the school, emotional/tuition costs, access complexities and barriers such as grades requirement, extra-curricular and proximity. With all that research and write-up, we’ve written up a thesis paper before even entering school.
Over the last three decades, Canada has been seeing a trend with an increasing number in university enrollments, but colleges however, were seeing the opposite effect. Data from the 2000 Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning showed that the vast majority of parents believed that getting more education after high school, especially a university degree is very important. Education is important no doubt for one to excel and move up in the workforce, but through different trainings and programs; some courses might be more applied while others more academically based.
We saw the1990s as the era introducing university transfer programs at colleges. Plenty of colleges now, have begun to enrich themselves by offering these transfer programs that could now offer associate degrees and even bachelor degrees.
Colleges usually offer applied and technical focused programs while universities, considered, more rooted in academia. But after much debate over the past quarter century about the impacts of technological change in skills, the consensus today is that skill requirements are increasing for most jobs […], especially the increasingly intensive use of computer and communications technologies. Technology has become an essential part of our work setting or even habit. We use it in accounting, scheduling, and even as data storage. Universities have taken this new technological change into account and have now begun to assimilate the use of computers into their own courses and programs.
It takes about 1-2 years in college to finish a program with an approximate tuition of $2500 (CD) a year to graduate with a certificate or diploma. After graduation one can either enter the work force immediately or continue onto an associates or bachelors. For those choosing to go to university it will take an average of 4 years to complete, costing about $6000 (CD)/yr graduating with a bachelors degree. After that, one can also choose to either enter the work force or continue onto a masters or any other formal training. The advantage college graduates have over university students here is that they are able to enter the workforce and establish their careers much earlier. University students must face competing not only with their own peers for jobs upon graduation but also against college graduates who’ve already obtained a few years of work experience.
Consider also “emotional costs”- school does not only have the cost of tuition that needs worrying about, but also the emotional roller coaster that one is strapping themselves to. Do they have peers going to the same school? Can they picture themselves being on the same campus and setting day after day over the next few years? Can they see themselves being comfortable in the environment long term? Is family near by for support? All these questions must be factored in for the transition of attending post secondary.
Proximity is another issue that has become one of the main major factors in Canada for students enrolling in post secondary. Over the last few decades, enrollment in university from rural to suburban areas has rose due to the new implementation of a university in the area. Moving and living costs will be significantly higher for students who must leave home to go to school, therefore to have a university built closer to home makes it much more accessible for the local community. Students from lower income families saw the largest increase in university participation following the creation of a local university.
Then we have specific grade requirements that must be achieved before even submitting a formal application to any college or university. To enter college one must have at least graduated secondary school with a passing average. Colleges usually require 65% (1.0 - 2.5 GPA) grade before submission. However for universities, most schools will not accept anything under 80% (3.0 - 4.0 GPA). Most colleges and universities will also require everyone to write and pass an English entrance exam before even given an admission. But then there are schools and even certain programs where all you need is an excellent portfolio or audition; this is where that extra talent, training, and your after school involvements and volunteering comes in.
So what do you choose- college or university? It all depends on the career you want to get into. If your career involves more hands-on applied training, research your courses thoroughly and make sure there are studios course alongside liberal courses. If your career is computer-based, look for schools that are up to date with their computer programs with the appropriate instructors for those courses. It’s all about research, planning and comparing. To decide what college or university to attend is a very important one to make, and when doing so, one must do it wisely.
Dale Meghan, “Trends in the age composition of college and university students and graduates”, Statistic Canada, posted: Dec 13 2010, accessed: Feb 3rd 2010< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070125/dq070125a-eng.htm>
Frenette Marc, “ Distance as a postsecondary access issue”, Statistics Canada, no. 191, June 24, 2002, accessed: February 4th 2011< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/200404/6854-eng.htm>
Frenette Marc, “Study: Postsecondary attendance among local youth following the opening of a new university”, The Daily, no. 283, January 25, 2007, Accessed: Feb 3rd 2011< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070125/dq070125a-eng.htm>
 Frenette Marc, “ Distance as a postsecondary access issue”, Statistics Canada, no. 191, June 24, 2002, accessed: February 4th 2011< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/200404/6854-eng.htm>
 Dale Meghan, “Trends in the age composition of college and university students and graduates”, Statistic Canada, posted: Dec 13 2010, accessed: Feb 3rd 2010< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070125/dq070125a-eng.htm>
 Frenette Marc, “Study: Postsecondary attendance among local youth following the opening of a new university”, The Daily, no. 283, January 25, 2007, Accessed: Feb 3rd 2011< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070125/dq070125a-eng.htm>
 Frenette Marc, “ Distance as a postsecondary access issue”, Statistics Canada, no. 191, June 24, 2002, accessed: February 4th 2011< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/200404/6854-eng.htm>
 Frenette Marc, “Study: Postsecondary attendance among local youth following the opening of a new university”, The Daily, no. 283, January 25, 2007, Accessed: Feb 3rd 2011< http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070125/dq070125a-eng.htm>
Preservations and Erasures
Dany PenThesis Panel Members: Ian Carr-Harris, Ginette Legare, Eldon Garnet
Panel Date:April 15th 2010/ 4:30PM
1086 Queen St. W
Emphasizing on how memory and history are preserved, revived and salvaged, my body of thesis works acts as artifacts embodying these ideas. Using the Cambodian culture and history as a referent and framework to my research, I dive into the exploration of how post-holocaust generations struggle to preserve memories they did not experience and what they should salvage of a culture that is currently elusive. I also examine the difficulties that the Khmer Diaspora and post-holocaust generations face in terms of searching for and establishing a cultural identity. Using artifacts to translate and revive memories that are have been dormant and fragmented, I also look at how memories are remembered, then forgotten then resurrected again.
Preservation and Erasures
The Cambodian culture and history has always been an essential part of my research towards my artwork, particularly its holocaustic history. I wasn’t there to experience it nor do I have any lived memories of it. Everything I know and have learned about it has been derived from family members, friends and neighbors. How do you interpret a history that you were not there to experience and how do you internalize a memory that’s not yours?
When I was younger, it never made sense to me how everyone in the Khmer community sort of knew each other. I remember asking my mother about this. Her answer to me was, “we were all in the same camp in Cambodia”. I thought to myself, “wow, that must have been one cool summer camp!” oblivious obviously to what the word camp actually meant.
Khmer parents of the first generation of the Diaspora see their culture changing with their children. For Nancy Smith-Hefner, she wrote” Khmer parents grapple daily with this challenge. To preserve certain portions of their cultural and moral traditions, they must adjust and change others. Of course, overtime, all cultural “reproductions” requires cultural adjustment and transformation. However, this fact becomes a powerful and problematic imperative for a small diasporic community attempting to reconstitute itself after a holocaust” (16).
Like any other cultures that have experienced a holocaust, it was the systematic extermination of not only the people but also their culture that has the most overdue effect on it’s remaining survivors. For any group, the preservation of its culture relies heavily on the properties of books, literature, the arts, cinema, sculpture, architecture, music etc. But when most of these things are purposely eradicated, where does one, particularly the first generation of the Diaspora, go to recover these things? I can go to the museum or even the national archive to find certain dates, trials and important figures and names involved in the genocide atrocity. But numbers and unknown names keep me at a distance like a foreigner.
Photographs though have always intrigued me. Many people would say taking a photograph is like documenting a memory. I disagree. However, photographs can still act as an agent on reviving, stimulating and even invoking a memory. Taking a photograph for me is documenting space. Never in my memory would I have the same details as found in a photograph. I wouldn’t remember the designs/pattern of the couch, or even what objects were situated on the coffee table. Taking or looking at a photograph allows one to reexamine and re-observe the space and the people in it.
There’s a photograph of my mother taken when she was in her 20’s. No matter how many times I look at it, I can’t seem to recognize her. The person she was in the picture is somebody I learned about but the person I know now is somebody I am experiencing and witnessing. The photograph lets me observe her in her younger years. I can dissect exactly what I see before me: what she wears, how she has her hair done, her facial expression, body posture etc. However, as much as she seems like a stranger in the photograph to me, I am still connected to the photograph by my mother’s “lived experience” stories and memories of that era. The photograph acts as an historic artifact, a supposed factual documentation and a witness to my mother’s memories.
But this documentation is only a visual one, which I took into exploration for my first body of thesis work. I made the assumption that maybe with today’s technology, I could apprehend more in a photograph. For many years, I kept hearing stories about certain family members that are often remember but had either been separated or killed during the Khmer Rouge reign. Using the few remaining photographs that my family was able to salvage from pre-war. I had observed that in the background either hanging on the walls or sitting on the dressers were family photos. I extracted these photos using Photoshop, enlarging them and sharpening them. I expected the images to reveal faces. But it was the complete opposite, the images became even more abstract, becoming more blurred each time I zoomed in. The closer I was looking at these photos, the further away it was retreating from me.
It’s funny how the images of these lost family members exists right in front of my face in the background of these documented photos, yet I can never really apprehend them.
One of Berger’s theories on the idea of originality, authenticity, and value in photography is that “there can only be one original and that everything else is only a copy and a copy of a copy” (139). The extraction of the photos in my works is exactly that-a copy and a copy of a copy. For each copy I make, the further away I will be from the original.
This idea of trying to attain the impossible can also be read in one of my other thesis work that uses a Roland Barthes quote, “ I live in the illusion that it suffices me to clean the surface of the image in order to accede to what is behind” (100). No matter how much I try to clean any surface, I am bound to be repeating the act of cleaning and wiping, never really get a clear clean surface. Along with the quote in the artwork, a pile of tissues stained with a oily black substance to simulate black charcoaled makeup that are often used to mask the discoloration of the skin of a decomposing body. The tissues will be spilled from a pedestal onto the floor. The piece stems from the experience I had at my grandfather’s wake. When I approached his casket, there was a thick layer of this black charcoal make up that had been smeared onto his face and body. I could not recognize him. I was prevented from seeing the true discoloration of his skin and his bare face without any sort of mask. I was prevented from seeing any truths.
What is the definition of truth? I find this answer best comes from a pragmatic approach with James William defining Truth as “something that agrees with reality and falsity is disagreeing with reality” (141). In an excerpt from Julia Kristeva’s collection of essays that taps onto the relation between psychosis and truth, she states, “there is a core truth to everything except this core truth is wrapped in many layers of illusions, disillusions, all of which distorting the truth” (223). In a major way, I feel memories often contribute to the distortion of truth. How many variations of stories of the genocide have I heard-each individual accounting their own experience of it. There’s no denying a holocaust occurred, but most memories are subjective, vague, unclear and inaccurate.
Let’s talk about memory for a bit. In Pierre Nora’s essay History and Memory, he wrote, “Memory is life, borne by living societies founded in its name. It remains in permanent evolution, open to the dialectic of remembering and forgetting, unconscious of its successive deformations, vulnerable to manipulation and appropriation, susceptible to being long dormant and periodically revived” (8). I can probably list some significant memories that I remember and even revive a few for you. But in that moment of retrieving the memory, what aspects of it will I still remember if it had been dormant, repressed or forgotten about for years. The revival will not be the same memory-there will be missing links. The best example I can give you in this instance is, I can meet someone again who I met maybe a year or two ago. I’ve retrieved the memory of when and where I met the person. I’ve successfully remembered them - except-I can’t remember his/her name! And because I can’t recall their name I start making guesses in my head and maybe even ending up attaching an “assumed” name for them. This is an example of what I mean by memories can become vague and as Nora puts it “vulnerable to manipulation and appropriation” (8).
In regards to my works, memory plays a role in which it helps facilitate a narrative for the artifacts I show. Without a story, the objects/photographs become empty shells. Sort of like all the abandoned pictures you’d find in an antique market in some random cookie tin box.
The artifacts I present are what I consider what Nora terms as “lieux de memoire”-sites of memory. Nora further explains, “Lieux de memoire originates with the sense that there is no spontaneous memory, that we must deliberately create archives, maintain anniversaries, organize celebrations, pronounce eulogies, and notarize bills because such activities no longer occur naturally” (12). Are my works lieux de memoire? I would say yes. Embedded with them are memories removed from consciousness and if I were not to resurrect them in this process of extraction-they’d remain victims of history-virtually lost in memory.
For Halbach, he sees “generally history starts only when tradition ends and the social memory is fading or breaking up…the need to write the history of a period, a society, or even a person is only aroused when the subject is already too distant in the past to allow for the testimony of those who preserve some remembrance of it” (Crane, 1377). In the case of the Khmer diasporic generation post-holocaust, because they weren’t there to experience it, it therefore becomes history to them. The holocaust becomes a history to us. The post-holocaust generation cannot contribute an experiential memory to the event. Therefore the process of organization and factual recordings begin. History begins to preserve the iconic experience.
I always felt history was crucial to one’s identity-specifically cultural identity.
The history of the Cambodian holocaust has greatly impacted my family but it is the history of the culture pre-war that partially ceases to exist that plays a bigger factor. It is this that I feel has created a void in my own cultural identity. Because apart of the Cambodian history has been eradicated to such a large degree, it leaves me lost and asking questions with answers I will never get.
It is exactly that though, answers that I will never get, a truth that can never be attained and the originality of something that I will not be able to reproduced except only as a copy. “The perception among Khmer is that their culture has been lost, or is being lost, is pervasive. The destruction from years of warfare, the horrendous losses during the years of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979), followed by the presence of their traditional enemies, the Vietnamese, and for hundred of thousands of Khmer, the new realities of living beyond borders of their country in camps and in third world countries, all raise the anxiety that the Khmer as a people will cease to exist” (Ledgewood, 1). The thought of becoming “extinct” has a lot to do with being in a post-trauma mind frame especially for any group who had just experienced genocide. But one thing for certain though is, if memories of the holocaust, any holocaust, aren’t salvaged by later generations, they will be forgotten. As Crane says,” The new form of historical memory thus entered consciousness at a group level, and it was seen at the time to be recording and saving memories or experiences that would otherwise be lost […] This is the culture of preservation we have inherited” (1375). We begin to preserve and archive everything from objects, photographs, books, and papers. We are “sipping out of [a] collective memory, entering historical memory, [into a] pedagogical memory” (Nora 20). This pedagogical moment can be seen with the erections of monuments, statues, memorials and even the setting of specific dates as an occasion to commemorate and remember.
My works could be labeled as salvages. The process for my body of works has been like an excavation. What emerges from my excavation is the rediscovery of artifacts. The moment I present these artifacts, a revival of memory occurs. For me though, the memory revived is an abstraction, even representational-but the memory is my own. I can imagine living the experience and even empathizing it. W e begin to immerse ourselves as distant viewers and witnesses in an iconic experience. This is the revival.
Cartwright Lisa and Sturken Marita, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, New York/UK: Oxford UP, 2001, PG 139
Crane. A. Susan, “Writing the Individual Back into Collective Memory”, American History Review, American Historical Association, 1997, PG 1375, 1377
Kristeva, Julia, The True-Real: Women, Psychoanalysis and Politics, New York: Columbia University Press, 1986, PG 223
Ledgerwood Judy, Carol, Mortland Anne and Ebihara- May, Cambodian culture since 1975: homeland and exile, U.S: Cornell University Press, 1995, PG 1
Pierre Nora, Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire, U.S, The Regents of the University of California, Trans. Marc Roudebush, 1989, PG 8, 12, 20
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, New York: Hill and Wang, 1980, PG 100
Smith-Hefner Joan Nancy, Khmer American: Identity and Moral Education in a Diasporic Community, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999, PG 16
Williams, James, “Pragmatism’s Conception of Truth", The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, Vol, IV, No. 6, Harvard University: Cambridge, 1907, PG 141
Cartwright Lisa and Sturken Marita, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, New York/UK: Oxford UP, 2001
“Practices of Looking” is a textbook that examines how everyday society sees, interprets and communicate with visual culture from photography, film, advertisements and in art. One of John Berger’s theories that are mentioned in this book is the idea of the “original”. His theory talks about the role of value regarding the original object/material and how value declines for every copy produced of that original.
Crane. A. Susan, “Writing the Individual Back into Collective Memory”, American History Review, American Historical Association, 1997
In this essay, Crane elaborates on the notion of collective memory and historical memory. She sees collective memory as being created from lived experiences while historical memory is the preservation of those experiences. She also distinguishes between lived and learned experiences and how individuals contribute to the collective memory. She also talks about the role of the modern historian. What the duties of the historian consisted of in the past and what conflicts they deal with now in a modern context regarding the notion of the “lived experience”.
Kristeva, Julia, The True-Real: Women, Psychoanalysis and Politics, Columbia University Press: New York, 1986
“The True Real: Women, Psychoanalysis and Politics” is an excerpt from Kristeva’s collection of essays that taps onto the relation between psychosis and truth and the difficulties of using language to translate what is real, true and false. Language for Kristeva becomes a central point for how people interpret what is real and what truth is. She goes onto examines the human mind in terms of psychosis and found that the mind is susceptible to hallucinations and illusions, but underneath that all, there is core truth.
Ledgerwood Judy, Carol, Mortland Anne and Ebihara- May, Cambodian culture since 1975: homeland and exile, U.S: Cornell University Press, 1995
This book is an anthropological study of the diasporic Asian communities but with its focus more on the Cambodian culture and community. This book comments on the Cambodian culture pre-1970’s and post 1979, focusing on what aspects of the culture were lost during the Khmer genocide. This book dives into art and also explores what is contemporary art and culture currently for the Khmer people.
Pierre Nora, Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire, U.S, The Regents of the University of California, Trans. Marc Roudebush, 1989
“Lieux de Memoire”-site of memory is an exploration of the roles of memory and history and its relationship to individuals and groups. She also stresses the difference between Lieux de Memories and Lieux d’Histoire –real environments of history. This essay outlines the historic perspective and position of memory and history, leading us into the contemporary context of where they both are positioned now in the modern mind frame and how they work as dynamics. She categorizes memory into three types: archive-memory, duty-memory and distance memory.
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, New York: Hill and Wang, 1980
Camera Lucida is a book that stems from Roland Barthe’s experience with the passing of his mother. It all begins when he was going through her photos and not one of them truly depicted how he saw his mother. Camera Lucida is a reflection not only on the medium of photography but also on how photography is observed and viewed. Barthes takes us on his journey in the exploration of photography as the operator, spectator and the spectrum. His process of viewing is detailed in three terms: studium, punctum and unary.
Smith-Hefner Joan Nancy, Khmer American: Identity and Moral Education in a Diasporic Community, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999
This book is compromised of conducted interviews with parents of first generation Cambodian-Americans and how they see their culture changing with their children. It is also about a culture that the older generations would like to preserve and pass onto their children.
Williams, James, “Pragmatism’s Conception of Truth", The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, Vol, IV, No. 6, Harvard University: Cambridge, 1907
In this essay by Williams, he defines what truth is for us in a pragmatic way where “truth agrees with reality and falsity is disagreeing with reality”. Truth for Williams is something that can be verified and validated. He continues on about True ideas and True thoughts, which he details through numerous examples and situations showing us how truth is used in a practical way where it ensures our satisfaction.
Before I continue with machines as mother, let’s explore the surrogate mother “The Nature of Love”, a conducted experiment involving infant monkeys and surrogate mothers by Harry F. Harlow in 1958. In this research, ‘a total of 60 enfant monkeys over a span of 3 years were placed with constructed surrogate mothers’ (Green, 2-3). The beginning of the experiment started off by placing the babies in two different cages: one deprived of everything and the other was a gauze pad laid down. The reaction was that the baby monkeys became attached to the pads in the cages and whenever taken out to clean, the monkeys would over-react. The next experiment consisted of having two surrogate mothers in the cage with the baby monkey. One surrogate was “made from a block of wood, covered with sponge rubber, and sheathed in tan cotton terry cloth. A light bulb behind her radiated heat…[while the other surrogate] was made from wire-mesh, a substance entirely adequate to provide postural support and nursing capability, and she is warmed by radiant heat” (Green, 4). “There were no differences between the groups in the amount of milk ingested or weight gain. The only difference lay in the composition of the feces, the softer stools of the wire-mother infants suggesting psychosomatic involvement. The wire mother is biologically adequate but psychologically inept” (Green, 5). By Harlow stating that the surrogate mother was “psychologically inept” for the baby monkeys implies a need for what Johnson explains as “self-needs”. Monkeys were used in this conducted experiment because “the development of perception, fear, frustration, and learning capability follows very similar sequences to human children” (Green, 2). By attributing this need with the baby monkeys in developing the mind, we come to see how our need coincides with this also. The surrogate mother for the monkeys is like the machine only performing what it is function to do but other than that, it is oblivious to everything else. This experiment allows us to see it is possible for “infancy without motherhood” (Windsor, 278). As we can see from this scientific testing, infant monkeys when deprived of a mother will become attached to other means, even if it means just a terry cloth or their own diaper. The substitution for a mother with machine is possible but with it excludes emotional needs that make up an aspect of the role of a mother that a machine can’t possible take up.
“A pump pushes breast milk down her throat, through a tube that goes into her belly. Sixty-five breaths per minute are administered by a Drager 2000 Ventilator. She receives extra nutrition through an artificial umbilical line, blood-products and medications through an Intra Venous. Electrodes cover her body, measure her breaths and heart beats, her temperature, oxygen saturation and blood pressure- February 2 2003” (Windsor, 278)
As Jamie Windsor watched her newborn child in an incubator, her observation of the machine attached to her child made her realize something. She realized that her child has become part cyborg and part human. The cyborg part of her daughter was the very machine that wrapped itself around and which had also entered her child’s body. The machine here was nurturing and sustaining her child’s life, a role that a mother occupies. For Windsor, “the infant and the mother exist within a symbiotic relationship defined by two basic principles: the need to nurture and the nurture of need” (279). In this idea of nurturing, I go back to physical needs. To have food, water and air are just some of the essential physical needs we need in order to survive. “Technology is capable of simulating vital signs, of supporting life, of becoming Mother” (Windsor, 280). It can help us breath when our lungs can’t do that for us and it can feed us food through tubes into our mouths and into our belly when we are unable to. When we are so connected to technology, “our singular bodies are now components of composite human/computer amalgamation. The power of our bodies is reduced to a matrix of apparatuses and functions. Expediency and instrumentality are the governing principles by which bodies are decoded and recoded by mechanized inscription process” (Calvert, 43). If we were reflection of our parents, and if this parent were a machine, we would probably see ourselves as “apparatuses and functions” (Calvert 43). The machine does not only take on the role of a “mother”, but also the controller. The machine might be nurturing Windsor’s newborn but in reality it has taken over the infant’s body immersing itself with the child. It is not only the child’s cyborg mother but is also the child. The danger that lies here is the temporarily role that the machine inhibits as “mother”. If the machine were to loose its power, being unplugged from the outlet, turned off or disabled, the machines dies, but only temporarily before it is rebooted again. But during this interval of it loosing itself, not only has the machine died but possibly the child that it supports too. “The more the machine penetrates the individual’s life, the less opportunity the individual has to act spontaneously, unreflectively, or freely” (Johnson, 41). The child is attached to the machine and its every move affects how the machine works.
“Quinn has been fighting with her ventilator. She's tries to tug it out of her throat, but it's glued to her skin. To stop her from wrestling, the doctor drugged her with addictive sedatives and paralyzed her so she can't move, so the ventilator can fully take over her body- March 30, 2003” (Windsor 279)
The physical demands that a newborn needs from its parent are very basic essentials to surviving: food, water, shelter and air. The machine is able to encompass this role because it too can provide the physical demands from a child. But there are certain aspects of the machine that the human parent cannot embody. If the lungs of a newborn fail, the machine must take on that role of pumping air into him/her. The human parent is incapable of doing so.
“I want to love and hate the machine that breathes for her. Ventilation is a Catch-22. Ventilation turns the fragile tissues and muscles that are used for breathing and exchanging oxygen into scars. "As long as her lungs develop faster than the ventilator damages them, we win," says Dr. T. She is getting chest X-rays almost daily now. In her X-rays, her lungs are clouded-over with white. Her little lungs fill with fluid that has to be suctioned out almost every two hours in order for her to get the proper amount of oxygen into her blood- March 1, 2003”(Windsor 281).
The machine is able to temporarily provide the necessary means of sustaining life but once its turned off, the body that is attached to it can die or continue living on its own. The body can only continue living if it has come to a point of stability where it no longer needs the machine. At this moment of separation of the machine and body, it is also the separation of the cyborg mother and human child.
“I hold my child for the first time. She is naked, against my chest. Her ventilator curls around my neck, taped to my shoulder, disappears inside her. There are other tubes, too, taped to my other limbs by peach colored surgical tape. Beside me, another mother's baby dies. Another baby dies. The respiratory technician yells : "NO CPR" from across the nursery. He crosses the room, switches off the machines ? ventilator, incubator, monitor, eight intravenous pumps of miscellaneous medical poisons. The life inside the machine, refuses to go on without them. And I am taped to a rubberized rocking chair, taped to my baby, taped to the machine. I cannot leave when another baby's mother comes in-February 14”(Windsor 281).
This touching and feeling between mother and child is the start of an emotional bond and relationship between one another. “Initial love responses of the human being are those made by the infant to the mother […] from this intimate attachment of the child to the mother, multiple learned and generalized affectional responses are formed” (Green, 1). This formed responses connects back to Johnson’s self-needs where we have a need to develop our selves. For a child to be introduced to these arrays of emotions through the relationship with its human mother, a strong attachment has been developed. In Harlow’s experiment with the infant monkeys, another research he focused on was how the baby monkeys reacted and responded to fear. The surrogate mother at times was placed in the center of the cage. An object that would instill fear in the monkeys would then be placed inside also. The baby monkeys reacted by running to the center of the cage where the surrogate mother was placed. But when the surrogate mother was taken out of the cage, and the monkey was scared, it would run back to the same spot where the surrogate mother was placed before. For this experiment it showed how baby monkeys perceived the surrogate mother as safety and a shield from the fear. “One function of the real mother, human, or subhuman, and presumably of a mother surrogate, is to provide a haven of safety for the infant in times of fear and danger. The frightened or ailing child clings to its mother, not its father, and this selective responsiveness in times of distress, disturbances, or danger may be used as a measure of the strength of affectional bonds” (Green 10). The human parent knows when to comfort the child but a surrogate can only provide an outer skin of terry cloth simulation of flesh and comfort. However, there is no emotional comfort. “Technology is mimesis, the capability of imitating the human condition with such exactitude that it has become synonymous with the skin, the flesh, the vital organs of human bodies” (Windsor 279). But this mimesis is only the physical characteristics of our selves. The only reason technology can only accompany our physical needs and not our self-needs, is because it has no consciousness and without one it cannot bear emotions. Therefore the attachment that an infant perceives in the beginning of its life in an incubator is that of only physical needs, however if there is an emotional attachment, it is the infant that feels it- not the machine. But for the human mother, she will be able to feel that emotional connection and from that, be able to return the affection to the child.
The machine as mother can only occupy that role for a temporary period of time. It does not have the capability of having a long-term relationship. Although it can provide the physical means to an infant’s survival and aid in the sustainability of life in an ailing or weak child, it still does not have the capacity to provide emotional needs that extend beyond its simulations and stimulations. The human mother is able to provide not only the physical needs that ensure the survival of her child but also by providing emotional needs; that will help her child in his/her own self-needs: to develop his/her mind, emotions, and identity.