Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reflection on my research paper

My paper is bulky. I would agree that I have probably overextended myself. The reason why it turned out to be so long is that I'm unused to having the liberty to do extensive research in a field of interest. I therefore took it to the absurd extreme, to counteract the ennui that is the result of compulsory schooling. At the same time, I have also betrayed a weakness. I'm of the opinion (or compulsion) that one is not living meaningfully unless one is constantly exploring one's limits. I have certainly done that, but it is questionable whether my piece is successful.

Organization is my most pressing concern. I have attempted to condense a lot of history and philosophical background, and I am not sure if I could have presented it in a more coherent fashion. Before I start analyzing sources, I do provide a few paragraphs of historical context that I allude to later in the text, but it is still not comprehensive. I found myself adding even more history, for example, in my discussion of Murray's text. Moreover, I think I could have done a better job of differentiating between Foucault and Szasz. This would have helped to justify my arrangement and the need to discuss two so-called representatives of the anti-psychiatry movement.

I also find the conclusion to be weak. It is long, rambling, and the very end seems to be a generic anti-climax. The time left for revision was meager because of how long I made my essay. If my paper suffers from that, I must admit my impracticality.

As always, verbosity is an issue. This time, though, I'm probably also guilty of mixing metaphors that may confuse my reader (see my discussion of Foucault, Baudrillard, and Heidegger). I'm not sure if I sufficiently explained the terminology I used, or what I could properly expect my audience (graduate students) to know.

This semester, I most enjoyed writing this paper. However, it is probably my weakest and least concise.

Towards a Holistic View of Psychiatry

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Purpose Statement and Design Plan for Research Paper

My purpose is to synthesize multiple academic sources to establish a position on the validity of psychiatric practices and their value. I will consider the insights and limitations of both psychiatry and anti-psychiatry, and thus work towards a synthesis that would hypothetically improve the effectiveness of therapeutic practices. I want my readers to come away with the understanding that while psychiatry cannot be entirely immune to influences of power and social control, it can learn to be self-aware, and realize the necessity of an open dialogue between therapist and patient. I will advance the view that, in light of the individual's irreducibility to any one system of thought, a holistic treatment would employ different methods and practical models in accordance with the specific needs and personality of the patient. At this point in time, knowledge of the psyche is not comprehensive, but we can test and refine conceptualizations of the human subject in trying to formulate a practice that helps the mentally ill to lead meaningful, creative lives; though we may never attain absolute truth in this domain, one must still care for those whom society would otherwise marginalize or abandon. Some form of social reintegration is necessary; one understands it to be, not the end, but the starting point in formulating an individual meaning in life, which includes living in concordance with one's environment.

My audience consists of graduate students. They are well-read individuals with some background in philosophy and psychology. They are future psychologists or psychiatrists who may have not yet dealt with the fundamental presuppositions of their respective fields.

The context is the 21st century, which is arguably a late-modern, if not post-modern era; therefore, I must consider the relationship between power and truth and define the scope of my conclusions, that is, I must comment on the possibility of their universality.

I would like to establish a strong ethos by respecting the complexity of the issue and demonstrating a deep understanding of the texts that I use. My approach will be interdisciplinary and strive towards an exegesis that takes into account as many divergent perspectives as possible.

Based on my understanding of myself as a writer and the topic at hand, my pathos will be scant, for it is an appeal that is often irrelevant to the truth value of a claim. Emotion may or may not be apparent to the reader in the conclusion, in which I will illustrate the ultimate significance of the relationship between the Subject (therapist) and the Other (patient or client).

Logos shall be evident my appeals to criticality and holism. In essence, I will argue that one cannot reduce man to any one of his aspects. In many cases, such reductionism results in oversimplification. Thinkers resort to it because they are complacent and/or proud (e.g., if they are defending their theory). The whole of man's personality is greater than any one of its parts, and as this is the subject of the therapist's work, he must take this into consideration.

I selected my sources based on their credibility and their recognition by scholars. I tried to find authors who epitomized either conventional psychiatry or anti-psychiatry, or were often associated with one of the two.

I will discuss separately two thinkers whose arguments are often cited to bolster the anti-psychiatry movement. First, I will discuss Thomas Szasz, and then the authors who deal more or less directly with the issues he raises, and then, I will examine Foucault and the writers who address concerns relevant to him. In this way, I will consider libertarian (Szasz) and postmodern (Foucault) critiques of psychiatry.

The medium is a formal academic paper in MLA.

To test my composition, I will participate in in-class review sessions.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reflections on my synthesis paper

My synthesis paper was rather successful. I did an effective job of synthesizing sources, though, as always, my diction was not appropriate for the audience in consideration. I did not bother to change my design plan to reflect this, because it would have been entirely ex post facto, and not to mention, arbitrary. College freshman were the only audience that thought I was worth addressing in this discussion. At least, that was the easiest route to take.

I must also admit that this was my least favorite assignment so far. I was rather bored writing it, and the reader may or may notice this.

In regards to the conclusion, I'm not sure it represents what I truly think about the topic. I ended on an optimistic note, but Huws' analysis disturbed me profoundly. I'm an introverted type, and I can't stand the bourgeois obsession with efficiency that characterizes our age.  I think about Joseph Campbell sitting in a log cabin, in complete seclusion, reading for 9 hours a day, and am filled with envy.

Unfortunately, I don't think I properly addressed the complexity of Huws' and Sennett's arguments in my response to them.

In addition, I find my third main point was the weakest (though typically it should be strongest), as it was something that I had already alluded to at different points of the paper. I'm not sure if this is simply a matter of overlapping topics, or if I was being redundant.

Parts of this reflection would be superfluous if I had one of my former English teachers review my paper and give me comments. The problem is, is that I hate asking favors from them, because I know they are all very busy people. I'd also have to have a working draft complete much sooner in order to give them enough time to do so.

One thing I realized after writing this paper, is how much I appreciate being able to choose the topic of my essays. In this aspect, college is far superior to high school.

The Precarious World of Work in the Twenty-first Century

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Design Plan for Synthesis Paper

My purpose is to draw upon multiple academic sources in creating a picture of work in the 21st century. This will enable me, then, to give advice to college students about the type of skills that they (and I) should be developing in order to be able to find favorable employment in the future. I shall argue that they need to be aware of the type of work that they are seeking (whether or not it is personal or impersonal, fixed or footloose, anchored or no) and the degree of education it requires; their ability to identify with a higher purpose in all of their work; and their capacity for creative thinking and self-reliance within their field of choice. In turn, possessing these characteristics will lead to the most stable and lucrative employment. With this in mind, students can take advantage of the opportunities of college life, take many different courses, develop critical thinking skills, and a keen entrepreneurial spirit. This, I hope, would allow them to achieve not only financial success but also an indelible purpose in life.

My audience consists of college students who may not know what awaits them after graduation. They may lack direction, and be unaware of the extreme competitiveness that characterizes the global economy.

The context is the 21st century, a time during which pundits have noted a lack of political participation and awareness among young people. It is possible that this is true to some extent in regards to economics. Perhaps those who come from working class families simply have the impression that they should become some type of engineer or software programmer, without realizing that they will have to consider other factors than whether their job is in a burgeoning field. Certainly, their parents will most likely not have the advice that young people need in order to thrive. Society is rapidly transforming in accordance with technological changes, and one cannot rely upon past generations. One needs the most current knowledge possible.

In my paper, I will mainly use ethos and logos. Since this is an academic paper, I must cite appropriate sources to corroborate my claims. Likewise, appeals to reason must serve to persuade my readers to take the proper course of action now while they do not have to worry about competing for jobs. My pathos will be admonitory. I will warn students of the consequences they will face if they cannot or refuse to adapt. There are also times where I will write in an urgent tone, such as when I discuss the new market's effects on personal identity and the moral upbringing of future generations.

As far as selection, my professor provided me with all of my sources. The only choice I had to make was which sources I wanted to use to support each claim. I based this on the nuances of each source's argument and what they revealed about the complexities of the 21st century economy; moreover, there were some instances where the memorability of a quote was decisive.

The medium is a formal academic paper written in MLA format.

I will present my claims in the following order: first, I will stress the importance of education in securing a higher-end job, and the specific type of job that prospective employees should be seeking; second, in analyzing the nature of the new capitalism, I will show that having a vocation is just as important as ever; and finally, I will emphasize the need for college students to hold themselves accountable for their work and learn to be innovators.

Testing will occur in peer-review sessions. The option of having a teacher look over it is also available to me.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


When I think about the concept of 'work,' I evoke numerous associations: work as drudgery, opposed to leisure; work as a necessity, an inevitable consequence of one's being immersed in the world of process or prakriti (all things are moved to action by natural and karmic laws); and work as vocation, as those activities that give one's life an individual meaning and purpose. The authors whose writings appear in The Changing Landscape of Work in the Twenty-first Century  explicitly mention two of these; therefore, I would agree with Ciulla when she writes that "[t]here may be no one particular feature present in everything we call work, but rather many characteristics that overlap and intersect." Most people, when asked to ponder this topic, will provide many similar answers. Their definitions are not necessarily contradictory, but complement each other, and reflect the variegated experiences of work that human beings share.