About Matthew Smoot

Senior at Emory University studying chemistry

When I Walk

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In class, we watched the documentary “When I Walk.” The movie did a good job at taking the experience of a single individual with MS and really understanding what the individual was feeling. It was a really eyeopening film, as it made me realize how how ignorant I was about how others might be feeling when going about their everyday lives. It really made me reflect upon how I can better work on being more educated and understanding on certain issues in todays society.

Going back to the film. At one point in the movie, Jason describes MS as a disability. I agree that there are certain aspects of the cultural idea of disability that makes MS a disability, however, I also think some aspects of the cultural idea of disability that are further misconstrued by the movie. One one hand, the idea of disability is well demonstrated. This can be seen through the authors struggle to access daily necessities and getting around. On the other hand, the idea of disability is misconstrued. The one point that stood out to me the most, was that disability equates to sadness. Even though positive aspects of Jason’s life are apparent, there seems to be an overarching tone of negativity when describing his life. I think it is great that the story of MS is being shared, however, labeling an individual as disabled can cause different misconceptions on what being disabled actually means.

 

MCAT

This weekend, I took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). I arrived at my location, which I never had been before and all I saw was a large parking lot and a single, tall office building. As I entered the building, I noticed 10 other students sitting outside. I wandered around to see what was going on and realized that the office had not opened yet. I did not feel very welcomed. The office opened at 7:30, 30 minutes later than it was supposed to, and everyone filed in, one by one. The main office was bright with the windows open, offering an inviting feeling. I was the first one to approach the front desk, and was welcomed with a smile and a set of choreographed instruction. I did as was told and was then called into the room next to me. As I entered, I was told to lift up my two pant legs so they could check that I didn’t have anything in my socks, push back my sleeves so they could check that I didn’t have a watch on, turn my pockets inside out so they could check that I didn’t have anything in my pockets, and then was scanned with a metal detector so that they could check for metal(?). One thought I remembered thinking, “If I was in a wheelchair, how could I take this exam?” There are no personal belongings allowed in the room, so what would they do with my wheelchair..? Lastly, I had to give my fingerprint so that they could confirm it was me the whole time taking the exam. I was then entered into the testing room. Each computer had its own cubicle, the chairs were fairly comfortable, and you had access to use noise canceling headphones (these legit were the tightest headphones in the world). The blinds were closed, but there were it felt 100 lights around the room. As I took my exam, others filed in. During breaks, I would have to go through the same process of being checked in. I didn’t interact with anyone other than the people working there for 8 hours.

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“Fat under the collarbone may help protect against type 2 diabetes”

ABC Science recently posted an article with the title, “Fat under the collarbone may help protect against type 2 diabetes.” Right away, I was skeptical of the claim behind the article. But as I started reading, my skepticism was quickly changed into intrigue. The author in the first sentence of the article, gives us a direct link to the study. She goes on by describing the type of fat, known as brown fat, that is located under the collarbone. She describes the experimental set up, and briefly gives an analysis of the results seem. As well, she consistently quotes the author of the study numerous times throughout the article to further emphasize points that she makes. There is only one point, however, that the author claims but does not site. The author claims, “It has also been shown that adults with abundant brown fat have lower glucose blood levels and are leaner,” however, the author never backs this information up with a reliable source. This claim does not seem to be cited in the study as well.

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When analyzing the paper, I noted several similarities the author claimed to what I found to be true. Overall, the author does a good job at simplifying the results demonstrated in the study but using direct analysis of the paper.

Humans

Humans are complex beings. They have language, emotions, and intelligence to name a few characteristic. But what makes humans different from all other beings?

Being a science major, my first thought was to think about how we are biologically different from all other beings. The only thing I could really think of was the concept of speech. A lot of different animals have different forms of communication but humans have the ability to articulate these feelings in terms of words. Another concept that came to mind was the idea of nakedness. Humans choose to wear clothing even though animals choose not to. I do not know why this is, but it is a social construct specific to being human. Lastly, as I was scrolling through Snapchat while writing this post, I kept seeing dogs, cats, and other pets people owned. To me, the concept of owning another animals for our own enjoyment, amusement, and attachment makes us distinctly human. To my knowledge the concepts of speech, nakedness, and owning another animal seem distinctly human.

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Jack Case Study

Jack is a 9 year old boy who demonstrates aggression by the following behaviors: blurting out inappropriate words, becoming angry easily and physically acting out against his mom, grandma, and peers at school, and refusing to go to bed at his bedtime.  These behaviors have to stem from some sort of factors, and these factors could include: Jack not having a father, social support from grandmother (indicating low income), mother having a previous drug issue, and mother having five children.

Jacks aggression can be demonstrated through aspects of the biopsychosocial model. It is indicated in the completed tests that Jacks seems developmentally on track, however, there seems to be social issues that are causing Jacks aggression. Jack seems to lack the attention needed from his caregivers and is consequently always seeking attention.

If treating Jack, I would recommend Parent Management Training. This technique focuses on using positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement on certain behaviors of the adolescent. Because Jack is constantly seeking attention through aggressive means, it would be smart for the caregivers to ignore Jack’s aggressive behavior (unless it was going to harm someone) and reward his cordial behavior. In doing so, Jack would start to learn that acting out would not lead to attention but rather positive behaviors would lead to attention.

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BPS Model

The biopsychosocial framework offers a holistic view when analyzing different disorders and conditions. Specifically, this approach examines the interactions between an individuals biology, psychology, and social world and how these interactions contribute to an individuals health or illness. When examining aggression, it is not possible to just view it based on an individuals genetics. Rather, aggression has to be viewed on a holistic level. For example, a child, who might have a genetic predisposition towards aggression, could end up not showing signs of aggression later in life. It really depends on the environment and social factors influencing the child. More specifically, if the child has a large support system then he might not show aggressive tendencies. On the contrary, a child could be born with no genetic predisposition towards aggression but end up showing aggression later in life due to negative social and psychological influences.

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Overall, I think that the BPS model provides a unique and interesting perspective on health and illness but I do believe it has its limitations. I believe it can be used for a lot of health related conditions but I also believe the model does not hold true for all conditions.

#SeeItToBelieveIt

In Michael C. Carlos museum, we had the opportunity to explore and examine the impact of curation and social media in the Museum. When I was wandering the museum, I didn’t really know what to photograph, until I came upon this huge jar, later to my knowledge known as a Pithos. This jar stood large and tall in the back of one of the side rooms, not enclosed in any class, and perfectly placed in the center of the display area. The lighting created a large shadow in the back, making the jar look bigger than expected and the pedestal it sat on gave it some extra height. It was clear that the curator wanted to make this object feel large and seen. When reading its description, I learned about the history of the Pithos. If it wasn’t for the placement of the vase, I would have never read about the object. Then I came to think about the impact a picture of this would have in social media. I realized that a picture of the object alone gives it zero justice. People will just see a large pot and move on. That is why I thought to include a description of the Pithos in my picture. When an individual goes on social media, they will quickly see what the pot is, and maybe feel inclined to do some more external research on the object.

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Psychopath: Manipulation is fun

"Psychopath"

When I imagine a psychopath, I imagine the image above. But how would I define someone as a  “psychopath?” Crazy to begin. When I think about about an individual as a psychopath, I think of someone who is manipulative. He or she might seem trustworthy as they put on a pleasant appearance but their intentions are to get what they want and have fun while doing it.

An interesting thing I have seen in media is that it seems like most psychopaths are depicted as men and are violent. Personally, I do not believe this to be true. I believe that most psychopaths are equally men and women and that most psychopaths aren’t violent, however I do think some have violent tendencies which drive their “fun” intentions.

After reading the article “What ‘Psychopath” Means” by Scott Lilienfeld, I now feel like I have a better understanding on the word. I was surprised to learn that most psychopaths are male but otherwise, I think I have a deeper and better understanding of the word.

Banksy Originality

“Political satire is a humorous, ironic, or sarcastic examination of the political arena in an attempt to expose absurdity and hypocrisy.” (wiseGeek) Exit Through the Gift Shop gives an interesting perspective of political satire as Banksy challenges social norms. In order to make a statement, Banksy uses the vehicles of irony and satire. Banksy seems to be aware of world events and social injustice while skillfully creating intellectually stimulating works of art that provide his audience with a fresh and controversial look at those events and injustices. It is through his art that he attempts to inspires individuals to take action.

Personally, I appreciate the art that Banksy creates. However, many claim that it his work is disruptive and his artwork destroys public property. Some think that his work is not oringinal and that he is just making vandalistic art on issues that have been around for a while.

Supplemental information from:

http://the-artifice.com/banksy-the-elusive-street-graffiti-artist/

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-political-satire.htm

 

Habits

Hospital Corners

Always remember to make your bed using hospital corners so that they sheets don’t fall out when you go to sleep. Always brush your teeth in the morning and at night. Always floss every night. Always wake up at a reasonable hour. You need to change your habits. Always make sure to find the deals when you go shopping. Always find sales because sales are key to all shopping purchases. Always use your school ID for discounts. You need to change your habits. Always hold the door for strangers… Don’t talk to that stranger. You need to change your habits. Always wake me up when you get home at night. Always turn the lights off over the garage when you get home. You need to change your habits. If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all. But mom, if I have something constructive to say, why can’t I say it? You need to change your habits.