Thursday, May 21, 2009

The most important concept in research?

This is going to start boring, but I need to build the foundation so you understand why I bring up blackouts, violent rage, drug-use and whatnot.

Another semester ends. Hallelujah! Now my mind can rest for a bit. However, I cannot help but start thinking about next semester already. I will be teaching research methods. As the number of Applied Psychology majors increases, so does the demand for the class. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good is boring though, so I will skip that for why it's bad.

BAD, because this class isn't as effective as numbers increase. Individual attention is really important and students tend to need a lot of it in this class. It requires a more disciplined way of thinking than is typical. In fact, I've had students complain to me later that the way they view the world isn't the same anymore. (It's a joy to hear them add, "But I wouldn't want to go back to my old way of thinking.")

A big deal in the class is when I get to the "most important concept in research" lecture. The answer is "CONTROL!" The methods class is really important to me because I think it contains some of the most valuable learning lessons in college. But maybe I also have a bias…

There were two "incidents" that happened when I was a kid. The first was in kindergarten. (Yes, I was really that young once.) The second was when I was maybe a year or two older. Together they made me afraid of myself. One event was scary, the other was the eye-opener.

The first "incident" occurred when I was waiting in line with the other students to be led out to the waiting vehicles to go home for the day. I had a really really bad crush on a girl who was in line just ahead of me. I probably arranged myself to be there so I could look at her. She had no idea in the world that I even existed. By the way, that's my whole "mating dance" or, as I call it, the Three 'L' approach: I like; I look (not a pervert); I leave. Being way too shy to even talk to her or in any way indicate my interest, I was just waiting for her to read my mind or something. Ok, anyway, "the incident" was that this other little boy (let's call him "Rat-bastard") also apparently liked her, plus Prick-turd (or whatever his name was) seemed very willing to cross the line and even TALK to her! To make things worse, she TALKED BACK to Dinkus (or whatever his name was)! Seeing them carry on like that enraged me! I wasn't mad at her (oddly) but way mad at Fart-face (or whatever his name was). Literally, the next thing I knew, I was sitting on Zit-head (or whatever his name was) and looking at my hand and there was a drop of blood on my fingernail (I must have accidentally scratched the bastard).

I had no idea how I got to where I was. Totally a blank. But while I was wondering about that, little Piss-Pants was crying on the floor underneath me, while the love of my life was looking at me in horror and screaming, "You're crazy!" So much for that love story. At least she now knew that I existed. I guess. To make matters worse, my parents got a phone call from… not Doofus-boy's parents but from HER parents! Apparently, she was so upset that HER parents had to call my parents and rat me out. Very humiliating. Thank goodness the rest of my life would be free of embarrassment, drama, and pain.

Incident number 2, about the same time (actually a few years later), was that I was playing in my room and banged my head on the edge of the bed. It hurt so bad that I wished I knew some really good swear words other than "poop" or "kaka". My blood boiled ("Hulk no like pain") and my first thought was to go find my sister and hit her as though she were at fault for my boo-boo. Instantly, when I became aware of the stupidity of that line of reasoning my anger disappeared and I realized that I was being like my dad (or at least what I thought of was him back then).

My father worked two jobs and didn't really spend much time with us. When he got angry he would explode in rage. Really scary, but he never took it out on us physically - but things would get broken, thrown, smashed, stomped, etc. in the house when he was on his rampage. I didn't like it (nobody seemed to) and I really didn't want to be like that. SO I decided (with throbbing head) to try to NOT be that way.

It occurred to me recently, that ever since these little-kid incidents, I have tried to avoid any situation that would put me at risk of losing control. I never drink alcohol, have never done drugs, try not to make myself noticeable to others so they won't instigate a reaction, and so forth. If I have a task to accomplish, I hate relying on others because that means portions of MY task are no longer under MY control! Gosh! I live in fear that I might start sleepwalking some day! Yikes! Who knows what I might do!? That's my fear. Loss of control.

So, it is no wonder that I cherish this upcoming research methods class. The scientific method thrives on control. It's what I try to live by! CONTROL!

Oh, yeah! Also, just to give you a real glimpse of my juvenile mind! There was a phase I went through when I really believed that all a person needed to do was really focus and practice their psychic talents to get them to work. So the "talent" I was trying to develop was teleportation! Wouldn't that be cool! (There's even a great book about that: "Jumper" by Steven Gould - the movie sucked.) Anyway, I stopped trying to develop that skill all of a sudden when a thought occurred to me in the shower one day. I realized that such a skill could mean that I might teleport somewhere by accident. You know how sometimes you do something without thinking, well what if, while I was soaking wet in a pool (or in the shower) I thought about being at the north or south pole and suddenly teleported there?! I'd freeze to death in seconds! Or worse, imagine that you were in the middle of answering nature's call and BAM, you thought about being at the mall?! See? This would be a very dangerous or embarrassing loss of control.

So the reason I am not a super-hero teleporter today is because of my fear of losing CONTROL!