Diary of a postgrad student – all change

I love to learn.

I love to see things from a different perspective.

At the moment, I’m learning to see things from a different perspective. I am like a pig in muck, I’m so happy.

I have now completed 2 assignments. No idea how I’ve done yet but I’ve done my best and I’m here to learn so I’m sure I’ll get some feedback which will help.

Even though it’s early days, there has been a fundamental change in the way I look at things.

Let’s take this image for example:

This is an image of two 3-year-olds that was the basis for an article in the Telegraph this week (read it here)

I have seen the article shared on Facebook many times. I have also seen it shared by my professional colleagues on their pages and in groups. It usually has a some sort of comment along the lines of “how terrible is this?”. Some have taken it as showing abuse and neglect. Some have taken it as showing the difference between a mother who stays at home and one that goes to work. Whichever way, it has been supported by calls to do something.

The article goes on to say:

“The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby.

The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not.”

This is not a scientific statement. In fact, the language is very non-scientific despite an apparent scientific image being presented. This is a highly subjective and biased statement by the authors, who are supposedly Neurologists.

They also suggest the brain showing “extreme neglect” will lead to an adult with severe mental health issues.

When I look at it I realise that it represents a single point of data. What can you do with a single point of data? Very little!

I would like to see the photos of the same kids when they are older. The brain changes all the time thanks to neuroplasticity. Just because there is different development at different stages, does not mean that it defines you for life. Yes, it’s interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you the whole picture. You need to see a progression. You need to see it with multiple different subjects. You need to not make the mother responsible for everything and look at the other people who play a role in a child’s development.

Now I might have been like my friends a few months ago. I would have been fascinated by the difference. I would definitely still have questioned any blanket statements around being stuck that way for life. I firmly believe we can all change.

But I would not have opened up the article and looked for supporting data. I would not have looked for a link to the source journal. I might have assumed they knew what they were talking about and not questioned the heavily biased data. I would probably, like my friends, have glanced at it, shared it, and invited thoughts.

This is what I love. In just a few weeks the way I look at everything has changed. This is exactly why I am on this Masters. Part of me wishes I had done it a lot sooner. A bigger part of me realises that this is exactly the right time and place in my life for me to do this. Besides, we can’t time travel…unless we are Doctor Who…which I am not…of course.

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Hi, my name is Dawn Walton and I am a 44 year old therapist that lives in the Dundee area. I'm originally from Anglesey in North Wales, but I've lived here for 17 years. My first degree was in Computing at UMIST in Manchester. Now I'm studying a Masters in Psychological Research Methods with the aim of going on to do a Phd.

I love Starbucks and Pokemon Go. So they are likely to feature in my posts quite often!

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