Life Chances

When I explain my life to people, the immediately respond with how sorry they and offer words of encouragement.  It is hard to explain to people that no matter how hard I have had it that part of my being able to survive was to turn those negative experiences into something positive.  I have had many chances in life that may have appeared as barriers initially.  Action is human behavior to which the acting individual attaches subjective meaning. It is not always easy and the challenges keep coming, no matter how hard I try to leave them behind.

Whatever advantages or disadvantages parents have, they pass these along to their children, in all societies. (Beeghley, 2008)  On the positive spectrum, as a small child, I had the opportunity to experience real, unconditional love from my Grandparents.  They were married for over 50 years and all of the grandkids had the goal to have relationship comparable to theirs.  From their influence, I was able to see the positive aspect of a relationship.  I learned how a man and woman can get along and love each other, through the good and bad times.  I saw a woman who respected and supported her husband and he responded with an equal amount of care.  Years I watched the two of them live their many years as lovers, but above all, best friends.

While I have been able to find a somewhat comparable relationship to what I witnessed as a child, it was not an easy goal to obtain.  Yet, also not permanent.  Idealizing their relationship also resulted in failed relationships and two divorces.  I tried very hard to be just like my Granny, seeking the same response out of a partner that I saw she had.  It never seemed to happen that way.  In some ways, you could say that my idealization of a perfect relationship also had negative impact in my life, as I was unable to see someone for who they were and chose to focus on who I thought they should be.

There are other aspects of my childhood that resulted in barriers to my life chances.  I was victim to childhood sexual assault and come from a financially disadvantaged family.  Both of these made me learn at a young age that I was considered a statistic.  No matter what barrier I attempted to defeat to ensure my own mobility, as soon as anyone heard of my past, I was categorized and expected to act like the majority of others who had similar experiences.

The day I went to pre-marital counseling with my first husband, I provided information about the abuse I survived as a child to the pastor.  He said he was obligated to communicate to my fiancé that due to the abuse I experienced, that I was very likely to abuse my our children.  That was just one of the actions or responses I received over the years that was symbolic the belief that a number of people have in common a specific causal component of their life chances (Gerth & Mills, 1946) and are consequently labeled according to the actions of the majority.

These stereo-types and labels did not stop me though.  They made me try even harder.   I continued to do what I had to do to survive and work towards social mobility for myself and my children. I have had to change my mindset to view the many challenges as opportunities.  This has worked in my favor in some aspects.  Other times it hasn’t but regardless, there is always a lesson.  The way I think about the circumstance reflects Weber’s belief that life chances are subjective and what a person thinks about their situation will determine their actions.  (Elwell, 2014)

Along with changing my cognitive behaviors, I have learned the value of education and the potential consequences for choosing what is viewed as a positive life chance.  The expansion of one’s knowledge to something not consistent with your family group may cause conflict.  Many first-generation college students report having little support, discouragement and relationship strain from their families.  (Billson & Terry, 1982)

I am no exception to this.  Any excitement I shared with my family regarding my educational accomplishments has distanced me from my siblings and parents.  Rather than sharing in my accomplishments, they have shunned me and accused me of being arrogant and ungodly.

Religion has been one area in life that I have had uncountable challenges.  While some view religion as something positive, I have viewed it as negative.  The many attempts that I had in adhering to a dogmatic faith, I found it detrimental to my goals.  If I were to follow the religious beliefs of my family, I would not be concerned with this world.  I would let everything go and give it to God, for Him to handle.

There are many things I have accomplished that would not have happened, had I sat idly by and waited for a miracle to happen.  Several times in my life I was told by family members that I am too, “passionate,” and that I needed to learn not to question things and just let God handle it.  I had to believe the ability was within me, not outside of me.  This resulted in choosing to disregard my childhood religious teachings of conformity and letting go. The last time I heard this was during the most recent conflict with an ex-employer.

In January 2012, I was working for a large international electronics company.  In a world that is so focused on zweckrational and traditional motivation, (Elwell, 2014) it is hard to be a person that is more wertrational and affectively motivated.   This was evident in this position.  I was asked to complete documents to allow a shipment of used laptops to be loaded for export on passenger aircraft.  Knowing the regulations, I saw the shipment and questioned the packaging.  These contained lithium batteries which can cause fires, if not packaged properly.  I took this to my manager.  He told me to not question his authority and to complete the shipment.  I refused.

A long story short, the motivation behind my decision was wertrational.  I would be violating my values to allow the shipment to leave and risk causing harm to individuals.  His response was initially traditionally motivated, as he said, “we have always done it like this and there has not been an issue, so there is no reason to change.”  There was also mention of it costing too much to change the packing and the method was the most efficient, so this pointed to zweckrational motivation to attain the revenue goal.

Although the efficiency was a false idea when I presented the facts that the means was not worth the risk, there was still dissent.  This has been a recurring barrier over the last four years of my career.  Similar experiences have happened since this one and each time, I am faced with my motivation and the meaning I attach to my actions conflicting with those of my employer(s).

One of the most controversial figures in history said, “It is a thousand times more difficult to overcome this barrier of instinctive aversion, emotional hatred and preventive dissent than to correct opinions which are founded on defective or erroneous knowledge.” (Hitler, 1939)  You could say that my experience reflects this perfectly.

I wonder if these institutions really see what they are requiring of individuals to advance.  Maybe Lasch was in fact right about major institutions eroding the competence and independence of social groups. (Lasch, 1979)  To ensure their strategy is fulfilled, I would have to act in opposition to the values I am attempting to instill in my kids.  I still can’t find it within myself to make decisions based on the same motivators I have seen to be the norm in the institutions I have been a part of.  This is still ingrained even after losing my most recent job to these factors a week ago.

Decisions will need to be made soon that will determine what role these experiences play in my life chances.  Ensuring the financial security for my family to continue the upward path will be contingent upon the completion of my education (which I will not be able to afford after this semester), finding a company that attaches the same meaning to their actions as I do, and/or determine if my own integrity should be sacrificed to an employer, to ensure the future mobility of my kids.

Works Cited

Beeghley, L. (2008). The Structure of Social Stratification in the United States (5th ed.). Pearson Education.

Billson, J., & Terry, M. (1982). In search of the Silken Purse: Factors in attrition among first-generation college students. College and University, 57-55.

Elwell, F. (2014, 10 09). Verstehen: The Sociology of Max Weber. Retrieved from

Gerth, H., & Mills, W. (1946). From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hitler, A. (1939). Mein Kampf. (J. Murphy, Trans.) London: Hurst and Blackett LTD.

Lasch, C. (1979). The Culture of Narcissism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.



Historically speaking, there are certain characteristics of society which precede a revolution.  These include discontentment, a feeling of restlessness, scholars giving up on how society operates, government not responding to the needs of society and government financial failure.  If this is fact, we are walking full-force into the next revolution.

It is already in progress.  Look around and you will find not only individual nations, but the entire world, exhibiting these symptoms.  The coming revolution will be like no other in history, as in no other era have the people of the world been able to speak for themselves, as they do today.  Alliances are made across continents who share the same views and beliefs.  This world is spiraling into a world revolution that will span beyond religion, race, or borders.

The walls are about to crumble.  Riches will be nothing more than dirt, as those of honor begin to rise above the illusionist powers that have ruled over the nations for centuries.  Those who have enslaved those of honor will fall to their knees.  Chaos is accelerating as I write this and will take with those deemed as weak and devour their existence.  Those of true integrity and honor, meant to lead this world, will be lifted through this coming war with the infinite strength of the cosmos illuminating, for all to behold.

Crime in America – Why Do We Spend So Much Money?

Durkheim believed that is a normal social function, both necessary and indispensable, serving as a social function. (Edles and Applerouth 2015). What does this mean? The social function of crime is to validate the social norms, by going against these norms. Crime is a deviance, simply put, that goes against the set of norms established by a society. However, it should be noted that from a sociological perspective, no act is inherently deviant. (Edles and Applerouth 2015)

Deviance is defined socially, dependent upon one group to another and characteristic of members of a particular group or society. Just because one group believes that something is deviant does not mean that another group will agree the same act is deviant. We see differences in what society believes to be a deviance every day. This is what causes disagreements within cities and the root of political splits. Some groups rally for pro-life while others believe in pro-choice. Some groups believe it is a deviance, or crime for a company to discriminate against workers, while management may believe a worker is in social deviance to report corporate wrongdoing to authorities. However, once a society or other societal institutions agree that a deviance is severe enough to result in criminal punishment, laws are then set into place to be enforced by the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

This is where the court system is granted power to set offence levels. In the State of Texas, offences are designated as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are further broken down into class A, B and C categories according to level of seriousness. Felonies are similarly classified into five categories according to seriousness. These include capital, felonies of the first degree, second degree, third degree and state jail felonies.

Durkheim also focused on, “social solidarity,” or how a society works together and is organized (Edles and Applerouth 2015). He believed that society should be studied collectively and rejected the idea of individualism. Durkheim believed that stability in society is rooted in “social facts,” or the “ways of acting, thinking and feeling, external to the individual,” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 74). One of Durkheim’s main arguments is that crime exists, therefore, it must be performing a necessary function; if not – it would not disappear in an advanced society. (Hamlin 2009).

Taking the macro perspective on the question – why do we spend so much time and money to fight crime may be better answered by taking a few select topics of deviance to analyze, for more of a micro view as to why this is happening. Looking at the arrest statistics for the State of Texas for 2011 (TxDPS 2011) there were a total of 4,140 arrested for sex offenses (other than rape and prostitution, 1,756 arrested for rape, 108,414 arrested for other assaults (not aggravated) 5,417 for offenses against family and children and 69,770 arrested for possession of marijuana.

Looking deeper into the number arrested for sex offenses, other assaults and offenses against the family – this number combined comes to 119,727, for the entire state. An assault can be a number of things – anything from a slap in the face, a kick, throwing a ball at someone that got mad and decided to press charges. More than just sexual assault. Therefore, the total number of sexual offenses to be used is 5,896 (rape and sexual offenses combined). More data would need to be obtained to analyze if any of the “other assaults may have been sexual, so those are not being considered sexual for the purposes of this report, as the state did not report them as such.

Looking at a publication from Hope Alliance, their data shows that for 2011 there were nearly 178,000 incidents of family violence in the state and 18,088 incidents of sexual assault in the state for the same year. (Hope Alliance 2011). However, just looking at the sexual assault numbers that Hope Alliance is reporting, compared to the number of arrests for sexual assault (other than rape) the same year from the state – there is a huge variance – of 13,948, or 77%.

Now, we have numerous social service agencies that constantly strive to stop domestic violence. However, the numbers are lingering behind. In addition to the above numbers, it also states that more than 226,000 children will become victims of sexual assault every year, in 85% of the sexual assaults, the offender was NOT under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense and that victims are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. (Dawgert 2009).

Victims of sexual assault have different ways of coping with the trauma. Those who have survived rape, 89% used cocaine for the first time after the attack. (Dawgert 2009). Data also shows that 73% of women in substance abuse programs were raped and that 45% were so multiple times. (Dawgert 2009). Both physical and sexual abuse show an association with higher rates of use of alcohol, marijuana and all other drugs. (Dawgert 2009). Considering this information. You have to wonder what the real problem is – drugs or sex.

Looking at the number of possession related arrests for marijuana – 69,770. The total arrest for possession all together for 2011 were 118,432. (TxDPS 2011). The totals include arrests for heroin, cocaine, narcotics and methamphetamines. When you look at data on the most dangerous street drugs, crack cocaine and heroin show up on the list, but marijuana doesn’t. However, the combined arrests for possession of cocaine and heroin for 2011 were 22,837, only 19% of the total drug possession related charges for the year.

This goes back to the question, “if Durkheim is correct – that crime is normal in any society – then why do we spend such time and money to combat it within our society?” We all know that sexual assault is morally wrong. However, the data shows that we are obviously spending more money incarcerating people for marijuana than sexual crimes against people. I believe this goes into an even deeper question to be answered on this topic – why do we spend so much money focusing on some issues and not others? Why are we spending so much money focusing on something that may very well be a result of the root issue and not the issue itself? It appears from the information above, that society is spending money criminalizing victims.

There are some concepts in psychology that I believe apply to society in this case. How we cope with this bigger issues. First, I believe that law enforcement and the courts are practicing social solidarity on the basis of aim inhibition – that is lowering their sights on what seems more achievable. This is one of the first reasons there is so much money being spent on crime. I would say that we are stuck in a cycle where there is a positive correlation in the number of victims of unreported and unaddressed sexual related crimes and drug related crime. It is much easier to convict someone for possession that it is for sexual crimes against a person. I would think this is a good reason alone to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, so the focus and funding can be used in other areas, such as the investigation of more serious crimes against the person that are shown to lead to these later deviances in society.

Second, as a society, many people solidify on smaller topics and agree that addicts are deviant and do not want to hear about the root causes, even if there is data to validate it – such as sexual assault and rape. This is because issues like this cause uncomfortable emotions. This is a coping mechanism known as avoidance. However, at what point does society realize that living inside one’s own ego and comfort zone just isn’t working anymore? That to address this issues that everyone find’s so important, that they have to be willing to toughen up and deal with these things that nobody wants to deal with? The things that are quite uncomfortable to think about?

Considering that 226,000 kids will become a victim this year, (Dawgert 2009) I would say that is more than enough reason to face reality. The faces of the unknown victims to come are not known. Never know if it is going to be someone we know in our own family, church or neighborhood. Why wait for it to hit home – when it is too late?

We have our priorities distorted. We deal with what is comfortable for us to deal with. We avoid painful topics and pick and choose what is important to us. We ignore the obvious – playing the game of willful blindness in society. Choosing consciously, but sometimes not, to not see those situations where we “could know,” but we, “don’t want to know.” We really, “need to know,” but we would, “feel better not knowing.” We keep ourselves in the dark on the bigger things, because they are painful. I think we are doing this as a society, until somewhere down the road, it will come to a head and we will all ask ourselves, “how did we not see this?” Not seeing it makes us feel good about ourselves. Seeing the bigger issue, such as 226,000 kids to be sexually assaulted this year and only 13% of sexual assault cases being assertively taken care of will make us feel like a failure. Having to admit at that a large portion of the 118,432 people arrested for possession of drugs in 2011 were likely victims of sexual crime and the perpetrator was never convicted and is still free to take another victim is not a happy feeling.

However, if it is truly the root of the problem, facing the reality and the feelings associated with it are unavoidable. Until that happens, there really should not be any question as to why we are spending so much money on crime. If someone wants to ask that question and is uncomfortable in facing reality, then all they need to do to answer that question is go look at themselves in the mirror to find the answer to that question, if they have failed to do anything do change it. Are we asking this question while human children are being mistreated at the expense of more attention being put on if adult homosexuals can marry, or if pig wresting is humane? We need to stop pointing fingers at a faulty system and remember where we live and that we need to take accountability and enforce changes in the system through solidarity. Not fall into willful blindness, avoidance, aim inhibition and refusal to act on much larger issues that data shows to contribute to deviance in our society.


Dawgert, Sarah. 2009. “Substance Abuse and Sexual Violence.” Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Retrieved August 15, 2016 (

Deering’s California Codes Annotated Penal Code Section 1203.073 (2015).

Hamlin, J. (2009) The Normality of Crime. Durkheim and Erikson, Department of Sociology and Anthropology. UMD

Hope Alliance. 2011. “Facts & statistics.” Retrieved August 15, 2016 (

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

TxDPS. 2011. “Crime in Texas reports.” Retrieved August 15, 2016 (

Dysfunctional Thinking Patterns

We all encounter negative thinking. It can be both a positive and negative process, but at
what point does it become dysfunctional in nature and what defines dysfunctional? While
negative thinking can provide some benefits, when a person gets to a point that their thinking is centering primarily in a negative state, it can be toxic. Should a person find themselves at a point that their negative thoughts are causing problems in their life, it may be of value to evaluate their thoughts to reverse this highly detrimental process.
Negative thinking has been shown to have neurological roots  stemming from the arousal of the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain that is aroused and stimulates the release of the hormones for the “fight or flight” response we encounter when faced with danger. Okanagan Clinical Trials stated, “Within the brain, the amygdala is associated with the evaluation and processing of emotionally charged events.” (Okanagan Clinical Trials) In some people, this arousal of the amygdala, from automatic thoughts, can remain for a long time. The response could very well be a survival mechanism that has evolved over time to dangerous stimuli. While this is process is vital to our well-being, it can sometimes become overwhelming.
Dysfunctional thinking has specific characteristics which can be used to determine if a
person’s automatic thoughts are in a chronic state of negativity. David Burns compiled a list, “The Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking,”(Burns) which can help a person challenge their thoughts when tension or anxiety arises. By identifying these ten
traps, and reversing them, a person can move from a state of negativity, to one of positivity.
1. All-or-nothing
This is when a person looks at things in black or white, or in absolute terms. Things
are only good or bad, black or white. There is nothing in between. All of the brightness of any situation is pushed out. The person caught in this trap may be heard to say,
“I will always be a failure,” or, “I will never find the right person,” when faced with a  failed relationship.
2. Overgeneralization
Overgeneralization is another way of looking at things which can be toxic to a person’s well-being. This process is taking one negative event and thinking that everything else will follow the same path. One bad thing happens and to this thinker, the world is going to end. Seeing an athlete that loses a game that states, “We will end up losing the rest of the season,” in response to the one loss is partaking in overgeneralization.
3. Mental Filter
Some use what is referred to as a mental filter. Thinking is so zoned into the seemingly irrelevant negative aspects of something, that the person totally ignores the positive aspects of the same thing. Think about a person who has just cleaned the carpets and wants them replaced, because of a pea sized stain on the carpet that won’t
come up. They are so hyper-focused on the small flaw that the perfection of the rest
of the carpet is construed as ruined.
4. Disqualifying the Positive
To totally filter out all positive things and only focus on the negative is another trap,
referred to as disqualifying the positive. Good things are always turned into something negative through viewing them as a mistake, or just plain not counting. This thinking involves a double standard. No matter what evidence you have that something is positive, it is rebuked as negative. This can be seen in relationships – when partners disqualify the positive with each other, they focus with the negative traits of the other, with no mention of anything good about the other.
5. Jumping to Conclusions
Jumping to conclusions is making assumptions based on no facts. This person makes
an assumption that based on feelings, such as thinking the reason a person did not call back is because they don’t like them. They are sure in the negative outcome without waiting for any feedback from the other party to explain their side.
6. Minimization / Maximization
Minimization and Maximization are common traps as well. Maximization heeds to the term, “blowing things out of proportion.” These can be interchanged to result in negativity. A battered wife may minimize her partner’s actions while maximizing his positive actions, as justification of staying in the relationship. In turn, the abuser may maximize the wife’s small imperfections, totally ignoring her positive contributions as a basis for his behavior.
7. Emotional Reasoning
When a person bases their decisions on how they feel, rather than with an objective and logical reasoning. They are blinded of the variation between facts and feelings and make illogical decisions. This individual may be the one that feels as though something bad is going to happen; therefore it is. After taking an exam, they feel the failed, so it must be.
8. Should Have
“Should have” thinking results when a person, facing an upsetting or anxiety provoking event, starts in with, “should statements.” A parent disciplining a child that makes a 95 on the test and says it is not good enough, “You should have studied harder,” is in this destructive trap.
9. Labeling / Mislabeling
Labeling and mislabeling is related to generalization and occurs when a negative label is put on an individual, rather than lining out the error and looking at it objectively. A person that says, “I am such loser,” for slipping on a diet, is applying a negative label to themselves. The event is turned into something that is emotionally loaded.
10. Personalization
Personalization occurs when a person takes blame for an external event that was not their fault. A mother who loses a child to a progressive disease may personalize the situation by saying, “Had I just taken her to the hospital a little sooner, she would still be here.”
“Cognitive behavioral psychologists believe that our feelings are largely dependent on our thoughts.” (William Doverspike) Once a person can identify any of these irrational cognitive processes, steps can then be implemented to change them, and move to a  world of positive thinking. When an automatic thought manifests, a person can stop in their tracks and work to find which trap they are using at that time. One highly respected model that can be used to turn thinking around is REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy – developed by Albert Ellis in 1955. (The Albert Ellis Institute). Utilization of methods such as these can be of benefit to individuals seeking to change their outlook, through cognitive transformation.
Works Cited:
Burns, David. The feeling good handbook: Using the new mood therapy in everyday life. New York:William Morrow, 1989.
Okanagan Clinical Trials. Okanagan Clinical Trials. 14 April 2011
The Albert Ellis Institute. The Albert Ellis Institute Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. 26 April 2011 <;.
William Doverspike, Ph.D. 24 April 2011

Equality in Marriage – Discussion Topic

I do believe that a good marriage is dependent up on equality.  However, the meaning of equality I am emphasizing is that of similarity; specifically, a similarity of individual temperaments.  Jung determined that there are a specific set of traits that are inborn in humankind.  These basic traits or functions are sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. Most people will have a preference of creating meaning through sensing or intuition.  Additionally, each person will have a tendency to make decisions based on thinking or feeling.

A good marriage is highly dependent upon the partners having a similar way of perceiving, processing and expression.  This does not mean that have to be exact mirrors of each other, but they should, at a least, complement one another.  Issues can arise if the couple if one partner tends to make decisions based their observations in the moment, while the other prefers to make decisions that center around future uncertainty.

Power is the ability to perform, or capability to accomplish something.  Considering the only constant in life is change, one could say that the distribution of power in a relationship will never be constant.  Marriage will be full of planned and unexpected stressors – such as starting a family, unexpected illness, promotions and even death.

When these events, occur, it is highly probable that there will be a resulting power shift in the relationship.  One partner may need to take up responsibilities that the other may have handled regularly.  The success or failure of the relationship can fall back to the synchronicity of the couple’s individual traits and trust in the other’s abilities, or power.


Jung, C. (2009). The Red Book – Liber Novus: A Reader’s Edition (S. Shamdasani, Ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Jung, C. (1970). The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Gender Inequality

Gender inequality in the past was heavily focused on women and while we may have come a long way, we still fall short of full equality. (Eibach & Ehrlinger, 2010)  The previous century showed improvements in the opportunities presented to women that were not viable previously.  One of the main examples is the economic empowerment of women.

While we have made progress in expanding the career choices that are socially acceptable for women to secure, we still have not reached a point that the pay is at the same level of gender egalitarianism.  According to the White House, a woman make only 77% of the wage that their male counterparts earn. (Patte, 2014)

This variance triggered the Paycheck Fairness Act earlier in 2014 which seeks to amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.  The proposed changes would revise the exception to the prohibition of wage differentials based on any other factor besides sex. Only bona fide factors, such as education, experience or training would be permissible.  It would also prohibit retaliatory actions by employers for the discussing, disclosing or inquiring wage related information by employees. (S.84 – 113th Congress Paycheck Fairness Act, 2014)

Unfortunately, in the recent days, Senate Republicans failed to pass a vote to secure the pay equality that is still lagging behind close to a century of efforts to close this gap.

Works Cited

Eibach, R. P., & Ehrlinger, J. (2010). Reference Points in Men and Women’s Judgements of Progress Towards Gender Equality. 882-893.

Patte, E. (2014, April 08). On Equal Pay Day, key facts about the gender pay gap. Retrieved Sept 19, 2014, from Pew Research Center:

S.84 – 113th Congress Paycheck Fairness Act. (2014).