Psychology Personal Statement
“If she’s smart she will study Medicine.” This is an unwritten rule in my culture - all Nigerian parents want their children to become doctors. What becomes of the aspiring psychologist in the family? I met a junior doctor, at an educational conference, who wanted to specialise in psychiatry.
We discussed recent research questions in psychology like how do children acquire language and is there a genetic origin of schizophrenia? The exploration of such topics sparked a desire to study psychology at A Level. However the content covered in my psychology classes did not settle my curiosity in neuropsychology.
Instead I found that in the writings of Oliver Sacks. In Sacks book ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ he spoke of “Mr MacGregor” a man who had lost his proprioception - which is thought to be our sixth sense. This case particularly intrigued me as it provoked further questions to consider. What if I did not have any awareness of my body parts? How would life change?
Another interesting feature of the case was that Mr Macgregor’s illness stemmed from Parkinsonism. I relish the opportunity to investigate the consequences of brain damage, whilst developing my knowledge of behavioural neuroscience. I want to examine the structure of the brain in greater detail using specialist neuroimaging equipment.
I look forward to analysing how different processes in the brain affect cognition and behaviour, such as cases described by Sacks in his writing.
I take a very scientific approach applying my biological knowledge to psychology. Observing different biological structures during lab work allowed me to increase my precision and perseverance; skills I know I will need during my degree.
Psychology considers all aspects of human nature enabling me to examine human behaviour in greater depth using both qualitative and quantitative measures. Biology however, is the study of functions and systems that make us up as humans; I challenge this reductionist method of study. We are more than simply a combination of organs.
The case of Phineas Gage is an extraordinary one to me. Gage surviving is one thing, but the fact that experienced a personality change added to my fascination with the case. How can having a tamping iron propelled at great force through your brain cause such a drastic personality change? A biologist can tell you how Gage survived but only a psychologist can explain the change in behaviour.
Recently through following BBC Radio 4’s Mind Changers podcast, I am able to link case studies I have read in class to a real life setting. One episode that interested me looked at Julian Rotter’s locus of control. I learnt that I was externally minded and began to expand on theories from social psychology. Through listening to the podcasts I was inspired to look for psychology in my own community.
I play an active role in my college and was recently elected chair of the student body council, a task which has fuelled my interest in social psychology by helping me understand conformity and leadership. Volunteering for Teenage Cancer Trust has had a strong impact on me; I am able to understand the power of the human brain and behaviour through communicating with and helping extraordinary people.
In March I directed my own charity event as a part of my EPQ. The ‘Teens with Talent showcase’ raised awareness and over £2,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, demonstrating my dedication and commitment to the cause.
My involvement in extracurricular activities only strengthens and validates my academic record, showing I can manage time well which I believe has prepared me for a rigorous psychology degree. University now offers me the opportunity to be inquisitive and pioneering.
It offers the chance to be involved in ground breaking research in behavioural psychology, with lecturers and professors who are experts in their field. It is that single thought that drives me.
There are a few grammatical errors in it however I'm guessing the university overlooked them as they were not too obvious.