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Psychology Observation Paper

It seems to be common knowledge that downtown Denver attracts a variety of colorful people. When I attended the University of Colorado at Denver in 2002, I had many encounters with several different people that left me scratching my head in confusion. I spent the bulk of my time in the library and that’s where I first saw one of the most thought-provoking people in my life. He would come to library EVERYDAY and sit in the library’s courtyard. My friends and I would watch his behaviors with complete amazement. He is absolutely fascinating to watch. With this particular assignment, I had a very difficult time coming up with places to go and observe someone, but some time in the afternoon the “guy from the library” popped into my head. I phoned my friend who still attends CU Denver to see if he still frequented the library, and she said he still does. So I decided to go down to the CU Denver campus on my day off and go get some observational information on him.

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Site Location/Time: Auraria Campus Library/ 12:00 noon
Length of Observation: 1 hour

Observation Summary: I arrived at the library around 11:50 a.m. and was fortunate to find a table by the library courtyard. No sooner had I situated myself at the table, when my “subject” arrived at the courtyard. He appears to be a middle-aged man of Hispanic descent. He stands about 5 feet 6 inches and looks to weigh between 145-160 pounds. He was dressed in a tattered tee-shirt and what appeared to be a soiled pair of jeans. He strode purposefully through the library out to the courtyard, where he coolly lit a cigarette. He then proceeded to pace around the trees and the benches muttering incoherent phrases to himself. He turned toward a tree and began to have what appeared to be a heated discussion with the object. After about 2 minutes, he appeared to become more and more agitated and began to make threatening movements toward the tree and its surrounding bushes as well. After his dialogue with the tree, he began pacing around the courtyard once more. After about 30 seconds of pacing, he stopped and began shouting swear words at the sky. Coupled with the shouts, he was also waving his arms (still holding the cigarette). That tirade lasted about a minute or so, after which he walked over to some plants and began pointing his cigarette and laughing at them. He began what looked to be a conversation with them for about 5 minutes. His “rap session” with the plants appeared to be less heated than the one with the sky. He paused to light a new cigarette, and began pacing with his head lowered and talking to himself once more. Occasionally, he would lift his head and laugh at something humorous. This same behavior, alternating between the trees and plants, went on for the duration of the hour. He did not interact with any students passing through the courtyard. He seemed to prefer the inanimate objects. During this time, many students had paused to watch him. Some student’s faces showed amusement (I gathered that they were use to seeing him), while others just looked on in awe at his behavior. Myself, I had felt a bit of sympathy for the man. I could not imagine not being in control of my mind or behaviors. For me, nothing about his behavior was “funny”; rather it raised thought-provoking questions as to the mind and the crippling affects of psychological disorders.

“Rule Out” Summary: At the time I was attending CU Denver; my first “diagnosis” of the man in the library (having had minimal experience with such behavior) was that the man appeared to have symptoms of schizophrenia. My desire, this time, was to go observe him without any biases. After my observation, I began to rule-out psychological disorders that I thought was he didn’t show any symptoms of. Based on my observation, he didn’t show any signs of having an anxiety disorder, a phobia or a panic disorder because he didn’t appear to be anxious, fearful panicky. He didn’t appear to have shortness of breath, chocking sensations or trembling. He didn’t appear to show any symptoms of a manic episode because he wasn’t showing any signs of hyperactivity or wildly optimistic behavior. He didn’t appear to have any symptoms of bipolar disorder because while he did show signs of overexcited mania, he did not alternate between that state and hopelessness and lethargy. He didn’t appear to show any symptoms of depression because his behavior appeared to be more erratic than those behaviors common of depression. He did show a few symptoms of dissociative identity disorder because he did exhibit two or more distinct and alternating personalities. One was hostile and aggressive, while the other appeared to be a bit more passive and found many things humorous. However, he mostly showed symptoms commonly related to schizophrenia. His thoughts appeared to be disorganized and delusional, he appeared to be suffering from disturbed perceptions and his actions and emotions were undoubtedly inappropriate. He also appeared to be suffering from delusions and possibly hallucinations. While it would be easy to deduce that this individual was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, I believe that more observations would have to be done before one could come up with a concrete conclusion. There is definitely more room for further inquiry. I would like to see this individual get some clinical help, so he can live out the remainder of his days with peace of mind and purpose.

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