As we’ve discussed in class, your RBAs will effectively have two thesis statements: a Conversational Thesis (adapted from the TIC, this gives a sense of the research conversation out of which your argument will emerge) and an Argumentative Thesis (this is where you, the expert, enter this conversation and take it somewhere new).
No two dueling thesis statements wil be exactly alike. Many thesis statements themselves unfold over a series of sentences that, with their framing, can take up most of a paragraph. Depending on the degree to which one not only describes WHO will be a part of the conversation, but HOW that conversation will unfold, the Conversational Thesis (CT) can take up quite a bit of space as well. So this isn’t about dueling sentences: the units we’re dealing with are broader and more complex than that. It’s up to you which goes first, but they key, regardless, is how to transition between the thesis statements, from the intro to the CT or AT, and from the CT or AT to the initial portion of your paper proper. Below, are two samples from student papers. The AT is underlined; the CT, bold.
Cougars in the Media (No, not the ones on Animal Planet)
Jane is out at a local bar and spots this guy she’s seen around campus. She decides that tonight is the night to make a move, but as she closes in, a woman walks into the frame. A woman old enough to be her mother. Throwing him a flirtatious smile, the woman takes a seat next to him. Jane’s immediate reaction may be confusion, followed by a wave of disgust as she thinks, “That woman is way too old to be with any of the guys here.”
This is a popular attitude among our society. We expect twenty-year-old men to date twenty-year old women, and fifty-year-old women to date fifty-year-old men. When we observe someone violating these unwritten dating laws, we give disapproving glances accompanied by negative thoughts. If asked why they view age difference as being detrimental to society, most of those people wouldn’t be able to tell you. With only 10-14 percent of marriages occurring between an older bride and younger groom, it is safe to assume that the majority of the population hasn’t actually encountered a cougar on the prowl. If that is the case, why do we, as a culture, feel capable of making such harsh, snap judgments? The answer to me is clear. Although some blame their views on strong morals and good-old-fashioned upbringings, the majority of our cultural prejudice against cougars stems from their portrayal in the media. After analyzing various television shows, it seems that the majority of them contribute to this broader prejudice against Cougars by finding only something to poke fun at and demean. But one show–Cougar Town–has broken the mold as it attempts to take that first step at creating acceptance for these women by casting them not only as object of humor or ridicule, but as pragmatic, progressive, and empowered individuals in their own right. Before we start pointing fingers at the media while praising the rare exceptions, however it is crucial that we understand cougars, the men they date and common reactions to their relationships. Tapping into the diverse reflections on this contemporary issue–from sociologists and media critics, to feminist intellectuals and dating gurus–help better understan what’s at stake when mom’s shed societal prescriptions and lame, inattentive husbands and look to youth for love.
The term cougar was coined and distributed when Toronto Sun columnist and relationship expert Valerie Gibson published her book Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men. She recounts a friend was at a bar one night and noticed a woman flirting with a group of younger men. Amused by this, he compared her to a cougar on the prowl, introducing the name that is widely used today. “On the prowl” implies that the men are vulnerable prey, helplessly stalked by cunning, ill-intentioned older women. This was the start of it all—once this humorous term was born, cougars seemed to pop up everywhere, including television, movies and magazines.
Opposites Attract: Society’s New Addiction
Briefly place yourself in a uniform universe, where an atmosphere of mundane monotony boringly blankets your pathetic planet. No one steps out of line, and nothing comes unexpected. When there is no variability, everyone is the same. Personality is the primary cause of our differences: why you like Sally more than Susan or why you remember Peter from your childhood and not Patrick. At the core of personality is mood: an individual’s mood establishes both mindset and behavior alike. Therefore, regulating and dehumanizing mood will remove the variation in personality from person to person, and Sally and Susan and Peter and Patrick will be nothing more than a silhouette clone of an ‘average’ person.
Mood disorders compose a sizable portion of the psychological field, occupying just under a tenth of the entire Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (the nation’s official diagnosing guide for mental disorders). Including several depressive and bipolar disorders, the Manual details the specific criteria for diagnosing each patient: the individual must have certain symptoms, must not show other symptoms, and must be presenting for a designated duration. As the DSM evolved, the youth of the nation seemed to grow sicker while the urge to prescribe expanded and became more widely embraced. For example, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that children under the age of 19 were being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002 at a rate forty times greater than in 1994 (NIMH- Rates of Bipolar Diagnosis in Youth Rapidly Climbing, Treatment Patterns Similar to Adults). Bipolar disorder is characterized by the extreme fluctuating between two polar moods: mania and depression. While the disorder is very serious and can cause dramatic functional and developmental impairment, the inflated rates may be reflective of a flawed diagnosing system. Is American youth really becoming that much more sick, or are we suffering from an addiction to diagnosing and medicating?
The complicated answer is deeply embedded in the cyclical system of the big P’s: Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pharmacology. Considered by many to be the most misunderstood and debated controversy in youth psychological health, the issue of childhood bipolar disorder deals with every aspect of the spectrum. This yields opposing opinions just as dramatic as the disorder itself; while some maintain that prescribing psychiatric medication is the only way to make any progress in a child’s disorder, others see only the destructive dangers of these drugs and push for a complete eradication of the entire pharmacological industry. Medical doctors, psychologists, patients, family members, and advocacy groups all weigh in on the debate of whether or not the disorder exists the way it seems to, and what should be done about it. With their vastly varying perspectives, these parties, individually, fail to meet a comprehensive conclusion. Analyzing aspects of each argument, though, one will find that bipolar disorder is, in fact, alarmingly more prevalent than it used to be in the context of childhood and adolescence. However, over-diagnosis still lingers as a pervasive problem, one that lies rooted in the pharmacological industry’s depths. An addiction to diagnosing and prescribing remains, due to the established systems we are expected to abide by: the overwhelming size of the extremely capitalist pharmaceutical industry demands that we continue pumping out diagnoses at greater and greater rates. To benefit the children, society needs to rethink and reform these foundations, and ultimately find the balance between medical and alternative treatments.
In order to tackle such large scale transformations, we need to first look at a broad fundament of psychology that these outlandish statistics take root in: diagnosing. As mentioned previously, bipolar disorder is most commonly associated with severe mood instability. Constantly living at either extreme, bipolar patients experience many impairing symptoms through their functionally disrupted lives. Dr. Dziegielewski, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, helps make diagnosing the disorder much less confusing as she deconstructs the Manual in her book DSM-IV-TR in Action.