Johnny Depp Case Study

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After a brief (re)introduction of the previous findings from assignment one and their relevance to a selected case, this paper will proceed in three stages. Firstly, the functioning of the amygdala in relation to specific areas of the prefrontal cortex will be introduced in connection to the regulation of fear under normal circumstances. Secondly, the hormonal/biological aspects will be discussed. In the end a conclusion will be drawn in relation to the case by drawing on the new theoretical framework.

The case of Johnny Depp’s behavior as described in assignment one ultimately posed the question: what is the origin of social anxiety disorder? As shown in the previous assignment, the answer lies within the adaptive function of social
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It has already been established that testosterone has a fear-reducing effect in animals as well as humans (Van Honk, Peper, Schutter, 2005). However, Van Honk et al. (2005) also note that after administering a dose of testosterone the unconscious emotional response to fear was reduced, while the consciously experienced anxiety stayed the same, highlighting that the effect of testosterone on motivation and emotion concern the subcortical pathways of the brain. The subcortical pathways of the brain are involved in subconsciously processing emotional signals and there is evidence that unconsciously perceived emotional stimuli influence behavior towards the consciously perceived world (Tamietto & de Gelder, 2010) This suggests that there is no conscious influence from testosterone on the perception of social anxiety but it can still unconsciously influence behavior. Moreover, other recent research found a significant drop in testosterone levels in socially anxious people when losing in a social dominance test (Maner, Miller, Schmidt, Eckel, 2008). Furthermore, this drop was not observed in non-anxious men or in women. This suggests that there is indeed a link between testosterone and social anxiety where testosterone levels drop in order to prevent aggression. This fits the behavior of socially anxious people like Johnny Depp where they will rather avoid conflict with other, more dominant men than engage…show more content…
Important factors in social anxiety are the interaction between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala and the corticotrophin-releasing factor system. This leaves us to the question why these processes are distorted in people with social anxiety disorder. Let us zoom back to the behavior of Johnny Depp as described earlier in this paper. When confronted with a social situation his testosterone levels will drop and he will respond in a submissive manner as a result. His avoidance of social situations is a maladaptive consequence of his fear for these situations. The current view on this subject is that this maladaptive behavior is caused by an interplay between environmental factors and genes, where the environment triggers the genes (Rutter, Moffitt, Caspi, 2006). It is therefore likely that Johnny has had some negative experiences with social situations and parents with just the right genes to make him behave in a submissive manner and trigger his

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