Psychology Personal Statement (Brittany Tan)

Brittany Tan is currently studying Psychology at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. Brittany completed her A-Levels at KTJ and she will be graduating in 2023.  This personal statement was part of her successful application to University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester, Queen Mary, Lancaster University and University of Aberdeen for Psychology.

Growing up in Malaysia, it saddens me to see so many young adolescents being denied psychological support from their families purely due to the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health issues. This partly stems from the lack of education and awareness of mental health; instead, there are misconceptions of psychological disorders being attributed to spiritual and superstitious beliefs, hence they are perceived ignominiously.

‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’, exposed me to the lesser known illnesses associated with the right hemisphere of the brain such as prosopagnosia, hemispatial neglect and anterograde amnesia due to Korsakoff’s syndrome. This gave me a greater insight into how neuroscience approaches the challenges of perception and behaviour. When medical interventions fail, the power of art forms such as music and drama as therapeutic agents is significant in helping some patients in regaining their sense of self. I have grown to value how Sacks conveys his explorations in a narrative and paradigmatic aspect and realise we tend to focus more on the defects and provide far too little recognition of what is intact and preserved in an individual.

Attached to the Department of Psychiatry in a public hospital, I realised that the practical dimensions of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamics and psychoanalysis are beyond just the content of books and research. For example, during a review session with a Bipolar patient, I witnessed the application of Eriksons’s theory apropos to the stages of psychosocial development. The retired maternity nurse admitted into the psychiatric ward for attempting suicide and commiting physical abuse claimed ‘empty and purposeless’, exemplifying the ‘Stagnation’ stage. Observing her in the depressive phase of this disorder, I discovered that neurochemical imbalances and genetic vulnerability alone were insufficient in explaining the onset of the disorder; environmental factors were crucial in expressing the problematic genes. Sitting in a specialists conference on teratoma-associated anti-NMDAR encephalitis, followed by researching its development, led me to comprehend how biology, chemistry and psychology are all intercorrelated.The research presented on this autoimmune disease not only enhanced my understanding on how psychology intervenes with the biological processes in our bodies, but also deepened my knowledge on how mental ailments can affect the anatomical condition of one’s disease.

My curiosity on the nature of depression was piqued by ‘What causes depression?’ (Harvard Health Publishing) as I perceived how and why a medicinal approach to alleviating the symptoms may not be fully successful due to the large amount of time taken for the occurence of neurogenesis. I realise that doctors often try to treat mental and physical illnesses the same way, through an objective and somewhat anatomical sense. It is irrefutable that medicine does aid and act as a catalyst for the metabolic systems which intervene with psychological disorders, but it is not the panacea. In Malaysia, treatments often follow a modern clinical approach which is purely symptomatic and theory-based as opposed to Sacks’. Focusing on engaging with patients’ direct experience, recognising what is preserved in them and devising a treatment based on it is what I want to explore practising in Malaysia.

With the pastoral skills of active listening, empathy and especially communication that I have begun to develop as President of the Prom Committee, Head Prefect and Peer to Peer Support Group member, I am convinced that a career in psychology is well suited to me and one in which I can have a positive impact on others. Strong time management and organisational skills developed through being an active sports woman, school mentor and event planner convince me that I will cope well with a psychology course and be an able practitioner in Malaysia effecting cultural and clinical change in Malaysia.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.


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