The Person Part II Critical Phases of the Life Cycle Primary attachment in the Parent-Child dyad – The First Social system We should not refer to the infant as an autonomous entity in itself. It is a component of a system – two-person The newborn enters the world in a totally dependent state Initially in an undifferentiated state Profoundly egocentric Trust vs. Mistrust The necessity to develop a feeling of trust in others and in one’s self and for healthy mistrust of one’s environment. Based in communication between the infant and the caring person. (Bonding) Primary needs are the oral, nutritive needs. Dysfunctional Conditions Transactions between a human system and its social environment are necessary to its definition of boundary of self. If not defined, infantile autism may result. If not differentiated, symbiosis results. Maternal Deprivation Absence of relationships Child’s lack of response Distorted relationships Situations in which the child is undifferentiated from the parent Interlocking dependency The parent may assimilate the child The parent perceives the child as the embodiment of a single quality, such as stupid, evil, or totally demanding. Insufficient Relationships A situation in which a mother provides insufficient opportunity for interaction. The parenting person is unable to give emotionally because of own isolation, cruelty, coldness, or learned inability to relate to others. Parent may be narcissistic and involved with self so that no more than physical care is provided. Circumstances exhaust the caring person’s energies and little love is available for nurturance of the child. One or more of these distorted or insufficient relationships are often found in cases of child abuse. Separation The interruption of an already established relationship and to the need for continuity and predictability. Prolonged separation between the ages of six and twelve months is most harmful and may not be reversible. Bowlby found that juvenile delinquency was highly correlated with separation experiences in the preschool years and suggested that early childhood separation is a causal factor for some delinquents. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt Establishment of a sense of self as an entity, distinguished from the environment. First assertion is through communication. Sensitivity to order is characteristic. Assertion of will becomes critical. There is ambivalence at this time. Communication continues to be predominantly nonverbal. Initiative vs. Guilt Occurs through its interaction with the social environment (the family system). Oedipal conflict is central, as is the sense of right and wrong. Identification is a frequent method of coping. Favorable ratio of initiative will create purpose and direction. Common issues: Creation of a qualitative sense of self. Identification with the parent of the same sex. Play is an important mode of behavior with solitary daydreaming and peer play the two most dominant forms. Children imagine how they might influence the world and are likely to be sensitive to anything that threatens the integrity of their bodies. A critical time for the development of the conscience. Industry vs. Inferiority Occurs in the interaction with components of the community system: formal organizations (schools) and informal organizations (neighborhoods). Mastery: seeking to assert control over both its physical self and its environment, physical objects, social transactions and ideas/concepts. A time to learn the technology and ways of one’s culture. The child participates in these organizations, developing a sense of self as competent and incompetent, in some ratio. If the culture transmitted by the school is alien to or opposed to, the culture of the child’s family, the young is in a difficult position. To accept a differing way or culture may be felt as an act of betrayal of self, family, or tribe. The child may seek mastery outside the school, seeking master of its own culture, not that of others. Lack of participation in school by people of color may be an example of this. Educational system serves to socialize the student into accepting and supporting the ways of the majority culture. Such socialization is a means of social control. Society expects the child to demonstrate mastery and competence primarily in the single institution of the school. Public schools find it very difficult to complete all the assignments the cultures gives them. The school has been required to deal with society’s primary problems: racism, sexism, poverty, and the use of drugs. Peer Group This experience is a necessary element in which mastery is tested. The peer group of middle childhood is modeled after the culture within which it exists. The peer group is likely to be strongest in direct relation to the stability of the population it draws from. Peer groups in suburbia are likely to be weak and transitory. Peer groups in small towns or urban neighborhoods may be stronger. Inferiority results from: Insufficient accrual of resources from previous crisis Unclear or unreasonable expectations by adults or peers. Excessively high criteria by which to judge competence and mastery. The feeling the child has about their own competence that is crucial, not competence as measured by adult standards. Mastery of ground rules of life is important to children at this stage. Peer groups have fairness, social order, and the “rules of the game” at the core of their reason for existing. Problems of Middle Childhood Poor school performance Symptoms not expected at this age. Social inferiority Cultural incongruity Self-Development of Identity A time when biological and social imperatives demand that the evolving person organize and develop an identity that goes beyond an accumulation of roles. It is a state of being that cannot be viewed by others; or objectively evaluated by them. Identity confusion is the dispersion of selves, and the alienation of the self. The person is not capable of putting energy to concerted use – the person is entropic. Schizophrenia would be an example of this fragmentation. Moratorium refers to a socially approved period of delay where the person is allowed to, or forced to; postpone assumption of the full responsibilities of adult commitments. It is both necessary and desirable to allow for integration, and the setting of life goals. Negative identity occurs because any identity is better than no identity at all. An identity perversely based on all those identifications and roles which had been presented as most undesirable or dangerous and yet also as most real. When denied legitimate opportunity to achieve, youths will adopt illegitimate means. Adolescenthood Begins with biology and ends by social definition. The task of identity formation can be viewed as the prerequisite for loving and working. Peer group: associations with peers are extremely necessary experiences. Peer groups take over some of the parental roles of support and value-giving. An attitude of respect for competence develops in the peer group. For some, the peer group gains overriding importance, totally replacing the family. The adolescent is an important person in our culture. Economically, the adolescent has the status of a part-time worker and a full-time consumer. There is a dual ambivalence that exists between adults and adolescents. Manifested in the family system Parents and youths are torn between wanting youths to grow up and wanting them to remain children. Adolescenthood requires the culture to make adjustments because the generation coming up has absorbed the past, lives in the present, and must confront the future with new forms of living constructed of knowledge and experience not available to their elders. As the culture system seeks a steady state, its youth component must interact with, and exchange energy/information with other components: age groups, organizations, institutions, communities, and families. In order for this to happen, the culture will change (accommodate) or seek to maintain the status quo (assimilate).
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