Just a note on the navigation of this sequence. These post were loaded in reverse order. The recommended reading order goes from 'It's only a model' to 'Closing'. You can hit any DON'T PANIC button on the site to take you to the beginning of the sequence. Reading More on this post will get you to the reference list for this particular sequence.
And there we have our completed model of inclusive development. Remember: that is just a metaphor. These represent relationships. With that said I am going to indulge in some speculation. Those of you who were just here for the sciencey-math bits can just hit the jump.
I have been trying to avoid metaphysical assertions here, and so have avoided the concept of spiritual development. While I have been working on this model, there have been those who have suggested that this is a critical oversight. As an example of how spiritual development could fit into a model similar to this one, I could consider our spiritual development as the gradual process of an individual coming to understand and accept their need to believe in and relate to something greater than themselves. This appears to be a kind of internalization of the same drive as our sexual self, so I would represent it in the model as a forward-pulling force supporting further self-development, which seems to reflect the role that spirituality appears to play in the lives of actual people. Ken Wilber has done a lot of interesting work trying to integrate spiritual development, and as we noticed with some of our particular aspects, the highest stages of spiritual development are not commonly reached. The model would suggest that this full development might serve as a stabilizing factor in the All-of-Us space, and if we wanted to get really carried away we would carry the metaphor to suggest the transition of the All-of-Us concept from a gaseous to a liquid state, less combustible. The optimist might start talking about the possibilities of a hive-mind, but then we are writing a science fiction novel, not a guide to reality, so we will stop the speculation there.
Ok, so that is what we think our full model looks like, let's consider what is going on with our different aspects during the period of development. I have split the process in to three phases, which I think represent what is going collectively across the aspects, based on the common emphasis on the transitions during the 8-6 years old range and puberty. Within each phase, different aspects can sometimes have multiple stages, but sometimes not. They all seem to go through these particular phases, though. This process occurs across the plane of Time, in the field of All-of-Us, in which we exist very much like so many particles in a molecule.
Ok, so we want to take a look at what we have set up here. We have a biological self and four primary selves. There are two theories that we covered earlier that don't seem to fit with the others. The first of these is a theory of psychosexual development proposed by one Sigmond Freud. This is a critical theory that has dominated psychological research for a hundred years. It will appear that we have a Sexual self, which can be understood as our psychological development in relation to our biological procreative development.
The second field that has prominently featured throughout the history of psychology is that of ego development. A large portion of this field is built upon the work of Carl Jung, though most of his work focused on the process by which the ego proceeds from one stage to the next, Jane Loevinger has further developed the field to include a stage oriented description of the process. To try to stay with the naming convention we have established, let's call this our Self self.
So now we want to consider how these theories interact, given that they are all going on simultaneously. This is where we actually start making what will look like a framework for a developmental model, when what I'm sure feels like forever ago, is what we said we were setting out to do. Deep breath, the end is in sight. We can do this. What I have in mind is each of our four primary selves rising while leaning on their slightly opposed orientations, as we as human beings are pulled in both inward and outward directions along each of these developmental axis.
The behavioral development gets a bit tricky, at least from a historical point of view. I think I should describe my understanding of behavioral development. Behavior is, in large part, a function of the background paradigms from which the individual acts. A paradigm is a network of assumptions we all carry about how the world works and our role in it, the things we take for granted when taking action. When you jump down the stairs, you don't think about gravity, but you certainly take it into account. Moral paradigms and needs paradigms are two such that exists in the background of how we take action. Self-regulation is the ability to assert increased in-the-moment volitional control on the process. So in our discussion of behavioral development, today, we are going to stick to the development of those two paradigms which we know have tremendous influence on the behavioral decision process. Self regulation can be understood as the ability to assert more control over our cognitive responses to behavioral influences, much as emotional regulation involves the ability to control our emotional responses to social influences.
Between the two paradigms that we are considering, we can call on the source of all my favorite illustrative metaphors: quantum physics. In the study of the forces at work on the movement of particles, some of those forces are categorized as either repellers or attractors. I like this as an illustration of how these two paradigms influence behavioral development, with 'needs' functioning as an attractor a la "I must do/get x", and morals asa repeller, "I must not do/get y". Self-regulation develops the ability to be more volitional in regards to these two forces.
On to what, if one could be said to have favorites in this context, the theorist who would have to be mine, Jean Piaget, and our cognitive development. The first stage of cognitive development is called the sensorimotor stage, and is characterized by the engagement in the physical world. This stage is concerned with the development of two primary milestones: object permanence and language acquisition. Object permanence is the ability to conceive that an object, or person, continues to exist even when it is out of sight. This initial feat of memory is the beginning of our mental gymnastics across time. The second, language acquisition, is not strictly speaking the full access of language, so much as the beginning to express themselves in symbols. This is the very first step in abstract thought, the ability to turn a concept into a symbol.
We rocked through Freud and Erikson, so we're gonna make what feels like a natural transition from sexual and social development to talking about our emotional development. There are a lot of really exciting studies being done in this area right now, but again, as much as possible I want to stick to the theories upon which the current research builds, and for emotional development that has to begin with John Bowlby, but was nicely broken into stages by Harry Harlow. I'm sure at least some of you are familiar with the adorable rhesus monkeys Harlow worked, I'll be generous and say Harlow worked with the monkeys, not on the monkeys. These were the first studies on how emotional patterns are formed, and also the first concept of emotional attachment, which has become one of the central pillars of psychological development since.
With our discussion of Freud as our general model, we will examine the remaining theorists on our chart, identify the areas that they agree are essential for successful resolution of the various stages, and then group them together and see where the overlap falls. Ready to do this?
This should not take that long, as we worked out a lot of the kinks in how we move through the successful resolution of stages and build upon those successes. Let's try Erikson, because I like how he represents his stages as a series of conflicts, which I think is a nice metaphor for how it feels to go through the process. In the first stage, Erikson represents this conflict as one of trust vs. mistrust. We want things to come out on the trust side. The key to this is consistent, attentive, accepting parenting. Great. This establishes, among other things, the pattern of emotional reliability, that you can trust people in general, which is the foundation of all future interactions for the individual.
In a way that lends itself well to the construction of an interdependent development model, Erikson acknowledges the importance of potty training in a different way than Freud. Freud concerned himself with the development of the capacity for self-regulation, where Erikson looked at the consequences of that accomplishment. Having exerted control on themselves, the child now wants to set about exerting control on other things. This is a great time to give the child more choices to be in charge of, like what they wear, or what they have for lunch, or what movie the family watches, as a gradual encouragement in the exertion of themselves on their environment. This conflict is characterized as autonomy vs. shame and doubt. Again, there can hardly be much disagreement about which side we are pulling for. Encourage decision making in choice context, where there are no wrong answers, and encourage the act of making the choice.
The psychosexual development is not only the first aspect that we deal with on the chart, it is also the earliest resolved. Freud, and subsequent theorists, have described in detail the ramifications of not dealing with these stages appropriately, and I imagine that we have all heard enough about the Oedipus Complex to last us for three lifetimes. Here's some good news: as developmentalists, we don't have to pay too much attention to all of that. It is great stuff, and very valuable for people who work in the fields of counseling and clinical psychology, and I am thrilled that there are people doing that work to help people get healthy. That is not our goal. All we want is an idea of what we need to do in order to not become that kind of unhealthy. An added note: sexual development as we are considering it is the development of the sexual impulse, and the progression through which it proceeds. This is not an attempt to explore the differences in sexual identity, or sexual preference, or sexual practice, or an exploration of the cultural or normative value of any of the above.
Freud offers five stages of psychosexual development, but considering that one is a Latent stage, we only really have to deal with four of them. Isn't developmental theorizing fun? The first stage is the oral stage. Kids explore both the shape of mouths, and the taste of things, and want to breastfeed. The important thing to remember here is that kids do not have a great ability to self-regulate, or exhibit patience, so denying these oral impulses will not be understood and will result in some pretty particular dysfunctions. At the same time, excessive indulgence will result in different sorts of dysfunctions. The key appears to be stability from the parental standpoint. Don't make it a big deal, and just try to keep things that you don't want in their mouth out of their reach. Weaning, which is just the transition away from breastfeeding, introduces the concept of self-regulation (self-control) and delayed gratification and that announces the end of the stage. This is the first step the identification/differentiation conflict, which provides the forward momentum for the progress through the developmental landscape. Next we move to the anal stage, where potty training becomes the central task now that self-regulation is a possibility.
At this point I think that we have enough on the table to begin talking about the developmental process. We have mentioned stages and aspects and phases, and maybe it still feels like we haven't described anything, yet. We know that people are complicated, so it stands to reason that the developmental process, if it is to be in any way accurate, will be at least similarly complex. Generally, the way that complex problems are broken down is by isolating different aspects and dealing with them in isolation before then considering them in collaboration. Which is actually exactly what psychology has been doing for the last couple of decades! Great news. So, applying our First Law of Human Dynamics, we want to identify different parts of people that we think every person has.
First we can identify the body. We all have one. At least, as far as I am aware. When I run into a disembodied human I will update my perspectives. So we have a body, and that body goes through a series of changes that compound in a gradual process leading to a greater complexity, and an accompanying greater range of functionality. This is the foundation for a lot of the changes that happen in the other areas of development. To be clear, I am not suggesting that every psychological change is entirely determined by biological changes. There are definitely social, cultural, geographic, and general environmental factors that come into play. What I am saying is that some of these developmental changes are made possible by biological changes. The ability to walk depends on the post-natal growth of the inner ear allowing for balance. Puberty follows the advent of hormones and a bump in brain space. There are things that we can do that hasten or inhibit those biological changes, but those biological changes create new capabilities and functionalities. If I want to understand the process, I start with the biological, and then I understand different aspects in light of those biological parameters.
This is a good point to address what has been a frequent misunderstanding in the many conversations that lead to this project. DNA is awesome. We understand a lot about the mechanics of how we work in light of the recent work in genetics. I just submitted my 23andMe sample a few weeks ago. I'm excited to know about my genetic marker and predispositions, because I know exactly what they are: markers and predispositions. Here is the critical distinction: genes are not fate. A high-risk allele just indicates that your risk is higher. You then have a choice as to whether or not to modify your behavior to adjust for your higher risk. What appears to be the difference between genes and fate is human volition. We have a lot of influence acting upon us at all times, and usually by being aware of them we can more appropriately decide how to respond to them.