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Essay/Term paper: Psychology: human development

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Society Term Papers

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Psychology: Human Development

The field of psychology may have grown to be respected as a science.
Objectivity and the scientific method are both part of the psychologist's mode
of operation. However, even the greatest of psychologists can only theorize
about what makes human beings act the way they do. Absolutes are not part of
psychology . Everything is relative and open to speculation. Theorists give us
their views or ideas about life.
In the field of psychology, there have been many different areas of
interest. Human development is one of the most popular areas of interest for
those who study psychology. Freud, Erikson and Piaget are all great theorists
with different ideas concerning human development. Each theorist developed ideas
and stages for human development. Their theories on human development had human
beings passing through different stages. Each theory differed on what these
stages were. These theories also differed with their respect towards
paradigmatic assumptions, learning and development, and relationship towards
educational practice.
Freud is known as the father of psychology. Although some of his work
has been dismissed, most of it still holds weight in the world of psychology.
Freud believed that human development was fueled by inner forces. He believed
the most powerful of all inner forces was our sexual being. Freud linked
everything with sex. This includes any bodily pleasure whatsoever. Thus, when
Freud discusses the sexual needs of children, they are not the same kind of
sexual needs that an adult would experience. Children experienced sexual
gratification in different ways. Sucking their thumbs or retaining their
excrement could be seen as sexual gratification for small children. Freud also
specified certain areas of our body as erogenous zones. Those areas included the
mouth and genitals. This all fit in to Freud's obsession with sex. An obsession
that could be linked to the era that Freud lived in. It was a very conservative
period in history. Sexual feelings were often repressed.
Freud's theory on human development could be labeled the psychosexual
stages of development. Freud believed human beings passed through different
stages in their life based on which part of their body gave them sexual
gratification. Freud's psychosexual stages of development are five in total.
The Oral stage takes place from birth to about one year. During this
stage, a child is orally oriented. The mouth is the child's erogenous zone.
Everything a child touches is put in his mouth. Freud believes children do this
because it gives them pleasure. When a child sucks his thumb, it does so
because it gives it gives him gratification. According to Freud, the
gratification is sexual.
The second stage in Freud's psychosexual development theory takes place
between the ages of two and three years of age. The erogenous zone shifts
location, thus moving from one stage to another. The second erogenous zone in
Freud's stages of human development is the anal region. Freud believes children
experience sexual gratification during bowel movements and when they withhold
bowel movements. Some children may even experience pleasure handling, looking at,
or thinking about their own feces.
Once the Anal stage of development has been completed, the next stage of
development for Freud is the Phallic Stage. This usually occurs at about three
years of age. The shift in erogenous zones moves from the anal region to the
genital organs. This stage is also known as the Oedipal Stage of psychosexual
development. This name comes from the legendary king, Oedipus, who killed his
father and married his mother. During this stage children take interest in their
sexual organs. Soon they notice differences and similarities between themselves
and their parents. Each sex wants to be with the parent of the other sex, for
girls this is referred to as the elektra complex. Once the children realize they
can not be with their mother or father, they identify with the parent of the
same sex.
The next stage is called the stage of Latency. This stage is
characterized by a lack of change or absence of erogenous zones. After the
realization that the child can not be with a parent sexually, the child shifts
its attention to same-sexed relationships. Boys will shift their sexual urges
and drives to something acceptable, such as sports. This is a time of relative
The last stage of Freud's psychosexual development is the Genital Stage.
The erogenous zone returns in a very powerful way in the genital organs. This
stage takes place from puberty into adulthood. This stage is marked by true
sexual desire and sexual relationships.
Erikson took Freud's ideas and enhanced them. He added stages for the
adult years. He also shifted his attention to identity rather than sexuality.
Erikson developed the psychosocial stages of development. He is known for his
eight stages of life.
Erikson's first stage is during infancy. It deals with trust versus
mistrust. The child develops an outlook on life and whether the world can be
trusted or not. The child develops trust if the parents give the child something
it can rely on. The child develops a sense of optimism or pessimism during this
stage. according to Erikson.
The next stage in Erikson's psychosocial development is during early
childhood and is known as autonomy versus shame and doubt. The child becomes
autonomous and realizes he can say yes or no. This stage will determine whether
or not a child develops a sense of self-certainty.
Erikson's next stage takes place during the ages of three to six years.
This stage is marked by initiative versus guilt. This stage is important in
developing the child's sense of enterprise. The child develops initiative when
trying out new things and is not scared of failing.
The fourth stage of Erikson's developmental theory takes place at about
six years of age and lasts till puberty. This stage deals with industry versus
inferiority. The child learns skills of the culture and must deal with feelings
of inferiority.
Adolescence brings about the next stage for Erikson. This stage is known
for identity versus identity confusion. During this stage, Erikson believes
adolescents must develop a sense of self and who they are. They develop a sense
of identity.
The sixth stage for Erikson is known for intimacy versus isolation. This
stage takes place during young adulthood. The person seeks commitments from
others. If he is unsuccessful, he may take on isolation. Erikson believes this
stage is important in learning love.
The seventh stage for Erikson takes place during adulthood. It is marked
by generativity versus stagnation. During this stage, the adult is concerned
with guiding the next generation. This stage according to Erikson gives the
adult a sense of caring.
Erikson's last and eighth stage takes place at a mature age. Old age is
marked by integrity versus despair. During this time, the person may achieve a
sense of acceptance of their own life, which in turn allows for the acceptance
of death. When one passes through this last stage, Erikson believes that a
person has achieved wisdom.
Piaget also believed in developmental theory. Her stages were cognitive
stages. These stages were based on what the child can do. According to Piaget a
child passes through four stages in its life. Piaget was interested in the
child's abilities and senses, not sexual desires like Freud was.
Piaget believes the first stage of development should be a cognitive one.
Her first stage is known as the sensorimotor stage. It takes place from birth to
about two years of age. During this time a child learns motor meaning, object
permanence, and Th. beginning of symbolic representation, also known as language.
The child will change from someone who responds only through reflexes to one who
can organize his activities in relation to his environment. It does this through
sensory and motor activity.
The next stage in Piaget's cognitive development theory is the
preoperational stage. This takes place from about two to seven years of age.
During this stage the child's language develops. He develops a representational
system and uses symbols such as words to represent people, places, and events.
From about the ages of seven to thirteen, Piaget believes children enter
the concrete operational stage. They can solve problems logically. They can
understand rules and form concepts. Some children become moralistic.
The last stage Piaget believes is the formal operational stage. This
stage takes place from about twelve years of age through adulthood. Once someone
has reached this stage, one should be able to think abstractly, manipulate
abstract concepts, use hypothetical reasoning, and use creative language.
Someone should be able to think about the possibilities.
These three theories on human development each have their own good
points and bad points. One problem all theories must deal with are paradigmatic
assumptions. These are ideas that the theorist has taken for granted as facts.
An example is Freud's notion that women suffer from a lack of self esteem or
self worth all their lives because of penis envy. Freud's assumption could have
been a product of the times he lived in. It was a time when women were treated
as second class citizens. Today, the idea of penis envy has lost its worth.
Freud's assumption that sex is the driving force behind everything could also be
a product of his times. Sexual feelings were often repressed. The problem with
paradigmatic assumptions is that each person grows up in a different culture and
some theories don't apply to everyone. The problem with psychology remains that
it is not an exact science. It is difficult to develop good paradigmatic
asumptions because of that. Erikson assumes a child must learn these virtues or
skills in this order. But, what if a child does not? Someone may never has a
meaningful relationship, but they may develop wisdom. This would undercut
Erikson's assumptions that everyone must pass through these stages in this order.
Piaget also has some assumptions in her theory. A man who never learns to add,
may be able to think hypothetically. These mistakes only show that psychology
still has its flaws.
Each of these theories has some value because they are not totally wrong.
These theories have withstood criticism and are some of the best. Each theory is
similar in its time table and sequence of life events. Where they differ is in
their focus. Freud focuses on sex, Erikson focuses on the self and social
orientation, and Piaget focuses on the child's ability and senses.


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