Developmental Theories through the Life Cycle

Developmental Theories through the Life Cycle

Developmental Theories through the Life Cycle

Developmental Theories through the Life Cycle

Synopsis

This book presents the life-cycle theories of Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, Nancy Chodorow, Heinz Hartmann, Erik Erikson, Robert White, and others and examines their impact on development theory through infancy, toddlerhood, middle childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Acknowledging that no one theory encompasses all aspects of human development, this volume also warns of the consequences of excluding sexual and racial minorities in developmental research and results.

Excerpt

Although it is during infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood, from birth to age six, that the greatest physical and mental growth and development occur, the literature shows that very little scholarly attention was paid to these life stages until early in the twentieth century. No significant theories about mental development were created, and what information existed was based on limited secondary sources. For many centuries, infants and children were regard as incapable of complex thinking and feelings about their world. The child's mind was seen as unorganized and unformed, and childhood experiences were felt to have little effect on later life. As a result, there is a paucity of primary source material such as diaries, letters, or any other documentation of changes in children's behavior and thinking. In 1787, a Mr. Tiedeman did publish his observations of his son's sequential development from birth to age two and a half (Gemelli 1996: 17), but this was unusual.

The work of Charles Darwin was instrumental in establishing the importance of talking to children and observing their behavior in order to understand mental development. In 1877 Darwin published a diary documenting his son's early development (Gemelli 1996: 18), believing that adults could better understand their own origins through talking with and observing their children. Piaget was later to use this approach, as he developed his theories of cognitive development by initially observing his own children.

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