Emotional Development, Theory and Applications: A Neo-Piagetian Perspective

Emotional Development, Theory and Applications: A Neo-Piagetian Perspective

Emotional Development, Theory and Applications: A Neo-Piagetian Perspective

Emotional Development, Theory and Applications: A Neo-Piagetian Perspective

Synopsis

Freud's assumption that our emotions are instinctual and innate, and that they reside in our unconscious, is still the dominant notion in our conventional wisdom. If our emotions are instinctual and innate, then they have little relationship to our needs and values, and they do not change in the course of development. This book advances a contemporary theory of emotional development, a neo-Piagetian theory that postulates that both our feelings and emotions are cognitive constructions that are informed by our needs and values, and that our feelings and emotions change considerably in the course of development. Using interview and original case material, the author illustrates his theory's application to both short- and long-term psychotherapy, as well as the implications for research, assessment, emotional education, and counseling.

Excerpt

My very first professional experience involved doing play therapy with children while teaching human development as a member of the College of Education faculty at the University of Delaware. This first experience left me interested in human emotions and their development. I was puzzled by the fact that there was no theory of emotional development as such, and that emotion was regarded as too soft a topic for serious study.

When I studied psychoanalytic theory I discovered that, according to Freud, our emotions do not change; they are instinctive and innate, and they are just transferred from one object to another in the course of our development so no theory about their development was needed.

The work of Tomkins (1962, 1963) proved interesting for its emphasis on primary affects, but his work focused essentially on the delineation of the primary emotions (affects) in studies of facial expressions across cultures, and not on their development.

Izard (1977) differential emotions theory, building to some degree on the work of Tomkins (1962,1963), was more of a topography of human emotions than a theory about their development. This work and his more recent work (Izard &Malatesta, 1987) are limited by an emphasis on the developmental course of facial . . .

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