Metamorphosis: On the Development of Affect, Perception, Attention, and Memory

Metamorphosis: On the Development of Affect, Perception, Attention, and Memory

Metamorphosis: On the Development of Affect, Perception, Attention, and Memory

Metamorphosis: On the Development of Affect, Perception, Attention, and Memory

Excerpt

The common theme of the following studies concerns the great metamorphosis of man from embryonic life within the maternal womb to existence in the human and natural world. Only certain functions of the human mind are considered here: emotion, perception, focal attention, and memory; but the attempt is made to understand some aspects of their development in the light of the over-all significance of the change from foetal to adult state. The point of departure, in time, of these studies is that of the newborn infant, and while none of them pursues every step of childhood development, they all consider the implications of some of the major changes for the life of the adult.

Studies of this kind always raise two major questions: the question of provenance, of the links with the past, and that of the direction the development takes, including its implications for the future. Both questions have been considered within the ontogenetic framework, but in thinking about them one inevitably is struck by phylogenetic comparisons. They crop up everywhere, but their discussion has been limited to a few questions and remarks, partly because of the purpose of the studies, partly because of my lack of zoological knowledge.

Nobody can think about problems of development today without encountering the towering work of Darwin and Freud, which has influenced, directly or indirectly, most writers concerned with phylogenetic and ontogenetic evolution. Thus, the following studies all have been stimulated by Freud's work, and their origin lies in the attempt to think through some of his thoughts and their implications and to test them against others' and my own observations and experience.

Both Darwin and Freud stressed the ties with the past, both were mainly interested in origins, as even the title of Darwin's magnum . . .

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