My first foray into the clinical environment as a student in physical therapy brought me face to face with a conundrum. What I was learning in the curriculum had not prepared me to deal with the patients' questions and concerns about their future and their potential ability to resume a normal or near-normal life. I did not know how to respond to their overt and covert expressions of fear and anxiety, depression and anger, hopelessness and helplessness. That realization led me to graduate school (where I expected to find the answers to those questions, but of course did not) and a career I had never imagined.
A book such as this one has been on my mind for many years. Colleagues have encouraged me to
'... do a book. We need the behavioral science perspectives in our curriculum and we don't have a good text.'
It seemed a daunting task. The themes incorporated in the book have been part of courses I've taught since I first began working with health professional students after finishing graduate school. The intervening years have added three children to our family; now as adults, they have children of their own. They and their children have taught me lessons that would have been impossible to learn any other way; they have contributed directly and indirectly to my courses over the years,and to this book.
The authors of this book work from the premise that each of us is the product of many factors that influence our lives. They begin with the fundamental grounding that physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth are interdependent at every stage of life. The development of the individual is viewed as a function of genetic resources, maturation in a societal context, and self-initiated factors. The quantity of information is formidable. This book touches only the surface of the immense amount of material related to these topics. We hope the reader will be stimulated and challenged to read further.
The psychosocial framework is a useful perspective when we try to analyze human behavior and come to some understanding of the individual. The relationship of early stages to later growth and development is a helpful framework, as is the impact of current life events upon the groundwork of earlier stages. The cyclical nature of these factors contributes to the complexity that is the human being, adds drama to the human experience, and excitement to the analysis process that leads to understanding.
The book is organized in two parts: Part I deals with growth and development through the life span; Part 2 deals with special topics