Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Life Span Development and Personality: John Lennon

Human beings continually develop throughout their entire lifespan, basically from the moment of birth until death. Developmental psychology refers to this as the lifespan developmental perspective. The lifespan developmental perspective considers constancy and change as well as gains and losses in functioning that occur at different points over the entire human life cycle (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Through these developments, one’s personality forms. Personality refers to the enduring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors expressed by individuals in different circumstances (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Factors in one’s environment as a child can continually affect one throughout the individual’s lifespan. John Lennon or John Winston Lennon was born October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England, during a German air raid during World War II (Roberts, 2007). John was an artist, writer, and musician, world famous Beatle idolized and loved by many. However, John never fore filled the need for the love of his mother and the need for a mother figure throughout his lifespan.
Heredity and Environment
John Lennon, at the age of 4, thought his Merchant Marine father Alfred abandoned him; however that was a lie told to him by his Aunt Mimi. John also thought his mother Julia, who lived just a few houses away, abandoned him as well. However, this was a lie as well. His Aunt Mimi reported Julia to the authorities because she and George did not have any children of their own and Mimi was jealous of Julia. Therefore, Uncle George and Aunt Mimi a manipulative, overbearing, and often critical woman raised him. Mimi often discouraged John from taking on any creative tasks. When he took up music, she told him repeatedly "the guitars all right, John, but you'll never make a living at it" DeCurtis, A. (2012). Feeling abandoned by his parents and unappreciated and often criticized by his Aunt Mimi, John experienced behavioral problems as a child. Frequently John caused problems at school and around his neighborhood. At the age of 17 John had to identify the body of his mother in the morgue after she was run over by a car and killed. Without an early childhood and into adulthood   
As for heredity and environment, the belief of psychologists is that both are influencers of one’s psychological development. Not much is known about John’s heredity, but his environment shaped his personality, and John’s personality could be a combination of heredity and environment. These events John experienced early in childhood and into adulthood affected him emotionally concerning psychological development.
Family Issues or Social Support
            At the time John was sent to live with his Uncle George and Aunt Mimi, his father Alfred, disappeared from his life until the late 1960s. John’s mother Julia married another man who was not John’s father and had two daughters from that marriage. Julia gave one daughter up for adoption. Julia did have a role in John’s life but not as a mother. The role she played in his life was that more so of an older sister and not a mother. This may have caused a conflicted relationship with mother-figures in John’s life, and to John, Aunt Mimi was not a mother figure, and he often rebelled against her when he was a teenager. Roberts, (2007) “according to John's sister, a former teacher and educational psychologist, far from being motivated by love and concern for John, Aunt Mimi's disapproval was born of jealousy and spite, dating back to childhood rivalries when the attractive Julia, the fourth of five sisters, was their father's favorite” (para. 9).
John suffered lifelong heartbreak at the cruel, separate living arrangements from his mother and nearly felt broken when in 1958, she was mown down by a car and killed when he was just 17 (Roberts, 2007). In 1955, John’s Uncle George died. After George’s death, Aunt Mimi at age 50 became involved in an affair with Michael Fishwick, 24-year-old biochemistry student (Roberts, 2007). Aunt Mimi was planning to marry Michael, immigrate to New Zealand, and once again John would be abandoned by another caregiver. John’s marriage was to his girlfriend from art school, Cynthia Powell. John and Cynthia had a child together named Julian, after his mother. Unfortunately, John abandoned Cynthia and Julian, similar to how he was abandoned as a child.
The reason for this abandonment was John’s unresolved issues of needing a mother in his life. John needed a mother figure running his life, John was still lost without Mummy and was unhappy but he knew the answer (Roberts, 2007). The answer was Yoko Ono, and happiness existed within the security Yoko offered (Roberts, 2007). John was playing the part of a child-man, and Yoko was more than willing to organize his life, not only with John's consent but also with his full approval (Roberts, 2007). John referred to Yoko as mother. John was a little boy lost without his mother Julia until he met Yoko Ono. Yoko became the support system that John lacked in adolescence and early adulthood.
Humanistic Theories and Cognitive-Social Theories
Humanistic theories, focus on aspects of personality distinctly human, not shared by other animals, such as how to find meaning in life and how to be true to oneself (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). John Lennon found his meaning in life by becoming an artist, musician, and Beatle. John’s Aunt Mimi bought Lennon a guitar but his incessant playing prompted her to remark, “the guitar’s all very well as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it” ("Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum," 2012). Therefore, John formed his first band the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles ("Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum," 2012). One limitation of the humanistic approach is that it does not offer a comprehensive theory of personality (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Alternatively, cognitive-social theories argue for the importance of encoding, personal value, expectancies, competencies, and self-regulation in personality (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).  
Humanistic Approach
The humanistic approach explains John Lennon’s behaviors and achievements. John’s struggle in life was his need for a mother figure in his life. John had to find his own meaning of life within his turmoil of longing for a mother. John had to find a means to be true to himself also, and continue to handle his need for a mother figure. Through the humanistic approach existentialism is found. Existentialism focuses on each individual’s subjective existence, or phenomenology, and on the way the individual comes to terms with basic issues, such as meaning in life and mortality (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). One must form their own identity and form a set of values or morals to govern one’s life. Therefore, one must self-actualize.
A self-actualized individual is concerned with solving problems outside oneself, including helping others and finding solutions to problems in the external world (Cherry, 2012). For instance, John promoted love, peace, unity, and ending wars throughout the world through songs he wrote and through peaceful demonstrations. John Lennon’s aspirations for self-actualization accurately depict his behaviors and achievements.
            One’s development is a continual process throughout one’s entire life. To understand personalities is to understand the theories that explain personalities. Theories differ in terms of why personalities occur. Understanding different theories enables the understand personalities and what affects or helps establish personalities. Understanding lifespan development is achieved by understanding and determining all features that factor into personality. John Lennon overcame some environmental problems as a child but some problems plagued him his entire life, until his assassination at 10:50 p.m. on December 8, 1980, at the hands of Mark Chapman. John Lennon was a son, father, husband, and Beatle. “I was the walrus, but now I am John...and so my friends, you'll just have to carry on. The dream is over.” – John Lennon
Roberts, G. (2007). Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-430700/All-need-love-The-John-Lennon-story.html
Cherry, K. (2012). About.com, Psychology. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds_2.htm
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. (2012). Retrieved from http://rockhall.com/inductees/john-lennon/bio/

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