Sunday, July 21, 2013

Life Span Perspective

         The life span perspective of development provides intriguing information about the development of individuals through their lifespan, such as who individuals are, how individuals came to be who they are, and who those individuals will become. Psychoanalytic theories offer insight into life span development and explain the stages of development that individuals proceed through in their lifespan. The life span perspective of development also provides important information in regard to how the effects of heredity, and the environment may interact to produce individual differences in life span development.
Life Span Perspective of Development
          To study human development the life span perspective is necessary because it does not just take into account the development that occurs in childhood or adulthood but every phases of life (Berger, 2011). The life span perspective is a view of human development characterized by multicontextual, multicultural, multidisciplinary, multidirectional, and plastic characteristics Development is multicontextual, therefore the several contexts, such as economic constraints, family patterns, and historical conditions embed the lives of humans (Berger, 2011). Development is multicultural; therefore several cultures affect the development of individuals. Development is multidisciplinary; therefore psychology and other disciplines, such as biology, neuroscience, education, economics, anthropology, sociology, religion, history, genetics, and medicine provide insight into development (Berger, 2011).
          Development is multidirectional; therefore change occurs in every aspect of life and in every direction and not just in a straight line. Development is plastic; therefore any individual possess traits, which may be altered at any given time during life, and change that occurs is ongoing but not easy or random. The intention of the life span perspective is to understand the development that occurs throughout an individual’s lifespan and the nature of development and change throughout that individual’s lifespan.
Theories of Life Span Development
          Berger (2011), “inner drives, deep motives, and unconscious needs rooted in childhood are the foundation of psychoanalytic theory” (p. 36). Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and German-born American developmental theorist Erik Erikson developed theories of life span development to explain the occurrence of development through an individual’s life span, and both believed that development occurs in stages.  
Sigmund Freud's Psychosexual Theory
          The psychosexual theory developed by Sigmund Freud centered on the sexual drives of humans. Freud believed that development occurred in stages and that the first six years of development occurs in three stages characterized by sexual interest and pleasure centered on a certain part of the body (Berger, 2011). The oral stage occurs from birth to one year of age and in this stage the particular part of the body of focus is areas of the mouth, such as the tongue, lips, and gums. The anal stage occurs between the ages of one and three and the particular part of the body of focus is the anus. The phallic stage occurs between the ages of three and six and the particular part of the body of focus is the penis. In this stage genital stimulation is how pleasure derives. Latency occurs after the phallic stage. After latency the genital stage occurs at puberty and lasts throughout adulthood. Freud believed that earlier stages influenced adult habits and personalities, therefore new stages did occur in adult years.
Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Theory
            The psychosocial theory developed by Erik Erikson describes eight developmental stages characterized by a certain challenge or developmental crisis; however, he named two polarities at each crisis, and he acknowledged a broad range of outcomes between these opposites (Berger, 2011). The interaction between the social environment and the individual is beneficial to resolving all crises. For each crisis Erikson named two polarities and identified a wide range of outcomes between these opposites (Berger, 2011). The developmental stages of this psychosocial theory center on social needs. The eight stages are trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs.  shame and doubt, initiative vs.  guilt, industry vs.  inferiority, identity vs.  role confusion, intimacy vs.  isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and integrity vs. despair (Berger, 2011).  These eight stages differ from Freud’s psychosexual theory stages because they do not emphasize sexual urges; however, what is of emphasis is every individual’s relationships to culture and family.
The Effects of Heredity and the Environment
            Heredity (nature) and the environment (nurture) both have an influence over the development of individuals. Whether nature or nurture has more of an influence over individual development is debatable. Heredity or nature refers to inherited traits and genes, and the environment (family, friends, or society) or nurture refers to extrinsic affects and both nature and nurture influence individuals an entire life span (Berger, 2011). The exchange between nature and nurture is dynamic and complex and both nature and nurture exert dynamic and continual influence on development. This exchange is indeterminable; however, often it is obvious that exerts more influences on development. However, the debate of nature vs. nurture continues.   
            The life span perspective provides dynamic information in relation to how and why individuals develop and who individuals will develop into. Psychoanalytic theories, such as Sigmund Freud's psychosexual theory and Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory provide insight into life span development. Heredity and the environment both have an effect on development but to what extent each more so influences development is still unknown.

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