Life Span Perspective Paper
Life Span Perspective
Most of us, at one point in time or another, have reflected back to earlier periods of time in our lives and thought about the differences between how we were then and the people we are today. We may wonder why we have changed and how we evolved to this point. We may even think about the future and the people we will be decades from now. The process of changes we experience is examined and explained through the science of human development. This ongoing study looks at why and how people of all ages change over time. Scientists examine the young, old, rich, poor, various ethnicities and cultures, as well as those of various sexual ...view middle of the document...
Plasticity is attributed with providing hope and realism because it suggests that change is possible and that development is built on the foundation of what is already in existence (Berger, 2011). Speaking collectively on all of the capacities of human development we are able to conclude that the life span perspective of human development and what influences it exists all around us leaving us with few, if any, areas of our lives that we are not affected by in one way or another.
Theories of Life Span Development
Psychoanalytic theory. Over the past two centuries the broad field of psychology has been left with several theories on life span development. Renowned Austrian Neurologist, Sigmund Freud, also known as the father of psychoanalysis, left us with his extensively recognized psychoanalytic/psychosexual theory (Stevenson, 1996). Freud theorized that the underlying causes of human behavior are derived from our inner drives, deep motives, and unconscious needs rooted in childhood. He suggested that in the first six years of our lives we go through three stages characterized by sexual interest and pleasure each centered on a specific part of our body (Berger, 2011). Infancy is described as the oral stage wherein pleasure is obtained through sucking and attachment. In early childhood we experience the anal stage with pleasure arising from activities where we experience control and self-control. Next, we have the preschool years, or the phallic stage, where the genitals are a source of pride and envy. Freud maintained that each of these sensual stages was linked to essential developmental needs and challenges. The downside presents itself when parents and caregivers attempt to intervene, not letting the child work through each stage at their own pace. The ways in which people resolve and experience each of these stages determines their personalities. Freud’s stages of psychosexual development also carry into the pubescent and adult years with two additional phases, latency and genital, where sexual energy and interest in the opposite sex are formed (Stevenson, 1996).
Cognitive theory. Contradictory of the psychoanalytical theory exists the idea that our thoughts and beliefs profoundly affect our attitudes, values, and actions. This theory, put forth by developmental psychologist and philosopher Jean Paiget, is known as the cognitive theory of life span perspective (Berger, 2011). This theory suggests that as time passes and our experiences expand, so does our thought process. The cognitive theory also states that how we think is more important than what we know, and that intellectual...