Life Transitions

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The study of human development provides understanding and explanation of how and why people change throughout life including all aspects of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, perceptual, and personality development. Development does not just involve the biological and physical aspects of growth but also associate with the cognitive and social aspects of lifelong growth. The study of development is important not only to psychology but also health care. This essay explores significant developmental theories and discusses whether early experiences and social development impact on the adult person, to what extent culture impact on development and an understanding of developmental psychology are important to nursing practice.
Do early life experiences and social development impact on the adult person? Early life experiences and social development have a significant impact on the adult person. Major theorists who acknowledge the importance of early life experiences and social development for future are Freud, Erikson and Bowlby. Freud and Erikson made outstanding contributions of psychosocial theories whereas Bowlby developed attachment theory. Although their approaches are divergent in their overall perspectives, they all concur that satisfied experiences in early life lead to positive effects on the successful or healthy development in later years. Freud’s theory of psychosexual development proposes five stages of development with the needs of each stages from birth to adulthood. The theory asserts that the requirements of each stage have to be fulfilled to progress towards the next developmental stage and unsatisfactory achievement at one stage causes anxiety resulting in the personality fixation at that stage (Baldwin & Bentley, 2012). Erikson expanded upon Freud’s theory throughout lifespan and believed that people maintain lifelong development. Erikson’s theory also proposes a sequence of development stages and the levels of achievement for the stages. Like Freud, Erikson believed that the more successful achievement at each developmental stage leads to the healthier personality of the individual and argued that failure in satisfaction of any development stage influences the inability to proceed to the next stage in relation to fixation at one stage or regress to a previous stage with anxious or stressful conditions (Baldwin & Bentley, 2012). However, in comparison to Freud, Erikson noted that both the negative and positive aspects of each stage have great value of healthy social development, for example a little bit of mistrust, doubt or guilt are necessary in order to deal successfully with the demands of life (White, Hayes & Livesey, 2010). In contrast, Bowlby’s attachment theory focuses on human relationship in early life with significant person and proposes that first human relationship contributes to foundation for future social development. Attachment patterns from early life can continuously impact on a wide range of social behaviours throughout the lifespan (Waters, Hamilton, et al., 2000; Waters, Merrick, Treboux, Crowell & Albersheim, 2000; Thompson, 2000 cited in Burton, 2013). Attachment theory suggests that response to social relationship depends on attachment style that people have developed through the interactions they experienced with others (White, Hayes & Livesey, 2010). Attachment security with parents anticipate the quality of peer and partner relationships in later years. For example, people who experienced secure with their parents as infants have more positive relationships associated with higher self-esteem, social competence, greater sensitivity to the needs of their peers and being popular (DeMulder, Denham, Schmidt & Mitchell, 2000; LaFreniere & Sroufe, 1985; Waters, Wippman & Sroufe, 1979 cited in Burton, 2013). This security may lead people to be more trusting and engaging with peers and partners (Rochester, 2013). In my early experience in...
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