Top Ten Developmental Theorists

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For ease of review in discussing the developmental theorists and their theories of human development I have subdivided each theorist into their respective schools of psychology. These schools include the psychoanalytic school, behavioral school, humanistic school, cognitive school, and the individual schools of psychology. Each developmental theorist holds their own unique ideas and theories about various components of human development. I will be discussing the contributions of each of these theorists.

To begin with we have the psychoanalytic school of psychology. This would include Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I will begin with Sigmund Freud who was the actual founder of psychoanalysis. Freud was born in1856, in Moravia. Because he was the founder of this school many theories that developed later were often compared to his original theory. In other words, he was under constant criticism and review. Freud's theories dealt with how the human mind works. He concluded that behavior is determined by powerful inner forces, most of which are buried in the unconscious mind. Thus, the unconscious plays a major role in shaping behavior. People repress these memories because they are unpleasant or unacceptable to society and this in turn can cause personality disturbances, physical illness, or self-destructive behavior. He also concluded that the unconscious is full of memories of events from early childhood and that many childhood memories dealt with sex. Freud also believed the mind was divided into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. He recognized that each person is born with various natural drives that he referred to as instincts, such as the need to satisfy sexual desires and the need to be aggressive. The id is the source of such instincts. For example, the desire for sexual pleasure comes from the id. The ego resolves conflicts between instincts and external reality. For example, it determines socially appropriate ways to obtain physical satisfaction or to express aggression. The superego is a person's conscience. A person's ideas of what is right and wrong, which can be learned from parents, teachers, and other people in authority, become part of the person's superego. He further theorized that all people have some type of conflict among the three parts but some have more conflict than others do. If the parts of the mind strongly oppose one another, psychological disturbances result. He also concluded that the sexual drive was the most powerful shaper of a person's psychology, and that sexuality was present even in infants. He presented what is now a well-known theory of the stages of psychosexual development. They include the oral, anal, and phallic stages. Later, he identified two additional stages called the latent and genital period. The phallic stages include the "Oedipus Complex" for boys and the "Electra Complex" for girls. The Oedipus Complex states there is a sexual attraction towards the mother and a sense of jealousy to the point of hatred of the father. The Electra Complex states that there is a sexual attraction towards the father and a hostile rivalry toward the mother. I find Freud's theory of the unconscious to be relevant and useful. I think the use of the term "Freudian Slip" most relevant in applying this theory. I know at times I have said things that I may have not been consciously thinking about yet when they came out I could identify with them. I can also agree that many unconscious memories are from childhood events. I find this highly useful for me because I am adopted and so unlike any members of my family. I believe my early childhood events helped to shape my future behavior but they were very painful and I repressed them. His stress on the importance of childhood helped to teach the value of giving children an emotionally nourishing environment so I can definitely find usefulness in that theory! I disagree with his...
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