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Prevention Science, Essay Example

Pages: 7

Words: 2008

Essay

The psychosocial development of an individual has been subject to intense analysis and research within the past century. Sigmund Freud is justly regarded as the pioneer in the present field; he was the first to formulate the stages and specifics of psychosexual development, and his research was further extended by Jung, Levington, Erikson, Bandura, Piaget, Bronfenbrenner, etc. Therefore, one can see that attention towards the differences and individual issues which the individuals come across at various stages of their lifespan is reasonable; understanding the peculiarities of cognition, patterns of learning, drives and incentives, crises and aspirations of children and adults, the effective prevention and intervention methods can be worked out for the sake of diminishing the harmful effect of substance abuse, inclination to violence and crime, etc.

In case experts, researchers, counselors, and correction staff realize what psychological components of an individual’s psyche to target, they will be able to provide much more constructive interventions, and will design therapies in exclusively effective ways. However, the research findings and recent developments in the field of psychological lifespan development can enhance understanding of implications for practice. One should be knowledgeable about the intricacies of related theories for the sake of involve in strategic planning and implementation of prevention and intervention programs.

Overview of Erikson’s Life Cycle and Lifespan Development Theory

Lifespan development was one of the central issues of Erikson’s research; he was highly interested in the peculiarities of human cognition, self-perception, and psychosocial development throughout the life cycle, and embodied his research findings on the issue in his work Childhood and Society in 1959 (Shalit, 2011). In this work, Erikson outlined eight stages of human development, making the specific emphasis on the fact that the person, be it an adult or a child, went through the crises and negotiation of polarities at all stages of his or her lifespan. His conclusions were mainly based on the works of Freud and Jung, but Erikson expanded their vision of psychological development of an individual, envisioning an individual as possessing a crisis of a certain nature, unique for each development period (Shalit, 2011).

The first stage delineated by Erikson (1959), starting at birth and finishing at the age of two, is characterized by the crisis of basic trust versus basic mistrust. The present crisis refers to the child’s acquisition of basic awareness of him- or herself, and the surrounding environment, and the negotiation of the present crisis results in the acquisition of the psychosocial strength in the form of hope (as cited in Greene & Kropf, 2009). As for the second stage, it s the manifestation of a crisis of autonomy versus shame; the individual sees autonomy in holding on and letting go, and learning to exercise self-control without the loss of self-esteem. Shame is an opposite state characterized by the realization of inferiority under the control of parents (Greene & Kropf, 2009).

The third stage of psychosocial development, according to Erikson (1959), starts at the age of six and lasts until twelve. The child faces a crisis of initiative versus guilt, and develops a sense of purposefulness of his or her life. Erikson also noted that the present stage is realized through active investigation of the surrounding environment, and the child tries to avoid shame in the form of lack of confidence (as cited in Greene & Kropf, 2009). The fourth stage represents the crisis of industry versus inferiority, and is revealed in the child’s pursuit of productivity; he or she starts to engage in collective work, play, relationships with peers, etc. (Greene & Kropf, 2009).

The fifth stage represents the crisis of identity versus identity confusion, which means that the task of utmost importance is to form a stable identity. This phase of psychosocial development takes place from twelve to twenty-two; therefore, many experts attribute the identity crisis to this period (Greene & Kropf, 2009). The sixth stage is about the crisis of intimacy versus isolation, which refers to the ability to form relationships. The seventh stage starts at about 34, and is characterized by the crisis of generativity versus stagnation; Erikson (1959) argued that people have to learn to guide the new, successive generation (as cited in Greene & Kropf, 2009). Finally, the eighth stage is connected with the crisis of integrity versus despair, and refers to the elderly person’s ability to look at the forthcoming death with integrity. The work of Erikson and his wife The Life Cycle Completed contributed to the theory of lifespan development stages by means of adding the ninth stage – Erikson argued that the last stage was characterized by prevalence of dystonic elements, which meant that elderly people could acquire the sense of hope similarly to the first stage of human development (Shalit, 2011).

Relationships between the Theory of Erikson and Theories of Bronfenbrenner, Piaget, and Bandura

There are many theories of human psychological development throughout the lifespan; there are several profound, comprehensive, and effective theories directly related to the theory of Erikson. Their analysis and overview may help identify the proper guidelines for intervention planning. In addition, the features of such theories as, for example, Bandura, Piaget, and Bronfenbrenner may assist a researcher in understanding the fundamentals of human development, self-awareness, and comprehension of the surrounding environment.

The theory of Urie Bronfenbrenner was developed on the basis the theory of Vygotsky; however, Bronfenbrenner make it a more integrated, bioecological system. The main assumption of the researcher was to pay more attention to the individual aspects of people, their interactions, and the broader context of time and space (Tudge, 2008). His view of the context in which an individual develops consists of four systems: the microsystem (immediate system of the individual’s experiences and interactions), the macrosystem (the human culture), the mesosystem (temporal dimension), and the exosystem (the multitude of environments and systems that influence the individual’s development despite being not situated within the immediate context of the individual) (Tudge, 2008). The present theory opens new horizons for considering the complex of influences on the human development, which ensures acquisition of a larger toolkit for the generation of intervention and prevention programs to correct behavior.

The second theory directly related to the findings of Erikson about human development is the developmental theory of Jean Piaget. Piaget was one of the key actors in the developmental psychology research of the 20th century, and he formulated the theory explaining the processes through which children construct their knowledge, and how their constructions change over time (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2008). Piaget claimed that children act as scientists in the process of apprehending the surrounding reality, and they crate theories and categories for understanding the surrounding world. Hence, the theory of Piaget was highly helpful for both parents and educators in designing methods for influencing and fostering the childhood development (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2008). The present theory is highly consistent with the work of Erikson, since it offers feasible guidelines for improving cognitive growth of individuals.

Finally, one should assume that there are strong linkages between the theory of psychological development of Erikson, and the social learning theory of Albert Bandura. The central concept underlying the theory of Bandura is that children learn from the behavior of people around them, and they mainly model the behavior of others to which they are exposed in early years and later, in adolescence. The prime drive of engaging in a certain behavior is vicarious reinforcement individuals experience when engaging in a certain type of activities; it means that individuals learn to evaluate their activities according to the reinforcement they obtain for modeling the behavior of others. In case they experience physical or sexual abuse in childhood, feel coldness and indifference of parents, see frequent instances of violence between parents, and get to a deviant peer environment, they have much higher risks of becoming deviant individuals, too (Bandura, 2011).

Thus, as it comes from the assumptions of the social learning theory, peer environment, mass media influence, and the impact of familial behavior models (namely, parents) affect the formation of the behavioral profile of an individual, his or her attitudes, values, and estimate of the behaviors they exercise. Change in attitudes and behaviors is thus possible in case the coping skills of individuals are enhanced, and such therapies as peer assessment, group work, modeled activities, and self-regulated activities turn out efficient in the correction of individuals’ behavior under the principles of Bandura’s social learning theory (Groves, 2008).

Knowledge of Brain Development Related to Design of Prevention and Intervention Programs against Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, brain development patterns are not always manifested in practice, and many children experience deviation from normal brain development. Therefore, they may experience challenges in learning, they may lack effective coping skills, and may involve in substance abuse or violence under the influence of negative behavior models witnessed in the family or peer environment. There is a growing understanding of the fact that substance abuse, including smoking, alcohol, and drugs, is a social disease, and can often be avoided in case the children are exposed to more proactive behavior models and examples. However, the design of proper prevention and intervention programs usually depends on the adequate understanding of the way the environment influences the construction of mental images and models of the individual. This is what the brain development comprehension can bring to the development of programs, policies, and practices to reduce the rates of substance abuse among adolescents, and to generate effective prevention programs for the sake of diminishing the overall substance abuse levels.

As Bryson (2011) noted, the main issue for effective intervention and prevention program design is to engage in strategic planning. It enables the organizations to think, learn, and act strategically; as in case with substance abuse reduction, the policymakers and program designers have to understand three things: where they are, where they want to be, and how they can get there (Bryson, 2011). The aim of organizations targeting to achieve substance abuse reduction is to understand how the attraction towards such substances as smoking, alcohol drinking, and drugs emerges among adolescents, and how their mental models justify the substance use.

As the experts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (2006) noted, brain development has become more understandable for juvenile delinquency experts, and the main features of deviant behavior of adolescents are now much more effectively explained in terms of impulsiveness, questionable decision-making skills, and attention problems. Some of them also show signs of lack of initiative, which results in certain cognitive challenges as well (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2006). Therefore, targeting these specific cognitive problems at the root of their emergence may become highly effective in the reduction of deviance and substance abuse. In case effective coping skills, negative associations related to drugs, alcohol, and smoking, and peer support are established within an intervention or prevention program framework, the success of reducing substance abuse is much more credible. As one can see, there is a direct relationship between the individual’s behavior, cognition, reasoning, and attitudes. The formation of those attitudes, and inclination to a certain type of behaviors depends heavily on the psychological development, environment, and internal factors affecting the individual psyche. These factors differ according to the lifespan stage, and the should be seriously considered in the process of intervention and prevention program design and implementation.

References

Bandura, A. (2011). Social Learning Theory. Retrieved January 20, 2011, from http://www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Class_Websites/761_Spring_04/Assets/course_docs/ID_Theory_Reps_Sp04/bandura-driggers.pdf

Bryson, J. M. (2011). Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2006). Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Specialist II; JFIS II-Student Manual. Hyattsville, MD: FEMA.

Greene, R. R., & Kropf, N. (2009). Human behavior theory: a diversity framework. (2nd ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Groves, M. (2008). Bandura and social Cognitive Theory. California State University Monterey Bay. Retrieved January 20, 2011, from http://mariagrovesportfolio.com/artifacts/520/520_shortpaper.pdf

Kail, V. R., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2008). Human development: a life-span view. (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Shalit, E. (2011). The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey. Carmel, CA: Fisher King Press.

Tudge, J. (2008). The everyday lives of young children: culture, class, and child rearing in diverse societies. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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