Monday, August 17, 2009

Attachment Theory

Own photo, july 2005. nl:User Magalhaes and da...Image via Wikipedia

Attachment theory is the theory of how early relationships between infant and caregiver (baby and mom or dad) affect the child's developing patterns for understanding his or her relationship to others and the world at large.

In attachment theory, children are seen as completely dependent upon their parents, on whom they rely for getting all their needs met. If the parents are able to notice and respond to the baby's needs - whether for food, warmth, loving interaction, etc. - the baby will develop a "friendly" picture of the world, in which it is possible to be satisfied and have needs met, and a "friendly" picture of his or her self as lovable and worthy of being cared for.

Unfortunately, when this is not the case, other views of the world and self can develop which tend to persist later into life, a view where the world is not a place where needs can be met and connection can be found, and where the self is unworthy of having this kind of fulfillment.

What this means, and why it is important:
As an adult, you have certain views about the world, some of which may be the result of the way your parents related to you as a child. Other people may have different views of the world. If you accept that your subjective view of the world is not necessarily the way the world really is, but just what you've learned in your limited experiences, it opens up a little bit of room for exploration.

If you're stuck in with unsuccessful patterns in your relationships, knowing that these patterns just developed because of your past, and they're not "you" - just like the fact that 2+2=4 is not you, but just something you've learned - can give a little bit of space for exploring new and more satisfying ways of relating from this point forward.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Morality- Piaget

Jean Piaget was a Swiss Psychologist who studied childhood development and how children develop morality. Through studying children and how they related to the rules of games that they played where he lived, he developed the idea that children move through two stages of morality.

Piaget calls the first stage heteronymous morality. Heteronymous morality is characterized by the child's belief that the rules have their own innate authority, or more simply put, the rules are the rules and that's it. In this stage, children are primarily motivated by a fear of punishment. Piaget believes that this kind of relation to the rules is a result of the child’s relation to people in positions of authority. Since adults are in a position of power over the young children and command that the child know and follow their rules, the child’s primary mode of relating to these rules becomes one of grasping what is given, and using it as his/her own (1932, p. 36).

Piaget calls the second stage autonomous morality. Piaget found that this stage begins to enter in at around age 10. Autonomous morality is characterized by the child's understanding that rules are made by people, for people. The child using autonomous morality is motivated by the spirit of cooperation, and tries to take into account the needs, wants, and feelings of others. Piaget believes that this kind of relation to the rules develops out of cooperative activity between peers in equal relationship, in contrast with the one-way power relationship of authority to child that is present in heteronymous thinking.

So why does this matter? Piaget finds that Heteronymous morality persists to the extent which the individual remains in an unequal relationship with the rules, when the authority of the rules is taken for granted and accepted into the individual’s understanding of their world (these rules are the way the world works- think religious or ideological fundamentalism).
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini walking in f...Image via Wikipedia
Heteronymous morality can persist into adulthood, and is the morality of unequal power. When people give away their own power by following the rules of authority without critical and rational examination, life becomes a game of follow the leader, and depending on the leader, this game can be a very dangerous one. However, when people stand by the spirit of cooperation and the acknowledgement of the rights of others as equals, rules presented by leaders are examined, and ultimately rejected as immoral.

Much of this information was summarized from Piaget's The Moral Judgment of the Child. (1932).
To read selected sections of it, check it out here on google books, or buy it from Amazon!