Friday, March 20, 2009

Developmental Sexuality

Developmental Sexuality
-by William Hay

In psychology 101, students are taught that the first relational bond is mother child. The child developing in the womb does not have a sense of separateness from mother until after birth. No one knows for sure. It’s not something that can be ‘proven’. Indeed there is even hypnosis work with memories that suggests separateness is experienced in the womb. Yet the prevailing wisdom is that child is born in a state of ‘merger’.
Self and not self. This is the first key aspect of immunology. There is a need to recognise that which is friendly, helpful, and like from that which is not. The child’s awareness of self and environment is growing all the while in the early years. The child is perceived as beginning believing that mother and child are one.
The ‘terrible two’s’ when the child is in ‘rebellion’ is psychologically a time of “separation and individuation”. This time is characterized by the word ‘my’. By now the child has had to accept father and other siblings into their world. The magical thinking of the child has been narcissistic and omnipotent. There’s a large scale drama occurring in the world of the child where all revolves around them and then they are utterly alone. Emotions range like rivulets and great oceans.
Anger is associated with fear and during the ‘terrible two’s’ the child rapidly experiences rage and stubbornness and through the process, loved, comes to know a sense of interdependence.
A healthy child seen in public at a certain age will not ‘cling’ to the mother. A clinging child suggests to examiners that the child is afraid of losing the ‘uncertain’ mother. The child lacks ‘security’ for whatever reason. An emotionally healthy child will be able to move away from the mother in public while keeping her in eye sight. This will allow the child to explore the environment in safety. Where once in the first months of life the child was nearly attached physically still to the mother, and certainly dependent on the family the child is increasingly making forays away from the safety of the mother and family into the immediate environment.
The next phase of separation and individuation is seen in early adolescence. Adolescence has been characterized by the likes of Bok in three stages. The first is the moving away from the family and identification increasingly with a same sex same age adolescent group. The next phase is the becoming a part of the mixed sex same age group where sex and love relationships are played out with those outside the primary family. The final stage of adolescence is the establishment of a new ‘creative’ unit which will allow the child to separate physically from the family psychologically and establish a new family.
At this time the new family unit identifies with other family units of roughly the same age and begins to ‘nest’ and begin the cycle again for introducing new members to society.

This separation individuation is core but has many variations, not the least of which is homosexual development or celibacy in priest hood. These latter developments are seen as potentially self imploding while serving the group nonetheless.
The key feature though is that there is a ‘developmental’ time when this development can be viewed in the mainstream. The age of the individual in each phase varies greatly.
At one time the families cycled with separation from family and recreation of new family and individuals every 20 years. This continued in the lower classes into the 50’s and then as with the upper classes there was what was termed a ‘delay in adolescence’. Where once women reproduced children at age 16 to 18, increasingly child bearing moved into the 20’s, then the 30’s and now for many it does not occur though the external forms of the behaviour are symbolically preserved.

In earlier times children were valued for their own sake. Later they moved from being ‘tools’ in society and part of the essential development of the society, to being ‘toys’ and entertainment with value not independent from the parents. The introduction of ‘labour saving’ devices, the fear of the future, the unwillingness to expand outward, society trapped at the void of space as Europe was in pre Columbus times at the void of the great ocean. Where once children were necessary to man the farm and war machines and build the factories today they are not so necessary.
In the past children were celebrated because more children meant for most more income. The adage was simply that more hands make the workload easier and the thought of more mouths to feed was not intrinsic to cultures that celebrated life.

Later in the ethnocentricity of the present age would the rewriting of history occur and suddenly children, womanhood and family would be viewed through the lens of what has sometimes been seen as a dying or devolving culture. Indeed today many of the leading theorists are at the ‘end’ of their world of DNA. The grandscale of abortion in our society is testimony to the extraordinary transformation of culture that collectively celebrated life, childbearing, womanhood and family to one that now denies the child existence, promotes the individual over the family and society and generally dead ends.
Now that does not necessarily mean that devolution is inferior to evolution. Indeed some theorists believe the cycles are as necessary as any other ‘cycle’ in nature. It’s just a question of where a society or even individual is along this line.
In the end , it really comes down to the matter of drawing a line even if one only believes in circles. Believing in circles one must ask how tightly wound or loose the circle will then be in the metaphor of an individual or cultural life. So much debate and certainty depends upon the fundamental understanding an individual or culture or age has over this process. There are those who do not believe in development itself and may themselves not develop as a consequence. Snapshots,slideshows and movies all can give a different perspective on process. The point remains in drawing the line. Perhaps also one might ask who has done such drawing as end points are commonly in science beginning points as well.


detourcy said...

Complex indeed.
Much enmuddlement.
I'd disagree on a few points. Past generations celebrating children. That's possibly specific to a certain Eurocentric demographic? The Australian Aborigine- not that there is one- there were 200 at least separate tribes with different language, customs, etc- but some that we know of did, if there were twins born, eat one of them, more so if they were females. Also children were worked in the mills of the industrialisation. They were additional labourers be it in mill on farm or whereever.
As you say they were celebrated as a source of additional labour in rural families.

I think the current creation of The Idealised Innocent Dependent Child is a Western tool of our particular era. The Child has been reconstructed as another little consumer. Hence amazing prams costing fortunes to push them in for the Two or so years they can't self propel. And so forth & so on.

I've read arguments on medscape that American children need parental guidance until they are 30. I know of so many of the older generations who had to become independent at 14. That was then. They can't do it now because there are rules forbidding work & rules about leaving ages from school. My father was forced to leave school at 14. So was Alfred Wallace, who probably discovered the theory of Evolution before Darwin but didn't get the kudos because he was not sufficiently upper in his middle classness. My father ran the biggest sheep station in Australia, Paul Keating, who also left school at 14 became one of our best & most intelligent Prime Ministers & so on. The modern Western Child is disempowered by having the label of Childhood affixed until 18, 21 or 30.

However, you neatly opt out of any position in the last para with talk of circles. I suppose I quibble with the disparities in Western culture between Our Good Innocent White Children & those of Africa & Asia who work at 10 as chocolate producers, child soldiers & sex objects chained to beds for the delectation of White Male Tourists.

I think this culture has reached its use by date. I see it not as circles but as fluctuating Either Ors. Us or thems. We're so effete because we are become etiolated by self indulgence & medication & the excessive pampering of children is a projection of how we see ourselves. Perpetually needy and unsatisfied & dependent.

Abortion is murder. It depends if one feels that murdering a bunch of insensate cells is better than murdering a newly born. That too is a question of culturally induced sensitivity. Most Western people have never seen their food killed & don't want to. They'd rather somebody else did that off screen. Same with excess babies. Same with 10 year olds.
Is it cyclical or are we in a particular bubble of overindulged prolonged infancy which we call "individualism"?

haykind said...

Well said. The diversity in culture is as great as that for birds or mammals though we assume that sharings species we have more in common. Your comment re generalization is so valid but I think it's worthwhile to note this is standard 'psychology 101' and I feel sorry for the kids who graduate from that alone without the benefits of the anthropology studies you and I share. As for children as food I think that confirms rather than denies my hypothesis that children were at least more delectable to past generations. Love your IIDP, idealized, innocent dependent child, and thoroughly agree with effeteness of declining westerners. The Roman's at least had lead in the water to explain their decline. If this is the demise rather than a plateau then how will future generations to explain the decline and fall in biological terms. Latex poisoning from condom overusage? Antiseptics and food preservatives? Irradiation of foods. Hair products? It's all paranoid projection isn't it. I was thinking the other day that the new 'rapid cycling bipolar II' diagnosis that blames ill behaviour on genes is really the 'projective identification' of the pharmaceutical set. Equally meaningless but equally allowing abdication of responsibility and blaming, the principal past time of an individualistic corparate 'critic' society.