Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)


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Life-span development concepts, theories and interventions Léonie Sugarman

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View basket. The last twenty years have seen a blending, or integrating , of these very different approaches to understanding human behavior. This paper does not attempt to digest the vast history or current volumes of theory, but tries to present a context for understanding how faith develops as a mechanism for coping with stress and trauma.

Approximately forty percent are still in the stage of Identity Foreclosure relative to their faith at graduation Burwell and Van Wicklin, In comparison to adults in their mid-thirties, unpublished survey data of college students suggests that the average twenty year old has the self-perception that their faith is as mature and sophisticated as an adult in their mid-thirties with several years of education and experience in ministry.

However, it lacks other individual and relational qualities that give it the ability to persist through adulthood. Lewis emphasizes the importance of being able to tell reasonable facsimiles -look alike — from the enduring God , pgs. Individuals and groups who get caught up in popular religious movements, often built on one or two trendy aspects of faith, are at times quite vulnerable when crisis and trauma occur outside of those few, albeit popular, characteristics.

A danger or temptation is that the closer we get to the real God the more things around Him look like Him Lewis, We are apt to be caught in a side-eddy that is close enough to bear several similarities to the real thing.

An example of this is the identity status of foreclosure mentioned above, during which specific commitments are made and the language is well learned, but the sense of struggle and personal exploration are missing. Faith based on foreclosure, for some individuals, may only look like the real thing and therefore not be as enduring as faith that has encountered and overcome obstacles.

As an aside, effective mentoring, coaching, parenting, and so on should allow, and when necessary facilitate, age-appropriate struggle. As stated earlier, struggle is an essential piece in the puzzle of developing a mature faith. Intuitively, it seems that the amount of time a person spends in a particular role or context contributes to the development of maturity.

For example, the more time spent in school as a student, the more one is expected to be an effective student.

Life-Span Development

The more time spent being a parent, the more that wise parenting is expected. However, this assumption of time-in a role needs qualification. We must also consider the quality of the actual experience in the role of student or parent. Just being enrolled in several courses and attending class on a regular basis is not enough. One also needs to study, prepare for exams, and write papers in order to develop the traits that are associated with being a mature student. The same is true for parenting. Merely being a biological parent for a certain number of years and being around from time to time does not qualify as a quality parent.

Life‐Span Development - Overton - - Major Reference Works - Wiley Online Library

The amount of time in the role is insufficient, and if taken too simplistically misleading. Consideration must be given to the quality of the experience as well. Time-in a particular role, may only serve to increase the likelihood of a foreclosed religious identity. In Foreclosed identity , and in the language of James Marcia, the individual is Christian because of the family they were born into and the social structure they have lived in — conformity to social norms, strong identification with role models, and so forth Arnett, Then if tragedy or trauma strikes, and a mature faith is necessary as a coping skill, all the individual may actually have available to them is an immature and childish view of faith and religion.

Their faith turns out to be primarily a life-style shaped by their culture. To state this in common vernacular, it may be an issue of having taken on a life style culture as opposed to the development of a set of internal motivations, a life force. Although the illusions of a non-internalized faith may provide a false sense of security, they are of little use when the absence of foundations is exposed. The individual left with immature or less well-integrated faith must deal with the events in psychologically unhealthy ways, such as denial, avoidance of situations and people who are apt to remind them of the experience and, so on.

Inadequate coping and in some cases conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder PTSD may result. The process of adjusting to developmental stressors and life situations cause many individuals to seriously question cultural assumptions concerning faith.


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Even relatively small purposeful decisions can serve to facilitate a level of integration of faith into adult life. Individuals that have practiced with smaller accommodations along the way are more likely to possess a faith that is available to help them cope with more difficult and even traumatic life events. Thus, even though the more integrated individual experiences a traumatic event — such as war, assault, natural disaster, or the like — they are better equipped to work through the situations, utilizing faith as an effective coping mechanism.

Psychological development influences the quality of coping strategies. Generally, the importance of tradition and cultural heritage is well known.


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  • Yet, a normal part of the maturing process is learning what to do with new knowledge and increased breadth of experience. Many people can recall some instances of feeling at a loss of knowing what to do with new insights, understandings, or experiences that were outside of established habits of thinking and experiencing. Dealing with experiences, knowledge and other contradictions that are outside of established ways of thinking is a normal challenge of adolescence and early adulthood.

    Normal cognitive disequilibrium 6 can be unsettling. It can be especially perplexing to younger individuals who are less experienced at accommodation, and believe they must protect at any cost, one hundred percent of their heritage. Within a Piagetian, theoretical framework, trying to assimilate new experiences into an existing cognitive framework without adjusting the old way of thinking, will frequently prove to be frustrating.

    For most individuals, the process of accommodating experiences that falls outside the realm of normal cause a sense of disequilibrium. For some the experience can take on crisis proportions. The acknowledged need for a nurturing environment is seen in work that is taking place in assisting military troops returning from service in the Middle East since September 11, APA Practice Organization, Nurturing, in this case includes allowing one to think aloud and express self without fear of reprisal or being censured.

    The persistence of cognitive disequilibrium, and the innate psychological need to achieve consistency in our basic beliefs and values, facilitates an eventual return to equilibrium. The process of regaining balance is most often discontinuous and occurs through, awkward stages of discomfort Santrock, ; Arnett, Discarding one or the other concept that created the imbalance in the first place may seem tempting at first — wishing things could be the way they used to be. However, developmentally this is often not practical.

    Resolution of the inconsistent beliefs and unsettling perceptions require accommodations resembling varying degrees of Piagetian forms of accommodation.

    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)

    First, the individual may learn how to tolerate a peaceful coexistence between the two opposing points of view, which is similar to the psychological process of compartmentalization. An example of this may be the development of a different, but not oppositional, set of standards for different situations. For example, some expectations are applicable at work, while other standards are appropriate in social or familial relationships.

    A second paradigm is discovering how the two concepts might complement each other. This often requires the perception that one point of view is primary, or foundational, relative to the other. As recent as the middle of the twentieth century many psychologists viewed religious commitment as a dysfunctional human phenomenon. Some of the traditional approaches to psychotherapy saw religious commitments as something the client needed to grow out of, and labeled such beliefs as immature and childish illusions Engler, ; Capps, In the end, this often proved to be ineffective, from some perspectives unethical, and no more sophisticated than simple attempts at assimilation.

    I am of the opinion that psychological work should include assistance in the development of an accommodation style of rational and emotional processing. This is opposed to the less mature method of attempting to fit all new experience and knowledge into a fixed, or inflexible enduring context. In the remainder of this paper, I will suggest some ways to conceptualize the degree of religious experience and faith, and its usefulness to specific individuals in coping with trauma.

    The age at which a person makes a decision s to become a believer is important in understanding the established pattern of integration of faith with other aspects of life. The timeliness and depth to which previous traumatic events have been addressed in the past also increases our understanding. Jagger, C. The burden of diseases on disability-free life expectancy in later life. Janis, I. Effects of fear arousal on attitude change: Recent developments in theory and experimental research.

    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)
    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)
    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)
    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)
    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)
    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)
    Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology) Life-span Development: Frameworks, Accounts and Strategies (New Essential Psychology)

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