It's very interesting to discuss an individual's life in detail, especially when done so in a thoughtful manner. Through these conversations, one garners a distinct appreciation for life and the obstacles it presents. It also provides a great sense of the importance of perseverance in regards to success. Allen exemplifies the term "perseverance," in his behaviors throughout life. I personally had to the opportunity to meet Allen during a job fair. He was representing Macy's and immediately seemed approachable. He is warm hearted and very engaging. Little did I know that his background was one that was anything but warm.
Not much is known about Allen's father, who was appropriate named Allen himself. As the third, the younger Allen never made physical contact with his father. From the information garnered from his mother, Allen Sr. was an expert guitarist. His hobbies included playing instruments and teaching music. His profession was that of a truck driver. As such, his profession called for many months on the road. Sadly, at Allen Jr.'s birth, his dad was appropriately absent. Since that time, the younger Allen has never seen his original fathers face, ever. This presented numerous problems in regards to development for the younger Allen. His mother, as a single parent was forced to fend for herself throughout the duration of the younger Allen's years. This problem was exacerbated by his mother's profession in the military. In many instances, she was forced to leave Allen in child care for long amounts of time as her duties as a military woman required extended hours. Allen therefore, was forced to grow and develop through the influence of others in his immediate surroundings. However, Allen attributes his growth and development from these circumstances.
In regards to Erik Erikson's psychological traits, he refers to a child's early years as the oral sensory stage. Many studies of suicides and suicide attempts point to the importance of the early years in developing the basic belief that the world is trustworthy and that every individual has a right to be here. This is manifested psychologically through the use of maternal love to drive hope. This psychological component has occurred in Allen's life as well. Through this nurturing, he has become quite successful, as I will allude to in subsequent sections.
For one, his mother was stationed on a naval base Yokosuka, Japan, soon after his birth. Allen sites this experience as a catalyst in his personal growth as a child. As an African-American male, he was not subjected to the pervasive influence of material possessions, and other negative influences the African-American community has been subjected to. During our interview, Allen believes, as a child, he avoided many of the negative influences that hinder the development of the African-American youth. He even went as far to draw similarities between himself and Barack Obama in the manner in which they grew up. In Japan, Allen learned much of the Japanese methods of discipline and respect that is often missing in today's youth. Even though much of his education was on the military establishment, the influences of Japan were very much present. It is here that his mother met and married his step-farther Lueranze. Allen also sites the importance of this new found father figure in his early life.
Here too, Erik Erikson's psychological principles are at work. Erikson characterizes the early stage in a child's life as ego development. In this phase of psychological development, children are beginning to understand themselves as an individual. It is also during this stage, however, that we can be very vulnerable. If we're shamed in the process of toilet training or in learning other important skills, we may feel great shame and doubt of our capabilities and suffer low self-esteem as a result. Thankfully, Allen had parents that were very helpful in this regard. Both his mother and step father were encouraging throughout his younger years. Furthermore, Allen had influence from the discipline of the Japanese community during pivotal periods of his life.
Also during this stage of psychological development, the child is learning to master the world around them, learning basic skills and principles of physics. Things fall down, not up. Round things roll. They learn how to zip and tie, count and speak with ease. At this stage, the child wants to begin and complete their own actions for a purpose. Guilt is a confusing new emotion.
This is particularly important as Allen felt guilty over his lost father. During the early stages of his life, guilt had a profound role in his performance as a child. Early in life, he was very quite and reserved. He felt guilty over the loss of his father and not receiving any form of correspondence whatsoever. Furthermore, living in Japan, he found it difficult to relate with many of the other children within his age cohort. This may also have precluded his behavior as in his early schooling years as well. Allen mentioned that he particularly wasn't a good student during his early years. In fact, he mentions that he was quite disruptive.
According to Erikson, within instances requiring initiative, a child may also develop negative behaviors. These behaviors are a result of the child developing a sense "…of frustration for not being able to achieve a goal as planned and may engage in behaviors that seem aggressive, ruthless, and overly assertive to parents." Aggressive behaviors, such as throwing objects, hitting, or yelling, are examples of observable behaviors during this stage. Allen exhibiting these characteristics early in life due in part to his lack of father figure and his guilt in dealing with that reality.
Circumstances of birth
Allen had a normal birth. He was born on January 26, 1947. His mother was a single parent, enlisted in the United States Navy. Allen's father abandoned him a birth but was a truck driver by trade. He was born in Wigbey Island, Washington weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces. He joked that his mother had a C-section because his head was too big.
Medical and health history throughout life
As mentioned before, Allen doesn't know about his original father who deserted him at birth. Many of this original families health history forms have never been seen or examined. As such, he is unaware of many of the potential illnesses that may be present within his body. His mother however, is quite healthy. As a military woman, she worked out regularly and in fact, at one point in her life, was a personal trainer. Of late however, Allen has suffered with high blood pressure which is a characteristic of many African-American males his age. Much of this has to do with his diet of high protein and fried foods. To abate or diminish the influence of this high blood pressure, he eats a substantial amount of both leafy green vegetables, with a combination of fruit. Fortunately, he was a student athlete in college at the University of Florida. He therefore has the aptitude and knowledge
Living arrangement (parents, room-mates, spouse)
He is single, and lives by himself. Allen intends to keep this living arrangement as it allows him to read, and invest in the privacy of his own home. When reviewing the discussion notes I personally found it interesting that he lives alone. He indirectly may be exhibiting the same traits as his original father in the sense of his approbation to commitment. Psychologically, as his father left him as a child due to commitment issues, he too may be inadvertently exhibiting the same behavior. Both Allen and his father may dislike commitment and therefore, their logical response is to simply avoid it. At over the age of 65, Allen has never once met his real father. Likewise, his father has never once seen his sons face. I find it eerily similar, psychologically; that Allen himself has never been married has no intention of doing so.
Allen's first test of passion and hard work came as a member of the UF track and field team. Out of high school, he was never recruited by a major university. He didn't allow the neglect and disregard of large university scouts to damper my spirits. Instead, he saw this neglect as an opportunity to prove them all wrong. He personally knew within himself that he possessed the talent, skill-set, and ability to compete on a large scale with the nations best athletes. He resolved to train hard throughout his freshman year of college to establish himself as a world class athlete. His determination and perseverance eventually paid off during my sophomore year of college. After an entire year of training and developing my skills, he became a member of the UF track and field team. However, to his surprise joining the track team required an extensive overhaul of my then current time-management and leadership skills. As a non-scholarship athlete, he often lacked the raw talent of my teammates. Instead of talent, what he used to compete with the…