Assignment 4: Erikson's Stages of Development.
According to Erik Erikson, every child passes through eight stages of 'man' or development. Erikson attempted to introduce a theory of development that incorporated other human needs and elements of culture into a human being's socialization process, unlike Freud who focused only on the family romance, of family dynamic, and the role personal sexuality plays in character development. Each of Erikson's stage presents socialization challenges or tasks the child must learn. For example, the first stage, infancy or the oral-sensory stage, the infant's task is to develop trust without completely eliminating the capacity for mistrust, or the child will grow up be overly trusting or mistrustful. If the child does not successfully resolve this stage, he or she will not simply be personally traumatized, but have difficulty relating to others in his or her social environment (Boeree, 1997). The level of needed trust between social members may vary from culture to culture and society. For example, the level of trust that is acceptable for strangers in a primitive culture is quite different than a child growing up in a city environment today. But still, there must be some sense of trust for the child to be functional as a child and as an adult.
One of the more useful aspects of Erikson's works is his discussion of mutuality (Boeree, 1997). As childhood and parental influence is a two-way stream, according to Erikson, the ability of a child to change a couple's sexual relationship, the divide a mother may experience between home and work, and other areas of adult development comes more clearly to the forefront of the discussion. Culture will impact how families become blended, and how children are expected to influence family members and vice versa. For example, some cultures and families embrace the motto 'everything for the sake of the child' versus the idea 'children should be seen and not heard.' The addition of new members through blending, as in stepfamilies, also incorporates new actors in the developmental process, unlike the purely nuclear dynamic of Freud. Although criticized for an over-emphasis on a rigid demarcation of development into stages, Erikson's more flexible use of stages makes his model, although not 'perfect' more useful for approaching modern families than Freud's psychoanalytic model.
Boeree, George. (1997). "Erik Erikson 1902-1994." Personality Theories. Retrieved 24 May 2007 at www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/erikson.html
Chapter 5: Sensation and Perception
One of the more interesting challenges to cultural assumptions universality of perception, and an illustration of how the body as well as the brain can influence perception is the phenomenon of color blindness. To be able to see something as red or green might seem to be the most obvious example of 'knowing' what is real or unreal. But a person with color blindness will not be able to perceive the world in the same way as a person with so-called normal vision.
In actuality, "color blindness is an inaccurate term for a lack of perceptual sensitivity to certain colors. Absolute color blindness is almost unknown" ("Color Blindness Check," 2007).Color blindness is really a lack of color sensitivity in one's visual fields. "There are three types of color receptors in our eyes, red, green and blue. We also have black and white receptors" that are more sensitive than the eye's color receptors ("Color Blindness...
"Color blindness comes as a result of a lack of one or more of the types of color receptors. Most color perception defects are for red or green or both" ("Color Blindness Check," 2007). Yellow-blue is the second most common form, although rare and black and white vision or the absence of any receptors is even rarer ("Color Blindness Check," 2007).
Another interesting aspect of colorblindness is the fact that it is influenced by gender, in the way that the trait is passed from generation to generation. "About 10% of males have a color perception defect," while the disorder is even rarer in females ("Color Blindness Check, 2007). Color blindness is yet another instance of how seeing is not always believing, depending on the composition of one's physical and genetic makeup. It shows how what seems like objective reality is in fact rooted in perception.
Color Blindness Check." (2007). Retrieved 24 May 2007 at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/8833/coloreye.html
Chapter 6: States of consciousness
At some point within the next 24 hours, both the writer and the reader of this essay shall enter into an altered state of consciousness known as sleep. Sleep is a biological necessity, yet like all biological and psychological phenomenon it is subject to profound cultural influences. Sleep is regulated by a brain mechanism or homeostatic function that increases the body's tendency to fall asleep progressively in direct proportion to the increasing size of the sleep debt. Left alone, "this homeostatic process ensures that most people will get the amount of sleep they need, or close to it" (Dement, 1997). An individual's biological clock regulates of sleep and wakefulness, but this biological clock is imposed upon by culture, such as moving from one time zone to another, working a day shift, caffeine, or simply the pressure or excitement of daily life.
Thus, many outside influences may impact one's sleep debt. Individuals often think that boredom, a warm room, or a lack of chemical or intellectual stimulation causes them to feel sleepier, but according to sleep researchers, what is actually happening is that the individual feels more conscious of his or her sleep debt. During sleep, the brain experiences transference from the ability to perceive normal stimuli, and "as we fall asleep is an abrupt shut down of the neural processes that allow us to perceive the world around us. At one moment we are awake, and can see and hear. A fraction of a second later we are asleep, and we are completely blind and completely deaf. Another way of saying this is that sleep is a behavioral state of complete perceptual disengagement from the environment. Sleep is an active process in which sensory stimulation is blocked or modified in some way such that we cease to be conscious of the world around us. In fact, research over the past couple of decades has decisively established that the sleeping brain is an active brain" (Dement, 1997). Although sleep an altered state which is disconnected from the real and waking world, sleep is vital in the physical and mental regeneration of normal physiological processes, and if sleep is denied for too long, there can be severe consequences. Sleep is an example of a normal seemingly altered state of consciousness -- what is abnormal is our denial of our need for sleep, although sleep requirements vary from individual to individual.
Dement, William. (Sept 1997). "What All Undergraduates Should Know About How Their Sleeping Lives Affect Their Waking Lives." Stanford University Center of Excellence for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Disorders. Retrieved 24 May 2007 http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/sleepless.html
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