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Development West

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Development & Maturity: Separation/Individuation

Cross-Cultural Psychology

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Course Progression

  • This week – Development

  • Today – Separation / Individuation

  • Thursday: Development – Interdependency

  • Next week – psychology fundamentals –

  • Tuesday - Individual

  • Thursday - Collective

  • Then presentations

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Project Dates

  • Reports on Tuesday & Thursday, April 24 & 26

  • Paper due Thursday, April 26

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General Development Orientations

  • Individualist: separate from womb (bonded) = continue this separation until = become mature whole separate individual

    Bonded born - fully whole in womb partially separate person separate

  • “Separation-Individuation”

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General Development Orientations

  • Collective: separate from oneness (womb) = separate into world = stay bonded to parents & re-create bonded relationships

    Bonded born - in womb partially mature

    separate interdependent


    interdependent never fully separate

  • Clear example: Takeo Doi’s psychology

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  • Focus on development & maturity in relationship from individualist viewpoint

  • Research on development

  • Ajase and Oedipus myths

  • Handout – Discussion questions

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Development from an Individual Perspective

  • General orientation: “Separation/Individuation”

  • Margaret Mahler

  • D.W. Winnicott

  • Erich Fromm

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  • Examine D.W. Winnicott as representative of Western view of separation-individuation as part of the Western view of development

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D.W. Winnicott

  • British psychoanalyst

  • Focused on child development

  • Emphasizes separation & individuation – Become an individual!

  • Development – begin in “absolute dependence” – then “relative dependence” – then “towards independence”

  • As mature become independent

  • Maturity = ability to be function by oneself

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D.W. Winnicott

  • Anxiety relates to threat of annihilation

  • Annihilation of self

  • Individual viewpoint

  • Collective viewpoint is different -

  • Doi – anxiety relates to threat of separation – relationship is fundamental

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Winnicott – Role of Mother

  • Infant begins with “sense of omnipotence” = Selfish – Has to develop realistic sense of agency

  • Healthy mother = “Good-enough Mother”

  • Mother’s adaptation to infant is “good enough” so infant develops own realistic sense of creating and controlling – so develops “True Self”

  • Mother’s responsibility = adapt to infant

  • Unhealthy – “Not Good-enough Mother”

  • Mother not adapt well to infant = develops compliance & imitation = “False Self”

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Winnicott: Goal of Development

  • Focuses on self agency

  • Sees omnipotence in infant – has to become realistic about sense of agency

  • Mother supports self-agency & independence

  • Child eventually leaves mother

  • Goal of development is 2 equal independent & unique people

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Erich Fromm

  • Growth means separation from parents & becoming one’s own person

  • “The very essence of motherly love is to care for the child’s growth, and that means to want the child’s separation from herself.” (Fromm p. 144)

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Mother’s Love - Fromm

  • Unconditional affirmation of child’s life & their needs

  • Passive love – unconditional love

  • Test: willingness to bear separation

  • Child doesn’t have to do anything

  • Negative side: can’t be acquired, produced, controlled, created

  • Dependence of receiving by being loved

  • Having to be small, helpless, sick, “good”

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Fromm - Development

  • Move from mother-centered to father-centered attachment & then synthesis

  • Eventually synthesize both within oneself

  • This is the basis for mental health & the achievement of maturity

  • Father represents other pole of life: world of thought, man-made things, law & order, discipline, travel & adventure

  • Mother primarily is for early life period only

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Mature Relationship - Individualism

  • Question – what does it mean to be mature in relationship?

  • What is maturity?

  • Winnicott & Fromm assert self agency and independence is maturity

  • We will consider dependency Thursday

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Examples of Cross-Cultural Research on Development

  • Settlage & Okimoto Research (1993)

  • Study of US and Japanese mothers & their toddlers

  • Observed interaction of mothers & their infants during phone calls and face-to-face interviews

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Findings: U.S. Mothers

  • Became more involved in face-to-face interview & phone conversation

  • Tend discourage child from being too dependent on them

  • Tried to set limits with child

  • Assume some mother-toddler separation

  • Valued more initiative & exploration of play environment

  • “Limits-exploration” mothering style

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Findings: Japanese Mothers

  • Maintained total eye contact & nonverbal communication with toddler

  • Easily accepted child wanting be closer to mother once interruption occurred

  • Don’t assume any mother-child separation

  • Tried to protect from difficulties & distract child if there were difficulties

  • “Protect-distract” mothering style

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Cross-Cultural Research: Infant Attention Training

  • Bornstein, Toda, et al. (1990)

  • Fernald and Morikawa (1993)

  • Mothers and 5-19 month old infants observed playing together with toys at home

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Growing Up in World of Objects vs. Relationships – Nisbett

  • Experiment - Mothers and 5-19 month old infants observed at home playing with toys

  • American mothers used twice as many object labels as Japanese mothers (“piggie,”“doggie”)

  • American mothers encouraged attention to object and its properties –“That’s a car. It has wheels.”

  • American children are learning world is mostly a place with objects

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Growing Up in World of Objects vs. Relationships – Nisbett

  • Japanese mothers engaged in twice as many social routines of teaching politeness norms (ex: empathy and greetings)

  • Japanese mother’s talk: “Here! It’s a vroom vroom. I give it to you. Now give it to me. Yes! Thank you.”

  • Japanese mothers direct their children’s attention to their own faces

  • Japanese children learn world is mostly about relationships

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Nouns or Verbs for Babies? Twila Tardif (1996)

  • Western infants learn nouns at a rapid rate = “Noun bias”

  • Toddlers learn 1-2 per day at their peak

  • Verbs learned much more slowly

  • Not true for Chinese infants

  • Mandarin-speaking children were found to have relatively fewer nouns and more verbs than English-speaking children

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Oedipus Myth Reader #2 p. 19Ajase Myth Reader #2 p. 38

  • What is the Oedipus myth?

  • How does the Oedipus myth express the separation-individuation approach to development?

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Oedipus Myth Reader #2 p. 19Ajase Myth Reader #2 p. 38

Homework for next Tuesday -

What differences are there between these 2 myths?

Why do you think Kosawa asserted that the Ajase myth was a better expression of collective psychological dynamics than the Oedipus complex?

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Singaporean Woman Student: Parenting Styles

I have noticed on many occasions the Japanese parents are quite similar to the Chinese parents in that they keep an extremely close watch on their children and do not let them run around too far away from them. I often hear them telling their children what to do and picking them up in their arms after a few minutes of leaving them on their own. Many Asian parents tend to be very protective of their children and do not encourage active experimentation by their children. Most of them prefer to tell their children what to do and what not to do instead of letting them explore and make their own mistakes.

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Singaporean Woman: Parenting Styles (cont.)

This is characteristic of the tendency for Asian families to have large power distance value orientations where children are looked after and not expected to experiment for themselves. I have observed in the past that many American and European parents, however, let their toddlers crawl around and even far away from them. Active experimentation is encouraged and they are allowed to make mistakes and learn for themselves. Western parents have more of the equality and small power distance values orientation and they are not overly protective and do not usually tell their children what to do but just offer their guidance and advice.

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Italian Woman Student

I did training last year in a Swedish Delivery Consulting Room for families, specialized in pregnancy and women, in my hometown of Milan. The training consisted of the participation to a post-partum course that some mothers with their babies attended. This course was run by a clinical developmental psychologist, specifically trained in Group Psychotherapy. The aim of this course was to help the young mothers during one of the most difficult periods of mothering: the first months right after the delivery. (cont.)

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During this course we talked a lot about the separation process and the psychologist stressed very much the importance of teaching the baby to fall asleep alone in the cradle, saying that is very important for him to have his own room (when available) and to start to learn of independence as soon as possible. The course was focused on how to achieve this early separation, how to behave during the first months because, as the psychologist said, the habits that the baby learn early are the ones he will refer to always while growing up. (cont.)

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When I came to Japan and started to follow Cross-Cultural Psychology classes, I learnt that the co-sleeping practice is very common in East Asia. At first this impressed me a bit because it was exactly the opposite of what the Italian psychologist said and of what I studied for four years at University, as my major is Child Psychology.

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Discussion Questions

1) At what age did you stop sleeping next to your parents?

2) What kind of child-rearing style did your parents have?

  • Protective? Encourage experimentation?

  • Distraction? Setting limits?

  • Encourage closeness? Encourage separation?

    3) Attitude to dependency – good or bad?

    4) Did maturity = independent self-agency?

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What do you think?Do you agree?

  • Fromm & Winnicott assert that “separation and individuation” are necessary and healthy for human development

  • Fromm (p. 49) writes the test of a loving mother “is the willingness to bear separation – and even after the separation to go on loving. “

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What do you think?Do you agree?

  • Winnicott (p. 145) writes about the ideal mother as a “good-enough mother” who supports “realistic sense of agency of self.”

  • Fromm (pp. 44-45) writes that “brotherly love is love between equals… If I penetrate to the core, I perceive our identity, the fact of our brotherhood. This relatedness from center to center… is “central relatedness.”

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