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Chapter 4. From Birth to Death: Life-Span Development. Table of Contents. Exit. Life Events. Developmental Tasks: These must be mastered for optimal development (e.g., learning to read and adjusting to sexual maturity)

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Chapter 4

From Birth to Death: Life-Span Development

Table of Contents

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Life Events

  • Developmental Tasks: These must be mastered for optimal development (e.g., learning to read and adjusting to sexual maturity)

  • Developmental Milestones: Notable events, markers, or turning points in personal development

  • Psychosocial Dilemma: Conflict between personal impulses and the social world

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Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Dilemmas

  • Stage One: Trust Versus Mistrust (Birth-1): Children are completely dependent on others

    • Trust: Established when babies given adequate warmth, touching, love, and physical care

    • Mistrust: Caused by inadequate or unpredictable care and by cold, indifferent, and rejecting parents

  • Stage Two: Autonomy Versus Shame and Doubt (1-3)

    • Autonomy: Doing things for themselves

    • Overprotective or ridiculing parents may cause children to doubt abilities and feel shameful about their actions

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Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Dilemmas (cont.)

  • Stage Three: Initiative Versus Guilt (3-5)

    • Initiative: Parents reinforce via giving children freedom to play, use imagination, and ask questions

    • Guilt: May occur if parents criticize, prevent play, or discourage a child’s questions

  • Stage Four: Industry Versus Inferiority (6-12)

    • Industry: Occurs when child is praised for productive activities

    • Inferiority: Occurs if child’s efforts are regarded as messy or inadequate

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Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Dilemmas (cont.)

  • Stage Five (Adolescence): Identity Versus Role Confusion

    • Identity: For adolescents; problems answering, “Who am I?”

    • Role Confusion: Occurs when adolescents are unsure of where they are going and who they are

  • Stage Six (Young adulthood): Intimacy Versus Isolation

    • Intimacy: Ability to care about others and to share experiences with them

    • Isolation: Feeling alone and uncared for in life

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Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Dilemmas (cont.)

  • Stage Seven (Middle adulthood): Generativity Versus Stagnation

    • Generativity: Interest in guiding the next generation

    • Stagnation: When one is only concerned with one’s own needs and comforts

  • Stage Eight (Late adulthood): Integrity Versus Despair

    • Integrity: Self-respect; developed when people have lived richly and responsibly

    • Despair: Occurs when previous life events are viewed with regret; experiences heartache and remorse.

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Normal Childhood Problems

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Specific fears of the dark, dogs, school, or a particular room or person

  • Most children will be overly timid at times, allowing bullying

  • Temporary periods of dissatisfaction, when nothing pleases the child

  • General negativism

  • Clinging to a parent(s) or caregiver

  • Reversals or regressions to more infantile behavior occur with almost all children (Chess, Thomas, & Birch, 1976)

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Rivalry and Rebellion

  • Sibling Rivalry: Competition among brothers and sisters

  • Childhood Rebellion: Open defiance of adult authority

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Serious Childhood Problems

  • Toilet Training Problems: Average age for completion is 30 months; some children will take up to six months longer

    • Enuresis: Lack of bladder control; bedwetting. May be physical problem. Much more common in males

    • Encopresis: Lack of bowel control; soiling. Not as common as enuresis

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Serious Childhood Problems: Feeding Disturbances

  • Overeating: Eating in excess of daily caloric needs; significant problem because of convenience and fast foods

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Self-starvation or sustained loss of appetite that is assumed by some to have psychological origins

  • Pica: Eating or chewing inedible objects or substances such as lead, chalk, paint chips, clay and so on. Note: Eating inedible foods on occasion is not uncommon among young toddlers

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CNN – Sleep Disorders

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Fig. 4.1 Dramatic differences in physical size and maturity are found in adolescents of the same age. The girls pictured are all 13, the boys 16. Maturation that occurs earlier or later than average can affect the “search for identity.” (Reprinted with permission of Nelson Prentiss.)

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Speech Disturbances

  • Delayed Speech: Speech that begins well after the normal age for language development

  • Stuttering: Chronic hesitation or stumbling in speech. Seems to involve speech timing mechanisms in brain; NOT parent’s fault

    • Four times more common in males

    • May be partially inherited

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Learning Disorders

  • Includes problems with reading, math or writing. Exists when academic achievement is significantly lower than expected for child’s intellectual level and age

  • Dyslexia: Inability to read with understanding. Classic example is reversing letters

    • Affects about 10-15% of all school-age children

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CNN – Dyslexia Study

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Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Behavioral problem characterized by short attention span, rapid speech, impulsivity, and rarely finishing work. Much more common among boys than girls

  • Treatment Methods:

    • Drugs: Ritalin (methylphenidate): Stimulant; seems to lengthen attention span and reduce impulsiveness

    • Behavior Modification: Application of learning principles to change or eliminate maladaptive or abnormal behavior

    • Reward child for being calm and paying attention

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CNN – Hyperactive Brains

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Conduct Disorder

  • Affected children are aggressive and harm others

  • Engage in vandalism, lying, or stealing

  • Persistently violate rules

  • Usually in trouble at school, at home, and in the community

  • Generally have low self-esteem

  • Outlook for successful treatment is poor; parents need to seek professional help for such children

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Autism

  • Severe disorder involving mutism (silence), sensory spin-outs (watching a faucet drip for hours), sensory blocking (not responding to an extremely loud noise), tantrums, and unresponsiveness to others, among other symptoms

  • Echolalia: When an autistic child parrots back everything said, like an echo

  • “Rain Man” is a decent example on film

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Child Abuse

  • Physical or emotional harm caused by violence, mistreatment, or neglect

  • 3.5 to 14 percent of all children are physically abused by parents

  • Abusive parents typically have high level of stress and frustration in their lives

  • About 1/3 of all parents who were abused as children mistreat their own children

  • One method to prevent child abuse is to change attitudes; not a parent’s right to hit or slap their child

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Adolescence

  • Culturally defined period between childhood and adulthood

  • Puberty: Hormonal changes promote rapid physical growth and sexual maturity

    • Puberty tends to increase body awareness and concerns about physical appearance

  • Growth Spurt: Accelerated growth rate

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Adolescence (cont.)

  • Social Markers: Visible or tangible signs that indicate a person’s social status or role, e.g., driver’s license or wedding ring

  • Imaginary Audiences: People adolescents imagine are watching them

  • Peer Group: People who share similar social status

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CNN – Heroin Addiction

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Lawrence Kohlberg and Stages of Moral Development

  • Moral Development: When we acquire values, beliefs, and thinking abilities that guide responsible behavior

    • Three Levels

    • Preconventional: Moral thinking guided by consequences of actions (punishment, reward, exchange of favors)

    • Conventional: Reasoning based on a desire to please others or to follow accepted rules and values

    • Postconventional: Follows self-accepted moral principles

  • Stage theorist, like Freud and Erikson

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Developmental Challenges for North American Adults (Gould)

  • Escape From Dominance (Ages 16-18)

  • Leaving the Family (Ages 18-22)

  • Building a Workable Life (Ages 22-28)

  • Crisis of Questions (Ages 29-34)

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Developmental Challenges for North American Adults (Gould)(cont.)

  • Crisis of Urgency (Ages 35-43)

  • Attaining Stability (Ages 43-50)

  • Mellowing (Ages 50 and up)

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Middle Age Issues: Mid-Life Crises?

  • Menopause: Menstruation ends and a woman is no longer able to bear children. Estrogen levels also drop, sometimes causing mood or appearance changes.

    • Hot flashes: Sudden uncomfortable sensation of heat; symptom of menopause in some women

    • Climacteric: When men experience a significant change in vigor or appearance; may be psychological in origin

    • Andropause: Reduced testosterone levels; can lead to decreased sex drive, fatigue, and obesity

  • Empty Nest Syndrome: A woman may become depressed after her last child leaves home

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Fig. 4.8 At what point during life are people most productive? On average, when do people make their greatest contributions to fields such as science, literature, philosophy, music, and the visual arts? No matter how achievement is tallied, productivity tends to rise rapidly to a single peak that is followed by a slow decline. The graph you see here is typical of contributions to the field of psychology. Fields such as poetry, pure math, and theoretical physics have earlier peaks, around the early 30s or even the late 20s. Other fields, such as novel writing, history, philosophy, medicine, and scholarship are marked by peaks in the late 40s, 50s, or even 60s. (After Simonton, 1988.)

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Gerontology and the Study of Aging

  • Gerontologists study aging and its effects

  • Intellectual Abilities:

    • Fluid Abilities: Abilities requiring speed or rapid learning; based on perceptual and motor abilities; may decrease with age

  • Crystallized Abilities: Learned (accumulated) knowledge and skills; vocabulary and basic facts

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Gerontology and the Study of Aging (cont.)

  • Disengagement Theory: Assumes that it is normal and desirable for people to withdraw from society as they age

  • Activity Theory: People who remain active physically, mentally, and socially will adjust better to aging

  • Ageism: Discrimination or prejudice based on age

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Fig. 4.6 Longer life expectancy will produce an unprecedented increase in the percentage of the population over age 65. The “boom” is expected to start at the turn of the century and peak by about 2030 to 2050 (Taebuer, 1993).

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Fig. 4.7 Physical aging, which is biologically programmed, progresses steadily from early adulthood onward. Regular exercise, good health practices, and a positive attitude can help minimize the impact of physical aging.

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Fig. 4.7 Average performance at various ages for verbal, numeric, spatial, and reasoning abilities all fall within the blue area of this graph. Notice that, in general, mental abilities show modest gains from young adulthood to early middle age. After that, they begin a slow decline. Notice, too, that most abilities at age 70 return to about the same levels found at age 25. Only after age 80 do declines become large enough to make a practical difference in mental abilities. One exception is perceptual speed (black line). This fluid ability declines steadily after age 25. (Adapted from Schaie, 1994.)

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Four Psychological Characteristics of Healthy, Happy Older People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Optimism, hope, and interest in the future

  • Gratitude and forgiveness; an ability to focus on what is good in life

  • Empathy; an ability to share the feelings of others and see the world through their eyes

  • Connection with others; an ability to reach out, to give and receive social support

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Fig 4.4 People (Vailant, 2002) Negative emotions are more common before age 50 than after. The frequency of positive feelings tends to increase from midlife on into old age.

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CNN – Alzheimer’s Babies People (Vailant, 2002)

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Death and Dying; Elizabeth Kubler-Ross People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Ross is a thanatologist: One who studies emotional and behavioral reactions to death and dying

  • Ross described five basic reactions to death that occur, not necessarily in the following order or experienced by everyone

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Five Basic Reactions to Death (Kubler-Ross) People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Denial and Isolation: Denying death’s reality and isolating oneself from information confirming that death will occur. “It’s a mistake; the doctors are wrong.”

  • Anger: Asking “why me?” Anger may then be projected onto the living

  • Bargaining: Terminally ill will bargain with God or with themselves. “If I can live longer I’ll be a better person.”

  • Depression: Feelings of futility, exhaustion and deep sadness

  • Acceptance: If death is not sudden, many will accept death calmly. Person is at peace finally with the concept of death

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Bereavement and Grief People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Bereavement: Period of adjustment that follows death of loved one

  • Grief: Intense sorrow and distress following death of loved one

  • Shock: Emotional numbness experienced after death of loved one

  • Pangs of Grief: Intense and anguished yearning for one who has died

  • Resolution: Acceptance of loss and need to build a new life

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CNN – The Grieving Process People (Vailant, 2002)

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Happiness People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Subjective Well-Being: Feelings of well-being occur when people are satisfied with their lives, have frequent positive emotions, and have relatively few negative emotions

  • Happier people tend to be

    • Married

    • Comfortable with their work

    • Extraverted

    • Religious

    • Generally optimistic and satisfied with their lives

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Attitudes Toward Death People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Hospice: Medical facility or program that provides supportive care for terminally ill; goal is to improve person’s final days

  • Living Will: Written statement that a person does not wish to have his/her life artificially prolonged if terminally ill; a “Do Not Resuscitate” order to doctors

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Euthanasia People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Passive: Death allowed to occur but not actively caused

  • Active: Steps taken, at patient’s request, to deliberately speed death; usually by injecting drugs that painlessly cause death

  • Physician-assisted dying: Doctor provides lethal dose of drug that patients take to end life

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CNN – Assisted Suicide People (Vailant, 2002)

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Cryonics People (Vailant, 2002)

  • Cryonic Suspension: Freezing body (or head) immediately after death

    • Idea: Keep person frozen until medicine perfects ways to thaw, restore, and revive person

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