Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thoughts on Social Development...

Here's something to stew over in your mind. I was reading again in "A Psychology of Human Strengths" edited by Aspinwall and Staudinger. On page 39-41 roughly it begins talking about the importance of relationships to human beings and how evidence suggests that attachment with children begin in the last half of their first year of life. Also, that the relationships that adults seek romantically or with others function in ways that are common to that which they had with their caregivers. My question is this...what happens if a child is not given the opportunity to create that attachment and relationship? What will it do to their development and ability to create a bond. Part of my question was quickly answered. I will quote their quote of Siegel (1999) who "argued that infant's early social relationships 'have a direct effect on the development of the domains of mental functioning that serve as our conceptual anchor points: memory, narrative, emotion, representations, and states of mind' (p. 63 of Siegel); (p. 40 of Aspinwall and Staudinger). The editors go on to state that research shows that even slight deprivations in social relationships and contacts "results in abnormal neuroanatomical structures and impaired endocrinological sensitivity associated with stress" (p. 40). They also indicated one study that supported the same findings.
Now, the question is posed. If human beings must have social contact in order to create the positive neurological and endocrinological structures, what happens to a person who did not have those opportunities or was denied them in one way or another? The studies say that their actual brain structure and chemistry does not make the neurological connections that are necessary. Would such a person be able to meet others' needs if their needs were never met? What if they had children? Would they try to meet their own neglected needs through their children, thus continuing the cycle? My guess is...NO! Simply, because I have seen it go either way through personal and professional experience. Much of the differences had to do, I believe, with the individual's exercise of will and desire, as well as their willingness to look at possible deficits that they may have. What do you think?