In working with the homeless man I mentioned in a prior blog, I realized how difficult it would be for one who has never had social interaction to develop a relationship. It left me wondering how someone who was raised in a volatile and/or neglectful environment could truly develop a positive and long-lasting relationship. My reasoning for this thought is due to child development. A child goes through stages of development. Many theorists, such as Piaget and Erikson describe some of these stages. I will not discuss these stages in this article, though it is important to understand that there is sufficient data to support the idea of human developmental stages. Though they are not the be-all end-all, they can describe and provide a point of reference when studying human behaviors.
Back to the point at hand...this particular person, as well as many others who have come through my door were not afforded the nurturing opportunities that children require to develop emotional, cognitive, and social competencies. This results in a developmental delay or crisis that slows their socialization to a snail crawl speed, where others may be jogging or some sprinting.
What can be done about it?
I have a few thoughts on this question. When one has not had the environment to grow in, I wonder if it is possible to provide one with the hopes that it would create a microcosm of a nurturing environment. For years, a friend of mine has had the dream of providing a therapeutic farm--a place within a city where the traumatized or others can come to heal. The farm would have small animals, gardens, trees, fields of grass, and places for people to come and socialize and work together. Holistic therapuetic services would be provided in buildings or houses on the property that fit with the decour and environment. A store with therapuetic books and toys would also be present for clients and professionals alike. Naturally, there is much more to it when it comes to the logistics, but the dream could be healing to some or many. The environment would be based on Maslow's Hierarchy, in that it would be safe, away from dangers of the world, filled with natural surroundings, and provide work even for those who need it (i.e. caring for the animals, gardens, trees, etc.).
As I think about such a place, I cannot help but wonder how it might benefit individuals to interact with one another, feel part of a small community that they can affect and mold. A place where they are accepted and with others with whom they have things in common. It's just a thought...