Thursday, June 30, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 8:

The final stage that Erikson had was for ages 65 years and onward. This is the Ego Integrity vs. Despair stage and is characterized by the question “Have I lived a full life?”

At this stage people tend to slow down and their productivity slows as well. They take more time to reflect on the past both accomplishments and mistakes. If the person sees themselves as leading a successful life they develop integrity. If, on the other hand, they see themselves as being unproductive they develop a sense of despair. This feeling of despair often leads to depression and hopelessness.

In class today we talked a little about cancer patients and terminally ill patients. It is interesting to see how perspective ends when we know or feel we know our life is coming to an end. We often go through different stages which can happen in different order or not at all. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Once again it is important to note that not everyone follows this pattern at death.

This leads me to think about our characters when they are heading into imminent danger. Think about the stages that they are going through and how they are feeling. How do they react? I like to look at Frodo for this as he is heading to Mordor. He goes through these stages and often repeats them as he begins to understand more his mission and duty.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Have Or Not To Have

So Yahoo did a piece on “The No-Baby Boom” and stated how unhappy people are when they have children. So this got me to thinking about the different stages we have talked about in particular the yesterdays. The report is probably accurate about how happiness decreases after having children, but the real question is what happiness are the referring to and how does it affect a person in their 30s and 40s and beyond. You can read the full article here.

I think for me life got much harder having my first child I still miss being able to have two incomes the extra cash, not feeling as if I am a failure as a father. Yes I think that I was less “happy” but I feel better as a person especially now that I can sit around the table eating popsicles and talking to my four children. Life feels more fulfilling and I feel as if I making a difference in society because of how I am raising my children. There is more to the question than of to have or not to have than if a person is happy.

I think Erikson would agree that the choice not to have children would lead a person to the stagnation side of things rather than the Generativity side. It is important when we make decisions that they are based on more than one data point.

Now to end my rant I hope that everyone who reads will understand an important word that I used above it was the word “choice.” There are many who want children who cannot or many other circumstances that will keep a couple from having children. It is when we make the choice to not have children that we need to be careful not when we can’t.

Please feel free to disagree I am open to differing opinions and would appreciate such. I would also appreciate any other ideas or opinions for this idea. Finally I think that this idea brings up a great idea for a story. Perhaps this is a way that society destroys itself? Or maybe the government pays people to have children and then the government raises them. (Which in some instances is already happening today.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 7:

Generativity vs. Stagnation Ages 40-65:

The main question in this stage is, “Will I produce something of real value?” In this stage the person begins to look to the next generation. Only having children is not an expression of generativity, there needs to be more such as raising children to be responsible citizens and or working toward making society better.  In contrast when a person is self-centered and selfish thinking only of his or her self then stagnation sets in. That person becomes dissatisfied with their relative lack of productivity.

There are several tasks that fall into this stage such as expressing love through more than sexual contacts, helping children grow into healthy adults, using leisure time creatively, etc…

This stage is an interesting change to me considering the person just passed through the intimacy vs. isolation stage. It is important to understand that if a person is in the isolation stage it will be much harder for that person to go into the generativity stage. Also one question that comes to my mind is the wealthy businessman how does he feel when he has been able to swindle others out of money and has a huge empire? Does he/she feel as if they have accomplished something? Do they feel as if they are in the Generativity side?

This leads me into writing our villains and heroes at this stage. A great comment by Eagle pointed out kings and queens were in the last stage. Here I can see Kings and Queens as well. Also we can see tyrants. What are some of the challenges we could write about in this stage? How much does a person change in this stage and how do we show that change in our writing?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 6:

Intimacy vs Isolation ages 19-40: This stage is emphasized around age 30. The person has just passed through the identity vs role confusion at the beginning and still lingers a little bit into this stage. In the beginning they person is still trying to fit in with the crowd and mold their own identity with those of peers. In this stage the person begins to become isolated in some instances due to the relationship they form also the person fears the possible breakup and being turned down.

Once a person finally forms their identity they are willing to form strong bonds and commit to relationships. The person is then capable of forming intimate, reciprocal relationships and are willing to make sacrifices.

The main question in this stage is, "Am I loved and wanted?" or "Shall I share my life with someone or live alone?"

This stage is more for the adult books that we write. The characters are going through challenges such as marriage, fidelity, children, work, and possibly illness. The characters are beginning to commit to others and are more willing to sacrifice their own needs for those of others. Remember in the beginning of this stage the MC may still be trying to find their identity and are more likely to conform whereas at the end they have found out who they are generally and are moving into the next stage.

What are some more struggles and challenges we can write about in this stage? How would a fantasy character look who is closer to the end of this stage?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Wife's Blog about Speech Pathology

Hey everyone out there my wife just started a new blog about speech pathology. Check it and show your support by following. Thanks for the support!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 5:

SO you may have noticed a new button to the right about an agent blog fest, check it out if you want to get an agent this will be a great learning experience for us all.

The next stage is a 10 year range from 14-24 year olds. It is the Fidelity: Identity vs Role Confusion stage. Here the person is going through the “What do others think about me?” question. They are wondering what they want to be when they grow up and later they are developing a sense of sexual identity. It seems though in our day and age this may be happening earlier than it did in the past. Remember our talk on the superego well this is where he begins to really start to shine. In the past stages the Id had a lot of control and the child was more impulsive now the child/adolescent/adult is beginning to think more in terms of looking “good” for others whoever those others may be.

In the beginning there will be some role-confusion as the adolescent begins to ponder how he/she will fit into the adult world. They begin to explore who they are as a person and their own identity. Erikson proposed that a majority of the adolescents learn their place and find their identity. This is one of the biggest identity crisis moments a person will pass through. The individual will be looking at who they have become and comparing it to what society expects them to become. This stage represents the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Of note here is because of society this stage is prolonged because of the time it takes to gain the skills needed for an occupation.

The dilemma in this stage is when society is too insistent on who the individual should become it can cause confusion in the individual. If an individual is given space to explore and find for themselves who they are then they will gain a strong sense of identity. Of course there needs to be boundaries but allowing the individual to have more space is necessary for them to find out who they are.

This is the YA novel stage and the many conflicts that evolve in this stage are fun to explore and examine. We have many great examples of this in movies and books. What are some of your favorite? Of course you can name your own as wellJ

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 4:

See I said I would be more consistent last week and well we all saw how that went, but this time I am really committed to doing better. I’m sure of it ….. I thinkJ

Industry vs. Inferiority ages 7 to 13:

In this stage the goal of the person is to bring to pass completion of productive situations and this supersedes the desire of play. (Yuck who really wants to be productive rather than play?) The children in this stage are becoming more aware of themselves and are asking “How can I be good?” rather than “am I good?” At this stage the child is trying hard to be “good” and responsible. They are more willing to share and cooperate with others. They are able to grasp space and time and understand better cause and effect. Here is the stage in which they are really beginning to form moral values and recognize cultural and individual differences. This is also the stage a child may begin to be disobedient to express their independence.

Erikson saw this stage as critical for the development of self-confidence. This is when children receive recognition from teachers and other adults and peers. If the children are praised for doing good things they will become more industrious, continuing to do productive things. If instead they are ridiculed or punished for their efforts they find that they are incapable of meeting expectations of adults, they develop feelings of inferiority.  If they are not allowed to discover their own talents in their own time, they will develop a sense of lack of motivation, low self-esteem, and lethargy. (This last bit is a little difficult for me because I know as a child I was never pushed to do things and I regretted not continuing on with things like playing the piano. I think there needs to be a happy medium here, but it’s not my theory it is Erikson’s).

So when we are creating are characters of younger age, do not make them have insights that they normally would not have. This is the stage at which our characters should begin to recognize their own space and time in society.  They should be developing their own morals and should be acting out a little from the norms. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 3:

In the next stage Erikson discusses the age between 4 to 6 years. In this stage the child is faced with the crisis of initiative vs. guilt. In this stage the child is becoming more courageous; they are beginning to face the complexities of planning and developing a sense of judgment. The children in this stage are starting to take more risks such as crossing the road alone. The child is starting to set goals for him or herself. If the child is unable to reach these goals then the child becomes frustrated and then they begin to show aggressive behaviors such as hitting and throwing objects.

When a child takes initiative to try new things and to venture out it is important that caregivers encourage the behavior within safe boundaries. If the child is discouraged from taking initiative then they will begin to feel guilty over their needs and desires.

The main question for this stage is, “Am I good or am I bad?” This is what the child is looking at as the venture out of their comfort zones. The parent/caregiver is then reinforcing one side of the question by how they respond to the child. It is important to support the children in a caring and loving way allowing them to make their own mistakes and also helping them set appropriate boundaries.

This is an interesting stage in that it starts to reinforce some negative aggressive behaviors. It is a time in which a child can reinforce the feelings of shame that will stick with them throughout their lives. It is also the time in which a leader can be born. Thinking of the heroes/heroines in our novels we should be able to identify where a caregiver of some sort helped them through a tough time, early on in their life.  This is a time in which our heroes/heroines should have developed some good feelings about being a good person and seeing that taking initiative is a good thing. In my book the hero remembers his mother and father and how they were as people and how they treated him at an early age. Even though he begins to doubt himself he remembers this and it helps him through tough times in the story.

What are some events that keep your heroes/heroines going? Was it experiences as children? Or was it later on in life?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!

As tomorrow will be Father's Day and I am a father and have a father I wanted to dedicate this post to all of you wonderful father's. Have a great day enjoy it to the fullest and most importantly take some time to reflect on why this day is even possible. 1. Because you have a father who hopefully has cared for you and provided for you and 2. You are a father remember those wonderful children who have made you one. Reflect on what has been good and what could be better.
Any way enough of the cheesiness but truly I am so grateful to be a father I love my sons and daughters so much. It is the thing that means the most to me and the one thing that I truly want to succeed at more than anything else. If it meant giving up that book deal of a lifetime I would give it up in order to succeed at being a good father.
Thanks to my own father who has set such a good example for me and for even though he made mistakes was able to a wonderful job being there for me and helping me through hard times in the pas and now. He has always encouraged me to believe in myself and the world around me. To have hope when it seems there is nothing left to hope for. Thank you Dad. I love you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 2:

Sorry for being so sporadic lately on the posts. I will be more consistent from here on out. Thank you for all of your great comments and visits. I have learned a lot from you all.

Stage 2: Will: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt:
In this stage most people are in the ages from 2-4 years of age.  Here the child is beginning to gain more control over his/her environment. They are beginning to explore their surroundings. It is still important for the parents/caregivers to provide security, a base to explore from. This is a stage in which the children will do dangerous things like touching a hot stove, wander into dangerous places and other things like this. It is important that the caregivers provide a safety net for this age. It is also important that the caregivers provide positive reinforcing encouragement for their children. If a parent is too restrictive then it may instill a sense of doubt and reluctance in the child. If the parents encourage self-sufficient behavior the child is more likely to develop a sense of autonomy. If not careful then caregivers may instill a sense of shame and doubt when they are too restrictive.

Just a reminder, look at past posts on temperament of people and also past posts on personalities which have been discussed. The reason I give this reminder is so that we do not judge parents too harshly, not all problems that a child has is because of poor parenting. Yes many problems do and can occur because of poor parenting but not all.

Once again it is important for us as writers to gain a better understanding of our characters past so that we can better understand where they are coming from and why they are acting the way they act. I also think it would make for some great flashbacks for a story. Challenge for today write a flash fiction piece on a 2-4 year olds reason for being autonomous or doubtful. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Erikson’s Stages of Development Part 1:

Erik Erikson was a Danish-German –American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst. He is best known for his theory on social development of people. He is best known for the phrase “identity crisis.” He trained under Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud. It is important to note that Erikson was a Neo-Freudian.

Neo-Freudians are theorist who were influenced by Sigmund Freud, but extended his theories. Some prominent members of this group are Alfred Adler and Jung.

There are a total of eight stages that Erikson theorized human beings go through in life. Each of these stages is made up of opposites, one good the other bad. In order to move on to the next stage a person must learn the good side. A person must go through an “Identity Crisis” in order to move on.

The first stage is the Hope stage. It occurs from birth to about one year. The crisis in this stage is Trust vs. Mistrust.  In this stage the infant relies almost completely on the parents for their needs being met such as food, shelter, love, and comfort.  The child’s understanding of the world comes from parents. Children that are comforted, loved and nurtured in this stage in a dependable manner then the child will trust the world. On the other hand if a child is not given these things and everything is unreliable then they learn to mistrust the world around them.  The point in this stage is for the child to learn whether or not the child can trust the world or if it is undependable and does not merit trust.

Now if you think back over the many previous posts you can begin to think about the different schemas and defense mechanisms that will pop up in this stage. It is interesting to think how much we are influenced at this early stage. Think about the characters you create in your books were they loved and nurtured as children or where they abused and neglected? Did they learn to trust the world at an early age or was their world full of mistrust?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moral Development Part 4:

Today we will be talking about the highest level and the last two stages.

Level 3. Postconventional Morality:
Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights:
So in stage 4 we talked about society as a whole and how it is important to look at the bigger picture to truly have a mature Morality. In this stage the focus is more on the question of, “What makes for a good society.” There have been plenty of books on the utopian society that eventually break down. We can also read religious beliefs on the utopian society. In this stage a person is going to be looking at what are the responsibilities of society? What rights and values should be upheld by society? These people realize that there must be a contract between society and its members. They understand that individual groups will have differing views and standards but they agree on two points. First they would all want certain basic rights such as liberty, life, and to be protected. Second they would want to have a way to change unfair laws through a democratic procedure.
People in this stage make it clear that laws should not be broken generally and that these laws should be protected until they are changed through a democratic fashion due to their “wrongness.” They also say that the husband has a moral obligation to save his wife and in fact to save the life of a complete stranger. This is a stage where a person acts independently of his own group that he or she may belong to.

Stage 6. Universal Principle’s:
Stage 5 is looking at changing the laws based on a democratic process which at times may mean that the minority gets left behind. Stage 6 defines the principles by which we achieve justice. This stage we look at all as having universal rights whether we are the majority or the minority. This is very interesting to me because often times we and I mean society forgets the rights of the minorities but also we (society) at times justify taking from the majority for the sake of the minority. Society tends to try and play a balancing act that has to take from one side in order to give to the other side. Thus we have laws that often hurt one group whether they be a majority or a minority in order to help the other group. At this stage each party must look through each other’s eyes to  better understand one another.  All parties must be seen as equal and the people in the groups must consider each situation as if they did not know which side they would be on.
In the beginning of Kohlberg’s experiment he was rating more people at a level 6 but more recently he has not done this as often finding that people are not consistent in all situations. 

This is a long post but I hope that you have found it interesting. It is a hard thing to think through other people’s eyes and situations. I like the saying, “Don’t judge another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Moral Development Part 3:

Some things to keep in mind about Kohlberg:  1. The stages are not necessarily a product of maturation. The stages do not unfold like a blue print. 2. Kohlberg also does not believe that the stages are a product of socialization. This means that they are not taught directly by a teacher, parent…. 3. He believes the stages emerge from our own thinking about moral problems. So, social influences put us into certain situations in which we may need to think about the dilemmas. Another way is the debates that we have with others will also make us ponder and think. This can also occur when we take on new roles and we are forced to consider others’ viewpoints.   Kohlberg believes the more democratic and open interactions are the better the results of moral progression.

Level 2 Conventional Morality: Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships:
Most people reach this stage by their teens. In this stage morality is seen as more than just deals. The person is starting to believe that they must live up to expectations of others. The person is starting to have interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others. In our example from a couple of days ago Heinz is seen as doing good and the druggist is “greedy,” only thinking of himself. This is where the concept of the loving husband, unfair druggist, and understanding judge comes in to play. It is referred to conventional morality because generally speaking the person would say it is wrong to steal but in special circumstances it is okay. Here the person has shifted to a more relativistic outlook.

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order:
This is characterized by a broader understanding of society as a whole, whereas stage 3 is looking more into the feelings of individual’s, generally one on one.  The emphasis in this stage is obeying the laws to make sure that order is maintained. They look at the example and ask, “What would happen if we all started to break the laws?” Here you will see that stage 1 and stage 4 answers are similar but the why is different. Stage 1 is looking at only being punished. If I could get away with it then I would do it, whereas in stage 4 the person is looking at the better of the whole.  Stage 4 has a deeper meaning to the reason why in which a stage 1 person could never understand.

I appreciate all of the comments that I have been receiving on these posts and I am glad that you have enjoyed them. Thanks Emily for the example of Harry Potter it was excellent example for that stage. What are some examples of characters in books or movies for these stages? How do we put our characters into debates to help them change their moral thinking without boring the reader? Can a person grow without changing the level of morality he/she is in? 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Moral Development Part 2:

Today we will continue looking at Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.  Just a little more information on Kohlberg’s theory first though. Kohlberg tested his theory and on 72 boys from both middle and lower class families in Chicago. They were ages from 10-16. (Later on he sampled younger children as well) By the way do you see any problems with this sample? Anyways he also had other researchers test the same children and then compared notes with them. This is call interrater reliability. On this sample they found that the reliability was high. Meaning they agreed with each other on the scores given.

So onto the first level: Preconventional Morality. Stage 1 is called Obedience and Punishment Orientation. This stage is characterized by the person believing that powerful authorities have a fixed set of rules that must be followed without question. This stage corresponds with Piaget’s first level (we will talk about this in later posts).  At this stage the concern is with what the authorities permit and punish.

The second stage is also in the first level it is the Individualism and Exchange stage. This stage is characterized by people realizing that there is not just one right view. The person understands that different persons have different perspectives. In this stage the person believes that each individual is able to pursue his or her individual interests. In this stage what is right is whatever the individual perceives or wants to be right.

In both of these stages it is about punishment. However, perceive it differently. In stage 1 punishment is tied up in wrongness whereas in stage 2 it is more about the risk that a person wants to avoid.

If you see typos please forgive I was in a hurry J

Have a great day!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Moral Development Part 1:

Lawrence Kohlberg theorized that moral development has six identifiable developmental stages.  Each stage makes it easier for a person to respond to moral dilemmas than the previous stage.  Kohlberg expanded upon Piaget’s theories and ideas.  There are criticisms of the theory based on its idea that justice being emphasized more than other moral values.  Even though with the criticism it reshaped psychology and the theory is well known and taught today.

This scale is not intended to be used to rank how moral someone’s behavior is but rather how a person justifies that behavior. The higher a person is on the moral scale their behavior should reflect this by being more responsible, consistent and predictable. There is a moral judgment interview created by Kohlberg which help an interviewer to determine where a person is on the scale. It is about 45 minutes long and are made up of fictional short stories that describe situations in which a person must make a moral decision. The answer to the stories is not as important as the why.

Here is a sample question:

A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000, which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said, "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not?

Once again it is not what but why here are some answers that show the different stages. Later we will discuss the stages in greater detail.
Stage one (obedience): Heinz should not steal the medicine because he would consequently be put in prison, which would mean he is a bad person. Or: Heinz should steal the medicine because it is only worth $200, not how much the druggist wanted for it. Heinz had even offered to pay for it and was not stealing anything else.
Stage two (self-interest): Heinz should steal the medicine because he will be much happier if he saves his wife, even if he will have to serve a prison sentence. Or: Heinz should not steal the medicine because prison is an awful place, and he would probably experience anguish over a jail cell more than his wife's death.
Stage three (conformity): Heinz should steal the medicine because his wife expects it; he wants to be a good husband. Or: Heinz should not steal the drug because stealing is bad and he is not a criminal; he tried to do everything he could without breaking the law, you cannot blame him.
Stage four (law-and-order): Heinz should not steal the medicine because the law prohibits stealing, making it illegal. Or: Heinz should steal the drug for his wife but also take the prescribed punishment for the crime as well as paying the druggist what he is owed. Criminals cannot just run around without regard for the law; actions have consequences.
Stage five (human rights): Heinz should steal the medicine because everyone has a right to choose life, regardless of the law. Or: Heinz should not steal the medicine because the scientist has a right to fair compensation. Even if his wife is sick, it does not make his actions right.
Stage six (universal human ethics): Heinz should steal the medicine, because saving a human life is a more fundamental value than the property rights of another person. Or: Heinz should not steal the medicine, because others may need the medicine just as badly, and their lives are equally significant.

Think about how these stages can be used with our characters and once again how they can move between the stages. What level are your characters in?
Information gathered from Wikipedia and verified from my own studies J

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs part 2:

Well it’s back to the grind stone for me. I had a wonderful vacation visiting family both in Arizona and in southern Utah. It is so nice to take a break from the usual stuff and to just relax and enjoy life. Hope everyone else had a great memorial weekend.

There are two more steps in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs they are Esteem and Self-actualization.

Esteem is when a person has confidence and feels that they have achieved something in life. The person feels respect for others and feels respected by others. This is a step that a person gains after feeling secure in the friends and loved ones around them.  Maslow says that this and the following level are not strict separations but are interrelated needs. These needs are also related to others and how we perceive others view us.

Self-actualization is the highest level a person can attain to. Many have said that very few people have reached this level. Some examples would be Mother Theresa, Buddha, and Jesus. This does not mean it is not possible that at times in our lives that we do not reach this level and then step down. In fact there are many times that we cycle through the stages in certain areas. This level is characterized by a person reaching their full potential and understanding that potential. This can be different for different people. For example one person may want to be the very best parent there is, another may want to be the very best writer possible or painter or athlete. This is an individual level. In order to achieve this level the other levels must also be mastered.

Following is a picture of the hierarchy:

Our characters have needs that must be met and as we shape them in our stories remember the different levels that they will be going through. Use the table to guide how your characters are growing throughout the book. If they start on the physiological stage by the end have they self-actualized or are they in the esteem stage.

Tomorrow we will be looking at another hierarchy. Have a great day!