The psychological and mental development of a person takes its course with a major input form his or her surroundings. Additionally, the mental and physical capabilities of a person depend on a number of factors. The most important factor, of course, is the personal conviction and resilience of a person. Although the debate on the extent and complexity of human psychology will linger on for eternity, scientists have already reached some conclusions. Human psychology, due to its evolving nature, generates a set of questions that need to be answered that is the scope of personality development, and its impacts on treating disabilities. The second, and more important one, is the confusion about the success of life span treatments.
Life span development theory viz a viz the treatment of lifelong disabilities can be defined in a number of ways (Juntunen & Atkinson, 2001). The theory of life span development essentially puts its focus on the growth and evolution of a disability and the counter measures taken to prevent or cure it. The core of the theory lies in planning and executing processes and exercises that help a person overcome his or her disabilities over a long period of his life. As in the words, the theory looks great and highly implemental. In real life, however, the things are actually quite different. Even some psychologists often misunderstand development psychology, as a whole. The theory essentially involves the practical implementation that transcends the barriers between a patient and a counselor.
Sigmund Freud pointed out in his theories of human evolution that the “id” plays a crucial role in the overall development of a person. Although ego does play a more pivotal role in the later life, “id” gets the ball rolling. Mental development starts from the pre-natal years. A person acts under the commands of id for many years after birth. After the onset of ego, the situation does change but not in every person. At times, id overwhelms the rational thinking generated by ego and vice versa. According to life-span theory, the super ego is thus the deciding factor under these situations.
Super ego does help in the third-stage development of human beings but it is not the final deciding factor. Unlike some parts of the theory – that suggest a controlling nature of super ego –the ego that floats freely in the conscious, preconscious and unconscious stages. The life story of a terminally person can effectively define this conflict. A person let us suppose his name as Alex was injured in a car crash. The injuries were severe and affected his body as well as brain. While the body paralysis was controlled after physical therapies, mental development and capabilities came to a standstill.
Traumatic brain injuries are known for altering the lifestyles of the persons affected. It was the case with Alex. After the initial recuperation, the actual test started, both for him as well as his family and counselors. He lost his memory almost to its entirety. The rehabilitation, both physical and mental, thus posed huge challenges for the caregivers. Now, as per the tenants of life-span theory, he has to be re-acquiesced with his previous life to bring improvement. That is actually a very difficult process. First, the caregivers had to position themselves as per the needs and demands of that person. The biological changes were severe enough that it altered the lives of his family.
The life span theory, in such cases, emphasizes the need for a strong and quick counseling to improve the condition of the patient. That is, however, neither easy nor a quick process. The counselor has to understand the condition of the patient in detail. The biological changes in Alex resulted in a relative loss of bowel control, inconsistent eating habits, and a return to the infant-like stage of life. Now, the counselors had to bring him back to his normal self. This involved the lengthy counseling sessions where they tried to revitalize his ego and crush the dominance of id. Frontal lobe injury made it even more difficult to heal the language and movement inconsistencies. His family failed to understand the pain and suffering he was going through. His wife left him for another man and his mother cared for his children.
As per the theory, the involvement of family is essential in the rehabilitation of such patients. It, however, fails to give us any clues on what to do if the family is non-cooperative or even if the person has no family. The exercises given in the theory can help in the recovery but most include the family members as part of the treatment. In many cases, the implementation of the theory fails to result in an improvement solely because of this compulsion. Nevertheless, in some other cases life-span development is highly effective in the treatment. In dementia and drug addiction, life-span theory can work wonders. In the first case, dementia develops over the age and older people are most likely to suffer from this condition. As the loss of memory sinks in, most people become estranged from their surroundings. This reclusive behavior can be effectively treated with life span development (White & Merluzzi, 1998).
A counselor needs to do a few things before the actual start of the treatment. He or she has to take the client into confidence over the course of treatment and the procedures applied. After the initial treatment, life span theory can be applied in stages. The first step towards treatment is the reliving of the memories of childhood. Every person has some profound memories and the id remains strongly perched in the unconscious. Once the client is able to recall childhood memories, the process becomes a bit easier. The reliving of teenage and adult memories can take a longer time. A client may face difficulties in grappling with the fact that the golden memories of his life are lost or diminishing. Here, the counselor has to take the things slower. The treatment should involve the examples of constructivism and learning. (Moreland, 1979)
The treatment of drug addicts is one of the most difficult tasks any psychologist can undertake. Addiction erases the feelings of happiness, achievements, and success from a person’s mind. Instead, he or she relives the bad memories and tumultuous times of his or her life and take refuge in drugs. These people, despite knowing their past, do not want to come to terms with life. Counseling sessions for drug addicts thus involve the notion of guilt to help these patients in recovery. Once the client understands the self-destructive process, he or she can be reminded of his or her achievements in the past. Additionally, and more importantly, the focus should be on the developmental theory. All faces and unpleasant facts should begin from the childhood and subsequently moved to adulthood. This learning process can prove to be very effective in a rather speedy recovery.
Juntunen, Cindy L. (2001). Counseling across the lifespan: Prevention and Treatment. Sage Publications, Inc.
Moreland, John R. (1979). Some Implications of Life-Span Development for Counseling Psychology. Accessed June 27, 2009: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ197502&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ197502
White, Robert D. (1998). Life-span perspectives on health and illness. Lawrence Erlbaum.