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Chapter 4
From Birth to Death: Life-Span
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Life Events
Developmental Tasks: These must be
mastered for optimal development (e.g.,
learning to read and adjusting to sexual
Developmental Milestones: Notable events,
markers, or turning points in personal
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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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
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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Culturally defined period between
childhood and adulthood
Puberty: Hormonal changes promote
rapid physical growth and sexual
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
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
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
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
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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
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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 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
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Death and Dying; Elizabeth
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
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Five Basic Reactions to Death
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
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
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
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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
Comfortable with their work
Generally optimistic and satisfied with their lives
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Attitudes Toward Death
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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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
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CNN – Assisted Suicide
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Cryonic Suspension: Freezing body (or
head) immediately after death
Idea: Keep person frozen until medicine
perfects ways to thaw, restore, and revive
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