Chapter 1 - University of Northern Iowa

Human Behavior and the
Social Environment
Micro Level: Individuals and Families
Second Edition
Katherine van Wormer
Copyright 2010, Oxford University Press. For classroom use only; all other
reproductions or circulation is prohibited.
Chapter 1
Human Behavior: Theoretical Concepts
To see the world in a grain of sand.
And heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, 1789
I am a part of all I have met.
Tennyson, Ulysses, 1842
This chapter will:
Introduce concepts relevant to social work theory and the
study of micro-level human behavior
Provide an overview of four major theoretical perspectives
(psychodynamic, cognitive, ecosystems, and
empowerment approaches)
Conduct a critical analysis of each theoretical framework
Discuss implications for social work practice
The Study of Human Behavior
A skilled social worker:
 must have a solid understanding of people’s
needs at various stages of development
 needs knowledge of human behavior as a core
knowledge base to guide generalist social work
To assess a problem, social workers need a
solid understanding of these processes:
*These essential elements sometimes parallel,
but often overlap and interlock.
Learning about Human Behavior
Learning from the microcosm
“To see the world in a grain of sand”
 Key to the whole is contained in the part.
 Study of depth over breadth
 Note the holon pictured in the text.
Learning from the study of paradox
Embrace opposites
 Out of failure may come success (Ex.- My Losing
Turning Points in People’s Lives
Story of Mrs. Anné and her neighbors, 1949
Hurricanes such as Katrina
Karen Armstrong, who left the convent
Consider other turning points in people’s lives.
Turning points:
 can involve a change in outlook, worldview, lifestyle,
choice or fate; may relate to relationship
 are recognized only later
 may involve positive or negative outcomes
 [new material] negative—may be related to loss, failure,
 paradox—negative into positive
*THEORY – a group of related hypotheses, concepts,
and constructs, based on facts and observations,
which attempt to explain a particular phenomenon
- can be small range (micro level explanations)
- may be a grand theory (to explain societal
patterns) (Social Work Dictionary)
Theoretical perspective—lacks explanatory power, an
approach, such as feminism, strengths approach
Often used in informal sense, as “I have a theory about
Different theories are required for different situations.
Practice and theory are intertwined.
To see in perspective is to see parts in terms of the
whole—the micro-macro view.
Sometimes it’s useful to forget the whole and focus on the
part – practitioners urge clients to partialize a problem or
break it down into manageable parts.
Critical Thinking
Includes the application of appropriate theories to the
situations that social workers encounter
Self awareness is crucial;
Awareness of one’s belief systems and biases, values
Of where the beliefs and values came from
Relevant to generalist practice is the ability to discern
the underlying, latent purpose in social policies.
Critical consciousness involves an understanding of the
encompassing social-structural context of human problems.
Critical Thinking and Practice
Relying on a small number of case examples and
Vagueness in identifying client problems;
Putting too much faith in newness and trends;
becoming “true believers”
Relying on authorities rather than research to
guide practice;
Basing strategies based on initial research
success without appropriate follow-up.
Because of their influences on social work practice
at the individual level, this chapter explores four
theoretical perspectives of micro level behavior:
Critical Analysis of the Major Theories of Human Behavior
Questions we will ask of each theory:
To what extent are the theory and its concepts empirically valid? What does the
evidence show?
What can we learn of human behavior from this theory?
Does the theory take into account both risks and resiliencies?
Does the theory account for cultural, gender variations in human behavior?
Does the theory reflect social work ethics and values?
Psychodynamic Theory
Derived from psychoanalysis
Freud considered it scientific-- built on personal observation and
Initial focus of Freud’s theory on powerful instinctual forces that drive
development and behavior - love, hate, sex, and aggression (forces
that bring us into conflict with social rules)
Freud’s theory of the meaning of dreams
Freud’s mode of psychosexual development (oral, anal, phallic,
oedipal, latency, and genital stages)
Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory
Key Concepts:
primarily concerned with internal psychological processes
importance of early childhood experiences
existence of unconscious motivation—seen in dreams
existence of ego (rationality) and superego (morality)
existence of defense mechanisms
Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory cont.
Key analytical concepts:
psychosexual development
defense mechanisms
regression, repression, reaction formation,
projection, sublimation
free association as the method of recall
therapeutic techniques of interpretation (including
that of transference, defenses and dreams)
important role of the unconscious and past, often
traumatic experiences, repressed memories
Psychodynamic Perspective cont.
Freud’s theories spawned many generations of neo-Freudian
scholars (ex: Alfred Adler & Carl Jung--they later broke with Freud
due to theoretical differences)
Erich Fromm combined Freudian and Marxist perspectives, analyzed
society, focus on aggression and war
Critical Analysis of this Theory
Good evidence for:
Trauma theory
 Effect of poor parenting
 Unconscious motives
Empirical evidence? How to verify?
Penis envy
 Meaning of dreams—fMRI discoveries
…Critical Analysis
What does this theory teach about human
behavior?—body-mind connection.
 Inclusion of risks and resiliencies?—mostly
 Attention to culture and gender?—hard on
 Consistent with social work values?—lacking
in attention to social justice issues
 Ethical issues—interpretation of incest claims.
Cognitive Approach
Cognition – derived from the Latin cognoscere: to learn, to know
This approach a reaction to psychodynamic theory, grew out of
Theorists relied on empirical testing to validate their ideas. Principles:
Concern of therapy should be with the conscious reasoning process
Focus on the behavior itself as affected by the individual’s own cognitive
Behavior seen as affected by perception or interpretation of the environment
during the process of learning
Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck are the most prominent writers in this field.
Albert Ellis
Ellis is the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
Based on Cognitive-Behavioral Theory (CBT)
REBT, like CBT of which it is a part, concentrates on people’s current
belief, attitudes and self-statements
Human behavior in terms of the ABC Model
(A) antecedent event
(B) resulting behavior
(C) behavioral consequences
Short-term treatment favored, with the therapist taking a very directive,
didactic role in exposing the client’s irrational thoughts
Aaron Beck
Wrote in the area of clinical depression and anxiety disorders
Beck’s Inventory of Depression is widely used to gauge the level of
patient depression
Problems arise from errors in thinking, focused on the contribution of
dysfunctional moods and psychiatric symptoms
Common Thinking Errors
all or nothing thinking
Critical Analysis of Cognitive Theory
What does the evidence show?
 Excellent results in therapy
 Change in thoughts > change in behavior
 Using cognitive strategies is of proven effectiveness
in motivational interviewing with alcoholics
in cases PTSD, OCD, children’s emotional disorders
What does the theory teach about human behavior?
 That people can change
 Motivational approach helped clients recognize the
contradictions in their thinking about substance use that
would motivate them toward change
Motivational Interviewing vs
Criminal Personality
Resistance is not a force to be overcome, but a cue that
we need to change strategies
Client seen as an ally; support self-efficacy
Discrepancy used to explore the importance of change
Goal to elicit reasons for change from the client
Stanton Samenow— focus on negative, “the criminal
personality.” Offenders to face their acts
Therapist attempts to instill a feeling of self-disgust
Not a strengths focus
…Critical Analysis
Little emphasis on resilience (except for
Miller) or culture and gender
Social work values?—fits with
professionalism; when focus is on criminal
personality and errors in thinking contradicts
strengths perspective
Ecosystems Framework
Hybrid of general systems theory, which focuses interdependence of
relationships, and ecology which is concerned with our interaction between
organism and the environment.
Emerged in the 1950s and 1960s in the fields of computer science (general
systems) and biology (ecology)
Mutually interdependent relationship among systems of different sizes is
expressed in the concept of holon.
Holon--the idea that every system is simultaneously a whole with its own
distinctive qualities, a part of a larger system and a container of smaller
General Systems Theory cont.
Cause and effect are viewed as intertwined and
inseparable, a non-linear view of reality.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
A social system is adaptive or goal oriented and
purposive, striving to maintain equilibrium;
Systems model allows the social worker to view the
person holistically (as both individual-inner
biological drives and social-cultural being).
Concepts borrowed from the systems framework:
A social system is comprised of members organized in a unit.
All systems are subsystems of other systems; a social system is
separated from other systems by boundaries; boundaries as open and
A change in one member affects the whole system and therefore the
Concepts from ecology:
Focus on stress and individual adaptation to the stress.
Person-in-environment – the person and environment are in constant
Cause and effect viewed as intertwined; interactionism;
The parts of the whole seen in constant interaction with other parts.
Critical Analysis
What evidence-based research shows—too broad to be
researched empirically except perhaps in plant and non-human
Ecosystems perspective is consistent with social work values
and ethics except that it is apolitical, just a framework for
viewing reality.
Concepts from deep ecology have implications related to
preserving our natural environment and viewing spirituality as
found in nature.
What this framework teaches about human behavior—
 Helps us understand family dynamics
 Provides multidimensional concepts
Critical Analysis of Ecosystems, cont.
Inclusion of risks and resiliencies?—
 Risks to human and nonhuman life are
 Missing is an appreciation of power dynamics
Attention to culture and gender issues?
 This model can be further developed as in this
text to relate to culture and gender and to link
with concept of empowerment.
Empowerment Perspective
A composite group of theoretical perspectives
Includes anti-oppressive and feminist perspectives
In the 1980s and 1990s, empowerment concepts, along with the strengths
perspective, became predominant theoretical approach in social work.
Three themes of empowerment as a model of practice:
1- concern with power
2- critical consciousness
3- connection
Critical consciousness - is a crucial means of gaining power through collective
solidarity that arises through awareness of the root of power and the need to
change the system
The Anti-Oppressive Approach
Anti-oppressive social work a British approach that
recognizes power imbalances and works toward the
promotion of change to redress the balance of power
Advocates work toward change at the personal,
cultural, and institutional levels; advocates radical
system-level change:
At the feeling level
At the idea level—consciousness raising–
At the action level, the individual moves into the political
realm through organizing.
Empowerment cont.
Strengths perspective
 largely associated with Dennis Saleebey who produced the 1st ed. of the
strengths perspective in social work practice in 1992
Feminist empowerment approach defined by Mary Bricker-Jenkins as including a
focus on
 Strengths and health, healing
 Diversity
Types of feminism
 Liberal
 Radical
 Socialist
 Black and Latina
 Postmodern—against dichotomizing knowledge, critical of positivism
Critical Analysis of Empowerment
Are these perspectives evidence based?
These concepts are considerably abstract, empirical
testing may be difficult to obtain
Research goal is more to enhance people’s empowerment
than to test a certain kind of intervention
There is evidence, however, for effectiveness of strengthsbased treatment approach. Feminists can provide evidence
of sex discrimination, and minorities of racism, etc.
Evidence of the effectiveness of mass social action.
Empowerment Approaches, cont.
What these approaches teach about human
behavior--knowledge of oppression in society
is important.
They largely ignore the importance of biological
factors in human development.
 Psychological difficulties ignored.
 Much attention to socio-cultural factors.
 Spirituality is receiving more attention today
In Conclusion
There is no one correct theory for every client or family or situation, there are
truths from the four major perspectives—psychodynamic, cognitive, ecosystems,
and empowerment– examined in this chapter, truths that relate to various aspects
of human behavior.
A strengths-empowerment perspective is most concerned with risks and
Empowerment perspectives lend themselves nicely to a focus on disempowered
groups and are sensitive to cultural-gender issues.
Social justice is most clearly represented by the anti-oppressive, empowerment
Despite the importance of stressing a client’s strengths and competencies,
practitioners will be cognizant of the reality of the standard clinical practice,
agency accountability, and the dictates of managed care.
This text adopts an empowerment-ecosystems framework for person-inenvironment understandings.
Chapter 2
Biological Factors in Human Behavior
Nobody doubts that genes can shape
anatomy. The idea that they also shape
behavior takes a lot more swallowing.
Matt Ridley, Genome
This chapter will highlight the biological
basis of human behavior in the following
Adolescent development
Aggression including battery and rape
Anti-social personality
The shyness-extraversion continuum
OCD and bipolar disorder
The Nature Part of Nature and Nurture
The genetic factor—genome means gene plus chromosome
Scientists seek to understand role of genes in disease.
Human Genome Project to map human genetic material.
Results are useful in showing which drugs work.
Genes are affected as by depleted uranium.
Other scientific developments:
MRI technologies and fMRI to view the working brain
Twin studies
Genes and Addiction
DSM-IV-TR dichotomizes substance dependence and substance abuse,
Yet most recent genetics research indicates that the tendency toward
addiction , like most behavior, exists along a continuum.
Substance use disorders go together with mental disorders:
 Schizophrenia (47%)
 Bipolar disorder (45%)
 Anxiety (25%) and depression (24%
Early life severe stress weakens the system.
Cloninger’s research on adopted sons of alcoholic fathers
Addiction and the Brain
Actions of alcohol and cocaine that cause intoxication, dependency, and
relentless craving during abstinence occur primarily in the brain—shown
on MRI and PET scans
(See slides of the brain at
Implanted memories of the highs lead to the cravings.
Illicit drugs are popular because they “hijack” the brain’s endorphins.
The addicted brain, as we now realize, is significantly different from the
normally functioning brain.
Low levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, linked to both addiction and
Alcohol Effects
Alcohol, as a drug, affects the central nervous system.
Belongs in a class with the barbiturates, minor tranquilizers
and general anesthetics – also depressants
Long-term damage caused by deficiency in thiamine
Development of serious brain disorders
Wernicke Korsakoff’s characterized by mental confusion, paralysis of
the nerves
Liver disease from long-term use
Damage heightened with heavy smoking
Brain Injury vs. Brain Disease
Notion of brain injury—more accurate than the notion of brain in describing
the course of events involving changes in brain due to substance use.
Serotonin—a neurotransmitter hugely influenced by alcohol and drug
Cocaine and methamphetamine blocks the reuptake of certain
chemicals by neurons in the brain. Motivation for activity related to
dopamine. See boxed reading of student: “Hooked on Meth”
Current theories of addiction rely heavily on neurobiological evidence
showing connections between addiction-related behavior and neural
structures and functions.
Effects can be reduced by drugs that increase the availability of
serotonin.—SSRIs (Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft)
A psychiatric diagnosis that is based largely on behavioral
Involves deficiencies in dopamine activity and that of
another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine
ADHD cont.
A higher population in U.S. than overseas exhibit ADHD;
however, it is over-diagnosed.
Probably just a normal personality trait of people who are
easily bored, impulsive, and risk takers, highly desirable
traits on the frontier and of hunters.
Farmers, are quieter, less restless types (Thom Hartmann’s
theory). Why Americans are different from Europeans, due
to the genes of certain types who were descended from
Impact of Cognitions
Some researchers believe that psychological
counseling can actually alter brain chemistry,
possibly restoring more normal functioning
such as for those with OCD (Schwartz, Brain
Brain structure and function can be altered by
the cognitions in studies of the impact of the
psychological trauma on the brain.
Biological Aspects of Aggression
Using MRI, the scientists are on the threshold of
discoveries concerning biochemical processes
associated with antisocial personality
Characterized by impulsive, forceful activities
 Exploitative attitudes and blaming of victims
Example– research on prison inmates reveals that
males and females with abnormally high testosterone
tended to have been convicted of violent crimes.
Head injury also changes behavior.
Aggression cont.
Theories from evolution—most aggressive most apt
to reproduce.
Evolutionists challenge traditional feminist cultural
determinism. Study of chimpanzee male-on-female
battering and rape. Female may accept aggressive
male out of fear.
Bonoboes, however, are gentle primates.
Examining data from the global crime statistics in the
same- sex murder, practically all are male-on-male.
Gender and the Brain
The brain consists of two separate structures, a right brain, and
a left brain.
 Differences observed in CT scans and results of strokes.
 Right brain analyzes nuances of meaning, comprehension;
left—recall of knowledge
 In middle age, two sides work more together.
Saleebey indicates that women seem to be hemispherically
egalitarian than men.
Radical feminists emphasize male-female brain differences, as
does science.
Studying Homosexuality
Biological theories of homosexuality can be clustered under three kinds of
research: those that pertain to brain, genes, and hormones.
Gorski and Allen examined brains obtained from autopsies of 90 people;
They found that an important structure connects the right and the left side of
the brain.
Known to be larger in women, the structure is larger in gay men.
Male gay brain—cognitive performance more in a female direction. More
research is needed, especially on lesbians.
We do know that women are more flexible in their sexual orientation.
Inheritance and Biology
Best means of studying the role of hereditary factors—study of identical
and fraternal twins. When one twin gay, the other is gay about half the
Having elder brothers increases chance for gay child.
Behavioral genetic studies have provided the strongest evidence of the role
of biology plays in influencing human sexual behavior.
In humans, the study of rare medical conditions indicates that prenatal
hormonal events can influence human behaviors These studies are
extremely contradictory.
Transgenderism in males—brain gender apparently formed as female
before physical traits develop as male. Read “Transgendered: A SelfPortrait.”
The Biology of Temperament
Most people are in the middle of the introversionextraversion continuum.
Ridley explains personality differences in novelty-seeking
behavior in terms of one genetic trait--shyness.
Theory that Nordic types are more anxious types through
evolution. They needed faster heartbeats to generate heat.
Impact of stress: damage to health due to heightened alertness
and production of stress hormones.
The most serious and personally destructive of all major mental
Difficult to define because patients have different kinds of
Disordered thoughts, delusions, hallucinations
Social withdrawal, sense of emptiness
Enlarged ventricles; when brain expands in adolescence, pressure placed
on prefrontal cortex.
Usually manifests itself during young adulthood, but some think it
can traced to womb.
Thought to result from excess of dopamine in the brain
A number of anti-psychotic medications target the chemical
imbalance in the brain.
Mood Disorders
Bipolar disorder
An Unquiet Mind (Jamison) depicts a psychologist's
personal struggle.
Anti-depressants act by blocking the reuptake or
reabsorption of neurotransmitters; this makes them
available to improve mood.
There is a strong genetic component for the certain forms
of severe depressive illness.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anorexia
OCD is marked by intrusive, reoccurring thoughts.
Can be considered “brain lock”, according to Jeffrey
Schwarz, as messages from the front part of the brain get
locked there. [Neuroplasticity]
may be thought of as obsessions about body fat, disbelief that one is
thin even when the person is starving.
Anorexia occurs mainly in cultures or subcultures that value
thinness and present media images of “Barbie doll”-shaped bodies
A cultural as well as organic link to this disorder
An organic syndrome largely associated with old
Characterized by memory loss, confusion, and
extreme mood swings
Diagnosed through cognitive tests and PET scan
Hard to concentrate, lack of flexibility in going
from one area of the brain to another.
Vascular dementia
stems from strokes when blood vessels become clogged
by clots
Left side—speech impairment and depression
Music and the Brain
Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia
Effect on babies
With Alzheimer’s—stored in part of brain that
lasts the longest
Blind children and gift of perfect pitch
Some get seizures brought on by music
Can be taught to speak after stroke through
music, from right side of brain
Science and Ethics
Dramatic breakthroughs on the frontiers of science pose perplexing moral
Ethical values should be available to inquiry and critical examination of the
use of science.
Clients can benefit from direct social work interventions to help them make
informed decisions about genetic testing and to cope, both as individuals
and family members, with the results.
The social work professional has a long history of working to shape public
policy that protects the interests of consumers of health care services.
Chapter 3
The Psychology of Human Behavior
The rigid righteous is a fool…
What is done we partly can compute
But know not what’s resisted
Chapter is concerned with issues of personal trauma and
resilience, as people endure ordinary and extraordinary
crisis across the lifespan.
The following theorists all view development as taking
place sequentially:
Abraham Maslow
Hierarchy of needs:
Belongingness and love
Physiological needs
Maslow’s contribution to developmental theory is represented in his
well-known construction to human needs.
Not age based.
Each need at the bottom of the ladder has to fulfilled successively
before the next level of higher needs can be achieved.
The psychological, as opposed to social, nature of this
conceptualization is revealed in its emphasis on individual drives.
Erik Erikson
Published his influential Childhood and Society in 1950.
Erikson offered an optimistic, bio-psychological view of
Each stage of human development is a crisis characteristically
that must be resolved.
His model extends over the lifespan and has stood the test of
time and is included in virtually all human behavior textbooks.
Erikson’s Developmental Stages
1. Trust versus mistrust – infancy up to 18 months. Infants who receive
nurturing care learn to trust and this prepares them for lifelong
2. Autonomy versus shame and doubt – 18 months to 3 years. Through
accomplishing various tasks, children develop confidence and feelings
of self-worth.
3. Initiative versus guilt – age 3 to 6. Small children learn to take
initiative when they are encouraged to do so; if stymied, they are apt to
experience feelings of guilt.
4. Industry versus inferiority – age 6 to 12. How children succeed
academically; how they master other activities determines whether
they will feel industrious or inferior.
Erikson’s Developmental Stages cont.
5. Identity versus role confusion – adolescence.
Identity crisis, the trying out of new roles and the
shedding of old ones.
6. Intimacy versus isolation – young adulthood. The
finding of a soul mate – dominates this period.
7. Generativity versus stagnation - middle age.
8. Ego integrity versus despair – old age. People
look back over a life of purpose or, conversely,
one that seems meaningless and causes feelings of
Daniel Levinson
Stage theory.
 His central conceptual organizing scheme based on
study of middle aged males.
 The Seasons of a Man’s Life
 Older men as mentors to the young
Moral Development Theories
Lawrence Kohlberg
Linear stage theory places primary emphasis on how people
think, not what they do.
Children move toward progressively higher levels of ethical
Lawrence Kohlberg cont.
6 Stages
Level 1: Preconventional – age 4 -10, behavior related to conditioning
Avoid punishment, obedience to authority
Work toward rewards
Level 2: Conventional – age 10 -13, what is found in society
Please others to gain approval
Obey norms, laws
Level 3: Postconventional - rarely achieved by most adults
Laws subject to interpretation, genuine
interest in welfare of others
Morality completely internalized, respect
for universal principles.
Carol Gilligan
Like Kohlberg’s, a moral development model
Cited in the literature in terms of her criticism of sexism in
these other models
Also a noteworthy theorist in her own right.
Her contribution has centered on listening for the voice
behind the spoken voice, the voice of the psyche.
Saw development in girls in terms of capacity for
connectedness, not independence, and sacrifice
Saw girl’s development impeded by society
Boy also limited by enforced standards of masculinity.
Pressure on boy at age 5 parallels pressure on adolescent
Transpersonal Theory
James Fowler’s theory of religious faith development based on
hundreds of interviews with city residents, mostly Christian
People move from intuitive to literal to conventional to reflective faith
as they grow up.
Only a few achieve the level of universalizing faith, directed toward all
Ken Wilber proposed a transpersonal theory, what is known as a higher
level of consciousness.
A seeking of a source of power through meditation and dreams, moving
beyond the personal.
His scheme speaks of a universal stage of religious growth.
His evolution is Eurocentric.
Stages of Change
Like Fowler, stages of change model by Prochaska and
DiClemente pertains to one aspect of human behavior—the
elimination of self destructive behavior.
Model was based on smokers trying to quit.
Focus on choice
Stages of change: pre-contemplative stage, contemplation,
then preparation, action, maintenance, and often, relapse.
Interventions can be tailored for each stage of change
This model has revolutionized addiction treatment and has
been linked to motivational interviewing.
Social Identity
Who are you?
Development of identity is a lifelong process, relates to
biology, psychology, social changes such as becoming teen,
Impact of race: three barriers to development in racist
society—social injustice, society inconsistency, powerlessness
Class identity: U.S. vs. British outlook, labor party in most
European nations
People often judged by their occupation in the U.S.
Upper class—elite education and exclusive clubs
Politicians can manipulate working class by focusing on moral issues
of little consequence in the long run.
Gender Identity
From early childhood, boys and girls are aware of gender.
Women share common bodily experience of femaleness and
suffer social oppression of sexism, whether or not they are
aware of it.
A study shows that by 7th to 10th grade, a girl regresses in self
confidence and intellectual development.
Rigid code of gender conformity associated with the societal oppression
of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Related to sexism.
Gays and lesbians comprise about 5% of population.
The problem of homophobia lies in the heterosexual moralistic culture.
Adams, Wright et al, showed that only homophobic men were
aroused by male, homosexual stimuli. Confirmed Freudian notion of
reaction formation—rejecting in others what we dislike in ourselves.
Hate crimes has become pronounced in both military and civilian life of
Disability and Self- Concept
Self concept of persons with disabilities is modified over
time as social realities change.
Idealized body image that we see in the ads
There may be an evolutionary factor, as Evens
suggests, in people’s natural aversion toward those
with disfigurement.
The mental health professional working with those
who are mentally or physically challenged must be
cognizant of societal oppression and the need to
develop coping mechanisms.
Involves both physical and non-physical dimensions
of being.
Spirituality expands consciousness to a realm beyond
the physical.
English poets such as Wordsworth and the Norwegian
people find a source of inspiration in nature.
Many social work try to draw a tight distinction between
religion and spirituality and fail to draw on strengths of
client’s background.
Feelings and Human Behavior
The perpetual nervousness that persists in some can be
reduced through cognitive therapy techniques.
Stress management to reduce anxiety.
Cognitive approach is of proven effectiveness in treating
anxiety and depression.
Some strategies are:
 Planning ahead
 Learning to handle fears
 Managing to face fears calmly
 Identifying what one truly afraid of
 Being emotionally prepared for likely outcomes
Destructive Thought Patterns
Unhealthy thinking often causes people to get trapped in
negativism and destructive behavior.
Examples of illogical beliefs include:
All or nothing thinking
Jumping to conclusions
Over-generalizing about others
Making mountains out of molehills
Thinking that one must be liked by everyone, etc
Thinking you must be perfect
Thinking that people are either good or evil
Believing that you can’t live without a certain person
Anger is a stimulus for all kinds of human
behavior—may lead to impulsive, destructive
Anger can flow from a strong emotional feeling
coupled with an adrenaline rush.
Behavior may include seething inwardly or
externalization of feelings onto another.
Anger: Treatment Issues
Substance abuse treatment centers often use the exercise of having
clients list their losses in connection with their addictive
behaviors—this will lead to self disgust or depression.
Knowledge of feeling and the thought processes connected with
these feelings help clients work toward change.
Expression of anger may be encouraged in the belief that angry
feelings can be released—in fact, such exercises increase the anger.
Anger management programs, often recommended for batterers,
have been ineffective because anger is often not the cause of the
battering but other feelings stemming from a sense of inadequacy.
An emotion related to anger and the motivation for
crime as in some Old Testament stories.
Freud believed that jealousy was universal because
it originates in painful childhood experiences that
everyone shares.
Buss reports that jealousy may be deliberately
incited by partners who feel insecure.
Intimate Partner Violence
Violence should be conceptualized in multidimensional terms as a biopsycho-social phenomenon.
A background of violence is commonly found in the biographies of
abusive men.
Battering men often have an irrational fear of abandonment.
Jacobson and Gottman’s research— “pit bulls” and “cobras.” Pit bulls
are more treatable but tend to stalk their partners.
View the power and control wheel at
The challenge to feminist theorists is how to explain the often irrational
attachment of battered women to their abusers.
When the trauma is ongoing, the victim’s coping may seem
maladaptive but may be a normal response to an abnormal situation
Traumatic Bonding
Similar to concept of “brainwashing” or Stockholm syndrome
Common in kidnap victims over long period of time, ensures
survival in many cases
Examples—concentration camp victims while in captivity
(Bettelheim’s study), Patty Hearst, Elizabeth Smart, Shawn
Hornbeck, and more recently, Jaycee Dugard
Victims come to see the world through the eyes of the
victimizers, adopting their beliefs as their own. Return to
normal when rescued.
Three basic kinds of trauma are trauma from:
 childhood events such as sexual abuse
 terrifying events such as rape, ongoing family violence
 mass disaster situations such as earthquakes or war.
Examples of war trauma are:
 Personal reactions to the horrors that were visited upon the
Japanese people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki that are widely
known but rarely talked about.
 When the U.S.-led war on Iraq broke out, German opposition
was reinforced by an awareness of what bombing from the air
does to people on ground.
 Vietnam veterans who had flashbacks in seeing bombings of
Iraq on TV
Trauma cont.
Syndrome related to trauma was not identified until 1860s; Freud
characterized symptoms further.
As spelled out by the APA in the DSM-IV-R, the diagnosis of
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requires the development of
characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extremely
traumatic stressor.
Common symptoms are:
 Recurrent and intrusive recollections or dreams of the event
 Intense psychological distress or physiological reactions when
the person is exposed to reminders.
Effects of Trauma
Men (and women) who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan sometimes
suffer from lifetime PTSD related to combat
One in six in a government study were found to have signs of
Traumatized ex-soldiers have a higher rate of unemployment,
divorce and violent outburst than persons not suffering from
Medications such as SSRIs can prevent trauma if taken immediately
by offsetting the formation of traumatic memories.
Cognitive-behavioral treatments may reduce the effects of PTSD.
Rape in War
In the past, the victims of rape, in general, and of mass
rape in war were silenced out of shame.
Impact of Brownmiller’s book, Against Our Will: Men,
Women, and Rape (1975)
Rape of the enemy’s woman seems to be a regular
consequence of war; survivor is doubly stigmatized.
Now the rape during wars is recognized as an international
war crime punishable under law.
Human Trafficking
(article from NASW News)
U.S. government estimates trafficking of about 900,000 every year.
NASW’s policy statements on human rights, refugees, child welfare
and cultural competence all speak to the issue of human trafficking.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, many
trafficking victims will have permanent physical and psychological
damage from being brutally beaten or reaped by their traffickers.
Once in the U.S., these women are forced to perform sex or hard
labor to repay their “debt” for being smuggled into the country.
Sexual Exploitation of Trafficked Children
Efforts to keep victims disoriented do not end once they
are smuggled into the U.S.
The psychological effect is to “impair the child for life”.
When rescued, they need to develop a sense of physical
HHS programs and other efforts have not been
successful to large extent. Victims often do not speak
English and their enslavement is not recognized.
Horrific events, as described in this chapter, may crush the
human spirit. What is even more striking in working with
survivors of such trauma is the resilience that is possible with
help and support.
The best means of prevention of trauma is to provide better
protection of our children, and as to war trauma, the best
means of prevention is to keep wars from happening in the
first place.
Chapter 4
Birth through Adolescence
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing
for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to
Kahlil Gibran, 1923
Chapter Objectives
Focus of the chapter--childhood behavior.
This chapter views behaviors across the lifespan according to the
key accomplishments expected of the child of a certain age.
Major themes: childhood resilience and cross-cultural aspects of
child development
Famous Stories of Childhood Resilience
Novels of Charles Dickens
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Autobiography of Frederick Douglass
Life stories of Maya Angelou and Malcolm X
Birth to Two Years
Jean Piaget—
Earliest period of life—sensorimotor development—from automatic
behavior to deliberate responses, imitation
12 to 18 months—game of peek-a-boo—infant learns objects are
Erikson—concerned with trust, relationship, his stage more
relevant to personality
Attachment theory—Spitz’s (1945) study of WWII orphans,
need for touch; shown also in Harlow’s monkey study
Language develops slowly, use of sign language is beneficial.
Cases of intersexual newborns and sex assignment—does the
brain have a gender?
Cross-Cultural Studies
An advantage of cross-cultural studies—the transfer of knowledge
about successful innovations, such as “kangaroo care.”
The Mexican American “epidemiological paradox”: refers to the
paradox of better than expected birth outcomes given income level
and teen pregnancies.
Lowest infant mortality rate in Asian Americans, highest among
Native Americans.
Cross-cultural research on responding to crying is mixed: infants
whose crying is ignored (Germany) can be insecure, infants whose
crying is always responded to (Japan) tend to be overly dependent.
In societies where women are devalued, abandonment and
mistreatment of infant girls is commonplace.
Age 2-7
Piaget’s stage of preoperational thought—language is
concrete, can contemplate objects out of sight
By 4-5, children can sort objects by color, shape
Piaget’s theory is one-dimensional.
Erikson’s more holistic stages—this period covers
development of autonomy and initiative.
 Concerned only with the male
 Sees the female only concerned with her appearance or
playing with dolls
“the over-scheduled child”—U.S. vs Scandinavia
Attachment disorder can arise at this stage, found in birth and
foster families.
Abuse and Neglect
Sexual abuse early in girls tends to lead to overtly sexual behaviors, in
teens it leads to depression and substance abuse.
Sibling abuse is commonplace.
Link between battering of mother and child abuse
See fact sheet on child mistreatment—
 60% of reported victims experienced neglect
 Birth to 3 years—highest rates; by race—highest for Hispanics and
African Americans
 Child fatalities—over 1,000 per year, most under age 4, infant boys the
highest rate
Cross Cultural Education
Japanese education begins at home, even prior to preschool.
In African and South American tribal groups, education is through
parental modeling of occupational behavior.
Childhood aggression is handled differently across cultures, mostly
based on larger societal view such as hierarchy and general rates of
France—both children punished for fighting; U.S.—punish the one
who started it.
Story content—American children have more aggression in their
stories than children from Sweden or Germany.
Age 6-12
Piaget’s period of concrete operations—child thinks logically but
still on a concrete level.
Erikson’s delineation of the key crisis during this early to middle
childhood period is termed industry vs. inferiority.
When adults think back to the middle childhood period, most of
their memories center around the school – one’s role in the school
play, cruel and beloved teachers, failures and honors ,competitions
won or not won.
School experience can grossly affect the way the individual is
shaped during adulthood.
Mental Retardation
The term mental retardation is used by the American Psychiatric
Association to denote sub-average general intellectual
functioning that is accompanied by significant limitations in
adaptive functioning “in at least two” of the following skill
home living
social skills
use of community resources
functional academic skills
health and safety.
Learning Disability
In Britain, this term refers to all developmental disabilities.
In the United States, the term is usually used if there is a
discrepancy between the child’s IQ test scores and school
Dyslexia is a form of learning disability often involving a lack
of sense of left and right. Because their brains are wired
differently, dyslexics are often creative and skilled problem
Since learning disability, according to the standard definition, is
unrelated to IQ, a significant number of children with such
diagnosis are indeed gifted.
ADHD probably more a personality trait than a disability
Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
Rise in autism diagnosis
“Geek syndrome” theory to explain high rate in the Silicon Valley
New technologies such as fMRI show that autistics rely heavily on
parts of the brain that specialize in working with the meanings of
individual words.
Males account for more than 80 percent of the million-plus
Americans with autistic disorders.
New programming that stresses it is okay to be different, that in
difference there is strength. Influence of Temple Grandin.
Single Sex Education
Since during prepuberty period, girls mature much faster than
boys, single sex education became a subject of interest.
Scientific research throughout the 1990s showed that
differences in brain structure created significant differences in
female-male learning styles.
However, single-sex schools have not lived up to their
Boys vs. Girls in Education
Recent media hype—focus on neglect of boys in
High dropout rates, school failure, fights, suicide.
Part of anti-feminist backlash, or was too much
attention paid to girls’ problems earlier?
Girls educational successes seen as taking away from
This text takes a both/and, not either/or position.
Small and Large Schools
According to a research, we know that small schools and small
classes have certain advantages over their large school, large
class counterparts.
Studies show that small public schools have higher attendance
rates and lower dropout rates, benefits that are especially
pronounced in lower-income communities.
PTSD in Childhood
In 2007, approximately 800,000 children were found
to be victims of child maltreatment (DHHS).
When childhood trauma occurs > brain chemistry
changes > future psychological problems, especially
under conditions of repeated stress.
PTSD symptoms—denial of or preoccupation with the
event, numbing, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, guilt
feelings, sleep disturbances, jumpiness
Cross Cultural Comparisons
Very high pressured education in Japan, China, and South
Korea, especially for math achievement
In Northern Ireland, IQ testing for school placement until
In many parts of the world, the children don’t go to school—
families struggle to survive
Child sex trade in Southeast Asia related to poverty
In Africa, children kidnapped as soldiers for war.
Work of traditional healers with kids who have been rescued
Erikson’s focus on identity formation
This period usually viewed as a process of distancing oneself from
one’s parents
Piaget’s period of formal operations. Piaget’s notion of continuing
intellectual development now proven in brain scans of prefrontal
Identity, peer group, rebellion – these are the key terms associated
with adolescence.
Society has often recognized the immaturity of youth by imposing
legal restrictions on young people.
Erikson anticipated recent brain research findings in his perception
of adolescence as a period in life involving more dangers to the
individual than any other.
Adolescence cont.
Peers are the benchmark for adolescent behavior in the
Among the risks that comprise role confusion as singled
out by Erikson are:
identification with the heroes of cliques
 disturbance about one’s occupational course
 “falling in love”
 the rapidity of genital maturity
 clannishness and cruelty in exclusion of those who are
Substance Abuse
Substance abuse involvement is one of the leading causes of
death for youth.
Self reporting surveys of drug use 12th graders over past year:
 Any illicit drug—36.6%
 Marijuana—32.4%
 Cocaine—4.4%
 OxyContin—4.7% (prescription drug)
 Alcohol—65.5%
 Meth (1.2%)
Media, government attention on illicit drugs only
Government spends billions on war on drugs
Longitudinal studies conducted in several European countries
compared teacher assessments and later alcohol use; the number
one predictor was novelty seeking, low harm avoidance or
“daredevil” behavior.
Study of 8 year olds in Finland—aggression in boys and crying
easily in girls predicted later problems with alcohol.
Dating Violence
One in 11 a victim of physical dating violence; 1 in 5
girls—includes sexual abuse (CDC, 2009)
Teen Dating Warning Signs (see p. 181)
Bragging about power over others
Possessiveness, obsessive needs, jealous
Rough play
Substance abuse
Male from a male-violent home
Boys generally not well-prepared by their parents with
information on the maturation of their reproductive
The forging of a firm identity for young males, in the
absence of masculine role models can lead to
exaggerated concept of maleness.
bell hooks points out that often in our society men show
their “manliness” through antisocial behavior: lack of
consideration for others, unwillingness to show
nurturance, and refusing to communicate.
Girls and Adolescence
For girls, the pressures for gender conformity mount
during the teenage years.
For girls and women, the sense of self, as Gilligan
indicates, is invested more in maintaining relationships
than in establishing hierarchy.
Bringing girls into the study of adolescence has brought
a new dimension, a revolution, to the science of
Gays and Lesbian Identity
Often taken to be heterosexual by their parents and family.
Gay children often actively try to assume heterosexual persona.
A fundamental assumption of the research literature on identity
formation is that “normative” development is heterosexual.
Mary Bricker-Jenkins’ description of how an understanding
teacher “saved my life”
Fundamentalist religious beliefs—Prayers for Bobby
School anti-bullying programs
Stages of Homosexual Development
Developmental stages of awareness of one’s
homosexuality are said to include:
general sense of feeling different,
 awareness of same-sex feelings,
 identity crisis,
 eventual acceptance of LBGT identity
Suicide Risk—LGBT Youth
According to a report by the DHHS, gay and lesbian youth are two to
three times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual
counterparts. study—30% of adolescent suicides related to gender
According to a 2001 Human Rights Watch report, LBGT youth are
more likely to use drugs/alcohol, engage in unsafe sex, face being
thrown out on the street by parents and more likely to attempt suicide
than other youth.
Risk factors for suicide, such as gender nonconformity, higher for boys
and men. Celibate males more likely to commit suicide
Lesbians are somewhat protected by the fact that they recognize their
sexuality at a later age, on average, than do boys, allowing them to
have already developed life coping skills.
Children who are constantly exposed to ridicule or who know they
would be if their sexuality were known are vulnerable to internalized
Minority Ethnic Groups
About 1/3 to 1/2 of adolescents who live in the U.S. belong to a
minority ethnic group.
Formation of a firm ethnic-group identity is important.
The pathway of racial identity development is different for
dominant group: move from belief in stereotypes to conflict arises through
experience with diverse groups, may become advocates or retreat
Research on ethnic identity in adolescents showed that youth
from diverse backgrounds:
 often experience a crisis whereby they challenge everything
associated with the dominant group
 or the reverse, that they reject their own cultural heritage.
 Later, this crisis is resolved and the youth accepts their ethnicity.
Minority Groups cont.
As hooks indicates, there will be rage, rage because
of a system that does not address the psychological
wounds caused by the “madness of forming self and
identity in white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”
This is expressed in the high levels of suicide and
substance abuse prevalent among Native Americans.
Coming-of-age rituals:
Quinceañera festivities for Latin American girls—more
commercial in the U.S.
Jewish boys and girls—bar or bat mitzvah
Mixed Racial Identity Development
To the extent that the models of racial-ethnic identity
development assume that youths growing up have just one racial
identity, they fail to reflect the reality for biracial, bicultural
Six periods in the movement toward the development of a racial
awareness of difference
impact of difference
transition to acceptance
Multiracial Identity
2000 Census 1st time reporting
2.4% reported 2 or more races
 Half Latino and white
 One-third white and other race
 One-sixth white and black
 One-eighth white and Asian
Obama—Dreams from My Father
People who have survived the most difficult of circumstances,
often referred to as “the strength of human spirit” or resilience.
Resilience is defined as the capability of individuals to cope
successfully in the face of significant change, adversity or risk.
Scientific studies of children at high risk (from malnutrition,
poverty, etc.) are looking at brain chemistry to learn more about
the nature of resilience.
Research shows biological and psychological factors in interaction
often determine behavioral outcomes.
The longer the period of neglect, the more serious the damage that
is done. Religious faith a source of strength
Religious Beliefs
Fowler and Wilber are two social theorists who looked at how
children’s religious beliefs are modified with maturity.
Wilber, like Fowler, was influenced by Piaget’s structured
cognitive model yet he ventured into the realm of levels of
consciousness that transcends the personal.
Religious faith:
helps provide structure for children through rituals
brings closeness to relatives and people of all ages through sharing in
the rituals
develops an aesthetic appreciate through art and music involved in the
provides for stress reduction and support in times of trouble
Implications for Social Workers
Healing powers of spirituality now recognized
Need to reduce all risk factors for children
generally and maximize children’s natural
Harm reduction works to reduce harm in highrisk situations such as bullying or abuse at
In a Nutshell
Risk and resilience across the first part of the life span – this in a
nutshell can be considered the theme of this chapter.
The organizational structure of this chapter was drawn from
the insights of Piaget on cognitive growth and development,
from Erikson’s psychosocial scheme which pinpointed key
issues to be resolved across the childhood lifespan and from
Fowler’s and Wilber’s conceptualization of the evolution of
spiritual understanding.
Chapter 5
Early Adulthood Through Middle Age
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I
understood as a child, thought as a child,
but when I became a man I put
childish things.
I Corinthians 13:11
This chapter concerns major achievements across the adult life course in terms
of intimacy in young adulthood, generativity during the middle years, and ego
integrity during the final stage of life.
College Life
Erikson’s period of intimacy vs. isolation
College is traditionally a time of transition and questioning of the beliefs of
one’s upbringing.
Compared to previous generations of students, more binge drinking, more
unplanned sexual activity in some circles and a higher degree of religiosity
in others.
Economic challenges—present-day realities of increased tuition, textbook
prices, parents saving for retirement, and necessity for a car and job.
Prolonged transition between adolescence and adulthood has become the
norm—living at home, extended educations.
The Biology of Mating Rituals
Evolutionary psychologist David Buss concludes that, the role of genetics
in mating behavior is pronounced.
Mating rituals, such as flirting, follow patterns that cross cultures and countries, based on
gestures that seem anchored deep within our evolutionary history. Males attracted to
fertile-appearing female.
Males tend to exhibit behavior that conveys strength and symbols of success.
The experience of love as a biological drive that comprises lust, romantic love (narrows
focus to one person) and attachment.
Attachment is fuelled by: proximity, stress, sex.
Exhilaration of early romance does not last.
Biology alone does not determine sexual attraction.
Personal Happiness
Researchers of happiness often study married couples.
The personality traits—ability to share, good humor, etc. that
make for partner compatibility and enduring friendships.
One study found that newlyweds were matched on values and
attitudes, but differed on personality traits like extroversion.
Yet happy couples were matched on personality, not attitudes.
Myers-Briggs Inventory
Myers-Briggs inventory utilizes four different subscales:
 extroversion-introversion
 sensing-intuiting
 thinking-feeling
 judging-perceiving (how one’s experiences are analyzed)
This scale is widely used in business and government as a basis of
employee selection.
Not surprisingly, in today’s efficiency-conscious world, this
personality indicator is in widespread use in matching couples on
the basis of their score compatibility.
For sales types-- ESFPs; engineers– ESTPs
Social worker might be ISFJ, less creative type than INSJ; but
attention to detail is important in this field
People with disorders may be complementary—antisocial and
borderline are often paired with OCD or dependent types
Sex defies our many attempts to explain the hold
it has on people.
Rates of sexual activity among teens in the U.S.
 Comparable to those in Western Europe
 Yet incidence of adolescent pregnancy, childbearing,
contraction of venereal disease far exceeds that found in most
other industrialized nations.
Besides issues of school and grades, girls most often struggle with
such social concerns as knowing how to say yes to a relationship
without having to say yes to sex.
At all ages, women are more likely than men to contract
genital herpes, Chlamydia or gonorrhea.
ABC News poll: women—
 6 sex partners in life; men—20
 70% of men think of sex every day, 15% of women
 Men 3 times as often look at sexually explicit website.
Healthy Love
Healthy love is above all reciprocal, non-possessive; it is about giving and
receiving both.
Obsessive love thinking:
I cannot live without your.
You are the only person for me.
We must agree on everything.
We should be happy in each other’s exclusive company.
(and among alcoholics) You keep me sober.
The Enrich Couple Inventory reveals key ingredients that make for a happy
relationship even long after the initial chemistry has faded:
 good listening skills
 understanding of each other’s feelings
 balance in leisure time spent together and apart
 being easy to talk to
 creative and agreeable in handling differences including finances and
sexual compatibility
BJS Statistics
Trends in Fatal Intimate Partner Violence
l Homicide victims killed by an intimate partner
declined from an estimated 3,300 in 1993 to an
estimated 2,340 in 2007.
l Between 1993 and 2007, female victims killed
by an intimate partner declined from 2,200 to
1,640 victims, and male intimate partner
homicide victims declined from 1,100 to 700
Intimate Partner Violence
The 2004 intimate partner violence fact
sheet provides us with a list of consistently
observed “markers” for the commission of
intimate partner violence:
violence in the family of origin
 behavioral deficits
 certain and multiple psychiatric diagnoses
 personality disorders
 substance abuse
 anger
 low self-esteem.
The nightmare of volunteers and staff at women’s
shelter is that battering, love-struck spouses or
boyfriends will commit the ultimate act if the woman
makes a successful break.
Suicide-murder is the term used here to refer to the
phenomenon whereby an estranged partner kills the
focus of his or her obsessive passion, and suicide is
the primary motive.
Whole family murder-suicide. Related to economics?
A risk factor to intimacy, both in destroying a relationship
underway and in inhibiting one’s ability to trust and bond
sexually due to the legacy of the past, is rape.
CDC estimates—one of six of women victims of rape or
attempted rape
Gang rape, fraternity rape, prison homosexual assault, some
aspects of date and marital rape and the sexual brutality that is
inevitable in slavery and war all involve the targeting of
women (or women substitutes) as fair game.
Rape-Supportive Culture
We are, as Jackson Katz terms it, a rape-supportive culture.
In a research study from Glasgow, Scotland which has generated
worldwide attention, one in five boys and young men thought that
forcing one’s wife to have sex would be acceptable.
In Our Guys, Lefkowitz reveals the connection between sports
hero idolatry in suburbia and sexual violence against women.
Marital rape, if not socially sanctioned, has been socially tolerated
for a long time. Date or acquaintance rape is rarely reported as
Fear of sexual violence is a defining characteristic of the male
prison experience in the U.S.
Gay males and lesbians are also subjected to sexual victimization
in the society.
Rape continued
Thousands of women soldiers raped in Iraq, not
by the enemy as was original argument for them
not to serve
PTSD as a result
Prevention on college campuses: Jackson
Katz— The Macho Paradox, male mentoring
programs to get at the root cause
Bystander intervention taught in schools
Midlife Crisis
Erikson’s stage of generativity vs stagnation. Midlife is the time of
noticeable change in strength and appearance.
Biological changes apparent at 20th and the following high school and
college reunions. People get fatter, lose height, need reading glasses. Some
are getting plastic surgery.
Menopause is the term most closely associated with middle age, a term
traditionally equated with irrational, emotional outbursts in women and
mid-life crises in men.
75% of menopausal women experience mild facial flush and
perspiration that are popularly called ‘hot flashes” or “night sweats.”
In middle-aged men, there is a decrease in sexual functioning and
slowness in arousal due to a gradual decline in their testosterone level.
Psychology of Human Midlife
Psychologically, the middle years are a time of contemplation and
even regret.
Women at midlife are connecting to self and others by using
relevant processes to define themselves and make sense of their
Singles may feel isolated.
Subjective well-being is an important issue that relates to
psychological functioning during middle age.
Boxed reading: “In the Middle of a Middle” describes how this
period is dull compared to times of beginnings and endings. Social
work is about being in the middle of things as well.
Happiness and Psychology
Happiness is like depression; it can be contagious.
A review of scientific research concluded that each of us has a
happiness set point; no matter what happens in life, we tend to
return to our natural set point.
Myths about happiness that are disproved in research and surveys
are that happiness is brought about by money, beauty, youth,
On the plus side, Layard lists religious faith, leisure time activities,
friendship, sense of humor, self-esteem and volunteering as
behaviors that all help provide a sense of well-being.
Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life contends that contentment
comes with finding meaning in our lives.
Forgiveness is a teaching along with compassion that characterizes
all the major world religions.
Late middle age is a time when many people return to a religious
faith of their youth or engage in new, religious beliefs that reflect
the individual’s present spiritual state.
Forgiveness is about removing the hold that anger and resentment
have on us. Forgiving people have lower blood pressure than others.
Finding purpose and meaning in a seemingly bleak situation is one
component of spirituality.
Cultural Perspectives
India is one nation where attitudes among the younger
generation, especially urban youth, are changing rapidly.
Researchers compared attitudes toward sex in 24 countries and
found wide varieties in sexual beliefs. “Teen permissive”
countries—Germany, Austria, and Sweden. “Sexual
conservatives”—the U.S., Ireland, N. Ireland, and Poland.
Muslim countries, the most conservative.
Domestic violence is an issue not defined as such in most
Chapter 6
Facts on Aging
From Erikson’s generativity vs. stagnation to ego
integrity (late middle age) vs despair
Young-old from 50-75 and old-old after 75
Pew survey shows older people are happier, less
stressed and worried than younger ones
Life expectancy over 80 in Japan, Singapore, France,
Sweden, and Italy. South Africa has fallen to 43 (AIDS).
U.S.: 80.7, white females, 70.2 black males
Over 65 is around 20% minorities.
Birth rate decline in Western Europe, especially former
Soviet Union countries.
Age 50-75
Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, The Third Chapter,
positive account of transitions
Post midlife journeys of 40 older Americans—
workaholic to take voice lessons, engineer who
became an artist, one to write a novel, start new
more creative careers
The Biology of Old Age
Many of the health problems faced by elderly persons result from a
general decline in the circulatory system.
Physical limitations coupled with lack of adequate transportation limit
older persons in their ability to shop, obtain legal counsel or get medical
Two recent memoirs provide disturbing and unsentimental chronicles of
life with a parent in the late stages of Alzheimer’s: The Story of My
Father and Death in Slow Motion (the author’s mother’s acts of rage)
Cancer is another important target area of research and development.
Elderly alcoholics rarely seek treatment on their own, but family
members may take them to a substance abuse treatment center for help.
Psychological Aging vs. Biological Aging
Psychological aging is related to biological aging in the way the
mind is very closely linked to the body.
Pipher (Another Country) argues that the developmental period of
old age is about major physical and social disruption and
psychological stresses.
Despite their forgetfulness, the elderly have a storehouse of
As we live in the present and invest in the future, old age and death
are commonly denied. Kübler-Ross’s stages of death and dying:
 denial
 anger
 bargaining
 depression
 acceptance
Old Age and Health
Physician-oriented, and cure-based health care is in many ways unsuited to
the needs of older persons who typically have chronic conditions with
social dimensions.
Increasingly, Americans and some Europeans are seeking ways to exert
some measure of control over where and how they die.
According to survey, two-thirds of the public and a majority of physicians
in the U.S. support physician-assisted suicide as a legitimate right in cases
of incurable and debilitating disease.
Cancer—narratives of Elizabeth Edwards and Farrah Fawcett
The Social Side of Aging
In a youth-oriented, fast-paced industrialized society,
the process of aging begins to acquire a negative
meaning as we move past early adulthood.
The social side of aging refers to the cultural
expectations for people at various stages of their lives.
Race, ethnicity and social class status are significant
determinants of an individual’s experience with aging.
Cultural Perspectives
In many cultures, one’s sense of wellbeing, or general happiness, is not
determined from within but rather from
positive relations with others, usually the
Read “Latino Family Ties.”
Motivational Enhancement
Similar to the cognitive approach in that it is concerned with thought
processes is motivational interviewing.
Choice important for people of all ages. William Miller has formulated
motivational therapy in terms of the following general principles:
express empathy
develop discrepancy between goals and behaviors
avoid argumentation
roll with resistance
support self-efficacy
Late Adulthood
Forgiveness and healing are key concepts with much relevance to
the helping effort.
One of the most difficult tasks of old age is to learn to adjust to
everyday life without the care and companionship of a significant
other, often to live alone or, in the company of others, to feel alone.
Sense of meaning can come from membership in community
recreational and volunteer groups, a renewed or continuing church
involvement and participation in other activities for spiritual
Reading, “Resilience in Older African American
Women” who survived segregated South
Part of the Great Migration to Iowa
Characteristics shown in their narratives:
Respect for elders—father a sharecropper
 Value of education—father taught himself to read
 Resistance to oppression
 Strong religious faith
 Positive attitude toward life
From embarking on the journey of life as a grown person to
reaching the end of the trail, this chapter has touched upon
some pivotal moments.
Following a discussion of heterosexuality and gay/lesbian
sexuality, the topic shifted from healthy to unhealthy love
relationships, a shift that led into the territory of violence and
even rape and suicide played out in the form of murder.
A discussion of old age – ego integrity v. despair – concluded
the life span portion of the chapter and the book.
Chapter 7
The Individual and the Family
“They are the we of me”
Carson McCullers
Member of the Wedding
This chapter delves into the inner workers of family life—roles and
Definition of Family
The role of family: to mediate the relationship between individual and
Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman define family members as people who are:
members of a primary group in constant and intimate interaction, mutually
obligated to each other and usually occupying a common residence.
The mass-media portrait of the solitary, “nuclear” family devoid of links to
extended family
Some negative modern developments affecting the American family –
changes in eating habits and the many hours spent watching TV or on the
 Institutional supports for the family have eroded over the past decade
 Political lip service to “family values.”
Theories about Family
General systems theory and ecosystems theory as discussed in chapter 1:
 The family is a system in interaction with other social systems at the
societal level
 The family is a system within itself.
The systems and ecological perspectives have been among the most
widespread theoretical frameworks in social work that provide designs for
conceiving of personal and environment transactions.
Murray Bowen’s formulation had a revolutionary impact on the fields of
counseling and social work.
 Trained as a psychoanalyst
 Interest in families began in his work at the Menninger clinic in the
1940s and later moved to Georgetown Medical School in Washington,
 Decided that the processes he had earlier observed in diseased families were
present in all families
Bowen’s Family System Theory
Bowen’s family systems theory contrasted with general systems
 General systems model grew out of the assumption that similar
mathematical expressions and models could be applied to the
human domain.
 Bowen used metaphors from the natural environment.
A major contribution of Bowen was his graphic construct for
representing key themes that carry over from generation to
According to McGoldrick, genogram data can help us look for
repeated symptoms such as patterns of conflict across generations,
depression or abuse.
Family therapists pay close attention to the boundaries among
members of the family system and between the family and other
systems such as neighbors and schools.
Bowen’s approach criticized
 for its Anglo-American emphasis on individualism and
its ideal of the differentiated self that fails to take into account
women’s ways of relating and their focus on closeness
the mother-blaming inherent in his theory—his
conceptualization of emotional fusion was often the relationship
between mother and child.
 Provides a lens for understanding interactions among a number
of variables at once;
 Has expanded the social work profession’s person-inenvironment concepts
 Has provided fuel for our social work imaginations as we
explore the gender roles and family rules so unique to each
Functional and Dysfunctional Families
Healthy families can be said to be where everyone’s boundaries touch, but
not overlap.
Functional families are characterized by:
 open communication
 respect for individual differences and boundaries,
 stable routines and having a sense of humor
Dysfunctional families are said to be enmeshed or disengaged.
When boundaries are clearly defined between individuals, one’s thoughts
and feelings are respected
Enmeshed family members tend to speak for one another; parents tell
children what they think or feel; guilt is used to control; and parents show
signs that they are not psychologically separated from their own parents
On the other end of the spectrum, disengaged families sacrifice belonging
for autonomy.
Psychiatrist Ernest Hartmann has devised the Boundary Questionnaire to
measure what he sees as a basic dimension of personality – the tendency
toward thickness or thinness in boundaries.
Family Socialization
Family communication has a lot to do with socialization--child learns how
to behave through feedback and role models.
A latent function of the family includes socialization into the norms of
Gender role socialization
starts early and is pervasive
In violent families dominance of the weak by the strong – of children by adults,
smaller children by larger, male by female – is the rule.
Socialization—a two-edged sword. The paradox of the family is that
although so many are flawed that family affection serves as a glue that
holds lives together.
Family can be the buffer against the pain of society and the source of pain,
booster a child’s potential and also hold them back, etc.
In any case, children do better in families than in any other social
arrangements (the one exception is the traditional kibbutz which combines
community and family life.).
Father-Son Relationships
Parent-child relationships are among the most common social roles
played over the life-course and the most enduring in terms of social
Research on fathering consists of two basic varieties:
 research on the impact on children of father absence
 studies of father roles in the home.
Father-son relationship often the most difficult dyad in the family—
Father may find expressing affection to son difficult.
Father may seek success through son or be jealous of mother-son
Son may go to great links to prove himself to his father or to finish the
father’s unfinished business—analogy of Henry V in battle and George
W. Bush
Stories of Barack Obama and John McCain
Research on father-son relationships—stress on how the women’s
movement has freed both women and men from gender-role
Father Daughter Relationship
To Virginia Satir, the early father-daughter relationship was instrumental in
preparing the girl for life.
Perkins studied college women, categorized fathering styles as doting,
distant, demanding/supportive, domineering, absent, or seductive.
The bulk of the literature on the father-daughter relationship, as any search
engine check will show, is concerned with sexual abuse.
Girls in homes where fathers were highly involved tended to delay sexual
encounters and pregnancy.
Hawaiian study found that women married men who resembled their
fathers, and men married women who resembled their mothers.
In European American families, fathers have strong influence regarding
their daughter’s achievements, while mothers have more in African
American families.
Girls often feel a sense of protection in having a father in the home.
Mother-Son Bond
Freud had a lot to say about he love between mother and son— Oedipus
As the sons reach adolescence, mothers find it hard to truly understand
them, especially if they conform to gender-role expectations, seeking
adventure and tinkering with mechanical equipment, especially cars
Mother-son relationship differs in many ways from the mother-daughter
Experiment showed mother praised son’s performance more than
African-American mother-son bond,
 Sacred Bond: Black Men and Their Mothers
 Stories of gay man with AIDS, and of mother who fought the gang to
reclaim her son
Mother-Daughter Relationship
The mother-daughter relationship, according to Christiane
Northrup, MD:
has more “clout” biologically, emotionally and
psychologically than any other relationship in a woman’s life.
Attitudes about female body are passed down.
Northrup has devised a map of female development in the form of
a house with many rooms of passage toward the roof of life
Another kind of mother-daughter passage occurs in the ties
between caregiving daughters and their dependent, advanced-aged
Daughter from Danang—PBS film
Daughter returns to Vietnam to meet her biological mother
Raises issue of cultural differences and customs in motherdaughter relationships
Brother-Sister Relationships
Relationships between brothers and sisters are distinctive, often
precious and the longest family relationship of one’s life.
Studies have shown that of three sibling pairs, sister/sister pairs are
the closest and brother/brother compete the most.
First-borns often become the family heroes as they may feel
pressure to pursue dreams unfulfilled of their parents.
Family theorists such as Bowen and Satir firmly believed that
ordinal rank in childhood related to later roles
Impact of birth order
 Researcher examined data from biographies of key historical
 concluded first borns identified with power; later borns more
Sisters often grow close late in life.
Disabled Siblings
Findings in the research literature concerning the long-term impact
of growing up in a home with an autistic sibling are contradictory.
Children of autistic sibling may hesitate to bring friends home
May suffer from lack of companionship and parental neglect
But may become more mature and caring as a result
The important role that siblings play in providing support systems
for each other is rarely explored in the research literature apart from
attention paid to family supports, in general.
Sibling Relationship
The way that parents treat their children may affect how children
treat each other when the parent is gone. Resentments linger.
Marriage research shows that sibling relationships change
drastically following the marriage of one or more of the grown
children, frequently creating a wedge – especially when the spouse
does not “fit in.”
Politics and religion in later life likewise can cause irreparable
Aunts and Uncles
In literature: David Copperfield, Tom Sawyer,
Eulogies to Ted Kennedy by nephew and niece
Can provide stability to family
Uncles more action centered—Kennedy and
Aunts—more about emotional support
Text dedicated to the author’s aunts
The relations between grandparents and grandchildren yield satisfactions
that the parent-child often does not.
Grandmothers tend to outlive their husbands
 and play a more active role in caring for their grandchildren than do
 The maternal grandmother tends to be more involved in the childrearing
than the paternal grandmother.
Grandparents often pay for “extras” such as piano lessons and summer
camp as well as contributing in major ways to house payments and medical
Another factor could be the revision of child welfare policies to
acknowledge the importance and convenience of kinship care when child
placement is necessary.
When parents give birth to a child with a physical disability, the role of the
support system is essential to the family’s ability to cope.
Family Breakup
Family breakup occurs frequently in modern, industrialized society.
Given the extent of divorce, the family forms that result in:
single parents raising kids
joint custody arrangements
The stepfamily—defined as a household that contains a child who is the
biological or adopted offspring of one of the parents.
Divorce and Family Splitting
Widely reported media accounts including editorial columns warned about
the long-term consequences to children of parental splits.
 Research of Wallerstein has been extensively used
 Her data came from her clients who had been getting a divorce
 Interviewed 30 years later—low marriage rate of the children in her
Study of Canadian government data found
 that following the divorce, levels of child anxiety/depression increased.
 but for highly dysfunctional families, there was a decrease in antisocial
Other research found significant differences in divorced vs. nuclear family
children’s test results, but after taking into account income and mother’s
education, the differences were negligible.
Implications for Social Work
Social workers can learn from other nations as well as from diverse cultures—
lessons about strong family policies that guarantee that all their people get adequate
health care.
Kinship care—care offered by members of the African American extended family is
today widely used in child welfare departments for all families.
Social workers, family therapists and substance abuse counselors can all expect to be
working with diverse family forms.
The professional must be prepared for the unexpected—prepared to draw on every
ounce of our social work imaginations.
Conclusion to the book—learning from the microcosm, paradox in human behavior,
symbol of the holon—family a whole and a part of another whole
The journey of the book was from micro-micro level to micro-macro—the
individual in the family.