In her book, “there is nothing with you,” the American psychologist and teacher Cheri Huber examines conditioning and conditioned mind based on an observing children’s behavior. I find that she argues that at birth, children are socially conditioned, claiming that they are born in “the lightroom.” She thinks that children are “present to anything that is in the moment.” I believe her perceptions are based on her experience with children. I also tend to believe that her early life experiences, especially when taking Zen classes under Jay DuPont, have a major influence on her perceptions (Brady 37). Most of her perceptions of conditioning and conditioned minds are based on observing small children.
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According to her, children tend to obtain a wide range of information from the immediate environment, which contributes to brain conditioning. For instance, Huber calls these pieces of information “specifics that lead to conditioning.” She takes an example of the normal teachings given to children in early life, especially at home. For example, things that children hear every day, including warnings, advice, encouragements, and other conditions normally given to them, are specifics that condition their minds.
I tend to agree with Huber on a major point. Although her thinking is based on a teacher’s point of view, it is clear that she examines things that shape children’s behavior at an early age. As far as I am concerned, it appears that Huber is a behaviorist whose main area of research is the development of behavior in children. Huber seems to be heavily relying on child development and behavior more than the general human behavior. As far as I am concerned, she seems to be basing her theory or observations on the previous work by behaviorists such as Badura, Skinner, and Watson.
Her sentiments are taken from Badura’s perspectives on child behavior. In fact, by arguing that the information that condition a child’s mind is obtained from the people who interact with the child, it is evident that her claim is correct. Nevertheless, her claims are not new to the field of science. She excels in the application of other theorists into her own observation to develop a new topic about mind conditioning. To me, this is an excellent idea in research, which is worth credit.
I find Huber’s analogy of the “Lightroom” and “Darkroom” quite convincing. She claims that a child is born in the “lightroom”, but pushed “to the darkroom” by interacting with people who confer information that condition the mind. The analogy attempts to simplify a relatively difficult theory. To Huber, socialization is a process that aids conditioning in pushing the child from the lightroom to the darkroom. I believe that her claims on this issue are relatively convincing, especially because she uses a simple and common example to drive home the claim. She claims that the process of socialization makes the children believe or assume that something is wrong with them, which forces them to look for flaws in themselves.
Then, the children tend to judge the flaws when they believe that they have found some. If one compares himself or herself with others, the flaws become evident, which makes a child start hating “the self” for being the way he is. Then, Huber claims that one starts to experience “self-punishment.” This claim does not appear to be empirical in nature. By claiming that people tend to undergo this process during childhood, Huber might be basing her argument on observations made on adolescents. This claim seems to assume that small children are aware of what other people think about them and how they should be. By examining children aged less than five years, it is possible to prove this idea wrong.
For instance, most children tend to think they are right or are the best, as proved by Jung’s theory of self. Quite evident, Huber seems to borrow her ideas by refuting some of these claims, especially the theories developed by Carl Jung and Kohut, rather than developing her empirical research to argue from its perspective. As far as I am concerned, it is ethically and academically right to develop a theory by refuting the existing theories. Nevertheless, her theory of observation of the growing children seems to have a number of flaws, which can be filled through additional research.
I think Huber draws her ideas from her experience as a teacher, mother, and enthusiast of Soto Zen. She seems to base her claims on the old Indian philosophies common in Indian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Quite evidently, her claim about the conditioned self is based on a single observation of a child put in the dark, and his need to have the right denied (Ford 56). She claims that children tend to develop a mechanism for meeting their needs on their own instead of getting used to the condition. In other theories, the behavior is obtained when the denying condition prevails over a long period. This is in contrast to Huber’s perceptions. In conclusion, I would say that Huber has based her argument on observing older children or adolescents rather than the developing children commonly used in behavioral studies.
Brady, Mark. The Wisdom of Listening. Wisdom Publications, 2010. Print.
Ford, James Ishmael. Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen. New York: Wisdom Publications, 2009. Print