When defining human behavior, it is not easy to define what normal or abnormal development is. Different approaches can be used to define normal or abnormal development. These include use of statistics, socially accepted standards, a person’s feelings, or even biological injuries.
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Use of personality theories is one way of exploring normal and abnormal development (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1974). This is where different theories are used to define whether a certain aspect of human development is normal or abnormal. In this case, three different personality theories will be used to define normal and abnormal development.
The psychoanalytic theory of personality covers both normal and abnormal development. According to this theory, there are inner forces influencing one’s behavior. According to the theory, this is because the mind consists of two parts. The conscious mind that consists of things we are aware of, and the unconscious part that houses thoughts, urges, and memories outside of our awareness.
These mind spheres control human psychological development. Sometimes abnormal behavior may be a manifestation of actions of the unconscious mind. Normal and abnormal developments are both influenced by the conscious or unconscious parts of the mind. Psychoanalysis is the process used to bring to the surface the unconscious activities of the brain. Through this process, the contents of the unconscious mind are brought to the conscious part.
Another theory that defines development is Adlerian theory. This theory states that social aspects can define an individual’s behavior. The social aspects in this case include lifestyle, birth order, equality, parental education, among others (Gallagher, 2002). According to this theory, feelings of capability, encouragement, and appreciation encourage normal and positive development. On the contrary, feelings of discouragement and incapability may result in abnormal development.
This theory has been applied in child development. Encouraging and motivating children when they are growing fosters normal development. This theory further states that human beings reciprocate the attributes of the social context in which they develop. In addition, seeking to fulfill certain desires in life can influence one’s development. This theory advocates that humans be viewed from a holistic point of view.
Jung, a renowned psychologist, developed the analytical theory. According to this theory, the human mind is divided into conscious and unconscious parts. The unconscious part is further divided into sub layers. One of these is the personal unconscious. This part is responsible for storing a person’s memories and experiences that cannot be accessed by the conscious part. These memories are known as complexes, and they influence development.
The other layer is the collective unconscious. This layer contains developmental predispositions that are inherited from one’s ancestors (Pervin, 1996). These are responsible for common behaviors among people with shared ancestry. The developer of this theory uses archetypes to define human behavior. One of these is the persona archetype or the personal traits that we are ready to show to the world.
There is also the shadow archetype or the part of ourselves we try to hide from others. According to the analytic theory, all these aspects contribute to normal development when they function properly. When any of these archetypes does not function properly, the result is abnormal development.
In conclusion, these three theories define an individual’s development. According to the specifics of each theory, this development can be either normal or abnormal.
Gallagher, K. (2002). Does Child Temperament Moderate the Influence of Parenting on Adjustment? Developmental Review, 22, 623–643.
Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, B. (1974). The Language of Psycho-Analysis. New York, NY: W. Norton & Company.
Pervin, L.A. (1996). The Science of Personality. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.