: Using the developmental theories of Erikson and Piaget (primarily Erikson), and critiques of the same, the life of Valencia Richards, a non-traditional adult student will be critically examined. Richards experienced malnutrition and abuse as a child, and then the heavily structured life of a child of a military. As an adult, she lacks the ability to trust others, faces physical and intellectual problems based on early malnutrition, and of engages in hoarding behaviors. She spoils her children with the material goods she never received as a child.The two central elements of the development of Valenica Richards were her family life and gender. Her early life was tempestuous and impoverished. She had no male role models, and her mother was a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic. She literally suffered from learning disabilities and other issues due to malnutrition, as she and her siblings were underfed. As a girl, however, she had no vehicle for complaints, no sense of agency, and the socially engrained concept of "good girl", which I tried to follow, left me powerless.
[...] Her home life was too chaotic to support other subsystems her family did not attend church or engage in hobbies outside of the home and even the state subsystems (social welfare, hot lunch at school, etc.) failed her. In the military camp, life was better, though much of the damage was already done, as she had "failed" a number of Eriksonian crises. There were also cognitive difficulties. Piaget has been alluded to above. Piaget's own theory of development generally does not reach into adulthood. [...]
[...] Richards's father, for example, was a distant, isolated man who lived for his work the heavily regimented life of a military NCO. His relationship with Richards was primarily functional: feed her, clothe her, see that she went to school on time (though whether or not she did well or was doing as well as she was capable was besides the point), send her off when she reached the age of majority. For women, by way of contrast, isolation is heavily pathologized. [...]
[...] Fischer (1999) summarizes this final stage as follows " construction of meaning is an adaptation to a 'disturbance.' It is both assimilation (taking in from the environment) and accommodation (adjusting thoughts and actions) in response to disequilibrium." (p. 100) Many adults do not reach this stage, however, and Fischer (1999) in her research suggests that this facility with the construction of meaning may well be contingent not every undergraduate can construct meaning in this way across the board. Richards has had significant problems, perhaps due to malnutrition and under education due to low achievement, with the "construction" of meaning. [...]
[...] The remainder of this essay will examine Richards's life and development through two different models of development, the Eriksonian and the Piagetian. EH Erikson believed, through his observations of and interactions with many people on a psychotherapeutic level that development proceeded in what he called "the eight stages of man." Each stage was precipitated by a crisis that the development of the previous stage had rendered the individual incapable of handling without maturing into the next stage. Richards's life suggests a failure to overcome these crises as certain points. [...]
[...] This may point out a limit to Erikson's theory, again examining it from a woman's point of view. Neff and Harter (2002), for example, that women respond differently to therapy and to attempts to resolve conflicts generally. Denver area couples were recruited via newspaper advertisements and given surveys that contained both open-ended and forced-answer questions. The results were significant: "women's other-oriented behavior in heterosexual relationships is not always reflective of their true selves. Instead, their actions appear to be related to situational factors such as the power balance experienced in the relationship and the degree of validation received from partners." (p. [...]
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