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Two theories of my life

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The two central elements of the development of Valenica Richards.
  3. Individual identity, or faced identity diffusion according to Erikson.
  4. McDonald and Stewart-Hamilton.
  5. History in the psychology of pathologizing the behavior of women.
  6. Abuse and divorce.
  7. Cognitive difficulties.

: 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. [...]


[...] This study suggests some validity for Erikson's conceptions, even though the study takes as its starting point a different theory of development. It might be fruitful to give Richards such a test and examine her results, as many of her everyday behaviors such as hoarding material goods (buying so much food that much of it spoils), distrusting her spouse and most men suggest a level of self-absorption as seen in this study. Another issue emerges, however, namely that of gender. [...]

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