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About this book

What does it mean to be human? This critical text from a well-respected author captures and interrogates the many models which have been developed to explore and explain human behaviour. Informed by sociological, psychological and biological perspectives, the book plots the key stages of the life course from childhood through to older age.

Table of Contents

Introduction: what is so important about HGD

Introduction: what is so important about HGD?

Abstract
Growing and developing are common to us all, but each one of us experiences these processes and their outcomes differently. As part of being human we make choices and decisions about how to live our own lives, but we also have our opportunities constrained or enhanced by biological (perhaps genetic) factors, our own and others’ beliefs about what is important and what is possible, our emotional needs and the social and economic resources available to us.
Paula Nicolson

Theories of HGD and how to think about them critically

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Nature versus nurture: a matter of choice?

Abstract
  • To recognize the concept of nature and its place in the nature/nurture debate.
  • To recognize the concept of nurture and its place in the nature/nurture debate.
  • To distinguish between the contributions to HGD by each of the core disciplines: psychology, biology and sociology.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 2. Biologically-based psychological theories of HGD

Abstract
  • To explore the nature side of the debate.
  • To explore what is meant by the term reductionist.
  • To learn to recognize the biologically-based psychological theories.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 3. Social psychology and sociological theories of HGD

Abstract
  • To introduce social theories in psychology.
  • To introduce the discipline of sociology.
  • To continue to develop a critical perspective on HGD theories.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 4. The lifespan: interdisciplinary and critical perspectives

Abstract
  • To understand the concept of the lifespan.
  • To show how we play a part in the management of our own lives.
  • To introduce and develop an understanding of a material-discursiveintra-psychic (MDI) approach to HGD in order to review the different elements of our lives.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 5. Attachment, separation and loss: themes in HGD

Abstract
  • To develop awareness of the role that attachment, separation and loss play in H G D across the lifespan.
  • To recognize some of the historical and controversial aspects of attachment research and theory.
  • To explore how the theories of attachment style link with our knowledge of attachment experiences in infancy.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 6. From theory to reflective-relational practice

Abstract
  • To introduce the reflective-relational approach to social work thinking and practice.
  • To consider how theory from earlier chapters might inform the reflective-relational approach.
  • To consider theory in the context of real-life examples.
Paula Nicolson

The lifespan: a material-discursive-intra-psychic approach

Frontmatter

Chapter 7. Infancy and early childhood: the importance of security and trust

Abstract
  • To become familiar with the psychosocial lifespan tasks of infancy and early childhood.
  • To explore the ways in which the development of attachment relationships is connected to HGD at this stage.
  • To consider how the MDI theories presented might be applied to a reflectiverelational consideration of real-life case material.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 8. Older childhood: finding a place in the world of the family and school

Abstract
  • To understand the challenges for development on entering school and the social world.
  • To recognize the risks to children at this stage of the lifespan, including a sense of failure in the development of their skills, bodies and ability to interact with others.
  • To consider the ways in which the MDI contexts influence the development of moral reasoning and behaviours.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 9. Adolescence: identity, role and sexuality

Abstract
  • To explore identity development as a consequence of puberty and the teenage years.
  • To review the material, discursive and intra-psychic challenges at adolescence.
  • To understand the pivotal role of adolescence in HGD.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 10. Young adulthood: intimacy versus isolation

Abstract
  • To review the psychosocial tasks of young adulthood particularly those connected to forming intimate relationships.
  • To explore key events in young adulthood and consider what might lead a young adult to happiness.
  • To think about how you might use national statistics to identify what is going on for adults at this stage of their lives (and for other stages too).
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 11. Midlife: generativity versus stagnation

Abstract
  • To review the psychosocial tasks of midlife — how we continue to develop and fight against a sense of stagnation.
  • To understand the significance of life events in midlife and how they relate to development.
  • To review the potential for losses and distress in midlife from a material-discursive-intra-psychic perspective.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 12. Older age: integrity or despair?

Abstract
  • To consider the importance of older age as a stage of lifespan development.
  • To consider ways in which older individuals reflect on and give meaning to their lives, most of which are in the past.
  • To examine the importance of understanding what was learned in earlier chapters about attachment, loss and grief and think about their significance for HGD in older age.
Paula Nicolson

Chapter 13. Afterword

Abstract
Becoming human is a major task for us all and we can examine the process from a range of perspectives. As individual human beings, we enter the world without any choice and for much of our lives have a limited say in what happens to us. Those who study HGD academically or clinically do have a choice, and, from what you have read, you will now be aware that our knowledge of the human journey across the lifespan comprises evidence from the viewpoints of biology, psychology, sociology and anthropology. You will also know now that, within those disciplines, there are a number of debates, many of which are not resolved, and that evidence has different value at different periods in history as scientists discover, and sometimes rediscover, core ideas and facts. For example, our understanding of what causes problems with our mental health has gone through many iterations — from explanations giving priority to brain fever, problems in living, the pathologies of the family and society, genetic predisposition and now, for some at least, returning to a predominant psychosocial solution.
Paula Nicolson
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