(New readers are advised to read the basics first.)
The first stage of our model of personal development is dependence.
Like the other stages, this stage has three steps and this article is about them.
Each step is defined in terms of trap (eg, needs) and a way through (eg, learning). For simplicity, this description discusses the traps and ways through separately.
Here are the traps associated with dependence.
The dependence stage is analogous to where a (very) small child is. The child is dependent on its mother, or primary care giver, to have all its needs met. This is the first step. Whilst it is not true that we literally revert to this stage at later points in our lives, it is true that we do in analogy. For example, our first few days at our first school, the first days in a new job.
However, as we know, mothers aren’t perfect—nor should they be, nor attempt to be—and sometimes the child’s needs aren’t met, or aren’t met to its satisfaction, and disillusionment sets in (step 2). Which of us hasn’t become disillusioned a little way into a new job, or a new relationship? The role of the mother is to teach the child that it’s OK to be disillusioned—that the child can get over it.
However, this is not necessarily done perfectly—not should it be—and the young child is likely deduce that it was its fault that the needs weren’t met. At which point shame †, the third stage, (“I am a bad person” as opposed to guilt which is “I did a bad thing”) arises.
This is all healthy stuff. The adult who didn’t experience disillusionment in childhood will, likely, be insufferable or just dysfunctional as an adult, because he is sure going to get disillusioned then.
† It is extremely unhelpful that psychologists have rearranged their definitions of the words guilt and shame over the decades. When Chuck Spezzano was developing his model, he used the word guilt for the third step of dependence.
But even the briefest reading of the paediatric psychiatric literature (eg, Bowlby or Winnicott) will tell you that guilt—as in “I have done a bad thing”—is far too sophisticated a concept for the individual at this step, whereas shame—”I am a bad person”—not only accords with the literature but is, in fact, how Chuck and Psychology of Vision trainers have interpreted this step in workshops and other forums.
At the time of writing (9 october), I will come back to this soon and elaborate its relevance to adults and, in particular, to those at work.
> Stages of personal development—basics
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2014 Jeremy Marchant Limited . updated 13 june 2015 . image: Free images