The basis of this paper will outline the cognitive and personality development of a young adult female, identified as “Caroline.” This will be in contrast and comparison to Erikson’s Epigenetic Theory of Personality Development is Intimacy vs. Isolation and Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive development. The paper will address what outside factors influence the developing as well as nursing interventions that will help Caroline obtained optimal functioning for each appropriate developmental level according to Erikson and Piaget. Keywords: developmental, Erikson, Piaget, personality, cognitive, intimacy, isolation, formal operations
The Developmental Level:
For the purpose of this paper, I will identify the person I am outlining as “Caroline.” Caroline is a young adult. The developmental level during this stage of Erikson’s Epigenetic Theory of Personality Development is Intimacy vs. Isolation; the virtue being love. A normal adult in this stage will have a strong sense of self and be able to form intimate, close relationships with other individuals. Success in this stage will lead to strong committed relationships (Cherry). Erikson believed that a person must successfully complete one stage in order to complete the next. According to Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive development, Caroline is in the formal operations period. A normal young adult in this stage would manifest adult like thinking, is not limited by own perception or concrete references for ideas, combines various ideas into concepts, develops morality or restraint and cooperation in behavior, uses rules to structure interactions in a socially acceptable way, solves problems mentally and considers alternatives before acting, relates concepts or constructs not readily evident in external world, increases intellectual ability to include art, science, humanities, religion, and philosophy, and is increasingly less egocentric.
Caroline is in her early adult hood years. A tremendous time for self-discovery, independence, and in some cases, loneliness. Caroline’s personality and cognitive development have blossomed in ways and have been hindered in others. This is due to many factors; biological, social, genetic, situational. The list goes on. One thing is certain, there is always a good reason why individuals do the thing they do. If we as people look beyond others actions and instead look at what causes their actions to manifest, I believe we would be much more accepting and less judgmental as a whole. Throughout this paper I will be discussing ways Caroline compares and contrasts to Piaget and Erikson’s theories, how this impacts her development, and nursing interventions that could help her through these stages. Compare and contrast:
After careful observation of Caroline, it does not show evident that she has developed a true sense of self to be able to complete the stage of intimacy with another individual. Even with platonic friendships it seems that when her and an individual start to become close on more of a spiritual and emotional level, she retreats to isolation because she feels that she cannot trust herself or others. According to Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, I see that Caroline is mastering the formal operations period to a certain degree. In many ways Caroline would be a poster child for what an example of someone in the formal operations period would think like, and in other aspects of the period, she does not show to be operating in this period what so ever. Three examples of how Caroline compares to these levels would include the following: 1. When it comes to romantic relationships, Caroline strives for a deep emotional and physical connection with another human being.
However, deep down she is unable to fully commit to another because she doesn’t have a clear understanding of who she is. Subconsciously, she gravitates towards men that are not emotionally available. This includes anyone who is in a relationship, is going to move away, or is obviously not interested in giving her a committed relationship. She wants the commitment, but she is used to men in her life not being available so she is drawn towards that because that is what she is used to. At the end of the day, this leaves Caroline frustrated and isolated. The crisis between intimacy and isolation, according to Erikson, is clear in Caroline’s life. 2. Caroline is extremely cognitively driven, artistic with her words, and philosophical and spiritual with her beliefs. She looks beyond the world that is seen and challenges her way of thinking with the unseen world. She finds happiness through her writings and connections through spiritual conversation. This side of her is a small glimpse of her essence and what her inner being craves; to be emotionally, artistically, and spiritually stimulated. This very much so aligns with Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. 3. A contrast to the Formal operations period is that she does not seem to solve problems mentally and considering alternatives before acting. Caroline bases a lot of her talk on impulsivity and is emotionally driven when making decisions.
Caroline is a “feel good” kind of gal, and if it feels good in the moment, she will grab it. If it does not feel good, she will alter whatever her situation is to make herself feel good, no matter how bad or good the outcome will leave her. This contrasts with the norm because someone who is successfully mastering this stage would weigh the outcomes before acting, consider the outcomes, and go towards which action would better benefit their being as a whole. Even though Caroline knows something is hurting her, she will continue to repeat this action, hoping for a different outcome. This is mainly in regards to abusive relationships, but can be applied to the work place and friendships with other females. What Impacts Development
Three factors that have or are currently affecting Caroline’s stage of development: 1. As I mentioned previously, it is vital for Caroline to develop and true sense of self before she can successfully build intimacy with other individuals. Caroline feels whole with her writings, and spending time with people who truly love her, but she has not fully embraced her inner being. From observation, Caroline has a very low self-esteem. She strives to please others. When others are pleased with her, she is pleased with herself. When others are no pleased with her, she will do what she can to reverse that opinion. She seeks to please others before pleasing herself and that is a clear manifestation of not having a concrete, strong sense of self. 2. Caroline is far away from her family, which live several states away. She stayed in the state she resides because of a romantic relationship. This romantic relationship has ended. For Caroline, she does not have a firm sense of belonging at her current location.
Being away from loved ones and not having a steady partner can cause an individual to feel isolated and lonely. 3. I am not sure exactly what Caroline’s relationship with her father is or was like, but I would imagine it to be one of low emotional or spiritual connection. Her dad was most likely not a constant in her life and not available to her as a girl in was that she needed, but was not aware of. There is always a good reason why people do the things they do and I would not be taken a back if Caroline was this way with other men in her life because normal to her is not available. Her body, soul, and mind is used to inconsistency and has developed patterns within itself to be drawn to these inconsistencies and behaviors. It has also been shown that engaging in sexual activates with a partner before the proper time, especially before monogamy, can cause much inner turmoil and depression. Sexual activity must be performed in the right context in order for it to be beneficial for the human being. (Carter) Nursing interventions:
1. Before talking to Caroline, if she were my patient and I the nurse, I would first need to assess her physical and mental status. She would need to be fully alert and oriented in order to proceed with the nursing process. I would assess her level of consciousness and willingness to cooperate. I would need to assess her support system, whether it be family, friends, or coworkers. A strong support system is vital to growth and development in any stage of life. 2. In order for Caroline to be eager to listen to what have to offer and cooperate with enhancing her inner self, there would have to be established trust. I would do this by sharing intimate parts of my life and laying the foundation of a healthy, trustworthy relationship. There will be little to no willingness to exchange in such personal matters until trust between us is established. It will also make her much for comfortable to share intimate details of her life with me. 3. I would provide Caroline with therapeutic communication. This would include appropriate touch as much as she is comfortable with, paraphrasing, asking open ended questions that encourage communication, maintaining eye contact when appropriate, and not pushing situations when she does not feel at ease.
These actions will hopefully cause Caroline to feel more comfortable to share thoughts, feelings, and encouragement to implement action to better her inner self. 4. In order to master the stage of isolation, Caroline needs to be confident in herself and cater to her inner self. She needs to participate in activities that benefit her in a healthy way and bring healing to where she feels broken. I would encourage her to write in her journal for at least thirty min before she goes to bed. 5. I would encourage her to do simple things to increase healthy living. This would include waking up early, going to bed at a decent hour, getting adequate exercise, eating a diet high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water. I would encourage her to avoid alcohol and any other mind altering substances that cause her behavior to be irrational. Addressing the underlying cause of irrational behavior can be much more effective then addressing the irrational behavior as itself. 6. Because Caroline reaches for wholeness in sources that leave her feeling empty, I would ask Caroline to put herself first when she is seeking attention from empty sources. I would have her sit with herself and her emotions and work through them without desperately reaching out to things that cannot fulfill her.
In order to be happy with someone else, it is vital that she become happy with herself. 7. Caroline loves to read and with this passion for books I would strongly suggest investing in self-help books that will mentally stimulate her to building a strong, happy inner self. There are so many self-help books that caters to every type of inner self difficulty and roads to self-discovery. Sometimes simply finding a book that speaks directly to your soul can bring some of the most healing and freedom. If Caroline were to follow these nursing interventions and invest whole heartedly to developing a strong inner being, I believe she would begin to see amazing results within a weeks’ time. Of course it would be a journey. Self-reflection is not always easy and can be hard, but in the end it is extremely rewarding. Coming face to face with our inner demons and conquering them is one of the best things you can do for yourself, future partner, and future children. In order to have healthy relationship you must be a healthy person and if Caroline wants to be healthy, she will be.
Cherry, Kendra. “Intimacy Versus Isolation – Stage Six of Psychosocial
Development.” About.com Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2014. Carter, Don. “Intimacy Skills and Human Development Stages.” Intimacy Skills and Human Development Stages. Internet of the Mind, n.d. Web. 03 June 2014.