What is "Normal" Development?

We can refer to what is developing or maturing as a noun: character or ego, or instead use adjectives: psychosocial or psychosocialspiritual. Regardless, there is a universal tendency for progressive change towards increasing complexity from birth, toddler, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, and so on.

An infinite number of factors, all along the way, promote or obstruct this developmental process. The most obvious nurturing factors are unconditional love from family; "good genes"; physical & emotional safety; healthy nutrition, shelter, clothing; good friends: & good education.

“The child’s inner sense of safety in the world emerges from the trustworthiness, reliability, and simple competence of the family.”

Jonathan Shay. “Achilles in Vietnam. Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character.” Scribner, NY, 1994

The opposite, insufficiency, or utter lack of nurturing factors would clearly hinder, delay or even freeze development. See: http://healthyhealers.blogspot.ca/2016/02/role-of-transpersonal-approaches.html

We as individuals, embedded in our culture & language, strongly value individuality, personal agency, our own opinions, beliefs, right to happiness etc. Basically, the momentum of our lives aims at a safer, stronger, bigger, better, happier "self" or ego. As in early developmental stages - the will to speak, the will to walk, etc, there seem to be more-or-less stepwise stages to complete. “… Western ‘conventional’ lines of development have as their aim the development of a ‘cohesive’ [solid] self ..."

Jonte-Pace D, Parsons WB eds. “Religion and Psychology: Mapping the Terrain. Contemporary dialogues, future prospects.” Routledge, NY, 2001.

So when adults have a satisfying job, family, home, car, cottage, friends, "destination" vacations, hobbies, toys, etc the ego should theoretically feel satisfied. BUT none of us have had exclusive exposure to nurturing factors, AND none of us will ever fulfil all our ego's desires. Of course learning to speak, walk or training for an interesting fulfilling profession etc are important, worthwhile pursuits. And even if one were to achieve a perfectly satisfied ego, would one's development as a human being be complete? Is this "as good as it gets"?

Meditators, mystics, saints, and increasingly researchers like Susanne Cook-Greuter say no:


During meditation, we see our noisy ego very clearly, as it bombards us with self-talk, pushing & pulling us in every direction - except here & now. As we learn to see what's beneath this common, egoic (personal-verbal) level of consciousness, we realize that there's silence, stillness, spaciousness & awareness (transpersonal–postsymbolic) in which to rest & abide.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags