A man's descent into madness
4/7/2021 Thoughts: Looking Back on Developmental Theories
I have come to the conclusion that social work is an abomination creation; that somebody one day decided to throw in sociology, psychology, and law and then threw them all together like some sort of "Cronenberg" discipline that is known as social work. The good thing about this eclectic creation is that you learn a lot of little things across a wide variety of other disciplines. This means that you are not really too proficient in any one subject area by graduation except for your focus area.
During my first semester, I took a human development class where we discussed many theories such as Freud's Psychosexual stages, Erikson's stages, Piaget's cognitive stages, and Kohlberg's stages of moral development. After finishing the course, those theories slipped into the back of my mind until last year when I crammed for the licensing exam. Once I passed the test last September, again the subject matter went to some far off filing cabinet in my head. Now that school is long over, I have been trying to read more on various subject matter to try to build on the base knowledge that I learned in school. So I picked up a human development textbook from the antique bookstore last October and have just now started to read through it. The subject matter is way more in depth on the aforementioned theories.
So Piaget's theory tries to explain the development of cognitive functioning from birth to adulthood. The theory includes four stages:
1. Sensorimotor: 0-2 years. In this stage the child learns how to coordinate their physical motions
2. Preoperational: 2-7 years. This stage is the beginnings of logic but typically unsystematic
3. Concrete Operations: 7-13? In this stage, the child can start to have systematic thought but "only to concrete objects and activities."
4 Formal Operations 13 The ability to think on completely abstract levels.
Of course the numbers are only generalizations, some develop and advance stages faster and slower than others. I can remember still being in that "black and white" stage of concrete operations in middle school and doing plenty of things that were incredibly dumb when compared to my adult mind. For example, at 13, I attempted suicide due to asking out a girl and being told no (now I just grit my teeth and tell myself that I am probably better than guy the girl went for instead, well at least before I got to the age where everyone got married).
The textbook had a statement that I found incredibly shocking and I had to bring it up during my clinical supervision on Tuesday. The quote stated that "most middle class adults do not regularly demonstrate the highest stages of formal operations on Piaget's standard tasks."
So what does this mean? That so many people that go through their day to day lives without running their minds through abstract ideas? I am not going to dare jump on a pedestal and say that social work is one of the only professions that requires this level of thought on a daily basis. I am sure an engineer, computer programmer, doctors, and lawyers use more of their brains than I do. However, I can say some of my disdain for the world is working with a vulnerable population and seeing how they get the short end of the stick due to shitty government policies and psychosocial issues such as multigenerational poverty, cycle of abuse, substance use etc.
Relating all of this back to my thinking for the day is what if I had the ability to turn off a switch and stop thinking about all of the reasons why society sucks? I know it can be done since I have people in my profession who are much more experienced than me, but have very healthy home lives. Maybe I am just an ass?
Would I trade in everything about myself in order to have a decent job, have a partner, kids, church membership, and all of the norms that rural Southern society has to offer? I could be happy but I would not be myself. Would I press the switch? Honestly at this point I cannot answer that question.