Human development has been marred by controversy with some scientist arguing that it is a matter of mind and evolutionary conditions while others feel that human behavior is formed by the personal experiences a person encounters during growth and development process. The main problem that an individual faces is in trying to identity why he or she exists and how his behaviors are developed. Despite the values instituted by parents during the early years, individuals have been found to deviate in their latter years.
This deviation is caused by a desire to discover and explore hidden potential in an individual. The other group of theorists argues that a person’s behavior is a product of biological processes. This group argues that if genes are inherited, even the temperaments could also be inherited. People are thus thought to develop in a biological manner and their behaviors are as a result of biological composition. The third group of thinkers argues that the behavior of an individual has nothing to do with his thinking but is a product of nature.
They argue that nature is the one that nurtures individuals to become who they are. They also argue that people do not come into existence while they are born. There is another life in which a person acquires knowledge and once he is born, he does not have to learn but to release what he already know to nature which then nurtures it. According to these theorists, the biological aspect on a person is released to the environment which in turn nurtures it leading to human development (Blackburn, 2005). Problems associated with development of inherent potential
However, despite all these theories, there must be a driving force through which a person seeks to establish his identity and to help explain his or her differences from other individual. This force acts as the driving force which propels an individual to develop towards a certain direction different from another person. If nature was the determining factor in development for example, all individuals exposed to similar environment could be the same. This however is not always the case thus putting questions on the validity of the nature theory.
Also, though biological endowment of an individual may make him or her to behave in certain way, questions arise as to why people who are closely related are so different (Ridgway, 2005). Actualizing tendency developed by Carl Rogers offers the best explanation on human development. This theory states that every form of life has an innate force which drives them to attain their full potential. Development is not only a matter of survival but has other components which make it more bearable. In the current world, most people are fighting not to survive but to actualize their dreams.
This explains why people living together or who have been brought up together ends up being different. The main problem that individuals are facing is to reach their goals during their development period. This is true and evident in that most people can afford the basic survival needs yet they keep on struggling to attain more. The actualizing theory states that it is in human nature to attain the best by doing the best they can. This applies to every living creature and not only human beings. This can be seen by the way weeds and other plants grow and in the determination of animals to survive in harsh desert conditions.
The innate force to do the best and also to attain full potential propels them to endure in these harsh conditions (Ridgway, 2005). Another problem an individual faces while developing is in developing his or her self esteem. Self worth is attained when we are appreciated and recognized by those around us. Failure to be noticed and congratulated for tasks we do leads to low self esteem. This low self esteem is a hindrance to becoming what we should be. This is evident with children who are scolded and abused. Their lives tend to be fruitless and bitter.
Contrary to what an individual should be, such a persons potential is suppressed. The society has also played a major role in accelerating this problem. It has imposed conditions through which one is termed to be of high worth or low worth. We are forced to believe that it is only when we show ourselves worthy that we get what we deserve in natural terms. This suppresses the potential in individuals thus their development. People should be left alone and provided with whatever they require to enable them to become what they ought to be (Boeree, 1998).
Another problem in development is the idea of conditioning in regard to one’s self abilities. The society has led to the belief that an individual is only worth is he meets or fulfils the expected standards as set by other persons. On the contrary, an individual should feel right when they actualize their potentials. The conditioned believe has made many people not to actualize their potentials and thus are unable to create a sense of self worth and self esteem. The problem of dealing with the real person in an individual and creating an ideal person in an individual is also rampant in today’s world.
The actualizing tendency demands that an individual should be himself at all times. If the real person is successful, then the individual will develop and become what he ought to be. If this does not occur, the full potential may not be attained in an individual (Menand, 2002). Societies and cultures are as a result of individuals search to attain their full potential. All human beings are social creatures and thus have to depend on each other. Culture created by human beings is however different from the people and it develops its own life.
Culture is meant to be close to an individuals other aspect or nature. However, in some instances it may form a force which propels us to do or act contrary to our actualization potential. When a culture develops such a force, after some time it vanishes and dies. This is evident in the day to days lives of people in that with time, different culture have been abandoned thus only emphasizing on the innate force in individuals. Any kind of force that goes against this innate force is done away with forcing the person to continue with his actualizing goals (Boeree, 1998).
Another characteristic of individuals that have been provided by these inside power in individuals is the power to understand what is good. When individuals are in the evolution process, senses are acquired which helps one to know what he requires and what he does not. Evolution only teaches a person what good taste should be like and what bad taste is like. An individual is taught to value what is good while detest what tastes bad. On the other hand an individual is born with some instinctively values which are regarded as positive. Things like desire to be loved and shown attention and affection are naturally in a person.
Also the need to be nurtured is inherently in an individual. This is evident in babies who crave for attention and nurture. Failure to attain these values may lead to their death. This is in consistence with the principle of actualization of potential which states an individual only becomes what he can be (Ridgway, 2005). During evolution, people were introduced to new forms of doing things which they did not eventually used to do. In the original state, people would do what is only good for their bodies and for their development in accordance to the potential in them.
The environment which the people have however developed is not conducive to the original development which has led to many different problems in people. In the original state for example, people were used of consuming natural products which were healthier and nutritious. With the evolution however, different forms of genetically modified foods are being produced which are detrimental to the health of individuals. The actualizing potential has led to many people going back to consumption of natural foods as well as the herbal products.
This is a sign that individuals have an internal motivating force which propels them to do what is good for them (Menand, 2002). Conditioning and the idea of self worth on the other hand leads to the creation of an ideal person of an individual. The society forces an individual to live in a forced state that differs greatly with the innate character of a person of valuing. The standards set by the society are not real and thus are unattainable. As the imposed standards increase, the gap between what should be and what is widened reducing the possibility of a person becoming or attaining his full potential.
The wider the gap between the real person and the ideal person becomes, the more the individual will suffer (Boeree, 1998). The imposed standards of the societies on individuals have led to development of defensive mechanism by people. Anxiety is becoming a medical condition in today’s society. This is developed when an individual is faced with threatening situations which creates a gap between the real person and the ideal person. People have resulted to defensive strategies to help overcome these situations. One of the mechanisms a person may use is the denial form of defense.
In this, the individual tries to block the existence of the problem in his mind. This serves to avoid harmful repercussion for a period of time. It is a temporary method of dealing with problems and causes fear and anxiety. Another method of dealing with threatening situations is through perceptual distortions. In this method, an individual tries to interpret the situation in a different way so as to reduce the threat (Menand, 2002). The effect of these defensive methods of tackling threatening situations is that they only lead to an increase in the gap between the real person and the ideal person.
Every time a defensive method is used, the person using it becomes more and more disillusioned about his or her potential. Also, as the gap between the real and the ideal person is widened, a person tends to face more threatening situations which in turn increases their anxiety. Defenses are thus inevitable which may develop a vicious circle in which a person may never overcome. Such a person’s ability to develop to his full potential is hindered and the person lives a discontented life. The behavior of such a person also tends to be less consistent and his emotions may also become inappropriate.
He becomes disoriented and may also be passive (Ridgway, 2005). The natural development of an individual is meant to create a fully developed and happy person. A real person as opposed to an ideal person should be open to experience as opposed to use of defensive mechanisms. For a person to be in a position to actualize his or her potential, he should be in a position to have accurate outlook of the world and also one’s feelings. He should also be able to accept real life situations. This would help overcome the fears and anxiety caused by situations deemed to be threatening.
This however has been distorted by the societal conditioning and self worth regards (Boeree, 1998). For effective development to take effect, experimental freedom is necessary. Free will is a vital ingredient in deciding whether an individual attains his full potential or not. Whether an individual is free or not in reality is irrelevant since people tend to feel free. This is however distorted by the society’s conditioning effects. Free will is accompanied by responsibility. When people are allowed to make own choices, they are more likely to develop to their full potential than when free will is denied.
Creativity is also essential for development. In the natural setting of development, people were supposed to exercise creativity and also innovation. This is only possible where responsibility is granted and free will exercised. Lack of free will and responsibility has been a major problem to individual with creative ideas thus restraining their potential (Ridgway, 2005). People find it hard to trust their real persons in an ideal society. This has been a major blockage to attaining full potential in individuals in that the real self is overcame by the ideal person.
The valuing process should be the guiding force in doing what we feel is right since what is right is natural and inherent. People ought to do what comes naturally in certain situations as the actualizing tendency leads them to. This is not possible especially with the evolution that has been taking place. This arouses conflicts in an individual between the societal standards and the actualization potential (Menand, 2002). In today’s society, where therapy is used as a means to institute development in a person, the therapist takes charge of the process.
The development process thus takes the form which seems fit with the therapist and not his client. This in turn leads to a form of conditioned development which hinders the full exploitation of the client’s potential. Therapy should be client directed and non directive. In this form, the client should have the final word on the direction the development process should take. The client should lead the process while the therapist only directs the progress. The client should be allowed to come up with way to improve the process as he may deem right (Whitsit, 2006).
The theory of actualizing potential has not been without criticism from various sectors as well as individuals. This theory is based on the beliefs of the 19th century of romanticism which stated that an individual should be allowed to exercise freedom without interference from the society. This practice may not be applicable in the 21st century due to the changes which have taken place both socially and technologically. This is erroneous in that an individual cannot live separately from the activities of the society.
It is in the society that an individuals potential is realized and nurtured. Left alone, an individual may not fully understand the potential he has and thus adopting this method in development would only mean denying some individual the chance to become what they should be (Pinker, 2004). Another weakness in this form of human development theory is that it assumes that people are generally good and would do what is right if left on their own. It also assumes that people accepts other people without prejudice or malice.
This is not true in that most people naturally will tend to be cautious with strangers when they first meet. The theory also is erroneous in that it creates an ideal person living in an ideal society. In a society, there has to be rules and regulations governing them. A society where individuals are assumed to be rational human beings and acts rationally does not exist. Human beings are egoistic and would do only that thing which is beneficial to them regardless of the consequences their actions may have on other individuals.
As such, human beings are not always rational as stipulated by actualization belief (Pinker, n. d). Another weakness is seen in the case of therapy and the roles of the therapist and the client. Assuming that the client knows what he wants and thus should direct the therapy process is incorrect. Clients seek therapist’s advice because they are unable to help themselves in certain development areas. This theory also argues that the therapist’s work is to try to understand the client without making judgment. The work of a therapist is to help a client overcome or develop in a desired manner.
Though the client should be at the centre of interest, it is the work of a therapist to help him develop the desired traits. Actualization potential theory thus undermines the role of the therapist in development process (Whitsit, 2006). Conclusion Human development is surrounded by myriad of assumptions. Scientists are looking for the best description of the development process. No single theory can be singled out as being the best. However, any theory which esteems human development in terms of unleashing the potential of people is considered fair.
Theories advocating for authoritarianism and dictatorship over human beings should be done away with. Human development is a combination of many factors which include the inherent desires of an individual to grow and be useful, the biological composition, the environment and the cognitive part of an individual. While some societal practices hinder successful development, some are vital in ensuring this development. Detrimental practices in a society should be done away with while encouraging practices which may lead to a more productive society.
With the dynamism of the cultural values, different approaches should be adopted which foster development of individuals while protecting their individualism.
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