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Lecture 12

PSY311H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Psychopathy, Psychopathology, Critical Period

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Stuart Kamenetsky

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Lecture 12
Social experience and its aftermath
How significant and important is childhood?
- What role do childhood events play in determining adult personality?
oCan we do a narrative of individual and see how various events in their life really
impact him/her?
oSometimes we do an analysis of children growing up in a toxic environment, yet
they are very successful. So we want to see/understand key events that play this
- Do early experiences leave irreversible effects?
oStudies of children who have been abused early on in childhood, we can question
whether they are doomed?
- Is there continuity from childhood to adulthood and if so- what are the features of this
oIf a child is shy, do they stay shy throughout their life? Can this change? What
does it take for people to be able to fight successfully against their biological
oBoth positive and negative events early in life will leave irreversible effects, with
a strong emphasis on negative effects (ie abuse)
oResearch shows that interventions early on will provide successful consequences
later on in their life
Theoretical Answers: freud
- Neurons (psychological difficulty, lack of adjustment) are only acquired during early
childhood even though symptoms may not appear until much later
oNeurons are not sever like psychosis, but they are mental disturbances. People
who are neurotic work excessively (ie, leaving the home and working if you left
the stove on or not)
oNeuroses are acquired during early childhood experiences
- The child is psychologically father to the man
oIf you’re a child’s parent, you are a precursor to the child (since you came first,
and the child is the offspring). But, Freud has turned this idea around and said that
within the same individual, there will be that type of continuity within the child
and adult when he grows up
oIn other words, what happens in childhood is very important within the individual
- There is a straightforward direct continuity between childhood and adulthood
oEx: freud would talk about if psychological difficulty takes place during oral
development, the child will be fixated in that stage (ir, their mouth), and may
result into behaviours like smoking, sucking one’s thumb (something related to
the fixation)
oThere is direct continuity, and Freud argues that this is behavioural
- One can work backwards to reconstruct experiences or forward to predict future adult

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oIf we can figure out what happened in that stage, and resolve the difficulty the
child went through during that stage, we can help resolve the smoking
oIf there is something happening during the oral period, (dad is not around, and
mom is not available), the child would suck his or her thumb since no one is
resolving this proximity
oThe influence of childhood experiences really came from Freud being convinced
about the direct continuity between events and experience with evidence
- Empirical investigations have failed to show such a clear and direct association
oIt is problematic and subjective of a method to come up with conclusions
Theoretical answers: Erikson
- Child acquires a sense of trust or mistrust through feeding experience – emphasis on
general personal relationship qualities rather than on specific experiences that may cause
adult psychopathology
oErikson was a student of Freud who focuses less on sexual aspects and more on
psychosocial aspects
oIn many sense, it is more like Bowlby’s work – if parents respond to children in
an appropriate and consistent way, secure relationships will develop
Theoretical answers: Lorenz
- Critical periods represent developmental phases of maximum susceptibility to certain
kinds of influence
oCritical periods occur early on in life, the brain is not hard wired as it is as adults
and therefore it is more malleable
oImprinting (following the closest moving object when the mom isn’t around)
oA certain type of learning that is really important happens early in life
oChildhood matters
- Sensitive periods are concerned with probabilities of certain forms of learning being
higher within certain age ranges
oCritical periods of lang: exposed to lang, develops a understanding but not yet
expresses it
Gene case shows that you can acquire lang later on (still with an effect
- Bowlby: attachment must take place during a critical period or otherwise there will be
irreversible effects on subsequent relationships
oBefore age 2 and a half
oLack of secure attachment before 2.5 there will be irreversible effects
oEarly determinism
- Empirical investigations of children who are institutionalized before being adopted at
various ages have not confirmed this strict time limit
oShown that there are many other factors that are going to play a role in
determining resilience ultimately determine if the child is going to have serious
long term implications
Stressful experiences at “non” critical point in development
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