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Development of Personality Essay
By Chrysta Lewis from Lesson 21, Diploma of AstroPsychology
Jean Piaget was a psychologist who explored the idea of cognitive development. His in depth work and case studies have proven of great interest and knowledge to many psychologists, even today. He proposed that every human being goes through a set of stages from the moment they are born. As the individual moves through each stage he/she is able to retain more information and increasingly more complex information.
The main concepts in Piaget’s theories are based on the idea of schemes, organized mental patterns that represent behaviors and actions. Schemes are like intellectual computer software that directs and determined how data is looked at and processed. Further to the concept of schemes, Piaget used the terms assimilation and accommodation to explain growth in a child’s understanding of the world. Assimilation is the process where a person understands an experience in terms of their cognitive development. For example, a young child who has not learned to count will look at a row of buttons that are spaced closely together and say there are fewer buttons than a row with the same number but spaced out farther apart. The child has not learned to associate with the number of buttons, but rather to the scheme that bigger is more. Accommodation is the changes in the way a child thinks in response to new experiences or events in their life. For example, once the child gets older and can count and so on, the same two rows of buttons become identical because the child has accommodated to the experience.
According to Piaget, children pass through four major stages from birth to adolescence: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. He suggests that movement from one stage to the next is determined by the physical maturation of the child and going through certain experiences. Let’s explore these stages more closely:
Ø The sensorimotor stage is the first stage of cognitive development and occurs from birth until approximately the age of two, although there is often a variance needed because not every child adapts and learns the exact same way. The developments in this stage start at simple reflexes such as sucking. The next development is primary circular reactions which are done purposefully such as sucking his thumb. Secondary circular reactions occur next. During this phase a child can become much more vocal and even try to imitate the noises someone is making, which stimulates the development of language and social development. Object permanence occurs in the next phase of development. This is when a child learns that people and objects exist even when they can’t see them. Next, tertiary circular reactions are learned. This is seen through mini experiments such as dropping a toy repeatedly to see how it lands or who will pick it up. Lastly, deferred imitation occurs which is when an infant will imitate someone who is no longer there. For example, feeding a doll or driving a car.
Ø The preoperational stage occurs from the age of two years until about seven years. During this time a child’s cognitive development continues to grow through phases. A key aspect of this stage is symbolic function, the ability to use a symbol of some sort for something that is not physically present. Another key concept experienced at this stage is centration. It is the process of concentrating on one limited aspect of the experience and ignoring the rest. For example, put a dog mask on a cat and it is transformed into a dog, according to the child. Egocentric thought is the failure to take others viewpoints into consideration. For example, a child playing hide and seek may “hide” under a pillow. He thinks he is out of view because he can’t see anyone else. Between the age of four to seven the child begins to develop intuitive thought and can now begin to understand that pushing the buttons on a remote will change the TV channel.
Ø The next stage of development is the concrete operational stage. This occurs from the age of seven until approximately twelve years of age. This stage is characterized by the use of logical thought. They begin to understand the reasoning in math and proportions. For example, a piece of clay rolled into a long rope can return it back to a lump of clay and understand that the amount of clay has not changed.
Ø Piaget’s last stage of cognitive development is the formal operational stage where a child develops the ability to think abstractly. This occurs from the age of twelve and continues for the remainder of their life. Here they are able to test their understanding and experience the consequences of their actions.
Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas have researched and developed their own stages of development. Although it combines the use of astrology, it follows the same basic premise as Eric Erikson’s theories. Let’s take a closer look at their stages:
Ø The first stage described is Birth. This if seen through the sign on the Ascendant, the ruler of the Ascendant and what that planet is doing by sign, house, and aspect. Any planets closely aspecting the Ascendant are also activated at birth. Also the placement of Mars, by sign and aspect, will shed some light as well. Later in life anytime we have to get things started, move into a new phase, or start something new our view around birth will come up again. The first 6 – 9 months is called the “primary narcissism phase”. It is the feeling that everything around us is just an extension of who we are. Separateness too early in life can leave you craving for unity. Later it may come through as that person or thing you are constantly looking for that will make you whole again. On the other hand, if the mother is over-adaptive to the child’s needs, they may grow up unable to cope with things not going their way; you may expect everyone to adjust to you.
Ø The second stage of development is the Oral Phase. This typically occurs from birth to two years of age. It is seen through the placement of the Moon. Also relevant are the 1st, 4th, and 10th houses, and any Taurus or Cancer emphasis. Placements and aspects which relate to love will be activated. In this phase we relate to the world through the mouth and the activity of sucking. As well, touch is important in this phase – being touched, stroked, and held. Coincides with Erikson’s model where the issue is Basic Trust vs. Mistrust. During this phase we form opinions about how safe the world is. Mother is really the whole world to the child during this time.
Ø The third stage is the Anal Phase, commonly occurring between the ages of two until four and seen through the Sun and Mars sign placements and aspects. The Sun gives us our sense of being a separate individual and Mars is related to how we assert our will. Also 3rd house placements are important because it reveals our predisposition to selectively perceive certain aspects of the immediate environment and neglect or overlook others. We form opinions about what sort of person we are – about our power, worth, and general capabilities. This coincides with Erikson’s phase of Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. At this stage you focus on establishing greater separateness, individuality, and autonomy. We learn to walk, talk, and explore. More of the world opens up to us. Toilet training becomes a major issue. Issues surrounding authority figures, self-assertion, self-control, and power are brought out. Power issues can become mixed up in feeding issues. If you are determined to assert your will over the mother, then you might refuse to eat as a way of exercising some autonomy.
Ø The next stage is the Oidepal/Eliktra Phase occurring between the age of four until six years. This is seen through Venus and coincides with Erikson’s issue of Initiative vs. Guilt. Here a child becomes more aware of the father and the parental relationship in general. A girl with a disappointing father may grow up expecting all men to be like that, or else will be looking for the ideal father she didn’t have. On the other hand, if the father appears too wonderful the boy might worry about being as good as his father. The girl might spend her life comparing men to this idealized image she had as a child. Sexuality emerges and the sex drive is lived out in fantasy with the parent of the opposite sex. The boy generally seeks to make contact with his inner femaleness, the girl with her inner maleness. The boy projects the Moon and Venus onto his mother, the girl projects her Sun and Mars onto her father. If you remain stuck in this stage, you will remain feeling inadequate and inferior to other people your whole life: the child in you is still comparing yourself to “big people”.
Ø The School Age Phase is experienced from the age of six until about ten years and is seen through the activity of Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mercury shows the kind of mind we have, how we learn, and whether we feel confident or insecure about our mental ability; Jupiter shows the ability to grasp abstract concepts such as religion or philosophy; and Saturn helps us learn the rules or lack thereof. It coincides with Erikson’s issue of Industry vs. Inferiority. This is a time for developing skills that will enable you to function independently in the world. We go to school and relate more with other people besides our parents. We broaden our awareness of life. We measure ourselves against our peers, crave recognition for producing things.
Ø The last stage of development is Adolescence. It occurs between the ages of ten and twenty-one years. This stage is similar to another birth. All the earlier stages of growth are brought to the surface again. Unfinished business and unresolved feelings from the oral and anal phase reappear. Oedipal issues arise with a vengeance. It allows the opportunity to redeem what has gone wrong in childhood. For example, a teacher may provide you with something your mother didn’t or a close relationship may heal your Oedipal wounds.
Ø Greene and Sasportas’s theory ends at adolescence, but Erikson continues the life cycle with early adulthood. Here the major issue is intimacy versus isolation. A person wants to develop a loving, sexual relationship and close friendships, but may be challenged by a fear of relationships with others.
Ø In middle adulthood, the issue becomes generativity versus stagnation. This is when a person’s sense of contribution to society is challenged by his/her trivialization. A person may come to feel that they have not made a large enough or significant enough contribution to the world and therefore feel like a failure.
Ø Lastly, late adulthood is characterized by the major issue being ego-integrity versus despair. At this time a person may contemplate his/her life accomplishments and be satisfied with what they have done. On the other hand, they may experience deep regret over lost opportunities in their lifetime.
Astro-psychologists may follow the theories of Piaget (cognitive) or Erikson (psychodynamic) or Watson (behavioral). Either way, there are certain similarities that all developmental theories are based on. That is the development of behavior through specific stages, usually broken down in relation to age. Astrology has the ability to add that “X factor” into these theories. It assumes that every individual is unique and experiences events in unique manners. Through work from Perry, Greene and Sasportas these common theories are explored using astrological influences. Like any credible theory there are always arguments against the proof. This is our “operational stage” working for us and it is what will continue to propel us into the next generation of psychology, one that includes astrology.
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