What is a developmental crisis? Is there just one theory to explain a developmental crisis? How do we determine a sense of self? All of these are valid questions when thinking about the intersection of theory and practice. We define ourselves based on relationships, social identity, religion, profession and culture. We need loving relationships to feel a sense of worth. We require freedom to find our own unique creativity. Our racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds all contribute to the way we define ourselves. Losing Isaiah
In the movie Losing Isaiah, a young African-American child has a crisis of identity when a judge orders that he be taken from his adoptive white family and returned to his mother. The basis for the judge’s decision is the differences in race between the child and the adoptive family. At only five months of age, Isaiah was left in a dumpster because his mother, Khaila, needed just “one more hit” and could no longer handle the baby’s crying. She became pregnant with Isaiah as a result of engaging in sex to supply her dependency on crack.
Following being abandoned, Isaiah was found by waste removal professionals just before the tiny baby was about to be crushed in the garbage truck. The baby was not breathing. By the time he arrived at the hospital the outlook for Isaiah’s survival was grim. When the social worker at the hospital first saw Isaiah she could believe her eyes: He was only hanging on by a thread. He was not breathing and when he finally started to breath he began having seizures. I could tell instantly that he was a precious little baby who was determined against all odds.
From the very first moments I saw him I wanted to give him a home where he would not have to wonder weather or not he would get feed and that he know he was loved. It took some convincing but finally my husband agreed that we could adopt Isaiah. So touched was the social worker by Isaiah’s plight, that she adopted him: A few years latter all the paper work went through and Isaiah was finally mine. He was the most lovable child. I would look forward to coming home just to have his tinny little arms wrapped around my neck and that little mouth kiss my neck.
Isaiah had that smile that could light up any room in an instant and that laugh made me feel like I was witnessing a miracle every time. This was not to say that things were always so easy. He got irritated easily and had temper tantrums that could be considered worse than most children, but compared to what he had gone though he was doing well. Isaiah’s fate was not settled however. On the road to recovery from her drug addiction, Isaiah’s biological mother began seeking the return of her son: I wish people would understand that I am his true mother.
I am the one who had him. I even changed my life for him. I made a mistake putting him in the trash, but now I am willing to do anything to get him back, even if it means going to court which my lawyer said was the only way to get Isaiah back. I no longer do drugs, I even have my own place and I work as a nanny for a family who has a little girl the same age as Isaiah. We are going to court this next week. I am nervous, but I know the best thing for my child is to be with me. ”
In settling the legal side of this dilemma, the judge ruled: As the judge in this case, it is a difficult decision, but I believe that the child should be with his biological mother where he can grow up with his own race and culture. It seems only best for the child. His mother has made great efforts to change her life and this is what seems best for this child. Discussion There are many different ways and theories one can use to address this developmental crisis. How will Isaiah best transition to his new home with his biological mother? Erik Erickson
According to Erik Erikson, Isaiah is currently in the stages of initiative verses guilt. This stage is when the child is between ages three to six. Initiative means a positive response to the world’s challenges, taking on responsibilities, learning new skills, feeling purposeful. Parents can encourage initiative by encouraging children to try out their ideas. We should accept and encourage fantasy and curiosity and imagination. This is a time for play, not for formal education. The child is now capable, as never before, of imagining a future situation, one that is not a reality right now.
Initiative is the attempt to make that non-reality a reality. If the child does not receive initiative he will then have feelings of guilt. Because of Isaiah’s transition in this stage it is very likely that he will not achieve initiative but instead guilt. This means that Isaiah will not develop his imagination and social skills. According to this theory it is vital to Isaiah’s development that he establishes a sense of ego-identity within himself. Already this is going to be very difficult because of the lack of relationship he has with his biological mother.
Within this theory the child is already expected to have a relationship established with his caregiver, but because Isaiah does not have this there with be a regression in the stages. He has to develop trust and autonomy with Kaihla before he can develop a sense of initiatively. Object Relations Theory Another way to look at this developmental crisis is to look at the Object Relations Theory. According to Object Relations the most important aspect in Isaiah’s life is his caregiver and through this he will achieve object consistency. The most fundamental time of the child’s life is that first three years.
In this the child learns weather they can relay upon their caregiver for their needs. If this is not achieved in this important time of development, the child will never be able to achieve object consistency in their life. I believe that Isaiah has achieved object consistency from his adoptive family. Already Isaiah is developmentally lagging in forming object consistency because of the abandonment that he experienced by his mother when she left him for dead. A difficulty Isaiah may have in his new home is the feelings that he is a bad person or did something bad that made him be taken away.
If Isaiah was going to be my client according to Object Relation my main goal would be to work on establishing a relationship with him. One would do this my letting Isaiah know that you were going to be there for him. A goal for Isaiah would be to have an internalized sense of self. He is at a point in his development Sigmund Freud Within Psychoanalytical theory by Sigmund Freud the root of Isaiah’s crisis would be his neurotic conflict. Isaiah is driven by animal instincts such as hunger, thirst and pleasure, but can not relate to others.
As long as these needs are being meet Isaiah well be stable. Later on in his life when his fundamental needs are received relationships can then develop, but are still secondary. The primary focus of a person is sex and aggression. The goal one would have using Freud’s theory would be to recover repressed or blocked experiences that Isaiah or Kahila would have. You would also focus on the neurotic conflict that Isaiah is having. To Isaiah it is although his love object has been striped away from him. When looking at this you would focus on the guilt Isaiah has.
According to Freud, he may feel as though his adoptive father found out about these intense sexual feelings towards his adoptive mother and because of this took him away so he could not have his mother. Within this Odepial Conflict one already has the feelings that he will lose his mother, but for Isaiah this became a reality. Family Structural Theory According to Family Structural Theory by Bowen projective identification could be taking place. This is when the mother perceives the child as being weak, when in reality she may feel helpless.
This in turn makes the mother feel as though she is the strong one and needed (Urdang, 63). This idea can be speculated of Kahila, Isaiah’s biological mother. She views Isaiah as so weak and unable to live without her, when in reality Isaiah has been developing well within his adoptive family. Kahila has an obsession with getting back Isaiah for a sense of purpose in life. The problem that Isaiah may have do to Kahila’s projective identification, is a lack of autonomy and differentiation in their future relationship.
Kahila has a large difference between her intellectual and emotional functioning. Also know as differentiation (Urdang, 249). In the movie it shows Kahila learning how to read. This presents a possible problem for Isaiah’s development. His mother is not only going to have difficulty obtaining a job with her prison record and intellectual level, but also will not be able to help Isaiah grow academically. She at this time does not have a solid sense of self which in the future she may also have relationships with others with the same differentiation levels.
According to Family Structural Theory we would work with the presenting problem, which is Isaiah not wanting to be with Kahila. We would do this by focusing on Kahila’s change in her role from a single woman to a single woman with a young child. Also we would look at how Isaiah’s adoptive family was set up to how it will be set up with his new mom. Another aspect we would try and work through is Kahila double bind situation. If she allows her child to return to the adoptive family she is giving up someone she loves, but if she keeps Isaiah in her home she is facing trying to raise a child who does not even know her.
Race Perspective Conclusion When looking at this case though these different perspectives one can conclude that Isaiah is going through a developmental crisis. This crisis not only affects him but also his adoptive family and his biological mother regardless of the out come. We can also see that there is not just one theory that a person can use when looking at a case. But what must be considered is that when using different theories you will have different perspectives and focuses.