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Chapter 7. Normal Child and Adolescent Development

Ralph J. Gemelli, M.D.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585623402.326260

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Excerpt

Theories of normal development were, and still are, obviously constructed by the minds of developmental researchers, who are influenced by their own individual life experiences. These experiences always produce inevitable biases about which aspects of development are of high importance and which are of lesser or no importance in the normal development of the child.

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TABLE 7–1. Components of each developmental phase
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TABLE 7–2. Developmental phases and key tasks
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TABLE 7–3. Ego functions
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TABLE 7–4. Piaget's phases of cognitive maturation and development
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TABLE 7–5. Schema or mental representations
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TABLE 7–6. Phenomenological categories of infant temperament: action and reaction patterns
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TABLE 7–7. Characteristics of defense mechanisms
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TABLE 7–8. Executive ego functions
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TABLE 7–9. First resolution of triangular wishes (age 6–7 years)
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TABLE 7–10. Preparations for beginning first grade (age 5½–6½ years)
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TABLE 7–11. Components of an emancipated identity
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TABLE 7–12. Adolescence phase: the function of superego as an internal regulator of behavior
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The following terms and concepts are key to an understanding of normal child and adolescent development:

Accommodation–transformation principle—The principle that becomes activated when stimuli create perceptions or conceptions that cannot be assimilated into prior representations. When this occurs, the infant will either change a preexisting representation to include the new perception or conception or add a new representation to his or her mental world.

Attachment relationship—The specific relationship that develops between infants and their parents.

Belief—A type of conception that, as a representational mental structure, establishes the relationship between two or more inanimate objects, aspects of nature's laws, or people (e.g., the child and his or her mother).

Child protective factor—A characteristic within the child, the parents, the child–parent relationship, and/or the society in which the child is living that helps the child and the parents achieve developmental adaptations and maintain their goodness-of-fit transactions.

Developmental continuity—The term used to address the fact that a great part, but not all, of psychological development is dependent on what took place in the past.

Developmental discontinuity—An event in a person's life that is unexpected and not predictable from what has occurred in the person's past.

Developmentally enhancing adaptation—An adaptation by the child that enhances the child's sense of competency, pleasure in mastering a task, and feelings of joyful pride.

Disintegration anxiety—The internally generated fear that if anyone knew how imperfect or impotent the child believes himself or herself to be, others would totally reject him or her.

Experiential mental structures—The emotions (e.g., shame, guilt), thoughts (perceptions and conceptions), and memories (short- and long-term) that are the result of the mind's processing of transactions between biopsychosocial stimuli.

Hierarchical restructuring principle—The principle that states that as a child's cognitive abilities continue to mature and his or her mind continues to reconstruct prior representations to reflect a more advanced level of cognitive integration and comprehension, the child's mind will reorganize its representations into a hierarchy that reflects the child's unique preferences.

Inner mental world or representational world—The inner world we refer to as an individual's mind, which is in contrast to the outer world of people and things.

Mentalizing function—The capacity to use self-reflection to become aware of possessing a mind and to gradually understand one's own mind and the minds of others as being complex, with different emotions, beliefs, and conflicts.

Normal developmental external conflict—An aspect of normal development that occurs when there is a disparity between the child's current need, wish, and/or impulse and the desires of the parents or others with whom the child is relating.

Normal developmental internal conflict—An aspect of normal development that occurs when there is a disparity between what the child desires to do, fantasizes about, or believes and an inner voice that prohibits or warns the child that a developmental calamity will occur if the child acts upon his or her impulse, desire, and/or fantasy.

Normogenic belief—A belief, developed by the child, that enhances the child's psychological development. Such a belief enables the child to generate positive expectancies about new life events and people.

Pathogenic belief—A belief, developed by the child, that interferes with the child's psychological development. Such a belief functions as an internal inhibiting factor in that it causes the child to generate negative expectancies about new life events and people.

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A number of mental organizing processes and principles are key in assessing normal human development. One of these principles is defined as "the mental process in which a child 'takes in' a current perception or conception into a preexisting representation." What is this process called?
2.
Erikson presented five developmental tasks of childhood and adolescence. What is the principal developmental task of early childhood (ages 3–6 years)?
3.
Piaget defined several phases of cognitive maturation and development. When does the concrete operational phase normally occur?
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