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1. Developmental Phases
The Attachment theory
As demonstrated through The Attachment Theory of Psychology, as pioneered by Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby, a child’s relationship to their primary caregiver determines their development in later life. The period from 0-5 is known in developmental psychology as the critical period where if child does not form an attachment then it will never occur. This caregiver does not have to necessarily be a biological parent, but whoever is responsible for the child’s primary needs.
A child’s parental relationship provides a working model from which the child bases their future relationships, and a secure base for healthy exploration. A child with a secure attachment style will have had their needs met sufficiently and feel well equipped to exercise their independence without unresolved conflicts. This will tend to translate into healthy relationships, both platonic and romantic. This is just one component of healthy development, albeit an important one, but a definitive correlation should not be assumed.
Unhealthy attachment styles, linked to the primary caregiver, are recognised as insecure attachment styles, of which there are two primary expressions. A child who receives mixed signals from their parental figure(s) will overcompensate to try and win their attention, tending to cling to their parent due to uncertainty in receiving the appropriate and consistent affection required. This is often a reflection of the parents own insecurities, who attend to their child only when it suits them.
This ambivalence translates to the same tendencies as the child develops, perpetuating the generational cycle. This results in distrusting and suspicious relationships. The individual may attach to their partner/friends to win their approval and quell their anxiety, but this possessiveness drive them away. As the partner retreats, this intensifies the anxiety causing them to become more clingy, creating a vicious cycle which amplifies the insecurity.
Until the underlying insecurity is dealt with, relationship dissatisfaction will ensure. This detracts from exercising the autonomy necessary to establish long lasting fulfilment for the individual, activating more purpose and meaning in their lives. This propensity to attach to others results in energy siphoning as an attempt to fill the void of insecurity within themselves, and in doing so leaves the partner drained.
At the other end the spectrum, when a child is consistently neglected by their caregiver, they may become emotionally dissociated. This lends to avoidance strategies as a reflection of the lack of emotional responsiveness elicited by the caregiver. However, this only exemplifies feelings of loneliness and alienation, intensifying the insecurities. It is imperative that an individual can learn to develop meaningful relationships with others.
Left unchecked these anti-social tendencies can translate into desire for power as a means to gain validation, but this exploitation of others to garner respect prevents true intimacy, and can create an untamed ego that portrays itself with all the hallmarks of a narcissist. These individuals seldom feel satisfied on the inside, masking their pain with addiction to social power, landing in positions that best enable this. Many celebrities, politicians, top performing business men, and even activists and gurus, are simply wounded individuals looking to compensate for their unresolved issues externally, but this gnaws away at the soul stalling healthy maturation into higher consciousness with a healthy moral compass.
A large part of the destruction of society is the dissolution of family values. Increasingly we see divorce rates and cases of infidelity on the rise. Romance is dying, replaced by an over sexualised culture addicted to quick fixes and promiscuous behaviour to avoid confronting underlying trauma. At the other extreme we see unhealthy dependencies, with partners settling out of convenience or to compensate for their own shortfall in self-development, leading to unhappy marriages and children born to unhealthy parental dynamics which filter down affecting child development.
Many parents, particularly mothers, are left as single parents, struggling to make ends meet and to provide for their children in the healthiest way and with the support of both a mother and father who can contribute different aspects to their child’s development. This is not to insinuate that all children with single parents follow this trend, but it makes things more difficult.
The Educational Environment
As a child enters pre-school, around the period of 3-5 years, they are strongly influenced by the interaction with their teachers and peers. At this developmental stage a large proportion of subconscious stimuli is still accumulating in response to environmental influences that will shape future perception and behaviour. This is difficult to reverse once cemented. During these years, a child learns the value of social interaction and is taught to respect an external authority beyond their parents.
A social and interactive learning environment is healthy for an individual’s development, allowing them to feel more comfortable with other environments beyond their home. An individual who is too sheltered may develop social aversion and anxiety and will find it difficult to create and maintain healthy connections. Those with siblings may find this stage in the process easier. It can be intimidating when a child is first separated from their parents and exposed to a foreign environment. Some children, depending on the nature of their parental attachment style, will find it difficult to let go. Others may have a disruptive and difficult temperament.
Children of a more extraverted disposition may find it naturally easier to deal with new people and environments. This is the first time a child will experience group dynamics. Some will find it easy to fit into a friendship group, whereas others may prefer a one on one dynamic. Either way, it is vital that a child feels he/she is able to formulate new friendships, otherwise this will impact their ability to adjust to society later in life. It is necessary for pre-school teachers to be aware of the unique disposition of each child and to adjust accordingly. By being attentive to every child’s needs in this way, it will ensure a tailored learning environment that benefits all.
Following pre-school a child will be more familiar with new social environments and should find it easier to meet new friends and act more confidently with peers and around teachers. The child’s learning curriculum develops a more fixed structure where holistic learning is fragmented into separate subjects, producing standardised material, where the ability to conform, memorise and repeat is rewarded. Procedures such as class registration, asking permission to use the toilet, forming orderly lines, sitting at desks facing forwards and raising arms to speak, all promote obedient ritualistic behaviours.
This uniform teaching method is one all students are expected to adhere, irrespective of their unique temperament and learnings capabilities. Therefore, it becomes necessary to separate children into learning groups based on their perceived ability. The problem here is that children with unconventional learning preferences will be considered less able and won’t have their individual strengths nurtured. Putting children into numbered groups could make some feel inadequate, or incite competition in others. At such a tender age it is unhealthy for children to be organised in this way.
Examinations are stressful environments to partake in, and some children can experience high states of anxiety which will impact their performance. Those with sharper memory retention or a more supportive home environment will tend to fare off better as well. Therefore, this isn’t a true indication of a child’s educational abilities and may be more destructive to their individual growth than the perceived benefits acquired from good grades.
The outcome of these examinations will likely determine what tier they are positioned within their next school. This is the start of nurturing children to excel in certain subject areas that are deemed more valuable to society, but may not reflect individual creative capacities. Because of this, some personality types will start to lose interest in the learning style and become restless. They may be labelled as disruptive or even attention deficit and hyperactive, which is an attempt to rationalise why some individuals aren’t as focused as others.
Such diagnoses can undermine a child’s high energy or creative spark, and if a parent chooses to medicate their child, they are in effect making them more docile and obedient. A learning environment that rewards memory and obedience diminishes curiosity, curtailing the imagination and adventurous spirit of a child, which prematurely takes away innocence. Paradoxically, the older we get, the more out of touch we actually become with reality.
Our dreams as a child were telling us something about what type of person we could become. An individual will likely repress their personal dreams and aspirations, perceiving them to be unrealistic, idealistic or unattainable. When we lock them away, we live within confined possibility, following life like a deterministic script. Attempts to look at reality deeper, question the status quo, or connect with one’s individuality, on other hand, are punished. This type of negative reinforcement conditions a child into habits that are hard to break, instilling a sense of learned helplessness, fearing to diverge from the rules in fear of negative repercussions.
The educational establishment is in need of complete overhaul, but as long as profit is valued over individual well-being, there is unlikely to be any significant change. Therefore, parents are tasked with the decision of what learning environment is most conducive to their child’s well-being. Increasingly, if able, more parents are deciding to home school their child. This does not necessarily compromise a child’s social life, because there are many extra curricular activities and clubs a child can partake in, and they can spend time with friends and family in a more flexible way. In fact, many children who have been home schooled go on to develop some of the deepest intimate connections and become very successful in their personal endeavours. This is because, in most cases, the parents have afforded the child more free will to exercise their individuality and the interaction between parents and child has healthy benefits of its own.
The Identity Crisis
During teenagers years, it can be difficult to grapple with hormonal changes. For men in particular, they may experience the first real signs of aggression and the development of their ego and self-identity creates competitive behaviours, which some teenagers will find easier to adjust to than others. Individuals gravitate to those that reflect the developing personality at that time. At this stage, attachment to a group provides the most security in relationships, and so noticeable cliques emerge in the school environment, which takes various expressions. If one was passionate and competent at sport, for example, it may feel appropriate to join the sporty friend group, or if there is an affinity for music or art, then a creative group would be more fitting. Those of a more strong introverted disposition may find that settling with a few close friends offers the best value.
During this phase, it is common to undergo an identity crisis. Many individuals are not self-aware enough to know what their authentic passions are and which direction they wish to pursue in life. They may associate with friends that they aspire to be like on an ego based level, perhaps because they are perceived to have greater popularity. This can lead to hierarchical based groups, usually with a confident ring leader to whom the other members suck up, in attempt to win acceptance or climb the social ladder themselves. Others may join a group in fear of being ostracised, and so play a much more submissive role.
Teenagers who don’t conform to the current trends may be ostracised or bullied, and those who are able to show off and excel in popular domains will experience higher levels of popularity, which may leave others feeling undervalued and of low self-worth. This social charade can have a damaging affect on the psyche of its individuals behind closed doors, breeding feelings of unworthiness on one end of the spectrum, and narcissism, which can lead to intimidation and bullying, on the other end of the spectrum, with various shades in between. This can lead to the first noticeable expression of the victim-victimiser archetypal complex that extends into adulthood.
If someone experiences frequent bullying, there is little option to escape it asides from moving schools which presents its own challenges and can potentially exacerbate the problem, especially for those with social anxiety who would be unable to adjust to a new dynamic. Trauma is carried across environments and doesn’t simply go away by moving from one place to another. Alternatively, if a teenager were to raise a grievance against another individual/group to their parents or teachers, this too can exemplify the problem and lead to more bullying if it were to get back to the bully(s).
Many teachers may be unaware that a teenager is suffering because they are too afraid to speak up in fear of being found out or judged by their teachers or peers. This will lead a teenager to internalise the negative emotions which can lead to compromised mental/emotional health and disruption back at home. This highlights the urgency for mental health awareness and structures in place to support teenagers who may be suffering in silence and in fear being judged for speaking out.
Those born into the intensifying technological era are being exposed to technology to an unhealthy degree. Fixation on screens keeps attention focused in the mental domain. This creates disconnection from holistic awareness with the body and disharmony with the natural world. The youth may become less stimulated by family activities and on building organic connections, sucked into the quagmire of virtual insanity, more concerned with seeking validation from peers and conforming to the latest trends that provide quicker dopamine releases. This decreases attention span and motivation for more purpose driven endeavours that require discipline and dedication to achieve mastery and longer lasting fulfilment.
When the novelty of a particular fixation wears off, there is the chase for the next dose artificial stimulation. Today we see celebrities with a disproportionate public influence and the ability to shape the perception of the impressionable youth. When this influence is not yielded wisely to instil important values and ideals, this perpetuates a culture in decline that puts money and materialism over human connection. What starts off as an admiration for talent can quickly turn into a superficial obsession based on level of popularity, financial worth, or other superficial components such as image.
This virtual obsession extends to learning environments where youngsters are more susceptible to bullying. Social media can be used as a weapon and those less willing to engage in the ego mania become easy targets, pressured to conform in fear of being ostracised or perceived as inferior. We consequently see cases of poor mental health rising and children less likely to speak out. This necessitates early intervention form parental figures who have a responsibility to ensure that their children aren’t over exposed to, and are aware of the dangers of technology and social media.
There should be particular restriction on unhealthy content before the child is mature enough to make independent decisions using critical thinking. There is a trend toward the normalisation of more perverse content through technological channels that are desensitising children. This has a more severe impact when a child is young and impressionable, susceptible to subliminal programming whilst the subconscious is still acquiring the overwhelming depository of its content. Children will start to mimic what they are being exposed to. Instilling healthy morals whilst not being over-protective is a delicate balance to strike in a world that is corrupting the minds of children.
Smothering parenting can potentially exacerbate the issue if a child decides to rebel against perceived strict authority. Parents are tasked to communicate with their children in a loving way with respect to how external influences may be causing behavioural difficulties that can trigger projections onto those they love, blaming them for the source of their discomfort. Schools can work to adopt appropriate safeguards to prevent excess reliance on technology in the learning and social context, both of which are becoming more virtual, reinforcing the technological descent of society into reliance on artificial intelligence.
The development of ego during early years, particularly during puberty and the subsequent teenage years, can enable the transition toward greater self-awareness should we learn from our experiences. Regrettable decisions are inevitable cycling through this phase of life, yet without such experiences we wouldn’t understand what truly serves us and what direction we wish to pursue. Not everyone initiates through this developmental phase and may settle for convenience over cultivating a deeper self-awareness that would facilitate more authentic living and greater life enrichment.
Should an individual not graduate through this rite of passage, they may likely spend most of their prime years stuck fulfilling external expectations, working misaligned occupations that siphon energy and ultimately lead to stress and depression, which can manifest as illness. This is an unfortunate byproduct of a competitive, materialistic society. With mounting debt and pressure to find a suitable and well paid job in a very competitive climate, there is an increasing lack of fulfilment and quality of life, involving wasted years and lost energy that is hard to recuperate.
Media Propaganda & Stockholm Syndrome
By the time we reach early adulthood, the software program has been installed and cemented in the unconscious. We start to feel as though we will be judged if we step outside the status quo. In fear of being ostracized we may accommodate to a life of conformity and obedience, compromising the expression of our true individuality. It is not uncommon for adults who enter the workplace to feel disillusioned with their occupation choice and to want to change direction later on. Others continue in the same routine for decades, too deeply entrenched to acknowledge their internal discontentment and seek out other possibilities.
An accumulation of conformist individuals develops into a hive mind which is very powerful and wants you to follow the rules – to be an obedient working citizen who doesn’t think for themselves, engages in limited conversation, and blithely follows the established norms, irrespective of their personal limitations or wider moral implications. It wants you to repress individual dreams and potential and give your skills and talents to others. It expects you to settle down, get a mortgage, get married too early and have children. That way we can all feel like we’re accepted and fit in. We can exist in a bubble of comfort and convenience and silence the inner child inside that wants let loose and unleash its potential.
This adherence to societal norms is reinforced through the media, which is a powerful tool for shaping public consciousness. Media can be used to manipulate perception through propaganda. This means it can be wielded as a weapon of mind control to govern perception and behaviour. When the dissemination of information is owned and controlled by those with a vested interest, beliefs can be moulded to serve an agenda, which, unbeknownst to the subjects, works against their best interests.
Edward Bernays, regarded as the father of propaganda and one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century, was able to use such techniques to successfully influence target populations to engage in behaviours through the use of perception control alone, including female smoking by brandishing them as ‘feminist’.
Bernays expresses how the masses were very impressionable to suggestions and could be easily manipulated into a herd mindset through the use of effective propaganda, which can be recognised as a form of psychoanalysis, a discipline established by his uncle Sigmund Freud relating to the study of the unconscious mind.
Because of his ability, Bernays was employed by numerous high profile corporations and during World War 1, where he was to express how such techniques could also be used to create peace as well as war. This highlights the power of information depending on how it is used, but unfortunately those who seek to monopolise information are unlikely to use it for peaceful means as they are out to serve themselves.
When individuals are reliant on external sources alone for their information, this restricts critical and independent thought which includes sharpening intuition to ‘read between the lines’, and discernment to determine truth from potential falsehood. To have a more reflective grasp of reality, it would be necessary to exercise thorough due diligence, correlating information from a variety of unrelated resources to reach an informed conclusion.
Individuals should always be prepared to challenge and revise their beliefs in light of new information, and actively seek to prove themselves wrong. The reality, conversely, is one where people too willingly place blind trust in authorities who dictate the narrative through control of all mainstream media channels that only present an illusion of choice.
This is achieved by creating network stations that broadcast the exact same information cloaked under different names. This can be traced back to a CIA program known as Operation Mockingbird. In the US for example, six companies have a monopoly over 90% of the media and rely on people not to seek out this information, which a population of passive consumers are unlikely to do, especially if it challenges their beliefs in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
The psychological distress associated with accepting contradictory beliefs, ideas or values is known as cognitive dissonance. Individuals seek to reduce this distress by rejecting the perceived distressing information, in an attempt to maintain internal congruence. However, when information is rejected on these grounds, the harm caused by retaining the current values and beliefs may be more damaging in the long term.
Most people prefer to take the path of least resistance and remain in a perceived comfort zone, but this means they are much more vulnerable to exploitation. Those who control media know how these psychological states function and use it to their advantage through manipulating emotions. These emotions are sparsely positive, however. Fear is the greatest way to keep a population subservient and so presenting information that promotes fear will create a state of bondage between the information provider and the subject who becomes reliant upon that same source of media for consistent updates in hope to alleviate their discomfort. However, as the negative bombardment continues, it entrenches the viewer so deep into a trance that they become conditioned into a state of Learned Helplessness.
Learned helplessness is a psychological condition after repeated exposure to a negative stimulus, where the subject becomes unconsciously accepting of their powerlessness and avoids any attempts to alleviate this state. At this stage the subject has become identified with their oppressor, locked into a state of Stockholm Syndrome. Stpckholm Syndrome is commonly recognised as a psychological/emotional attachment, named after hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Sweden and did not testify against their captors after being released.
The Internet & Social Media
Media continues to change to adapt to the current landscape of society, reflecting technological developments. Before the technological revolution, tabloids were the primary source of information, followed by televised network broadcasts presented by anchors who read from teleprompters, and now with the dominance of the internet, more people are accessing information online in various ways, such as through online news articles or social media, which is rapidly becoming the quickest, most accessible, and fastest information circulating medium.
Billions of the global population are signed up to at least one social media platform, but there are only a few of these that dominate the market. Facebook, Twitter, Google and their subsidiaries have an enormous power over information, though continued abuses of this power brings them under increasing scrutiny, harvesting their users data and manipulating information using algorithms to keep public consciousness confined in an echo chamber, whilst labelling any views that threaten their power as ‘misinformation/fake news’ and ‘conspiracy theories’.
The media oligarchs are desperate to retain control over public perception and to prevent free thinking and exploration of the internet. Search engines have also been modified using AI to present favourable search results at the top. Users would need to find alternative means to satisfy their curiosity and access a fair representation of different viewpoints. When information is manipulated to prevent this, it is a war on the mind and a violation of free speech.
Free speech is one of the fundamentals of human liberty. When voices are suppressed, totalitarianism ensues. Justifying censorship under private company interests demonstrates the stranglehold of the technocracy over public perception. This argument holds no weight when financial power is wielded to undercut competition and keep society dependent on private monopolies.
Microsoft found itself embroiled in an antitrust scandal in the early 1990’s when an investigation was launched by the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether Microsoft was trying to create a monopoly, which was followed up by the Department of Justice who filed charges on the basis that Microsoft was eliminating its competition by making it difficult for them to install software on the Windows operating system. This was deemed to have violated the Sherman Antitrust Act leading to orders for Microsoft to divide their operating system and software components, though this was later overturned when Microsoft failed to accept the decision and lobbied for a less damaging settlement.
Since then, companies like Microsoft, who went on to grant Bill Gates richest man in the world status, have used their monopoly and financial wealth to retain their market position and have established technological complexity that is difficult to compete with, along with creating mergers or buying out their competition outright. Google acquired YouTube in 2006 for a lofty sum of $1.65 billion, and Facebook acquired Instagram for $1bn in 2012, and Whatsapp for $19bn in 2014.
More recently, the Silicon Valley moguls have banded together to take their competition offline under the false pretext they are affiliated with ideological extremism. This sets a dangerous precedent, paving the way for global communism. Though capitalism gave more freedom of opportunity, the outcome was predominantly the acquisition and monopolisation of industries by multinationals, who acquired the vast amount of wealth and used lobbying and other deceptive tactics to take control over legislation and politics to strengthen their control.