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Age Regression and Psychosocial Development
Systemic Coaching Martyn Carruthers, March 2016

Help for Adults who were Neglected or Abused

Attachment Disorders - Shadows of Neglect

Unless remedied, many people seem to suffer the consequences of childhood neglect and abuse for the rest of their lives. As adults, these people may be unable to enjoy long-term healthy relationships and appear more likely to participate in shallow relationships, affairs, depression, guilt and stress disorders.

Solutions for Adult Attachment Disorders (Incomplete)

The bonds that develop between parents and their children seem to act as relationship models for the rest of those children's lives (see Bowlby 1969) and strongly affect their personality and behavior.

(1) Spontaneous Age Regression

Spontaneous age regression - The adoption of a pattern of behavior characteristic of an earlier stage of development - (Oxford Dictionary of Psychology). We find age regression to be common when people are reminded of their pasts. Visiting places enjoyed in childhood, photographs, music and certain smells or foods may stimulate age regression - then forgotten memories often become available.

You have probably witnessed or experienced age regression many times. E.g. How old do men behave when they feel sick? In these moments, people can behave in ways that are (developmentally) much younger than their body ages perhaps  whining, crying, blaming or having temper tantrums. (E.g. Donald Trump)


(2) Psychosocial Development

Psychosocial development is about people's emotions and relationships. Erik Erikson noticed that children develop during a series of stages, in which the steps include some important conflicts and challenges.

I reasoned that If Erikson's theories of Psychosocial Development are accurate, then we can explore which developmental stages people regress to, and we can help those people resolve these old conflicts and fulfill challenges from those stages".

By applying Erikson's theories of psychosocial development, we can better help people to  resolve the conflicts and fulfill the challenges of each stage.

Most people achieve this development during their upbringing, and some neglected or abused children identify with seemingly "safe" family members or caregivers and adopt their values. But not all children have mature parents or can find appropriate role models; so they cannot integrate the needed values. Instead they may repeat childish ideas and immature behaviors for years, especially during their relationships.

People whose ability to bond was damaged during childhood seem unlikely to resolve their problematic behaviors without guidance. We often utilize age regression to help adults resolve incomplete childhood issues.


(3) Summary of Psychosocial Development

Stage 1: Infancy (birth to about age 2 years)

Basic Conflict: Trust vs. Distrust (Hope vs. Withdrawal)

Important Events: Feeding and nurturing (Walking?)

Outcome: Children develop a sense of hope, trust and anticipation to caregivers who provide reliable feeding, care and affection. A lack of reliable nurturing, for whatever reason, can lead to a lasting sense of distrust and withdrawal.

Stage 2: Early Childhood (about age 2 to 3 years)

Basic Conflict: Autonomy vs. Shame (Will vs. Compulsion)

Important Events: Toilet Training (Saying "No"?)

Outcome: Children develop a sense of personal control over physical skills (such as toilet training) to gain a sense of will and independence. Success in this stage can lead to feelings of autonomy, while failure may result in feelings of shame, doubt and compulsions.

Stage 3: Preschool (about age 3 to 5 years)

Basic Conflict: Initiative vs. Guilt (Purpose vs. Inhibition)

Important Events: Exploration (Reading?)

Outcome: Children begin exploring and asserting control over their environments. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose while failure may result in a sense of inhibition. (Children who try to exert too much control often experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.)

Stage 4: Junior School Age (about age 6 to 11 years)

Basic Conflict: Coping vs. Inferiority (Competence vs. Inertia)

Important Events: School and meetings with friends

Outcome: Children learn to cope with school and academic demands. Success at this stage leads to an ongoing sense of competence, while failure can result in lasting feelings of inferiority and inertia.

Stage 5: Adolescence (about age 12 to 18 years)

Basic Conflict: Identity vs. Confusion (Fidelity vs. Repudiation)

Important Events: Friendship and Teamwork (Leadership?)

Outcome: Teenagers strive to develop a sense of personal identity within peer groups. Success at this stage leads to an ability to stay true to themselves, while failure can lead to lasting role confusion, a weak sense of self and feelings of isolation.

Stage 6: Young Adulthood (about age 19 to 40 years)

Basic Conflict: Intimacy vs. Isolation (Deep vs. Shallow Relationships)

Important Events: Teamwork, Partnership and Parenthood

Outcome: Young adults want to explore intimate relationships with potential partners. Success in this stage leads to companionship and enriching relationships, while failure can lead to long-term loneliness, isolation and shallow relationships.

Stage 7: Middle Age (about age 40 to 65 years)

Basic Conflict: Creativity vs. Stagnation

Important Events: Parenting Teenagers and Extended Families

Outcome: Middle aged adults need to create and nurture children, and support things that will outlast them, often by mentoring children or creating benefits for other people. Success leads to feelings of creativity, usefulness and accomplishment, while failure can result in feelings of disconnection from one's family, community and the world.

Stage 8: Old Age (about age 65 years and older)

Basic Conflict: Fulfillment vs. Despair

Important Events: Reflection on life

Outcome: Older adults often review and evaluate their lives and their contributions to their families, their communities and to humanity. Success leads to feelings of wisdom and fulfillment, while failure may result in preoccupation with their trauma, bitterness, blame, despair, alcoholism or even suicide.

People who did not fulfill these developmental stages may achieve physical or financial success, but likely show their lack of attachment and security in their relationships.


(4) Systemic Coaching & Training

The most common blocks to secure relationships seem to be unresolved trauma and insecure attachments. These attachments can usually be dissolved by motivated adults, if mature guidance is available.

Throughout our trainings we teach and demonstrate the skills needed for emotional development and relationship guidance. Some specific skills we use to resolve the adult consequences of childhood neglect, abuse and insecure attachments include:

Goal Definition, Non-verbal Communication, Family Maps, Interactive
Isomorphic Metaphors, Clarification, Integrity, Trauma Resolution,
Age Regression, Conflict Resolution, Split-off Ego States,
Changing Beliefs and Resolving Identity Issues.

We offer training in our methodology, private counseling and Internet sessions to help people resolve a wide variety of emotional and relationship issues.

Help for Adults with Insecure Attachments

Secure (healthy) attachments are normally made by children to people who those children saw as reliable, dependable and trustworthy. Children seem to form insecure attachments during a series of relationship disappointments with their mothers or caretakers. The consequences of insecure childhood attachments include:

  1. Inhibited behavior
  2. Does not trust people
  3. Feels shame and doubt
  4. Feels lonely and isolated
  5. Prefers shallow relationships
  6. Feels disconnected from most people
  7. Feels inferior, may not complete tasks

These consequences can be manifested as very many different symptoms and behaviors. Similarly, our systemic solutions have many subtle choice points.

We help people integrate their trauma into their lives and change how they react to those and similar stimuli. As these people accept their stories and dissolve their trauma, they can better accept themselves and understand why they had trouble making healthy decisions. We can then help those people change their unwanted emotions, beliefs, conflicts, values and habits; fulfill relationship deficiencies and develop any missing relationship skills.

Note that people with attachment disorders may also suffer consequences of
abuse, parental alienation (a parent was alienated in the mind of a child) or
emotional incest (a parent used a child as a substitute for a partner).

Online Help, Relationship Counseling & Systemic Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2015-2016

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Solve Emotional & Relationship Issues

Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you want? Know your life goals and how you sabotage yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Develop your inner resources with Dreamwork
Do emotions block you? Resolve relationship problems and mentor damage
Do beliefs limit you? Change your limiting beliefs and end dependence
Can you feel connected? Resolve identity loss to recover your lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents can better manage family problems
Endless relationship problems? Solutions for adults who suffer attachment disorders
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling, therapy & training

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2016 All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was developed by Martyn Carruthers
to help people solve emotional and relationship problems, and to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work.