adapt / adaptation / adaptive process
The adaptive process refers to that natural growth force by which a child is changed as a result of coming to terms with that which cannot be changed. This is the process by which children learn from their mistakes and benefit from failure. This is also the process by which adversity changes a child for the better.
I am using the term adolescence to refer to the bridge between childhood and adulthood. It generally refers to that time from the onset of puberty to the assumption of adult roles in society.
affair (see attachment affair)
alarm (see attachment alarm)
In scientific terms, an attachment refers to the drive or relationship characterized by the pursuit and preservation of proximity. Proximity is Latin for ‘nearness’. In its broadest definition, human attachment includes the movement towards nearness of every kind: physical, emotional and psychological.
Take away the sexual connotation and this analogy works for peer orientation. The essence of a marital affair is when an outside attachment competes with or takes away from contact and closeness with a spouse. It is when peer attachments draw a child away from parents that they damage development.
Human brains are programmed to alarm their hosts when facing separation from those to whom they are attached. The attachment alarm functions on many levels: instinct, emotion, behavior, chemistry and feeling. If the alarm is felt, it can be experienced as fear, anxiety, conscience, nervousness or apprehension and will generally move a child to caution. If this alarm is not felt consciously, it can manifest itself as tension or agitation.
A term for the parts of the brain and nervous system that serve attachment. It does not refer to one particular location but rather a particular function of the brain shared by several brain regions. Many other creatures have this attachment functioning as part of their brain apparatus, but we alone have the capacity to become conscious of the attachment process.
Refers the bad feelings that are triggered in a person—especially a child—when he is thinking, doing or considering something that would evoke disapproval , distancing or disappointment in those to whom he is attached. The attachment conscience helps to keep children close to their attachment figures—ideally, their parents. When a child becomes peer oriented, the attachment conscience serves the peer relationship.
attachment dance (see collecting dance)
To facilitate dependence, attachment automatically assigns a person into a dependent care-seeking position or a dominant care-giving position. This is especially true of immature creatures, such as children—or immature adults, for that matter. Children are meant to be in a dependent care-seeking position with the adults responsible for them.
The frustration that is evoked when attachments do not work: when contact is thwarted or when a sense of connection is lost.
Attachments are incompatible when a child cannot preserve closeness or a sense of connection in two relationships simultaneously. Incompatibility is created when, for example, the child gets one set of cues for how to act and how to be from parents and a completely different set from peers. The more incompatible the working attachments, the more likely attachment will polarize.
There are many primitive attachment reflexes designed to preserve proximity through the senses. The infant grasping the parent’s finger pressed into her palm is one example.
The network of attachments that provide the context within which to raise a child. In traditional societies, the attachment village corresponded to the actual village people lived and grew up in. In our society, we have to create the attachment village.
The absence of a sense of contact or connection with those one should be attached to.
backing into attachments
Establishing likeness or connection with someone through distancing and alienating others. Two children, for example, will draw close to each other by insulting or belittling a third.
bipolar nature of attachment
Like magnetism, attachment is polarized. Whenever proximity is pursued with one person or a group, contact and closeness with others is resisted. The child will especially resist those whom he perceives as competition to those with whom he is actively seeking attachment. When the child becomes peer oriented, these others are the parents and other nurturing adults.
A term referring to the human courting instincts that are meant to get others attached to us. I have chosen the term ‘collecting’ to get rid of the sexual connotations that are associated with courting and wooing. The ‘dance’ refers to the interactive aspect of this process.
Used here to refer to the human point of reference that is created by attachment from which a child gets his bearings and takes his cues. Every child needs a human compass point.
competing attachment – see attachment incompatibility
This term refers to the human instinct to resist pressure and coercion. This instinct serves attachment in keeping children from being unduly influenced by those they are not attached to. Counterwill, unless magnified by peer orientation or other factors, also serves development in making way for the formation of a child’s own will by fending off the will of others.
defended against vulnerability
The human brain is designed to protect against a sense of vulnerability that is too overwhelming. When these protective mechanisms are chronic and pervasive, it leads to a state of being defended against vulnerability. These protective mechanisms involve emotional and perceptual filters that screen out information that the person would find wounding and painful.
defensive detachment (see detachment)
This term refers to a resistance to proximity; such resistance is one defense against vulnerability. Most often, contact and closeness is resisted to avoid the wounding of separation. This instinctive reaction is a common defense mechanism but if it becomes stuck and pervasive, it destroys the context for parenting and for healthy development.
Refers to the growth process of separating or individuating. If attachment with nurturing adults is the first phase of development, differentiation is the second. Entities or beings must first be sufficiently differentiated before they can be successfully integrated. For this reason, healthy differentiation must precede socialization, otherwise the person will not be able to experience togetherness without the losing his sense of self.
dominance (see attachment dominance)
emergent (see emergent process)
emergent energy (see emergent process)
That life process of differentiation whose goal is a child’s viability as a separate being. It is characterized by a venturing forth kind of energy that arises spontaneously from within the developing child. One sees it in toddlers. This process is spontaneous but not at all inevitable—it depends on a child’s attachment needs being met. The emergent process gives rise to many of the attributes we find desirable in a child: sense of responsibility, accountability, curiosity, interest, boundaries, respect for others, individuality, personhood.
The term has two root meanings: ‘to be stirred up’ and ‘to move’ . Emotion is what moves the child, at least until intentions have become strong enough to determine behavior. Any creature with a limbic system, the emotional part of the brain, has emotion, but only humans are capable of being conscious of their emotion. The conscious part we call feelings. Emotion has many aspects: chemical, physiological and motivational. Emotions do not have to be felt to move us—often we are driven by unconscious emotions.
A sense of closeness and connection that is felt emotionally.
flatlining of culture
The loss of the traditional vertical transmission of culture in which customs and traditions are handed down from generation to generation. It is also a play on words that connotes the death of culture, as in the ‘flatlining’ of brain waves.
flight from vulnerability – see defended against vulnerability
A form of attachment in which one becomes the same as the person or thing attached to. For example, to attach to a role is to identify with a role.
The principle of learning theory that holds that to obtain a change in behavior, one must intervene immediately when a child is out of line. This principle was derived from studies with pigeons and rats.
This term is often confused with individuality and gives it a bad name. Individualism refers to the idea that the needs of the individual are paramount over the needs of the group or the community. This confusion often leads people to think that individuation is the opposite of community, as opposed to the prerequisite for true community.
That part of personality that is indivisible and is not shared by anyone else. Individuality is the fruit of the process of becoming a psychologically separate being that culminates in the full flowering of one's uniqueness. To be an individual is to have one's own meanings, one's own ideas and boundaries. It is to value one’s own preferences, principles, intentions, perspectives and goals. It is to stand in a place occupied by no other.
The process of becoming an individual, distinct and differentiated from others, and viable as a separate being. This concept is often confused with individualism, defined above.
By instinct is meant the deep urges or impulses to act that are common to all humans. Since attachment is the preeminent drive, most of our instincts serve attachment . The source of these impulses to act are deep within the limbic system of the human brain. Human instincts, however, like the instincts of other creatures, need the appropriate stimuli from the environment to be properly triggered. They are not necessarily automatic.
The natural growth force involving the mixing of separate entities. In this book, we use to refer to the developmental process that occurs as different elements of the personality come together to create a new whole—for example, hostile emotions can be integrated with feelings that would check them, such as compassion or anxiety. It is this mixing that produces perspective, balance, emotional maturity and social maturity. The essence of integration, in the social realm, is mixing without blending, or togetherness without the loss of separateness. This requires sufficient prior differentiation.
When the integrative process is active, the mind collects the thought or feeling that would conflict with whatever is in focus. This brings balance and perspective.
integrative functioning (see integration process)
When I use this term, I will be referring usually to knowledge that is sensed rather than known, unconscious as opposed to conscious. Our intuition will only be as good as our insight, however. The more accurate we are in our perceptions, the more we can trust our intuition.
That process by which a child comes to realize his or her human potentials. Although psychological growth is spontaneous, it is not inevitable. If circumstances are not conducive, a child can age without ever truly growing up. The three primary processes by which children mature are emergence, adaptation and integration.
orient / orienting / orientation
To orient is to get one’s bearings. As human beings, this involves not only getting a sense of where one is but also who one is and how much one matters. It also entails making meaning of one’s surroundings. A significant part of orienting is to get one’s cues for how to be and what to do, for what is important and what is expected. As long as children are not yet able to orient themselves, they orient by those they are attached to. Peer-oriented children look to their peers, not to adults, to get their bearings and for their cues on how to be, how to see themselves, on what values to pursue.
orienting void (orientation void)
Because children orient by those they are attached to, they feel lost and disoriented when the sense of connection is gone. This void of cues and meanings is intolerable for children, usually forcing re-attachment to someone or something—in our culture, most often this re-attachment is to peers.
I am using this term in the strictest meaning of the word: lacking sufficient power. Parents need to be empowered by their child’s attachment to them to fulfill their parental responsibilities. The weaker this bond, the more impotent the parent becomes.
By parenthood I am referring to the office of parenting, in the way the ancient Romans used the word - a special duty, charge or position conferred upon a person. For the Romans, this special work was conferred upon them by their government. For parents, this special service is something that can be conferred only by the attachment of a child. Being the biological or adoptive or step parent does not automatically mean parenthood in this sense —only through the attachment of the child is a parent inducted into office and equipped for service.
Power to parent
Many people confuse power with force. By power I mean not coercion or punishments, but the natural authority that parents have when their children are actively connecting with them and look to them for their cues on how to be, how to behave, what values to pursue. In fact, the more power we have, the less we need to resort to force—and, vice versa.
I use this term to describe the set of traits and problems that results from a lack of integrative functioning in children. Normal in preschoolers, I dub these traits and problems the preschooler syndrome when they characterize children and adolescents who are no longer preschoolers but have not grown out of this developmental deficiency. In our culture peer orientation is the most common cause of such arrested development.
psychological immaturity – see maturation
A feeling of closeness or connection that comes from being seen or heard in the sense of being known or understood.
The scripting analogy is borrowed from the profession of acting where the behaviour must be acted out because it does not originate in the actor. Such is the case with maturity. Social situations demand a maturity that our children may not yet have attained. We cannot make them grow up on command but we may be able to get them to act mature in given situations by providing the cues for what to do and how to do it. For a child to accept such direction, the adult must in the position of cue-giver in the child’s life, a fruit of the child’s attachment to the parent. Good scripting focuses on what to do instead of what not to do, and provides cues that can be easily followed by the child.
sense of agency
The Latin roots of 'agent' mean 'to drive' as in to drive a chariot. To have a sense of agency is to feel as if one is in the driver's seat of life - a place in which options appear and choices exist. Children are not born with a sense of agency; it is a fruit of the maturing process of emergence or individuation.
The process of becoming fit for society. This has been traditionally perceived as a singular process, separate and distinct from the other two important developmental processes, attachment and individuation. Upon closer examination, however, most socialization happens through attachment and the processes that serve it - identification, emulation, quest for significance, the preservation of proximity. Attachment is the first of these three developmental processes, differentiation the second. When these two are functioning well, true socialization can occur spontaneously.
To be teachable is to be receptive to being taught and motivated to learn. The teachability factor refers to those aspects in the learning equation that are psychological, relational and emotional in nature. Teachability is not the same as intelligence. A child can be very smart and completely unteachable and vice versa.
tears of futility
It is a human reflex to cry when futility sinks in, especially if the frustration has been intense. The corresponding feelings are ones of sadness and disappointment. Futility is what we experience when something will not work or cannot work. When futility registers emotionally, signals are sent to the lacrimal glands resulting in the eyes watering. These tears are different from the tears of frustration. The experience of getting that something is futile and the accompanying feelings of sadness and letting go are important for a child’s development. Peer-oriented kids are remarkably lacking in tears of futility.
I use the term in its root meaning which denotes a mix. Temperament is a mix of traits, temperature a mix of hot and cold, etc. The Romans used this term to describe the proper mix of ingredients to make potters clay. The key to civilized behavior and self-control is mixed feelings. To lose one’s temper would have meant therefore to lose the mix of conflicting impulses and feelings that would enable self-control.
The thoughts, feelings or intentions that would arrest the impulses to act in inappropriate ways—for example, love would temper a desire to hurt, fear of consequences can temper an impulse to act in a destructive way, or the capacity to see another person’s point of view tempers a tendency to be dogmatic. Such tempering brings balance to personality or perspective to perception.
untempered (see also temper)
By untempered is meant unmixed or unmitigated or one-sided. To be untempered is to be lacking any sense of internal dialogue, conflict or discord in consciousness. The primary sign of emotional and social immaturity is untempered experience and expression. The untempered person has no mixed feelings about anything.
vulnerable / vulnerability
To be vulnerable is to be capable of being wounded. As humans, we not only can feel our wounds but our vulnerability as well. The human brain is designed to protect against a sense of vulnerability that is too overwhelming.
See also defended against vulnerability.