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The Problem with Using Psychoanalysis on Children

The Problem with Using Psychoanalysis on Children

The Problem with Using Psychoanalysis on Children

My chosen topic is autism and sensory-motor development. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that occurs in early childhood. It can be a lifelong disorder; however, the severity of its manifestation subsides over time. Autism impairs the child’s social and communicative skills, cognition, motor skills, and sensory perceptions. Diagnosis requires the exclusion of other differential diagnoses like Tourette disorder or Moebius syndrome (AlSalehi & Alhifthy, 2020). This paper discusses theoretical approaches that explain child development, the domains of development, and the bidirectional influences of autism on the child’s development.

Theoretical Approaches that Explain Child Development

Theories of development describe how individuals transform from infancy to adulthood through various stages. Different theories provide diverse insights into the transformation of individuals over the developmental stages. Examples of the theories are psychoanalytic, behaviorist social learning, cognitive, and sociocultural systems (Saracho & Evans, 2021). Each theory provides a unique explanation of the developmental stages.

According to Saracho & Evans (2021), psychoanalytic theories, pioneered by Sigmund Freud, identify and explain how unconscious impulses are key determinates of an individual’s development and behavior. Sigmund Freud postulated the Psychosexual theory (Saracho & Evans, 2021). According to the Psychosexual theory, individuals’ behavior is propelled by inner forces. These forces are unknown to and beyond the control of the individual. Human beings go through sequential psychosexual stages (Saracho & Evans, 2021). An individual’s inner forces concentrate on specific body parts during these stages. Individuals stimulate these body parts to elicit pleasure (Saracho & Evans, 2021). The stages are identified as oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital (Saracho & Evans, 2021). They represent a transformation from infancy, childhood, and puberty to adulthood, respectively.

Parents should be able to recognize the child’s stage and direct them accordingly. Caution should be taken to strike a balance in each stage of psychosexual development. Overgratification or undergratification during each stage can affect an individual’s personality and social life (Saracho & Evans, 2021). An example is cigarette smoking or binge drinking due to the under-gratified needs of the oral phase (Saracho & Evans, 2021). In addition, under-gratified needs during the anal phase can make an individual disorderly later in life.

Erik Erikson postulated the Psychosocial theory. The theory evaluates how societal and cultural norms influence an individual’s development. According to this theory, individuals undergo eight developmental stages across their lifespans (Saracho & Evans, 2021). During this transformation, individuals change their perceptions about themselves and others. During each stage, a unique challenge is met. This challenge should be solved effectively and adequately to facilitate a smooth transition to the next step (Saracho & Evans, 2021). According to this theory, individuals fail to address each challenge in its entirety. Therefore, challenges are revisited throughout an individual’s life.

According to Saracho & Evans (2021), Erik Erikson argued that revisiting unaccomplished challenges from preceding stages is always impeded by the need to address current challenges. The theory describes the transformation from infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to old age. Examples of transformational challenges from infancy to late adulthood are trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus doubt, initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, and intimacy versus isolation (Saracho & Evans, 2021). According to Saracho & Evans (2021), middle and late adulthood entails generativity versus stagnation and integrity versus despair.

Cognitive theories evaluate how thought affects behavior. Piaget’s Cognitive Developmental Theory argues that a child’s desire to explore and become knowledgeable promotes cognitive development (Babakr et al., 2019). The four cognitive development stages are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational (Babakr et al., 2019). The sensorimotor stage entails using sight, touch, taste, and listening. The preoperational stage entails using one’s thoughts to form social relationships (Babakr et al., 2019). However, these thoughts are logically erroneous. According to Babakr et al. (2019), the concrete operational stage entails thoughts specific to a given problem, whereas the formal operational stage involves logical and abstract thinking.

According to Saracho & Evans (2021), Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory evaluates the generational transmission of culture. Children learn and embrace culture during their interactions with adults and their peers. Open communication and peer or adult-facilitated guidance are key to the transfer of culture to children. Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Systems theory argues that the interaction of three factors: biological, cognitive, and psychological, promotes developmental changes (Saracho & Evans, 2021). An individual’s microsystem: environment, society, family, and colleagues impact their development. In addition to the microsystem, the mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem also affect an individual’s developmental process.

Domains of Development

According to Saracho & Evans (2021), the three major domains of development are physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development. Physical development entails changes in the body as an individual matures. This is manifested as changes in height, weight, health, and general appearance. In the context of autistic children, they demonstrate normal physical development. Abnormalities have been reported in other motor activities such as gaze monitoring, proto-declarative pointing, and pretend play. Furthermore, autistic children are likely to display dermatoglyphic abnormalities and abnormal head circumference.

Cognitive development refers to the maturation of mental faculties. This part of development enables a person to transform from the sensorimotor stage to achieve the formal operative status (Babakr et al., 2019). Accordingly, this is assessed by the ability to think logically and abstractly. In the context of autistic children, their cognitive development is delayed. They experience difficulties predicting the behavior of their colleagues, which impairs this interaction. Furthermore, their executive function is impaired, and they are unable to keep their behaviors in check.

Psychosocial development entails the maturity of psychological and social skills. This enables an individual to establish desirable personality traits and create social connections with family members or friends (AlSalehi & Alhifthy, 2020). Autistic children display poor psychosocial development. They avoid eye contact, have poor verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and fail to establish social relationships with friends and family members (AlSalehi & Alhifthy, 2020). Social isolation worsens during the adolescence period and transformation into adulthood. Therefore, relevant parental and societal support should be provided to autistic children to promote their psychosocial development.

Bidirectional Influences on the Child and the Contexts of Development

The three developmental domains can influence the child and various contexts of development, such as parenting, schooling, and relationships. Poor physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development can influence parenting in various ways (Peng & Kievit, 2020). This is common with autistic children. The parents suffer an emotional burden because they are always worried about the well-being of their autistic child. This can manifest as anxiety or depression (Minh et al., 2017). Furthermore, parents are likely to focus on the autistic child and neglect other children. This can disrupt strong bonds between siblings, hence poor family ties.

Delayed cognitive development observed in autistic children can affect their schooling. These children require special attention and special services. They may not tolerate noisy classroom environments and fail to establish appropriate academic collaborations with their peers (AlSalehi & Alhifthy, 2020). Furthermore, they may have difficulties understanding some concepts. They benefit from repetitive tasks, which may not be the case in some school setups. Poor psychosocial development of the child hinders the ability to establish healthy relationships. These children have poor communication skills and cannot interpret other people’s emotions or behaviors (AlSalehi & Alhifthy, 2020). Furthermore, they fail to regulate their behaviors. This impairs their ability to establish strong and healthy social relationships. They are isolated from their family members and colleagues.

According to AlSalehi & Alhifthy (2020), genetic factors that increase the risk of autism include fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis. Other risk factors for the disorder include maternal rubella, older parents, and having a first-degree relative with the disorder (AlSalehi & Alhifthy, 2020). Additionally, according to AlSalehi & Alhifthy (2020), parental age increases the risk greater than or equal to 40 and 50 years for females and males, respectively.

Research Methods

The authors of the articles used retrospective case study designs in their work. This involved the evaluation of existing literature, databases, and records. The articles are correlational. The methods used by the authors are adequate to address the topic because the authors conducted rigorous retrospective studies on existing literature that enabled them to describe the theories of childhood development. This enabled them to compare different findings by other authors. As a result, this enabled them to develop an accurate hypothesis about childhood development theories.

My Opinion

It is important to understand child development. It enables us to be aware of the individual needs of a child throughout their childhood and transition to adulthood. During infancy and early childhood, parents are unable to establish meaningful communication with their children. Therefore, understanding the transitions they undergo serves as a means of communication between the parents and their children. Understanding the domains of development is relevant, especially for autistic children. Parents, teachers, and members of the community should understand the developmental domains. Understanding developmental domains will enable them to ensure that autistic children receive appropriate care that fulfills their needs. To promote the child’s best interest, I would research the current practices used by selected global nations to promote the well-being of autistic children. After that, I would pick the best evidence-based practices and develop a harmonized guideline policy to be adopted. Ultimately, the enforcement of the guidelines by countries will achieve the best interest of the child.


AlSalehi, S. M., & Alhifthy, E. H. (2020). Autism spectrum disorder. Clinical Child Neurology, 392(10146), 275–292.

Babakr, Z. H., Mohamedamin, P., & Kakamad, K. (2019). Piaget’s Cognitive Developmental Theory: Critical Review. Education Quarterly Reviews, 2(3), 517–524.

Minh, A., Muhajarine, N., Janus, M., Brownell, M., & Guhn, M. (2017). A review of neighborhood effects and early child development: How, where, and for whom do neighborhoods matter? Health and Place, 46(November 2016), 155–174.

Peng, P., & Kievit, R. A. (2020). The Development of Academic Achievement and Cognitive Abilities: A Bidirectional Perspective. Child Development Perspectives, 14(1), 15–20.

Saracho, O. N., & Evans, R. (2021). Theorists and their developmental theories. Early Child Development and Care, 191(7–8), 993–1001.


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The Problem with Using Psychoanalysis on Children

The Problem with Using Psychoanalysis on Children

Child Psychology is the Subject, and the Topic for the paper is “The Problem with Using Psychoanalysis on Children”

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