Psychology and the language of our inner world

It can be difficult to grasp in our advanced technological world how young psychology and the language of our inner world is. Freud, perhaps somewhat dubiously named the Father of psychology, though given his somewhat paternalistic aspect there is an element of ironic truth to the title, began the modern process we know today as psychology. Under 100 years old, psychology can be said to be still a frontier discipline, Initially this new language of the self was restricted to academic circles and it didn't really begin to enter the general vernacular until around the 1950's and even then it was a slow, tentative growth. It would be naive in the extreme to imagine we have done more than brushed the surface of this fascinating discipline. 

A word like ego, whilst broadly used and accepted, is somewhat misleading. There is no discrete part of the brain that can be identified as ego, as, say, we can identify the liver or spleen. It is a technical, quasi medical term broadly describing the vitality of being self regarding, self absorbed, self focussed. These are better terms and descriptions for what we can observe in babies and young children. The world revolves around the baby and s/he perceives the world in those terms. This is perfectly normal and developmentally appropriate. The ability to be other regarding and able to relate to others for the others self comes, like sharing, at a later stage. 

It may be that this complete self absorption and self focus may go some way to explain the astonishing growth in babies and very young children, undistracted by the cares and concerns of others. There are no conflicts of interests as there are later in life, indeed as there are in parents who must juggle a plethora of tasks as well as care for and nurture this burgeoning new life. Without psychology we would be unable to even consider such thoughts and ideas. So psychology is a great gift in our understanding of human development. 

Whilst still a young discipline, psychology has a great deal to offer us, through careful observation, interaction and play, we can gather clues as to what is going on in children, We can make educated guesses at the stages of age appropriate development and adjust the child's environment, toys and play equipment, and our behaviour to facilitate their growth. 

Psychology also gives us the opportunity to help children understand themselves. Early years practitioners can and do work with children and help them explore their feelings. What does it feel like to be happy, cross, sad and so on? Invaluable person centred work towards children learning about themselves and exploring ways of dealing with their feelings. Of course, such explorations are encouraging intuitive understanding and it is good to see this quality of work with young children. The latest early years publications are some of the best this writer has ever seen, child centred and child focussed. It is to be hoped this might filter upwards.


2011 Keith Lindsay-Cameron.