Essay: Human Services -- Discussion Responses

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[. . .] Sixth Response:

Your point about coercive parenting promoting similar behaviors in children is an important one and, as you say, there is certainly abundant evidence that parenting styles to promote similar behaviors among children, both generally as well as in their own eventual behavior as parents. I would be curious to know whether you have ever experienced or witnessed the phenomenon of "polarization" whereby children sometimes become the very opposite of their parents. For example, I know someone who was raised by very authoritarian and coercive parents and she is the exact opposite with her children, precisely because she never wants to repeat her parents' mistakes.

Seventh Response:

In general, I agree with your position that environmental factors are more important than genetic factors in determining the behavior of individuals. However, as I expressed earlier, I also think that we need to expand the realm of what we regard as "environment" to include much of the gestational period. That is because the developing fetus is always subjected to many of the hormonal and other psychobiological manifestations of the mother's experiences. Traditionally, we think of the newborn infant as a psychological blank slate; however, I would argue that the slate begins to be filled in long before birth and that some of the things that we might regard as being attributable to "nature" are, in fact, just different aspects of "nurture."

Eighth Response:

While I agree with your position that homosexuality is not necessarily caused by genetics, I believe that there is a broader range of options than just genetics and environment. There seem to be other factors that are aspects of biology, such as those related to differences in brain regions and neural architecture that are characteristically different between the brains of heterosexuals and homosexuals. That would seem to explain, without relying on assumptions about genetics, why some individuals seem to exhibit homosexual (as well as transgender) tendencies very early in childhood and without any apparent environmental influences in those directions.

Ninth Response:

I agree with you completely that the behavior of children is the result of a combination of their natural predisposition and their upbringing. Your observations about the children of privileged parents raise a very important issue. In many respects, parenting is not just about the explicit messages that parents communicate to their children, but also the implicit messages that they communicate through their own behaviors. I believe that explains much of why the children of privileged parents often exhibit the worst behavior: they observe their parents operate as though rules don't apply to them and, those observations become more important to them than any of the statements or rules issued by their parents.

Tenth Response:

I agree that that prior theorists have contribute to our understanding of human psychology, but I would hesitate to subscribe to their theories except generally, because even the most prolific theorists have also been wrong in their positions. For example, I believe that Freud's general view of the importance of the subconscious mind is crucial but I am skeptical about some of his other assumptions, such as about the necessary connection between all of our impulses and sexual frustrations. Your point about twin studies is very important, because [END OF PREVIEW]

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