The many theories of psychoanalysis rest on some plan or program of normal development-the unformed child becomes the complex adult and does so by a detailed method of extraction of the knowledge, rules, customs and so on from the world. Added to this-let us call it the vacuum cleaner theory of growth-are the preformed or preprogrammed givens of the child. Children are born with a whole set of abilities that enable them to comprehend and thus internalize the world. First the mother and then a varied and unpredictable series of others impart information about the world to the child, who then rearranges, organizes, categorizes, and uses it according to his or her own needs. This is, of course, the point where Freud stepped in, when he declared that the varying states of the child’s needs, that is, the drives, were overriding determinants of what is ultimately seen and registered and thereby utilized. This is also the entry point for Piaget and those other cognitive psychologists who claimed that the child’s changing ability to take hold of the external world was the crucial factor in what could be known, that cognitive
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development was a gradual process that directed just how the child came to know the world. Hence, the two components of learning about and registering the world, the affective and the cognitive, are seen as the monitors and regulators of what will become the components of the child’s inner world. The child begins as empty and progresses to a state of being filled up by the contents of the outside, offered by a select few according to the evolving capacities of the child to so assimilate the world. H o w the child achieves and completes this process, that is, how he accomplishes the construction of reality, encompasses all of our developmental theories, whether spoken of in phases or stages, levels or hierarchies, or even lower and higher activities.