Natasha Kaufman 10/05/08

“Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” Obstacles, crises, change. All words usually associated with unpredictability and resistance. Words and challenges we don’t wish to face. Yet, is it possible, that these challenges could be good for us. Is it possible that these challenges could define who we are? And, that with each obstacle we are defined even further? “Strategic in this interplay are developmental crises- crisis- here connoting not a threat but rather a turning point, a crucial period of increased vulnerability and heightened potential.”(A Erik Erikson, “The Human Life Cycle”, 598) With each conflict succeeded we have determined further who we will be. Our beliefs, goals and aspirations are ever changing. As a child, one may want to be a veterinarian, or a firefighter, and years later change their mind and decide to become a lawyer instead. Can our goals as a child so dramatically change? In the TV series seven “UP”, these very ideas are encased in a documentary originally created to analyze how childhood socio-economical background affected a child’s future. Would a child who was given a better academic education be more successful? Later as the show matured it delved even further than just socio-economical backgrounds and went deeper into the challenges presented throughout life and the mechanisms with which people dealt with them. In it people’s lives were documented every seven years, looking into the challenges, hopes and dreams that each person faced and the changelessness or very much changing nature of them. Furthermore, did their childhoods and previous success or failure in the former stages of life affect that of the later ones.

Jackie. Nick has perhaps had the most radical change. though Andrew did not marry a woman from that circle. In general. Lynn and Sue all grew up in working class families. John and Bruce proved the notion that childhood conditions fostered the future. though Tony seems to have become more middle class. homeless and lost. also experienced great changes. However what about Suzie. who grew up practically in a boarding school environment. full of life and hope at seven. at 28 wanders the lands of Scotland. with privileged backgrounds breeding their success in Oxford. . which his wife comments upon in one segment. The children from the working classes have by and large remained in those circles. hopeful young child. Is this just by coincidence? Through Erickson’s life cycle theory the argument can be made that although we may not know the choices we will make. All of them grew up with different educational and socio-economic backgrounds yet years later they encounter the same real-life obstacles and challenge. Neil. we do know the conflicts that we . In this way it can be seen that childhood conditions didn’t necessarily predict the future.Andrew. Both deviated from the theory that childhood circumstances predicted later success or failure when suzie later on becomes the mother she had always wanted and Neil becomes a nomad. due to his intelligence. Paul and Symon grew up in a children’s home. Implying that to some extent the roles they were designated at birth did influence beyond a doubt their success in life. for which he received several scholarships to elite schools. Both grew up in environments that should have produced otherwise. through moving to Australia. the children from the elite prep schools continued in their elite circles. Tony wanted to be a jockey at seven years old. Paul. however. lacking personal connection with her parents and Neil who was a fun.

at the school age stage the basic conflict is initiative versus guilt. However from readings authored by Erickson. And that a person must ultimately overcome a specific conflict and develop a certain life characteristic without which the person would not be able to move forward. a new choice was encountered. The movie 42 and up also had many criticisms due to the fact that it didn’t show enough of the childhood of the people. taking no social influences or cultural standards into account. making nice neat packages of people he did not take into account that life’s processes are usually continuous and take gradual time and change. Yet with each new stage. Berger and Lichman we can infer that we really are a product of our socialization. personality and character traits. it showed more of an adult viewing point and not as much comparison between the adult and child. ultimately accomplished primarily by our parents and secondarily by our . He also generalized his studies and observations to all of humanity. Born into an individualist society. However the problem with Erickson’s theory and its relation to the movie is that Erickson did not take this unpredictability into consideration. We think of ourselves. While later on during the adolescent stage the conflict is identity versus confusion whereby one must develop a sense of reliability on the social structure and society. where the child must develop a sense of competence with the world around him. Erickson generalized that everyone encounters obstacles designated to that specific moment in time and age group. Establishing a common background and process among all humans. For example. we all think of ourselves as independent human beings that can function outside society and make their own decisions. emphasizing the unpredictability of this process.will all encounter.

what the movie really showed was that what might matter to us at seven truly changes later on. Suzie broke out of that shell and provided the inner warmth and parental support that was lacking in her childhood. After all is said and done. And according to Erickson the choices we make and the conflicts that we overcome truly make us the people we are.friends and societal influences. . we all have choices and we all have character traits and strengths that help us to succeed in overcoming those common conflicts. But while Paul may have lacked security as a child and still craved that security later on. and that we all seem to have the same conflict and instinctual desires and certain points in time. These are the influences that truly define us.

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