Good Maladjustment: Interpreting Misbehavior in Light of Brain Development

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Jonathan Cloud, Independent Consultant, presenting at the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council of Multnomah County's What Works Conference, "Juvenile Justice Grounded in Youth Development." Portland, Oregon, Dec. 9, 2011. http://web.multco.us/lpscc

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Good Maladjustment: Interpreting Misbehavior in Light of Brain Development

  1. 1. Good Maladjustment:Interpreting Misbehavior inLight of Brain DevelopmentWhat Works Conference:Juvenile Justice Groundedin Youth DevelopmentPortland, OregonDecember 9, 2011Jonathan I. CloudIndependent Consultant
  2. 2. What Charles Darwin Really ThoughtEvolution arrives at a creature [us] built not just toadapt to what is, or to what presently exists. Therehas been given to us the capacity to venture towardwhat can be, or [adapt to] possibilities for the future.Looking to future generations, there is no cause tofear that our social instincts will grow weaker, and wemay expect that virtuous habits will grow stronger,the struggle between our higher and our lowerimpulses will be less severe, and virtue will betriumphant.J. Cloud/2011 2
  3. 3. We Are Beginning to See ItA few researchers began to view recent brain andgenetic findings in a brighter, more flattering light, onedistinctly colored by evolutionary theory. The resultingaccount of the adolescent brain – call it the adaptive-adolescent story – casts the teen less as a rough draftthan as an exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptablecreature wired almost perfectly for the job of movingfrom the safety of home into the complicated worldoutside.“Beautiful Brains”David DobbsNational Geographic Magazine, October 2011J. Cloud/2011 3
  4. 4. Hardwired Tendencies Associated with Reaching Higher Levels of Development • Idealistic image of self. • Novelty, excitement- seeking. • Risk-taking. • Peer affiliation.J. Cloud/2011 4
  5. 5. Hierarchy of Processes that Shape a Youth’s Pattern of Behavior Willing Thinking Feeling SensingJ. Cloud/2011 5
  6. 6. Brain’s Hierarchical WILLING Organization THINKING Prefrontal Lobes “The Four-Part Brain” New Mammalian (“Heart” “Mindfulness”): or Neocortexhigher thought, intention, (“Human Brain”): reflection; spiritual right brain creativity, intelligence or SQ left brain logic; intellectual intelligence or IQ FEELING SENSING Old Mammalian or R-System or Core Brain: Limbic System: instinctive action, emotions, interaction, movement, impulses; relating; emotional bodily intelligence or BQ intelligence or EQ J. Cloud/2011 6
  7. 7. Hierarchy of Developmental Tasks a Youth’s Behaviors Strive to Address What kind of person Hope can/will I become? (Willing) What kinds of things can I Engagement do well; can I achieve? (Thinking) Wellbeing What kind of person am I? (Sensing and Feeling)J. Cloud/2011 7
  8. 8. Developmental Potential: The Inner Forces for Each Developmental Task (Kazimierz Dabrowski; Theory of Positive Disintegration) DevelopmentalPotential creates crisescharacterized by strong Aspirationsinner disturbances that produce discontent with “what is” and a Talents quest to realize “what ought to be;” a realization of the Intensities “possibility of the J. Cloud/2011 higher.” 8
  9. 9. Elements of Developmental Potential1. Sensing and Feeling DP Element: intense responses to stimuli; increased neuronal sensitivities; powerful, sometimes overwhelming perceptions of one’s circumstances/life.2. Thinking DP Element: special abilities and interests, gifts, and talents (involves youth’s dominant intelligences: emotional, logical, spatial, kinesthetic, musical, intuitive, aesthetic, social, spiritual and as many as 17 more).3. Willing DP Element: autonomy, intention, purposeful- ness, aspiration, self-determination. J. Cloud/2011 9
  10. 10. Developmental Potential Responds to Models, Not Prohibitions Intelligence can unfold within us only when an actual model of that intelligence is given to us . . . the characteristics of each new possibility must be demonstrated for us by someone, some thing, or an event in our immediate environment. Source: Evolution’s End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence, Joseph Chilton Pearce,J. Cloud/2011 10
  11. 11. Positive Maladjustment The individual with a rich developmental potential rebelsagainst the common determining factors in his external environment. He rebels againstall that which is imposed on him against his will, against the typical influences of his environment, against thenecessity of subordination to the laws of biology. Dabrowski, 1970J. Cloud/2011 11
  12. 12. Interactions Influence Brain’s Architecture: How Neural Systems Integrate and How Positive Maladjustment is Experienced Pre-Logical Operational Logic Vision-Logic Age Age Age Age Age Age 1 4 7 11 15 21InstinctsLower R-System (sensing: bodily states/intelligence) Limbic System (feeling/emotional states/intelligence) Right Hemisphere (thinking: creative mental states/intelligence) Left Hemisphere (thinking: logical mental states/intelligence) Cerebellum (coordinates brain systems; coordinates attention; integrates brain systems)? Prefrontal Lobes: Stage II (spiritual states/ intelligence)InstinctsHigher Prefrontal Lobes: Stage I (unfolding of one’s gifts, talents, genius; learning and growth)J. Cloud/2011 12 The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, Joseph Pearce, 2002, modified
  13. 13. Late Teen Years: High Aspirations(Activation of Prefrontal Lobes for Higher Levels of Development)• When the prefrontal lobes complete their growth and begins their full function, a new form of reality and a larger world unfold to us and distinctly new behaviors and abilities fill our repertoire.• Evolution’s latest neural addition [of prefrontal lobes] seems to lie largely dormant within us despite the fact that it seems it should offer a discontinuously new potential, a new reality – a whole new mind.• If a child’s environment does not furnish the appropriate stimuli needed to activate prefrontal neurons, the prefrontals can’t develop as designed. The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, Joseph Chilton Pearce J. Cloud/2011 13
  14. 14. Levels Development Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration Positive Self-Directed Adjustment Disintegration Spontaneous Disintegration Positive Maladjustment Negative AdjustmentJ. Cloud/2011 14
  15. 15. Hardwired Tendencies Associated with Reaching Higher Levels of Development • Idealistic image of self. • Novelty, excitement- seeking. • Risk-taking. • Peer affiliation.J. Cloud/2011 15
  16. 16. High Developmental Potential (Intense, Talented, and Grand Expressions of the Tendencies) Risk-Taking & Peer Affiliation Novelty and Excitement Idealistic Image of SelfJ. Cloud/2011 16
  17. 17. Misinterpretation of Positive Maladjustment and the Cycle of Juvenile Justice There is a cyclical pattern in juvenile justice policies in which the same sequence policies has been repeated three times in the last two hundred years. Present juvenile justice policiescan be explained by this cycle and futurechanges in these policies predicted by it. Thomas J. Bernard The Cycle of Juvenile Justice 1992J. Cloud/2011 17
  18. 18. The Cycle of Juvenile Justice Juvenile crime thought to be unusually high. Many harsh punishments and few lenient treatments.Juvenile crime thought to be high due to Harsh punishments and lenient treatments. doing nothing both Expand harsh thought to increase treatments. juvenile crime. Major reforms introduce lenient treatments; middle ground between punishing and nothing.J. Cloud/2011 18
  19. 19. Poor Assumptions and Low Values Influence the Interpretative Frameworks Used Programs and Practices Research and Policies Theories Assumptions and ValuesJ. Cloud/2011 19
  20. 20. Also Influence the Enculturation Process(Frustrates Undertaking the Three Developmental Tasks) Rituals and Behavior Systems and Institutions Beliefs, Attitudes, Conventions Assumptions and Values (Helen Spencer-Oatey, Ph.D., adapted from Hofstede, 1991 and Trompenaars &Hampden-Turner, 1997) 20J. Cloud/2011
  21. 21. A Harsh Cultural Climate (Positive Maladjustment More Intense and Prolonged)These cultural techniques [of control] involve carefully masked threats that prey upon the child’s rapidly learned fear of pain, harm, or deprivation, and more primal anxiety over separation or alienation from parent, caregiver, and society. “Do this or you willsuffer the consequences.” . . . Such directives activate [lower] instincts of defense . . . Joseph Pearce The Biology of Transcendence, 2004 J. Cloud/2011 21
  22. 22. Maslow’s Hypothesis Concerning Youth Misbehavior• Youth possess intrinsic higher motivations and values, noble aspirations.• Much of their bad behavior is due to frustration of the “idealism” so often found in young people.• Such behavior can be a fusion of continued search for something to believe in, combined with anger at being disappointed.J. Cloud/2011 22
  23. 23. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Self-Actualization Self-Worth/Esteem Love/Belonging Safety PhysiologicalJ. Cloud/2011 23
  24. 24. Delinquency as Unfulfilled Self-Actualization (Source: “Possible Selves and Delinquency,” Oyserman and Markus, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999) Hoped For Selves ideal images or aspects of personality one desires to master in the future Feared Selves Expected Selves defective images or images or aspects of aspects of personality personality seen as feared as likely in most likely in near future near futureJ. Cloud/2011 24
  25. 25. Brain’s Prefrontal Lobes and Possible Selves (What They Can Become – Not Just What They Did) • Images of one’s self in future states are essential elements in the motivational, goal-setting process. • An image of one’s self in a feared or undesired state can produce inaction or a stopping in one’s tracks (cf. Atkinson, 1958). • A feared possible self will be most effective as a motivational resource when it is balanced with a self-relevant positive, expected possible self that provides the outlines of what one might do to avoid the feared state. Source: “Possible Selves and Delinquency,” Oyserman and Markus, Journal of Personality andJ. Cloud/2011 Social Psychology, 1999 25
  26. 26. Account For All Four Theaters of the BrainSensing FeelingPerception Thinking Attention Willing Conscious- Brain Func- ness tion Identity Cognition Behavior (Source: John J. Ratey, M.D., A User’s Guide To The Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain, 2002) J. Cloud/2011 26
  27. 27. SPARKS Accounts for All Four Theaters of the Brain A young person’s passionate interests – those things that give meaning, focus, energy, and joy. The power of sparks comes when: You know your spark or sparks. Your spark is important to you. You take initiative to develop your spark.J. Cloud/2011 27 Teen Voice 2010, Best Buy Children’s Foundation and Search Institute
  28. 28. SPARKS Which is Why Developing Them Fosters Positive Outcomes in Other Areas of LifePercentage of Youth Having Outcomes, By Levels of Sparks Index Performance Areas High LowGoals to master what they study at school. 69% 41%Very often work up to their ability at school. 45% 30%Have a GPA of 3.5 (B+) or higher. 70% 51%A sense of purpose and hope for their future. 48% 17%Believe it is important to help others. 57% 36%Believe it is important to engage in community. 42% 32% J. Cloud/2011 28 Teen Voice 2010, Best Buy Children’s Foundation and Search Institute

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