The childhood experience is often hailed as being one of the best components of a human life, and indeed, most people are able to recall rich, blissful memories from their younger years; memories which often take on new meaning as people age and mature. But some periods in childhood, and some individual circumstances, can be especially difficult, leading the mind to adapt in the most convenient or seemingly safe ways that it can. This adaptation can sometimes prove positive, but in many cases, it may lead to mental health difficulties that can carry into the sphere of adult life.
Recently, prominent psychologist Paul van Heeswyk explored the continuation of such difficulties into adulthood in a UK publication. Considering the manifestation of prejudices, unexamined preferences, and other potentially conflict-causing aspects of the mind and the personality, van Heeswyk expresses doubt over whether the state of being an adult is essentially so far removed from that of being a child when it comes to mental health. Of course, developmental differences are significant, particularly in terms of sexuality. But van Heeswyk suggests that it may be this distinct dividing line which, at least in terms of popular understanding, serves as the separation between childhood and adulthood.
The search for what makes people who they are must often also include an examination of how they operate within their roles; the state of being an adult may include issues of dedication and commitment, of responsibility, and of a certain level of the accumulation of knowledge. In his editorial, van Heeswyk touches upon each of these, noting their importance to the world of adults. But in the end, his piece suggests, mental health, and the lack thereof, can still cause people to feel and operate as children, whether for better or for worse.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.