Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sorry I've been gone

Hello everybody, sorry I haven't taken the time to update the blog in forever, but here we are!

I recently began watching a TV documentary called This Emotional Life. It's a three part program hosted by a social psychologist. The first episode (I've yet to finish the entire 2 hours) is about relationships.

A large part of this episode pertains to two Eastern European children adopted and brought to the US in the '90s. Normally I'm not one on developmental or child psychology, but it ties in with Eastern Europe and social psych, so why not make a post?

The two children Alex, age 13 at the time of filming, and Nadia, age 11 at the time of filming, are very different. Nadia's very outgoing and the life of the party. On the other hand, Alex is very isolated and doesn't relate well with others.

There are multiple theories why this happens. One pertains to the fact that Nadia is naturally outgoing and loves people. Alex is naturally withdrawn and a bit of a loaner. So therefore, Nadia was given more attention by the orphanage workers, while Alex was not. Possibly this caused Alex's emotional and social issues. But, as I stated above, these same problems have happened to many many Eastern European orphans. So sure, that theory could explain this one case. But when there are large numbers of orphans from a specific region are growing up with these issues, it doesn't explain it.

To look deeper into the issue, you're going to have to move from the realm of psychology. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it ever further destabilized the region, especially the economy. Russian citizens are making money in whatever way they can. This includes the illegal sex trade and prostitution (both underaged and legal aged), which causes many more pregnancies out of wedlock, which in turn causes a much higher population of orphans; both on the street and in shelters.

A higher number of children in the shelters coupled with a limited number of caretakers creates an atmosphere in which each child is given less attention. Obviously, this is not because the caretakers don't want to give the children attention, it's because there simply are not enough caretakers to give each child as much attention as they need. Because of this, the children do not learn the social skills they should learn as infants and toddlers. Recent studies show that we are wired to develop relationships from a very young age. Without the physical (and emotional) connections young children normally have, these orphans are not able to learn how to make and keep relationships, as well as they are unable to interpret social gestures and cues.

There are two more parts to the series, so I'll update my blog with more information from those two when I see them.

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