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Introduction to Lifespan Development

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

boy in birdsimage by Robert Murphy (lic)From the moment we are first conceived, to the day we die, we are constantly changing and developing. While some of the changes we undergo are as a result of chance incidents and personal choices, the vast majority of life changes and stages we pass through are due to our common biological and psychological heritage as human beings and are shared by all people.

Our Lifespan Development topic centers are designed to provide you with an overview of the important common developmental stages that human beings pass through: birth, infancy, adolescence, adulthood, old age and finally death. Along the way we learn how to use our bodies, to communicate, to form relationships, to work and to love. Knowledge about how human lifespan development is supposed to unfold is important becuase it serves as the base upon which our life problems sit. If we fail to master a working knowledge of how to get dates as a teenager, for instance, we may later find ourselves with a social anxiety problem as an adult. If we are not properly nurtured as an infant, we may have difficulty trusting in relationships at all as an adult. Knowing something about how people typically develop themselves over time thus helps us to place our problems and illnesses into context, and also suggests ways that our problems can be fixed.