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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Outsiders

I am in London, having a great conversation with Chris, a long-time friend. The reason we are having dinner in London is that London is, at least for the moment, the location of Christine's residence and I have been called to the capital, at very short notice, to work. Meanwhile, in Hull, Joe and Anna, who's current residential location is Toronto have arrived at Large Mansions, expecting to visit self and RHB, except that I am not there. Joe and Anna dont originate from Toronto (or even from the same continent as eachother), RHB comes from England via Canada, and Chris, who comes from Wales, via Liverpool and Turkey has taken me to an Indian Restaurant. Chris and I are discussing Erik Eriksson's notions of developmental psychology, as several young people we both know currently seem to be in the phase he described as the 'identity versus role confusion' crisis. For most of these young people, the theory states, the crises will be resolved after their imminent exams - High School ends and they make choices about their future. Lucky for them, they will imminently settle down, and according to Erickson, only have a couple of crises left to negotiate, which they will do from a position of economic, geographic and relationshipical stability as settled adults. Once

Which only highlights the necessity of my new work "Developmental Psychology - A Non-Developmental, Non-Psychological Approach". The problem it seems stems from the invention of teenagers by American anthropologists early in the Twentieth Century. This unnecessary distraction added a burden to the already hectic schedule of pyschologists who were studying babies. An already difficult task became Herculaean as in addition to trying to persude babies to walk over cliffs, the psychologists now had to try and unravel the mind of entities who apparently had very little in the way of thought processes. Nevertheless, our psychologists bravely plunged in and their work led directly to the movie "The Wild Ones".

The success of interpreting teenagers was the ultimate undoing of psychologists, as the world audience now demanded more. This time the people wanted to know about adults. Some hardy boffins took on the task, but alas, it was a bridge too far. Quite frankly, most psychologists around the world were by this time broken, exhausted men (most psychologists are apparently men, or at least that's what you would think judging by the relative proportion of Departmental Heads and publishing to gender), which explains why parapsychology exists and also explains the poor state of Developmental Psychology as it relates to adults. People like Erikson, when asked to explain adult development had just about enough energy to say "Well, I'm an adult, so I suppose most adults must have steady jobs, be married, have a few kids and occasionally go for a walk in the park, so I guess most adults must develop like I do".

But, meeting with Chris, Joe and Anna show that there's gaps in these descriptions, in fact most of the people I know do not live lives that conform to any easily describable norm. I used to think it was because I know a bunch of wierdos, and to an extent, the friends I am lucky enough to claim have not lived "standard" lives, but looking wider, the question must be asked "Who has?". Chris and I were discussing this at dinner, and she does live in London, but she is not from there. Neither are most of her friends, they either live elsewhere, or are like her, 'immigrants' to London. The restaurant we sat in was operated by a very nice group of Indian immigrants and accents from around the Globe predominated. At least in that restaurant, most of us were Outsiders, but as I realized, there is an awful lot of us.

Back in Hull, Joe, Anna, Nel and I went for a great hike in North Yorkshire, had a surprisingly good mid-afternoon meal in Whitby (the place Dracula's coffin was brought ashore in the novel) and ended up back at Large Mansions toasting Tom over a bottle of Beamish. Conversations during the day illustrated how no-one's career was settled and none of us could realistically claim that they knew where, how and what they would be in five years time. Practically no-one we discussed would neatly fit Erikson, or anyone else's Developmental descriptions. We are all Outsiders.

Anna on trail

Joe in Whitby

Anna and Nel by dingely-dell waterfall


Tall ship in Whitby

1 comment:

JoeyMac said...

Thanks for posting the decent looking pics, BTW. To give some evidence for Ericson's theories, after 3 years in Toronto, I have finally met 2 people who were actually born and raised here. I was starting to think that their existence was a myth, and was going to suggest a 'Toronto: who?' chapter in the next edition of your trilogy. I also considered calling the X-files to find out what happens to all the people born in Toronto, but decided that would just be silly.