Psychological development: Mother Teresa

Psychological development is the growth of an individual socially, mentally, emotionally, cognitively and physically from conception to old age. Mother Teresa was a nun who worked most of her life in India even though she was born in Skopje, Macedonia. Her psychological development was both influenced by nature (environment) or nurture (hereditary).

Nurture in terms of her family, friends, and groups she had met in life, influenced her psychological development from childhood to adulthood. Balado (1997) noted that mother Teresa’s parents influenced her social and moral development. Her parents taught her how to be close to God and His word. Her parents taught all her siblings the presence of God and how different saints made sacrifices in service to the Lord and spreading His word. Her father liked reading holy books and was charitable to the poor and catered for the sick. Her father had slave children whom he treated as his own. Mother Teresa viewed her father as a truthful man who could not use slander and careful with his words. Her mother helped her in social development as she was a virtuous woman who was sick most of her years but endured it with courage and strength. All her brothers and sisters knew the word of God, and therefore, she was surrounded by godly people. Her brothers and sisters were fond of her, and they used to share the word of God together.

Nature influenced mother Teresa psychological development as her surroundings was full of things like poverty, depression, peer pressure, and the like. Like a normal adolescent, her peers influenced her negatively, she was introduced to immoral activities which had an effect on her family’s reputation. Her parents showed her the right way, and she was able to be back on track. She was sent to the nunnery in order to make her realize she had lost the way. At the nunnery, she met a nun whom she claims lived a holy life and has been her role model in terms of mentality, standards, and morals. During her life, Mother Teresa has met and lived with people who profess the word of God. She came across global issues such as poverty, natural calamities, oppression, and other issues which helped shape her life. Mother Teresa had a social advantage because her parents were wealthy and were able to take her to good schools and also took her to the nunnery to learn the word of God, this environment helped mother Teresa to know more about God.

Personality theories can be used to explain the psychological development of mother Teresa i.e., her personality and behavior. The theories explain her development socially, morally and emotionally. One of the personality theories that can be used to explain mother Teresa’s psychological development is phenomenological theories. The phenomenological approach emphasize that it is the innate drive that make people fulfill their potential (Hall, & Lindzey, 1970). Mother Teresa had a strong calling at the age of twelve to serve the Lord, and she knew she had to be a missionary in order to accomplish this. She had an inner drive which was greatly influenced by her parents to become a servant of the Lord and spread His word. Mother Teresa’s parents made her feel a sense of worth since she was a child and made her believe that her worth as a human depends on having the right behaviors and values. Mother Teresa was able to reach self-actualization by being able to distinguish her actual self and her ideal self. Her actual self acknowledged that she was just a man just like the others, but through her efforts and charitable works, she could touch the heart of many.

The other theory that can be used to explain mother Teresa’s psychological development is psychodynamic theories. The theories focus on the impact of childhood experience on behavior, personality and traits (Plutchik & Kellerman, 1980). In reference to Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development, ego identity is the self-conscious that people attain through social interactions, and it keeps on changing due to the different interactions one encounters during their lifespan. The first God fearing people that Mother Teresa meets is her parents, and during her infancy, they encouraged her to know the word of God and spread it to others. She used to share the word of God with her siblings, whom they were brought up together in godly ways. Mother Teresa was taken to the nunnery where she met a nun whom she viewed as saintly, she admired her so much, and she attributes her social, emotional, and mental development to her. During her lifetime she met the pope who held her dearly because of her charitable works. Mother Teresa had been able to face real life situations majorly poverty, which strengthened her faith and compassion. During her adolescent years, mother Teresa used to question her parents decisions, but her parents were so loving, and they were able to bring her back to the light, this love has gone way in influencing her charitable works to others.

The two personality theories try to explain the psychological developments of mother Teresa but psychodynamic theories explains much better compared to phenomenological theories. Phenomenological theories do not emphasize on inherited traits as part of psychological development. Mother Teresa’s life was greatly influenced by her childhood years. Her parents helped her social, emotional, and intellectual development as well as her siblings. The nunnery played a big part in bringing her back to the right ways when she was lost. These experienced played the biggest role of who she became. The phenomenological theories major on describing her character traits other than explaining them. The psychodynamic theories emphasize on the unconscious motives and experiences during childhood that help to shape one’s personality. Apart from the many interactions that mother Teresa came across during her lifetime, her childhood was the most important of them all. Even the good book says teach the child good ways while he is young and he will never forget this ways during his adulthood, and this is what exactly happened to mother Teresa. The unconscious motives that mother Teresa had during her childhood, such as loving the word of God, influenced every aspect of her entire life.



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