Arrested Developmentby Kathryn Wenzel on 05/29/14
by Robert & Kathryn Wenzel on 10/31/13
Warning: This blog contains concepts that to some may seem very simplistic, yet in reality, are extremely dynamic. Even so, we hope it will bring a point across that must be heard to instill everlasting change.
Arrested development is the failure of our Adult to fully develop because our Ego got in the way. The Ego, who had a 12 year head start, was enabled to continue to develop well into our later years because of our dependence on Drugs, Alcohol, Sex and/or Over Eating in order to deal with life.
In the first 12 years of our life, we go through a stage of development known as Dependence. Typically, we are dependent upon our parents, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma and Grandpa, a step parent or a parent-like substitute. This is the time where we develop what we call the Ego. The Ego’s focus is on “Me” and worships the UNholy trinity; “Me, Myself & I”. The Ego also wants what it wants, when it wants it, and that’s usually now! A sense of what is known as ‘entitlement’ or otherwise known as ‘pride’ will develop. The Ego is also extremely sensitive, and when triggered, makes rash decisions based upon hurt or angry feelings. Basically, our Ego is a hypersensitive, selfish, controlling, angry little child inside us all. We all have one. It’s just some come out way more often than others.
During the next nine years of Development, from 12 years old to 21 years old, we go through the toughest stage of development known to man; adolescence. This stage is also known as Independence and if there are any interruptions, we are going to have problems with relationships later on.
Unfortunately many of us go through what we call a second stage of Dependence. Instead we transfer the dependence we had on our Parents, to that of D.A.S.E. Drugs, Alcohol, Sex and/or over Eating to self-medicate and help us deal with the pressures of life. It’s at this age, when we first begin to depend on DASE, that we arrest our development. The Ego is stuck there, so whenever we are triggered, we behave emotionally and morally at that age. If we fail to get it together, we end up pushing others away, shutting down and/or running back to DASE, which keeps us stuck forever more.
The third stage of Dependence, is the most written about stage, for there are 500 to 1000 books out there on this topic; Co-Dependence. Man meets woman and puts on his best, just as she does, both exhibiting Adult behavior. If things work out, they begin a relationship, and six months to two years later (typical honeymoon stage) one or both of their Ego’s start to come out. This causes the other’s Ego to emerge or visa versa and the battle begins.
Sooner or later a part of the Ego we call the “Parent”, comes out and now we really have a war on our hands. We call it WW III, ending in separation or the Big “D”; divorce. Generally, with these battles, one or both retreat to self-medicate only to repeat the cycle time after time after time again.
This dynamic, we believe, may be the number one cause of divorce in the U.S. today. The older generation’s marriages typically lasted 30 years before one would call it quits. Today’s couples last three weeks, three months or three years tops before calling it quits.
Let’s discuss the development of the Ego to understand what’s really going on. To simplify this we developed an inverted triangle of ACE to help;
The A stands for accountability, or the lack thereof.
The C stands for control. That’s what the Ego wants and needs in every situation.
The E stands for the self-Esteem, which is all the Ego cares about anyway… (Just like the narcissist we all hear about).
From birth on, the Ego is developed and grows to be quite the character. If we are not careful, it can and will continue to grow well into the later years.
During the first year of life, the Ego learns a powerful way to manipulate its environment, by crying. Soon the parents are responding by feeding, burping, loving on, feeding, changing and responding to every beck and call of the child. Later on, the child modifies crying with what we call the whine. This is a very useful tool; it is used to manipulate a parent when crying isn’t quite called for at the time.
Next, year two, is where the child learns to use their anger to get what they want or need. When combined with crying and whining we have a most effective way of getting needs met with “The Temper Tantrum”.
Also during the second year of a child’s life their vocabulary is kicking in and they begin the basic art of arguing. Starting with two very basic words; “No!” and the “W” word “Why?” As their vocabulary grows, so does their ability to argue with us.
The third, and one of the more powerful forms of control, is learned during this second year of life; to ignore. They look you right in the eye. You know they heard what you said. You turn around to do something and they go do whatever it was they were going to do anyway. When you say something to them, they respond with a “what?” and that look...AAAaaa!!! Yup, year two.
Year three, is where things begin to get interesting and children start to get sophisticated. First, they learn how to be nice. That’s where they are great, as long as they get what they want. As soon as you ask them to pick up, get ready for bed or anything they don’t want to do; they revert to crying, whining, getting angry, arguing and ignoring you. At the moment you are about to let them have it, they ask, “what?” with that look like they have no idea anything’s wrong. AAAaaa!!! We know. We feel your pain!
Next, and we are still at age three, they learn about “false sincerity”. This is where they become really sneaky, hiding things from us and lying. The lying thing is the most frustrating and only gets worse over the next ten or twenty years.
Age four, is where they learn about instigation. Making fun of each other, and boy isn’t this a joy? Some actually get so good at it; we end up laughing so hard we pee ourselves. Some of the highest paid people in this country learned this skill and mastered it at the detriment of their peers in school. Adults also call this sarcasm. When used with the “I was only kidding” line, it can be a very effective tool of controlling others and teaching them a lesson.
Now comes age five. This is where we learn about intimidation. The use of fear to get our needs met. For an example picture this scenario. Say you and I are best friends and everyone at school knows it. Even our moms are good friends. So we are playing on the play ground at school and meet Billy, Bobby and Susie. Now I say something embarrassing about you and they all start laughing. I feel great because I am the center of attention. You, not so much. So, you say “Hey” I respond with “I was only kidding!” Then I say something even more embarrassing and they’re all peeing their pants. You yell “Stop!” and I yell “I said I was sorry!” You say “if you don’t stop, I will tell Ms. McAnerney!” So what do I do? I go tell Ms. McAnerney that you’re bothering us. She looks at Billy, Bobby and Susie, who are all smiling, and having a good time and she looks at you. “Come to my office” she yells. I just taught those three kids, “look what I will do to my own best friend. Guess what I’ll do to you if you cross me!” There is no empathy. I’m just focused on me, myself and my self- esteem for my empathy hasn’t quite developed yet. If we learn these forms of manipulation in the first five years of our life, how good will we be by eight years old? How about twelve?
Quick side Note: In all our years of counseling we have learned a little bit about parents, teachers and adults who work with kids. Ironically, it will only take about fifteen seconds to teach you what we learned.
Adults and Parents cry and whine about how hard their job is, get angry, argue with and ignore their kids, act nice until crossed and then lie to their kid’s face and deny it later. They say rude, condescending things and try to use intimidation to get what they want. Then give them privileges they didn’t really earn because they feel guilty. This is false sincerity.
So for years we’ve been role modeling the very behavior we want the kids to stop doing. In all those years, kids have gotten better, or worse, at manipulation whichever way you want to look at it.
By twelve years old, we now move into Middle School where many are introduced to drugs, alcohol, sex and overeating. All are imperative in settling down the ricochet effect, even if it’s just temporarily. Another problem is, this becomes a habit. We inadvertently arrest our development at that age; emotionally and morally and it becomes a huge issue later in life when we are introduced to relationships with the opposite gender. Isn’t that why we are here reading this book in the first place?
As we get older our Ego continues to hang around. The older we get, the harder life seems to get with things like marriage, kids and a demanding job. When we come home, we are stressed, and the slightest demand from our spouse or children just seems to set us off. We either shut down and withdraw, or yell and scream, and sometimes, we do both. We think to ourselves “Enough of this,” it’s easier to just return to DASE; (Drugs, Alcohol, Sex or Over Eating) to self-medicate.
The answer is, understanding that this is for real and actually doing something about it now. The first thing is to stop all self medication behaviors. The second thing to do is to get specific counseling to address these issues head on. Third thing to do is to consistently attend a weekly accountability support group to help you do recovery successfully. These three things must be done simultaneously to truly grow and change successfully.
The Triangle of ACE
A C E
ACCOUNTABILITY: There is No self-accountability. We use the five W’s (who, what, where, when & why) to Minimize, Distort, Blame, Justify and Rationalize our behaviors.
CONTROL: This is all about Power & Control which is just another way to say Manipulation.
ESTEEM: It’s all about me, and what I want and need. There is no empathy at all.
Phase I Ego is Developed
This occurs in the first 12 years of our life.
Phase II The Arrested Part
Adult was to be developed from 12 to 21
but because we started self medicating we
arrest this development stage.
Phase III The Struggles
that never seem to end:
Our Ego just won’t quit doing the most
stupidest things at home and now at work.
To see Rob explain Arrested Development in a video go to our "videos" page