The Continuum Theory™
The task is….not so much to see what no one has seen; But to think what nobody has yet thought, About that which everybody sees. -Erwin Schrödinger
As Dr. Richard Lerner, in his ‘Concepts and Theories of Human Development’ explains … ‘alternative world views lead us to ask different questions about development’. Not better, just different. The real value of a new worldview and the theories it may bring forth is in its ‘usefulness for descriptions, how well it explains development, and its use in devising new ways to optimize human behavior’.
The Continuum Theory™ provides just such a new world view, a new definition of life span and therefore human development, which more fully explains human development, and opens up new worlds of possibility for reaching the optimum potential of each and every individual.
The concepts for the Continuum Theory™ were developed away from main stream academia. Having been trained both in physics and philosophy, which is what my BA is in, I had a hard time with the philosophy of psychology, so I left NYU’s Graduate School where I was studying Movement therapy. Although Freud’s concepts were intuitive and well ahead of their time, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of building a science on them. It felt like a lot of the terminology was without strict functional definitions, convoluted imagery of the struggle between the ego, id and superego, and the Oedipal Complex into which all problems had to fit, Jung with his concepts of the twelve archetypes, and the universal unconscious was not a better fit for me. The developmental theories which focused primarily on the first 5-10 years of life - the theories of Piaget, Erikson, Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner, Ainsworth, Watson – all used observation and then developed a statement about that observation. Kant said, “Observation without theory is blind, theory without observation is empty”, clearly intimating which has to come first. A theory is an intuitive insight into the nature of reality which needs to precede observation not the other way around – like Schrödinger said – “..about something everybody sees…but nobody thought yet” - otherwise it is only a statement about an observation and not a theory in my opinion. And finally the main reason I left mainstream academia was because, again in my opinion, if a theory of human development is not just a truism about a set of observable data, but truly a theory, we should be able to apply it and get answers to all the issues and problems surrounding human development, not just from ages 0-10, or from 60-80, or mid-life, or about dysfunctions, but each and every phase, stage and issue of life. A theory of human development needs to be able to give life to answers no matter where we look – which I did not see with the present set of theories and still don’t, and is why I decided to search for answers that satisfied these two criterions for me. I placed myself at the margins – here is what Joseph Melnick wrote about us working at the margins.
“The Power and Price of Working at the Margin” – Joseph Melnick, Gestalt Review, 2001
“If we believe that growth occurs at the boundary and that remaining marginal in the sense of living in two worlds is the desired stance it follows that we need to look at the positive values of the “irrelevance definition” of marginality. We need to be cautious about embracing too much of the mainstream judgment that if we are not central to the dominant central perspective then we are of limited professional and theoretical value.
When you are marginal, you have the freedom to be more experimental. You are not tied down by the rules and introjects of the prevailing culture. Nor are you governed by bureaucrats who often stifle creativity, replacing it by rigid standards of conduct and practice. In sum, when pondering the question, “Are we becoming too marginal?” my response is, “Not marginal enough.” I believe that our challenge is to hold onto our marginality in the future.”
I believe that we continually have to develop universal new ideas and theories for growth and development to occur in any area. This is also true of our ideas of LIFE SPAN, HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND THE SELF – which are the areas I have been focusing on.