What makes us who we are?

Seven layers or stages in normal human development that shape and influence our identity.


    Our genes determine the basic components of our identity as human beings and are inherited from our biological parents.

    In the womb, the human being develops into a physically complete individual able to breathe on his or her own and survive the birth event.


    The care and nurturing we receive or don’t receive in infancy determine our initial development and help establish our attachment style.

    After birth and through the first year of life, the infant’s mind is a blank slate and has virtually no self-awareness, relying entirely on instincts. He or she is dependent on caregivers for all necessities of life, a total dependency that will continue until the child is able to feed, groom, and move by herself or himself.


    The interaction with our peers outside our nuclear family helps develop our sense of belonging to a much larger society of human beings.

    At this stage, while the family continues to exercise the most influence in the child’s development, this influence is augmented by that of the social environment and the interaction with other children. Self-awareness increases greatly and the child begins to realize that he or she is a unique individual and must navigate the push/pull of individuality vs. conformity.


    Learning in a formal or informal school setting helps us understand the basic structures of the world, the dimensions of time, and life itself.


    Learning to form stable and positive relationships of friendship and intimacy with other human beings improves our health and wellbeing.


    Becoming a productive and contributing member of society helps us acquire and maintain a sense of responsibility toward self and others.


    Forming a family and parenting help us get outside ourselves and give unconditionally of what we have and have learned.


    Withdrawing to a lesser role in society helps us accept the realities of our life span and our limited physical resources.