The Nature Of Development Essay

2436 words - 10 pages

There are millions of them. Not a single one is the same, no matter how similar they may look. Of course, I am talking about people. Many factors influence the way humans work. They are shaped by parents, peers, and biology. From their mannerisms, to the way their chin points, nurture and nature affect every aspect of human life. There is a debate brewing in the psychological, sociological and scientific communities over which of these two have the higher influence. While most of the members of these communities acknowledge the fact that both nature and nurture affect development, some believe that only one solely determines certain aspects of life, such as gender. Dr. John Money is one of these people; he believes that gender identity is solely a product of rearing. He advocates that when humans are born, they have a blank psychosexual slate. That is to say that, at birth, individuals do not have a gender identity, and they can be raised as either male or female. He does have his skeptics though. Milton Diamond was the first to challenge his beliefs publicly. Nature versus nurture is an argument that has been around for ages, and research is still being done to help to determine which the true winner is.
In order to better understand all aspects of the debate, one must have knowledge of certain, key terms in relation to the studies. Nurture, in this paper, is in reference to parenting styles, peer influences, and other external factors such as social acceptability. Nature will be referring to biological evidence, physical and psychological similarities between twins, and how people actually feel when questioned about how they personally feel their life has been influenced. In discussing the John/Joan case, references to a “blank psychosexual slate” simply mean that an individual’s sense of gender, psychosexuality, is empty and open to influence.
Understanding the John/Joan experiment is essential to understanding the positions taken in the nature versus nurture debate. It is the story of the boy who was born Bruce Reimer, became Brenda, and then went back to his masculinity as David. In the summer of 1965, Ron and Janet Reimer, residents of Winnipeg, Canada, gave birth to two healthy, twin boys (CBC News par. 1). However, when they were only seven months old, the boys had trouble urinating (Colapinto 10). After visiting the doctor, the Reimers learned that their boys, Bruce and Brian, had a condition called phimosis, a swelling of the foreskin, which blocked the urinary meatus, the exit of the urethra, when urination was attempted. (Colapinto 10). Luckily, circumcision easily corrects phimosis; however, when Bruce was being circumcised, something went wrong (CBC News par. 4). “‘What do you mean there has been an accident,’” are the words that came from Janet Reimer’s mouth (Colapinto 14). The doctors then explained that they had, unnecessarily, used a laser to perform the operation, but something went wrong and they had burned the...

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