Running head: Nature vs. Nurture
Nature vs. Nurture
Donna L. Herrera
March 7, 2012
Running head: Nature vs. Nurture
2 Nature vs. Nurture
My husband and I ran a group home for teenage girls for over nine years. The girls were struggling with “major” life issues, some had been abandoned, others had sexual identity issues, a few were addicted to drugs, and struggling with Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa. Many of these girls survived their environments and some did not. Was it something they were exposed to or was it something they were predisposed to? Nature or Nurture, or perhaps it was a little of both.
The Nature vs. Nurture theory has been argued, fought over and debated for centuries by such intellectuals as Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Darwin. The phrase Nature vs. Nurture has been attributed to Francis Galton, who was also the cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton became an openly anti-Christian bigot. Galton wrote about prayer: "I do not propose any special inquiry whether the general laws of physical nature are ever changed in response to prayer: whether, for instance, success has attended the occasional prayers in the Liturgy when they have been used for rain, for fair weather, for the stilling of the sea in a storm, or for the abatement of a pestilence. The modern feeling of this country is so opposed to a belief in the occasional suspension of the general laws of nature that most English readers would smile at such an investigation." (Memories of My Life, Galton, Nabu Press, August 28, 2010)
Nature vs. Nurture is an argument that, in all probability, will never be settled. I know that for me, I am no closer to a choice than I was when I started working with teenagers. Edward Shorter says this about the Nature-Nurture opinions: “Yet in the 1950s, advocates of psychoanalysis and community psychiatry argued that biology played virtually no role, that it was all nurture and no nature. So the argument that nature and nurture stand in some kind of Nature vs. Nurture
3 fifty-fifty relationship is already quite extreme from the viewpoint of thirty years ago. One need not be an organic absolutist to place organic factors in their proper perspective: Nature and Nurture intertwine.” (A History of Psychiatry, 1997 E. Shorter pp 287) I think I most agree with this assessment as I have seen both in action and I have seen both be dominant in certain people.
The nature theory is that we are all born with predisposed traits, such as personality, intelligence and even sexual orientation; these traits are not influenced by the environment but biology. The nurture side or the “Tabula Blanca” (Blank Slate) is the theory that each of us is born with a “Blank Slate”: and that our environment determines traits such as personality, intelligence, and sexual orientation.
James Garbarino says this: “The question of whether bad behavior is preprogrammed genetically is one of the central controversies in child development. An informed starting point is to remember that child development requires the interplay of biology and society, the characteristics children bring with them into the world and the way the world treats them, nature and nurture. Sociobiology emphasizes a genetic origin for social behavior: some characteristics promote survival, and thus reproduction, more than other characteristics. In contrast, what researchers Benjamin Pasamaniack calls social biology concentrates on the social origins of biological phenomena (e.g., the impact of poverty on infant health). The key is that there are social implications of genetically based individual behaviors; the social impact of biologically rooted traits can affect the survival of individual people and groups of related people, and thus the likelihood that...
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