Psychological development is one-directional: from less to more complexity. What we find challenging, fun, interesting, accomplishable, significant, or meaningful becomes more complex with age. What caches our attention and amuses us when we are 5, 10, 30, or 60 are very different things, but the overall pattern is that the level of complexity goes up along with our years. Only in case of disease, stress, trauma, dementia, or the like may it go the other way.
As we mature, our psychology and perspectives on ourselves and on others change and become more complex too. We not only understand the outer world better and see more details and patterns in our surroundings; we also understand our inner worlds, ourselves and other people better. We become increasingly able to take other people’s perspective and to understand our own behavior seen from their point of view.
As this complexity increases, so do our inner or existential freedom and available choices. Not just because we see more options but also because emotionally, we are increasingly released from outer as well as inner constraints. As children our spectrum of choice is limited both by what parents and other adults allow us to do, by our general lack of knowledge and capabilities, and by the way that instincts and emotions rule over us. Only as we mature do we gradually learn how to choose which emotions to heed. The other side of this “inner complexity freedom-to-choose-coin” is that our responsibilities and sense of responsibility increase along with it.
Our minds and these changes in our minds are products of our brains, and as we mature, our brains gradually rewire themselves; our brains literally change as we evolve and mature as persons.
Before we get into our psychological development, we shall take an extremely brief look at the brain, the mind, the evolution of the brain, and complexity as such. We only include this introduction to have a shared frame of reference, not in order to explore the brain, evolution or complexity as such.