Infantilism as Social Phenomenon and a Sign of Growing Immaturity

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In the modern world, we are increasingly seeing signs of personal immaturity, a decrease in initiative, a depletion of value orientations among young people. The priorities, the general worldview, the principles and ideals of young people today have changed. The desire for self-actualization, self-reflection has faded into the background. Dependence on the opinions of others, lack of decision-making, excessive impulsivity became the main characteristics of the younger generation. All these signs characterize such a phenomenon as infantilism.

The appearance of immaturity in young people is largely due to the peculiarities of society. Parents indulge too much, show to their children too much care, flowing into hyper-care. Such upbringing leads to a decrease in the ability of already grown children to decide something themselves, children get used to it, that all decisions are made without them, by someone else’s will (parents ’will), and continue to treat it as the norm of their existence. Parents, without knowing it, wanting only good for their children, they form an infantile self-consciousness. And only then these same children, having reached physical maturity, have their own families, in which they continue to develop their own life scenario with the formation of infantilism in their children.

Infantile self-consciousness greatly complicates the professional choice of young people. Difficulties arise already at the first stage of choosing a further specialty, admission to an educational institution. After all, the future of a person largely depends on the choice of profession. And if a person does not ask questions about what is of interest to him, what he is willing to devote all his life, and whether he wants to benefit himself and others around him, to develop as a person, as a professional, then education becomes a formality. In this case, the professional choice will be random, and the motivation for further training is extremely low. As a result, the problem of attaining psychological maturity in adolescence becomes particularly important. In social interactions, social infantilism can manifest itself at various levels.

There are at least two levels of social infantilism:

  1. complete unwillingness to take responsibility for yourself and your life, dependent life strategy;
  2. infantilism manifests itself in certain areas of public life (“household infantilism”, “political infantilism” – detachment of an individual and certain social groups from the political life of society, reduction or complete lack of interest in politics, political illiteracy, “professional infantilism ‘).
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A synonym for infantilism is “childishness,” and the opposite of “maturity.” Childishness is manifested in the naive perception of social reality. There are many approaches to the definition of social maturity of the individual.

The term adulthood is often used as a synonym for the term “maturity”, but these are not identical concepts. Psychologists analyze intellectual, ideological, political, moral, labor, civil, financial, professional, moral, spiritual, emotional, personal maturity. Social maturity of the individual is interpreted as the adaptation of the individual to social reality, to society, its social norms, traditions, values, set of roles and statuses. As its main components: responsibility; tolerance; self-development; positive thinking, manifestation of such qualities as empathy, non-conflict and the establishment of long-term interpersonal relationships; ability to adapt the individual to the social environment. Other components of social maturity: social activity, tolerance, self-reflection, creativity, social responsibility, tolerance, self-awareness of a socially significant subject; the formation of the ability to make decisions, including in conditions of uncertainty and risk; be responsible for the consequences of these decisions; the ability to maintain long-term interpersonal relationships, showing empathy, empathy and other qualities of a socially mature personality.

The point of view that social maturity comes with the entry of a person into the stage of professional labor activity and the onset of economic independence from parents is widespread. There is a transformation of life values, an increase in responsibility for themselves, their activities and those around them. The modern world is no longer so strictly related to the observance of the rules of morality, as in previous centuries, there is also a considerable component of the essence of the problem of youth self-realization. That is why most young people have extremely vague moral norms. Hedonistic tendencies and egoism predominate, which sooner or later leads to self-destruction of personality. The problems faced by representatives of the younger generation hinder the self-realization of the individual or make it almost impossible. Sociologists identify several main socio-psychological factors that influence the formation of infantilism among individuals: the complex challenges of time, the inability to lead an independent life, the independent formation of goals and the ways to achieve them. The phenomenon of deferred independent life is realized due to an increased period of living together with parents who overly take care of a young person and often impede his normal labor socialization. The increased period of dependency affects the socio-psychological maturity of young people. The difficulties of modern life force a young man to doubt his own abilities in securing his life and that of his family.

Thus, analyzing a large amount of scientific literature on the problem of infantilism in society, it should be noted that it is very important to study this phenomenon. The phenomenon of mental human immaturity is studied in many areas of science, including philosophy, psychology, pedagogy, and sociology. In philosophy, infantilism is considered as a lack of maturity, manifestations of infantilism are opposed to manifestations of the maturity of the personality. Also, philosophers trace a clear connection between the peculiarities of mental infantilism and the cultural peculiarities of the era in which a person lives. Psychologists see the immaturity of the individual in the absence of the level of the emotional-volitional component of personality sufficient for the age period. Infantile personalities occupy an outwardly accusing position, have an excessive self-esteem and level of aspirations, an egocentric orientation, in case of their own failure they shift the responsibility to others. However, at all times, the important qualities of a mature, adult, different from the infantile personality are activity, responsibility, diligence, and dedication.

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