Even though different moral issues may be developed from the existing different personalities of women, many people often draw their attention to a single feature of their personality; the extremism in the way they portray themselves. It is relatively clear that the desire for exhibitionism is widely expressed by women than by men. If this craving remains within its boundaries, it enhances the beauty of humanity. Nevertheless, if it exceeds its limits, it may result in the formation of disorders. In the contemporary society, women portray themselves in different forms but the most obvious one is through jewellery and dressing (Barry, 2002).
Apart from covering the body, the other objective of dressing is to enhance the beauty of an individual’s personality as long as that person does not spend so much money on that dress. However, women have a rather different objective with regard to dressing. Many women put on dresses so as to compete with their counterparts. In addition, most of them find it difficult to put on the same dress in two different occasions for the fear that they will face a lot of deprecation from their friends. Throughout history, the status and taste of a woman has often been measured by the value of her dress. On the other hand, the idea of jewellery has also raised lots of concern for women. A woman who wears steel jewellery is not given much respect as compared to a woman who wears gold, yet gold is just a useless metal that is only expensive because it has a high demand. The worth of dressing and gold is highly linked with the old psychology of women (Barry, 2002).
According to Ballou (2002), the old psychology of women is associated with the idea that women often want to spend so much money in order to portray the image of their unique personalities. In doing so, they force their fathers and husbands to acquire money through improper means such as corruption. Therefore, they create a situation where a need arises for them to adopt to an artificial life rather than a simple one. Consequently, this leads to the development of a wicked personality rather than the prevailing innocent one.
Relational-cultural theory was born after Jean Baker Millers published his book titled ‘Toward a new psychology of women’ in the year 1976. The innermost focus of Miller’s book emerged from her clinical experience with women when she discovered that the central aspect of her clients’ relationships was not consistent with the conventional theories of human development and counseling that she had learnt in medical school. Miller and other feminine theorists of her time affirmed that the conventional theoretical models laid so much emphasis on autonomy, separation and individuation as indicators of psychological health and emotional maturity, something which they strictly disagreed with (Barry, 2002).
Just like other feminist and multicultural theorists, Miller hinted that the lack of consideration of the relational and contextual experiences of women and other marginalized groups of people can lead to the devaluation and misunderstanding of significant factors which contribute to the psychological comfort of all the members of a given society. Accordingly, the relational-cultural theory harmonizes the social and multicultural justice movements through identifying the ways through which socio-cultural and contextual challenges can hinder the ability of an individual to generate, uphold and participate in life and therapy relationships that enhance growth. In addition, it illuminates the convolutions of human development through providing an extensive evaluation of the growth of relational competencies throughout the lifetime of an individual.
Within the last three and a half decades, Miller and other social justice, feminist and multicultural theorists and advocates noted with a lot of concern how the conventional theories that seek to explain counseling and human development are developed from the Western ideology of individualism which is responsible for perpetuating the behaviors of deterministic control and hyper-competitiveness in individuals. According to them, this ideology is built from the notion of self sufficiency, the myth of mastery and the belief that people assume their rightful positions in the society through merit, things which they strictly differ with (Miller, 1998).
Relational cultural theory is an all-inclusive theory of counseling and development that supports the social justice and multicultural movements through providing an unconventional theoretical framework which allows mental health professionals to investigate how matters that are related to gender roles, socialization, subordination, marginalization, dominance and power influence relational development and mental health of all people. This theory emerged from the conception that conventional theories of psychotherapy and human development did not sufficiently address the relational experiences of women and those of other marginalized groups of people. It is therefore a theory that offers an unconventional comprehensive model of relational growth throughout the lifetime of an individual.
According to this theory, the main aim of development is not creating an isolated and independent self, but rather the capacity to actively involve in relationships that enhance the interests of everyone. This theory views isolation as one of the major sources of suffering in the life of an individual. It also states that progress towards mutuality can only be achieved through relational development. In addition, it states that relational development is the main tool that can steer an individual to move out of isolation. This theory affirms that growth and growth enhancing relationships are characterized by activities such as emotional availability, responsiveness, openness to influence other people and events, and mutual respect. Concern and empathy flow in all directions in a process that affirms personal experiences and exceeding of the isolated sense of self: an individual’s sense of self is experienced as an element of a whole relational unit. Therefore, this model enhances the development of relationships and the whole community at large (Miller, 1998).
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Consequently, the establishment of mutually enhancing networks can lead to the transformation of the society’s institutions such as homes, schools and workplaces. As such, the relational cultural theory is concerned with the development of connectedness and relatedness. It stresses on the centrality and significance of connection and mutuality in people’s lives. It is worth to note that most of the western societies and other prevailing societal models pay very little attention to relatedness and community, but instead encourage behaviors such as disconnection, hyper-individualism and competition. In contrast, this theory encourages the creation of resilient and resistant communities which uphold unconventional relational values, and whose members support each other in the quest for change.
Relational cultural theory was founded on the assumption that the experiences of shame, isolation, micro-aggressions, oppression, humiliation and marginalization are relational traumas and infringements which produce human suffering and therefore threaten the existence of human race. This theory states that social exclusion, cultural oppression and several other forms of social inequalities generate human pain and suffering which is normally experienced by marginalized and devalued groups of people.
In conclusion, relational cultural theory proffers an alternative to the conventional theories of psychological development. While conventional theories state that mature functioning is characterized by the transformation of an individual or a community of people from dependence to independence, relational cultural theory states that the process of maturity involves the transformation towards connectedness and development of a relationship in the entire lifespan. According to Ballou (2002), relational cultural theory can be applied at both individual and societal levels. The therapy of this model involves mutual understanding and working with shame.
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