The Imax Approach Part 3

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Over the last few weeks I have been rolling out the Imax Approach, the idea that people are always at an Imax, doing the best they can at this moment in time.  This week I will explore the first two domains that influence our Imax, the home and social domains.
imax approach examines home social biology perceptions

The Four Domains

Your home environment

I don’t think anyone will argue with me that one of the first main influences on who we are today is our Home Environment: the family we grew up in.  It is just common sense that the influences of this primary and critical environment have had an impact on shaping and molding who we are today.

This Domain emphasizes the importance of our family. The vast majority of human beings want to be attached to other individuals. The qualities of these attachments are profoundly influenced by our early experiences with our family.  (In the next chapter I will explore attachment further as a fundamental component of human interaction).  The home environment represents the experiences, values, and potential devaluation that we grow up with through interaction with parents, siblings and relatives.  It is given a place of honor and respect as the first Domain. From these nascent experiences stem many of our responses to all the other Domains: the social environment, our self-conceptualization, and the inherited genetic components that may be influential in our individual development.

Your social environment

I have kids. My kids are growing up in their home environment. But the family that my wife and I have created is a product of my own home environment and that of Carol’s. Those different experiences have influenced our choices in the next Domain, the social environment.

This Domain builds on the first, extending attachments into the world outside the family circle. In the Social Domain we consider school, work, friends, social pressures, religious choices to marry, to divorce. In this Domain may lay the influence to build a career, to play sports, to do drugs.  It is a critical component of the social networks we build in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, often profoundly impacted by experience in the home environment. It is an extension of Attachment outside of the family. Choices made in the social environment are influenced by experiences in the home Domain, and vice-versa. For example, a conflict at home may lead a child to seek friends who also have conflicts with their parents, creating a social support network. Alternately, a home in which education is encouraged and supported can have an influence on how the child does in school, and their relationships with peers and teachers.

However, the Home Domain is not an immunization against the vagaries of the social domain. I gave a talk recently to parents who are part of an important group called Learn To Cope. These parents have older children who have become addicted to prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet. In my talk I mentioned the group we have at CASTLE, Family Table. Many parents became angry with me, stating that they had meals at home with their kids, but their kids wound up doing drugs anyway. I felt their powerlessness, but also their anger at me. In that moment in time, they thought I was holding them responsible for their kids’ addiction, and suggesting that if they had only had more family time their kids would not have turned to drugs.

This could not have been further from the truth of what I was talking about.  But these parents were angry: they wanted me to change my behavior.  What I was trying to tell them about kids, was what I have spoken about before in these blogs:  Adolescents like to feel pleasure, take risks, and be social. In that context the Social Domain can become powerful, overriding the Home Domain. In fact, as you begin to study the Imax Approach you will find that there is some developmental weighting to the Domains.  In early childhood the Home Domain takes precedence. The family can be a satisfying nucleus for the infant and young child. But as the child grows older, and begins to explore the world outside, the social domain begins to have more influence.

For the children of the Learn To Cope parents, the social domain, which includes not just other peers, but the availability of diverted prescription medicines, influenced their kids, exposing them to these powerful opiates.  But once exposed to the drug, the brain is going to do what the brain is going to do, at its Imax.

Check back Friday for the last two domains