What theories can describe the impact of car accident on a teenage girl's lifespan developemt as described below?A 17 year old girl survived a car accident, but she is now afraid of cars and driving.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The girl you describe has suffered a trauma that could be well-related to a mid- to high-level type of post traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD.

Since she suffered this accident during her teenage years, you must consider that her frontal lobe is close to the last stages of full development, since it is one of the latest corpus' to fully grow.

Applying theory, you could say that she has made a connection between the negative experience of crashing and the normal experience of driving hence making a normal experience tainted with negativity.

The theorist that used these type of experiences as ways to study development was B.F. Skinner. One of his hypothesis within his theory of behavior is averse stimuli. This is likely what happened to that girl: The stimulus for driving has turned aversive due to her accident.

What could be predicted about her growth process is that she would have to resolve this fear through desensitisation and through behavior modification in therapy where the experience is brought up (along with all its negative instances) so that all the affect that comes with it is controlled systematically.

However, if she does NOT resolve the situation, she would have what Erickson deemed a gap in psychosocial development that will lead to further misses in her social growth process as a result of her inability to make a normal connection to a normal necessity which is to transport oneself from one place to another.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we presumed a determinist point of view, the argument can be made that the girl won't drive again.  The determinist sees consciousness unfolding as according to previous results and lacks the element of change.  Accordingly, the determinist would see the girl as being unable to drive because she would associate her fear of cars and driving with the accident and experience an inability to overcome it.  If we presumed the theory of individual empowerment, then the argument can be made that she would be able to overcome her fear of cars and driving and the memories of the accident.  This theory enables the girl to talk openly about what happened, how it was an isolated incident, and how she has the emotional and physical strength to endure through this moment.  This theory is something that requires a great deal of talking and communicating through the fears of what happened and how it can be overcome.