ERIK ERIKSONS STAGES OF PSYCHOSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Eriksons Theory of Psychosocial Development has eight distinct stages, each with two possible outcomes. According to the theory, successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality and successful interactions with others. Failure to successfully complete a stage can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and therefore a more unhealthy personality and sense of self. These stages, however, can be resolved successfully at a later time. 1. Trust vs Mistrust (birth - 1 year) Is the world a safe place or is it full of unpredictable events and accidents waiting to happen? Basic trust in the world has an ability to affect events.
If the care the child receives is consistent and reliable then the child will develop a sense of trust. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of hope. However, if the care has been harsh or inconsistent, unpredictable and unreliable then the child will develop a sense of mistrust Parents need to encourage the child to become more independent whilst at the same time protecting the child so that constant failure is avoided. A delicate balance is required from the parent .... parents must try not to do everything for the child but if the child fails at a particular task they must not criticize the child for failures and accidents (particularly when toilet training). The aim has to be self control without a loss of self-esteem. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of will.
If children in this stage are encouraged and supported in their increased independence, they become more confident and secure in their own ability to survive in the world. If children are criticized, overly controlled, or not given the opportunity to assert themselves, they begin to feel inadequate in their ability to survive, and may then become overly dependent upon others, lack selfesteem, and feel a sense of shame or doubt in their own abilities. 2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (2 - 3 years) The child is developing physically and becoming more mobile. 3. Initiative vs. Guilt (3 - 5 years) The child takes initiatives
which the parents will often try to stop in order to protect the child. Children assert themselves more frequently. They begin to plan activities, make up games, and initiate activities with others. If given this opportunity, children develop a sense of initiative, and feel secure in their ability to lead others and make decisions. Conversely, if this tendency is squelched, either through criticism or control, children develop a sense of guilt. They may feel like a nuisance to others and will therefore remain followers, lacking in self-initiative. It is at this stage that the child will begin to ask many questions as his thirst for knowledge grows. If the parents treat the childs questions as trivial, a nuisance or embarrassing or other aspects of their behavior as threatening then the child may have feelings of guilt for being a
nuisance. A healthy balance between initiative and guilt is important. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of purpose. 4. Industry (competence) vs. Inferiority (6 - 12 years) Teachers begin to take an important role in the childs life as they teach the child specific skills. It is at this stage that the childs peer group will gain greater significance and will become a major source of the childs self esteem. If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities and therefore may not reach his potential.
If the child cannot develop the specific skill they feel society is demanding then they may develop a sense of inferiority. Some failure may be necessary so that the child can develop some modesty. Yet again, a balance between competence and modesty is necessary. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of competence. 5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (13 - 18 years) During adolescence, the transition from childhood to adulthood is most important. Children are becoming more independent, and begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc. This is a major stage in development
where the child has to learn the roles she/ he will occupy as an adult. It is during this stage that the adolescent will re-examine their identity and try to find out exactly who they are. Erikson suggests that two identities are involved: the sexual and the occupational. What should happen at the end of this stage is a reintegrated sense of self, of what one wants to do or be, and of ones appropriate sex role. During this stage the body image of the adolescent changes. Teens may feel uncomfortable about their body for a while until they can adapt and grow into the changes. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of fidelity. 6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (young adulthood) Occurring in Young adulthood, we begin to share ourselves more intimately with others.
We explore relationships leading toward longer term commitments with someone other than a family member. Successful completion can lead to comfortable relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship. Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression. 7. Generativity vs. Stagnation (middle adulthood) During middle adulthood, we establish our careers, settle down
within a relationship, begin our own families and develop a sense of being a part of the bigger picture. We give back to society through raising our children, being productive at work, and becoming involved in community activities and organizations. By failing to achieve these objectives, we become stagnant and feel unproductive. 8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair (old age) As we grow older and become senior citizens, we tend to slow down our productivity, and explore life as a retired person.
It is during this time that we contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life. If we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our pasts, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.
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