Erik Erikon Theories of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erickson was a theorist whose work was greatly influenced by another famous theorist by the named of Sigmund Freud. Erikson’s Psychosocial Development Theory emphasized growth and development throughout the lifep. Unlike Freud, Erickson believed that one is influenced by culture and society. Erikson proposes that throughout one’s lifep and in each developmental stage a conflict could occur and that these conflicts were conflicts with society’s needs. Erikson prosed that with each successful completion of the eight developmental stages and resolution of conflicts with society, this would produce a healthy personality. The resolution of these conflicts according to Erikson would result in the acquisition of basic virtues that would assist in future conflict resolution. Erikson proposed that failure to complete a stage would prevent further successful development. We will discuss Erikson’s Intimacy vs. Isolation phase in the young adult, Generativity vs. Stagnation in adulthood, and Integrity vs. Despair in maturity.

In Erikson’s Intimacy vs. Isolation phase, the major conflict is centered around forming intimate and loving relationships. The virtue to gain in this phase is love. This phase occurs in young adulthood between the age of 21 to 39 years of age. Erikson believed this phase is one of building a romantic relationship but, could also include building friendships that are close, honest, and loving in nature. Successful resolution of the conflict in intimacy allows for the development of meaningful, deep and loving relationships. One can form bonds with friends and family that are lasting. If one fails to resolve conflict within this stage, they will become lonely and isolate themselves. This person will have a poor romantic relationship, friendships, or has a a poor family relationship.

An example of successful completion within this phase or stage is a person who can bond with others and can form a loving relationship that can lead to marriage or friendships that last throughout a lifetime. If the person fails to accomplish the task of intimacy, they will not be capable of connecting with others and forming a bonding relationship. This person begins to feel lonely and eventually will begin to isolate themselves.

Erikson’s Generativity vs. Stagnation phase occurs in middle adulthood between the ages of 40 to 65. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of care. In this phase, a person is looking to leave a mark in society or the world. They do so by nurturing or mentoring the younger generations. Generativity leads to a sense of being part of something that is bigger than you. This person will be productive at work, becomes involved in organizations, and will assist in guiding or caring for the younger generation. The person gains a sense of usefulness and feels accomplished.

An example of such a person would be one that started an organization for the preservation of ocean quality for future generations. If a person fails to succeed in this phase, it leads to a sense of stagnation. The person can become disconnected or uninvolved. This person begins to feel unproductive because they failed to find a way to contribute to their society. An example of this individual would be your grumpy neighbor who stays at home and prefers not to be involved or care for an issue. This person may have the intention to leave a legacy but can not find a way or connection to be involved.

The final phase of Erikson’s theory, Ego Integrity vs. Despair occurs between the ages of 65 years and older. The age of maturity. Here we have contemplated our accomplishments. We develop integrity if we felt we had a successful life. The virtue to gain is wisdom. An example of this person would be your grandma’s amazing stories of adventure and her expression of satisfaction with her life experiences and accomplishments. If the person felt the guilt of past event and was remorseful for not completing life goals, they may become dissatisfied with their life. This retiree can become hopeless and depressed which leads to despair. An example of such a person would be your great uncle making statements such as, “I should have done this.” He is remorseful for not completing the things he truly wanted to do in life.

In conclusion, we understand that the unsuccessful resolution of conflict and failure to gain virtue according to Erikson can hinder our development cognitively. Unlike Freud, Erikson believed that personality occurs across the lifep and not simply in childhood. Erikson’s view brought to the forefront that life doesn’t end early but that we are always developing well into our late adult years. What we can take away from the stages of Intimacy vs. Isolation, Generativity vs. Stagnation and Ego Integrity vs. Despair is that we can always change certain circumstances in our lives if we choose to become better individuals. We can also take away a better understanding of the actions and behaviors of our elder generations. By understanding Erikson’s theory, we can take part in helping others successfully meet their developmental needs.

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