Psychology Study Material: Erik Erikson՚s Theory of Psychosocial Development

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Erik Erikson՚s Theory of Psychosocial Development

  • Student and follower of Sigmund Freud.
  • Left his native land, Germany, in 1930՚s and immigrated to America, where he studied Native
  • American traditions of human development and continued his work as a psychoanalyst.
  • Broke with his teacher over the fundamental view about what motivates/drives human behaviour. For Freud, it was ‘biology’ or more specifically the biological instincts of life and aggression (Eros and Thanatos) . For Erikson, the most important force that drives human behaviour and which helps in the development of personality was “social interaction” .
  • His developmental theory of the “Eight Stages of Man” (Erikson, 1950) was unique and different in the sense that it covered the entire lifespan rather than ‘childhood’ and ‘adolescent development’ .
  • He believed that social environment combined with biological maturation results in a set of “crises” that must be resolved.
  • The individual passes through the “sensitive period” and crisis at different stages, which has to be resolved successfully before a new crisis is presented. The results of the resolution, whether successful or not, are passed on to the next crisis and provide the foundation for its resolution

Erickson՚s Psychosocial Developmental Stages

Trust vs. Mistrust (Oral-Sensory Stage) : Birth – 18months: Infancy

  • The infant develops a sense of who and when to trust.
  • He learns when to protect oneself and be cautious.

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt: 18 Months to 3 Years: Early Childhood

  • The child develops a sense of independence and is able to understand and recognize his limitations. If independence is encouraged, he develops a sense of autonomy.
  • If the child is overly restricted, over-protected, or criticized it may result into self-doubt and shame. Shame occurs when child is overly self-conscious when negatively exposed. Self-doubt occurs when parents overly shame the child, e. g. about elimination.

Initiative vs. Guilt: 3 to 6 Years: Late Childhood

  • The child is able to try out and explore various things.
  • Indulges in various activities, both motor and intellectual.
  • Guilt arises after doing the negative acts e. g. aggression.

Industry vs. Inferiority: 6 to 11 Years: School Age

Child is busy in

  • Building,
  • Creating, and
  • Accomplishing

Receives systematic instruction as well as fundamentals of technology.

  • Learns norms and standards of the society in which he lives.
  • Socially decisive age.
  • The child gains self- esteem.

Identity vs. Role Confusion: Adolescence

  • The person has a coherent sense of self.
  • Plans to actualize one՚s abilities or becomes confused when unable to accomplish task.
  • Problems may result in impulsive attitude or extended immaturity.
  • Indecisiveness may occur.
  • In extreme cases there can be a possibility of antisocial behaviour.

Intimacy vs. Isolation: 18 to 25 Years

Young adulthood (beginning in the early 20s and may extend to the 40s)

Young adults focus on

  • Maintaining one՚s individuality
  • Making friends
  • Relationships and intimacy

Adulthood Generativity vs. Stagnation: Middle Adulthood (40 - 60 Years)

o Age of

  • Creativity
  • Productivity
  • Concern about guiding and helping the next generation
  • Concern for others or self-indulgence
  • Impoverishment of self

Ego Integrity vs. Despair: Old Age

The person develops a sense of acceptance of life as it was lived.

Ego Integrity vs. Despair: Old Age
  • Importance of the people and relationships that individual developed over the lifespan
  • Comes to terms with approaching death.
  • Some sort of despair is inevitable.