Running head: Erick Erikson’s Theory of Stages
Stages in Human Development
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(August 11, 2010)
Erick Erikson is renowned for his role in improving and expanding Sigmund Freud’s theory of stages. He accepted Freud’s suggestions as actually right, including the more arguable thoughts such as the oedipal complex (Schnell, 1980, p. 591). Erikson also welcomed ideas with reference to the ego that were brought forth by other psychologists such as Heinz Hartmann and Anna Freud. These two also had an inclination toward Freudian ideas. On the other hand, Erikson is to a larger extent societal and customs-oriented than a majority of other Freudians. One of his well-known developments is the epigenetic principle, which states that humans grow through a predestined unfolding of their individualities in eight phases. One’s advancement through each phase is in part established by their success, or lack of it, in all the phases gone by (Schnell, 1980, p. 514). It is much like the unfolding of a flower bud. Each petal opens up at a given time; however, if this natural occurrence is messed about, then that flower’s development is ruined. Erikson’s theory of stages has had an influence in my understanding of the personalities and behaviors of people in society and in workplaces. This is the case especially in stages four, five and six. Stage four
This phase lasts from six to twelve years old. According to Erikson, the main thing here is to develop some diligence while keeping inferiority at bay. Children need to learn what society expects of them. Parents, teachers and peers, all have a role to play during this stage (Erikson, 1979, p. 6). A child whose success is restrained, because of harsh peers, for example, grows a sense of incompetence within them. In later stages of life, such a child will be out to correct whatever injustices were done to him or her. I find this to be true since it is happening to me. As a child, I underwent through a number of mistreatments that ranged from physical, emotional and psychological. This I believe is the root driving force behind my passion in the fight for children’s rights. I also find myself preferring to carry out single ventures rather than group ventures. The cause for this is the fact that I was adopted for a good number of years and thus never learned to develop connections with acquaintances. Stage five
The fifth stage in human development according to Erikson is adolescence which commences with puberty and ends at about eighteen years old (Erikson, 1979, p. 6). During this period, as is always evident in society, the main thing is for one to attain ego distinctiveness and try at all costs to keep role confusion at bay.
Ego identity refers to one knowing who they really are and how they merge with the social order that exists. What it actually demands is for one to combine all that they have learned concerning life and oneself and then come up with a cohesive character that the society accepts as purposeful.
This stage can be actually made easier by society by first ensuring that there is a conventional adult way of life that an adolescent accords respect (Stade, 1976, p. 11). There also needs to be clear and unrestricted communication between all parties.
The social set up also needs to give provision for distinct rites of passage. These should be in the form of feats or rites which assist in separating the grown-up from the child. Through this way, the difference between the weak and careless period of early days and the controlling and conscientious time of maturity is made clear (Erikson, 1979, p. 8).
With modernity and its ways of life taking place in much of society, cases of role confusion are always evident as Erikson pointed out. This means that quite a number of people, especially adolescents, are uncertain about their place in...
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