Erik Erikson

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Erik Erikson
A description of the theory and how or why it was established

Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is one of the best-known theories of personality in psychology.

Main elements – ego identity (definition: Ego identity is the conscious sense of self that we develop through social interaction.)

According to Erikson, our ego identity is constantly changing due to new experience and information we acquire in our daily interactions with others.

He organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death

Psychosocial Stage 1 - Trust vs. Mistrust
1. Infancy: Birth to 18 Months
Basic strength: Drive and Hope

* The first stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development occurs between birth and one year of age and is the most fundamental stage in life.

* Because an infant is utterly dependent, the development of trust is based on the dependability and quality of the child’s caregivers.

* If a child successfully develops trust, he or she will feel safe and secure in the world. Caregivers who are inconsistent, emotionally unavailable, or rejecting contribute to feelings of mistrust in the children they care for. Failure to develop trust will result in fear and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable.

Psychosocial Stage 2 - Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
2. Early Childhood: 18 Months to 3 Years
Basic Strengths: Self-control, Courage, and Will

* The second stage of Erikson's theory of psychosocial development takes place during early childhood and is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control.

* Like Freud, Erikson believed that toilet training was a vital part of this process. However, Erikson's reasoning was quite different then that of Freud's. Erikson believe that learning to control one’s body functions leads to a feeling of control and a sense of independence.

* Other important events include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences, and clothing selection.

* Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt.

Psychosocial Stage 3 - Initiative vs. Guilt
3. Play Age: 3 to 5 Years
Basic Strength: Purpose

* During the preschool years, children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interaction.

* Children who are successful at this stage feel capable and able to lead others. Those who fail to acquire these skills are left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt and lack of initiative.3

Psychosocial Stage 4 - Industry vs. Inferiority
4. School Age: 6 to 12 Years
Basic Strengths: Method and Competence

* This stage covers the early school years from approximately age 5 to 11.

* Through social interactions, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities.

* Children who are encouraged and commended by parents and teachers develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will doubt their ability to be successful.

Psychosocial Stage 5 - Identity vs. Confusion
5. Adolescence: 12 to 18 Years
Basic Strengths: Devotion and Fidelity

* During adolescence, children are exploring their independence and developing a sense of self.

* Those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement through personal exploration will emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control. Those who remain unsure of their beliefs and desires will insecure and confused about themselves and the future.

Psychosocial Stage 6 - Intimacy vs. Isolation
6. Young adulthood: 18 to 35
Basic Strengths: Affiliation and Love

* This stage covers the period of early adulthood when people are exploring personal relationships.

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