Erikson's Psychosocial Theory of Development: Young Adults

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Erikson's Psychosocial Theory of Development: Young Adults

The young adult has numerous stresses placed upon them through the route of development. Erikson has theorised developmental stages of growth into tasks. Of Eriksons' theoretical tasks, one task describes the theory of intimacy versus isolation. This task theory can be examined using the normative crisis model. The knowledge of developmental tasks of the young adult can be beneficial to the nurse especially associated with their ability to relate to the young adult.

One of the stages in life is the young adult, which suggests significant changes and an increase of responsibility. This stage of development is described as between twenty and forty years, where "...the potential for furtherance of intellectual, emotional and even physical development occurs". (Gething, 1995, p.377). As people age the progress of the developmental stages can differ, so they have formulated to assess the progression by using two principal crisis models. The first, are the normative crisis model and the second includes the timing of events crisis model. The normative crisis model has been powerful in shaping the psychology of the developmental stages as it has allowed theorists to imply that stages of development can follow an age related time sequence. (Gething, 1995).

The normative crisis model suggests that human development has a built in ground plan in which crisis as describe by Erikson are seen as a requirement that must be resolved by the person before successful progression from one developmental stage to another. Such achievement of this task crisis should provide the young adult with the ability to challenge previous ideas held by the adolescent about intimacy and isolation. This model is adapted for progression of the tasks to follow the chronological age of the adult, while the related social and emotional changes progress through a sequence that Erikson characterises in to eight specific crisis tasks over the life span. (Kozier, erb, blais & wilkinson, 1995.).

The second crisis model depends upon the timing of events and is not dependent

upon resolution of crisis or a ground plan, but stresses the importance of each event that occur in the young adults life. Life events that proceed as expected will encourage development, where as life events that are unexpected can result in anxiety and a slow progression of development. (Gething, 1995.).

The young adult according to Erikson's theory of personality should be progressing through the psychosocial crisis of intimacy versus isolation. The tasks for this stage of life consist of courting and selecting a "mate", marriage and associated choices, e.g. children and monogamous relationship, career choices and lifestyle changes and furthering intellectual abilities to accommodate choices. (Turner & Helms, 1987.). Some of the personal abilities that the young adult must employ include decision making, career planing, understanding nature of increased responsibility and being able to accommodate greater demands of self.

Erikson's theory describes the crisis of the young adults developmental stage being intimacy versus isolation. This indicates the maturity of psychosocial development from the prior stage of crisis of adolescence. Erikson's theory has been adapted and modified from Freud's psychosocial theory to incorporate the entire life span, defining eight crises each with various tasks. (Kozier, et al 1995). Erikson believes that "...the greater the task achievement, the healthier the personality of the person", (Kozier, et al, 1995, P.572.) thus suggesting from his theory that failure to achieve these tasks, will result in the inability to proceed to the next task or crisis. Erikson believed that failure to achieve any given task could lead to a detrimental effect on the ego. (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1980.)

One of the tasks of the theory of intimacy versus isolation, relates to courting and selecting a...
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