Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development

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Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, as articulated by Erik Erikson, explain eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage, the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds upon the successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future.

However, mastery of a stage is not required to advance to the next stage. Erikson's stage theory characterizes an individual advancing through the eight life stages as a function of negotiating his or her biological forces and sociocultural forces. Each stage is characterized by a psychosocial crisis of these two conflicting forces (as shown in the table below). If an individual does indeed successfully reconcile these forces (favoring the first mentioned attribute in the crisis), he or she emerges from the stage with the corresponding virtue. For example, if an infant enters into the toddler stage (autonomy vs. shame & doubt) with more trust than mistrust, he or she carries the virtue of hope into the remaining life stages.[1]

Approximate Age[2] Virtues Psycho Social Crisis [3] Significant Relationship[2] Existential Question[2] Examples[2] 0–2 years Hopes Basic Trust vs. Mistrust Mother Can I Trust the World? Feeding, Abandonment 2–4 years Will Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt Parents Is It Okay To Be Me? Toilet Training, Clothing Themselves 4–5 years Purpose Initiative vs. Guilt Family Is It Okay For Me To Do, Move and Act? Exploring, Using Tools or Making Art 5–12 years Competence Industry vs. Inferiority Neighbors, School Can I Make It In The World Of People And Things? School, Sports 13–19 years Fidelity Identity vs. Role Confusion Peers, Role Model Who Am I? What Can I Be? Social Relationships 20–24 years Love Intimacy vs. Isolation Friends, Partners Can I Love? Romantic Relationships 25–64 years Care Generativity vs. Stagnation Household, Workmates Can I Make My Life Count? Work, Parenthood 65-death Wisdom Ego Integrity vs. Despair Mankind, My Kind Is It Okay To Have Been Me? Reflection on Life

Hopes: Trust vs. Mistrust (Oral-sensory, Birth-2 years)

Existential Question: Can I Trust the World?

The first stage of Erik Erikson's theory centers around the infant's basic needs being met by the parents and this interaction leading to trust or mistrust. Trust as defined by Erikson is "an essential truthfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one's own trustworthiness."[4] The infant depends on the parents, especially the mother, for sustenance and comfort. The child's relative understanding of world and society come from the parents and their interaction with the child. If the parents expose the child to warmth, regularity, and dependable affection, the infant's view of the world will be one of trust. Should the parents fail to provide a secure environment and to meet the child's basic needs a sense of mistrust will result.[5] Development of mistrust can lead to feelings of frustration, suspicion, withdrawal, and a lack of confidence.[4]

According to Erik Erikson, the major developmental task in infancy is to learn whether or not other people, especially primary caregivers, regularly satisfy basic needs. If caregivers are consistent sources of food, comfort, and affection, an infant learns trust- that others are dependable and reliable. If they are neglectful, or perhaps even abusive, the infant instead learns mistrust- that the world is in an undependable, unpredictable, and possibly a dangerous place. While negative, having some experience with mistrust allows the infant to gain an understanding of what constitutes dangerous situations later in life.[5] Will: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Muscular-Anal, 2-4 years)

Existential Question: Is It OK to Be Me?

As the child gains control over eliminative functions...
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