Famed Psychologist Doctor Erik Erikson was born to Danish parents at the turn of the century in 1902, during his life he lived through the Nazi rule of his home town of Frankfurt Germany. After Immigrating to America he then studied and practiced at Harvard in the 30’s. He has help explain in detail how personalities can be formed in his theory of 8 unique stages of development of the human personality. His unique perspective of human thought and reason helped coin the phrase “identity crisis” as it will be portrayed in this article through the use of fictional characters.
The applied study of Erikson’s Theory
Erik Erikson was born to Danish parents in 1902 in Frankfurt Germany. One not so surprising reason for his interest in psychoanalysis psychology was Sigmund Freud. He later Married his Daughter Anna(Cherry, 2011). However, in contrast to Mr. Freud’s study into the psychosexual development of human behavior, Erikson focused on understanding personality development. This was a road map that was laid out for future endeavors into personality analysis. Today many institutions of learning impart “Self-Report Inventories” which are used to analyze a person’s personality usually in the form of bi-directional statements(Davis & Palladino, 2010). Erikson’s Theory Defined and exemplified through fiction
The first stage of Erikson’s psychosocial theory is trust versus mistrust. In this stage, it is imperative that an infant learn to trust their caregivers to meet their needs such as feeding them, changing their diapers, putting clothes on them and loving them (Hockenberry, & Wilson, 2007). According to this theory, if an infant fails to learn to trust their caregiver this will result in fear and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable. A character from television that would best represent this stage is Lucas from Private Practice. He begins life in the care of his mother after a traumatic birth and when he is several weeks old she leaves him with his father and subsequently disappears for the first twelve months of his life. His father does an excellent job caring for him; however, he dates several women during this time frame, leaving Lucas with inconsistent caregivers. The next stage of Erikson’s psychosocial theory is autonomy versus shame and doubt (Hockenberry, & Wilson, 2007). During this stage, the toddler must gain a sense of self control. A landmark event during this time period is toilet training. Other events include toy, food and clothing preferences. If a toddler does not achieve a sense of autonomy during this time period, he/she will be left with a sense of inadequacy and self doubt. An example of a character that fits this description is Justin Buckman from the 1989 movie Parenthood, specifically the scene where he walks around the house with nothing on but a cowboy hat and holster. There is also another scene where he repeatedly hits his head against a wall. Through these scenes he is exerting his autonomy by deciding what he wants to do and wear without regards to what other people think. During the preschool years is the stage of initiative versus guilt. It is during this stage that a preschooler attempts to exert their power over their environment through play and other social interaction. If this is not achieved by the child, they will be left with a sense of guilt and self doubt. The cartoon characters The Backyardigans exemplify this stage. In each episodes of the television show one character takes the lead and they go on an “adventure” using play without ever leaving their backyard. The school age child will endure the psychosocial stage of industry versus inferiority (Hockenberry, & Wilson, 2007). During this stage, the school age child will develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities through the encouragement and praise given to them by their parents and teachers. If this is not achieved, the child will be left with...
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