Levinsons Theory

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Daniel Levinson’s Life Structure Theory
Six Stages of Adult Development

The definition of Human Growth and Development is the science of study of growth, stability, and change in a person from conception till death (Santrock, 2010). Throughout the study of psychology and human growth came with different theories on how a person grows physically, cognitively, and psycho-socially. One of the most familiar theories comes from Sigmund Freud, the idea of having a ego, superego, and id, in which the mind had three phases it could go into (Brown, 1948). Most of Freud’s work involved women and repressed memories stating back to ones childhood. Jean Piaget proposed a developmental theory that last from birth well into the adolescent age or how one develops cognitively. Eventually there was a theorist that explained developmental stages from life to death, Erik Erikson proposed eight stages on how one must develop who they are, if one does not fulfill a stage or becomes unsuccessful, one could not move on in life. No one really proposed how an adult develops, until Daniel Levinson came along.

Daniel Levinson graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in psychology, he later on went to study at the Harvard Psychological Clinic, where he worked with other psychologists like Erik Erikson. Most of Levinson’s work was done teaching being a professor of psychology at Yale University. Levinson devoted most of his work into studying on positive adult development, where he built of theories that came from Erik Erikson. After developing the six stages of adult development for men, he went on to write two books, Seasons of a Man’s life and Seasons of a woman's life. (Kittrell, 1998)

Levinson built a model of the season's of a mans life. His developmental theory consists of stages or phases that extends from the infancy state to the elderly state. Most development theories, such as Freud's psychosexual development theory or Piaget's cognitive development theory, end in the adolescent stage. Levinson’s adult stage theory is important because it goes beyond most theories that have already been stated that there is development that happens into adult hood. Levinson based his model and research on and interviewed over forty american men who were thirty five to forty five years of age that varied in working different careers. Each interview focused on different topics such as their religion, education, and their political beliefs and events that were turning points in their life. (Levinson, 1986) What Levinson wanted to focus on was what he called a life structure, a life structure is a man’s physical and social environment and their participation in their society and aspects of themselves. What Levinson believes is ones life structure develops and grows as people age. Two key concepts that Levinson bases his stages/phases off of is the stable period and the transitional period. The stable period is the time when a person makes a crucial choice in life, builds a foundation around the choices one makes and seeks goals within the foundation. While the transitional period is the end of a person’s stage and the beginning of a new stage, like ending a chapter in your book and starting another one. With these two periods and the life structure created Levinson’s six stages of adulthood development. (Levinson, 1978)

In his 1978 book, The Season’s of a Man’s Life, Daniel Levinson outlines his stage theory of the life cycle of male development. Levinson’s theory breaks life into four basic ‘seasons’ each spanning approximately 25 years; childhood and adolescence from age 0-22 years, early adulthood from 17-45 years, middle adulthood from 40-65 years and late adulthood from 60 years on (Levinson, 1978). His theory says that all men progress through these seasons by the resolution of tasks and goal setting in a similar structured sequence. Levinson’s theory of development states that one must progress through the...
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