A Study of Erikson’s Eight Stages
Most people believe that childhood is the most important stage of life to mold and shape the type of person they will become. Although childhood is a crucial time for personality to take shape, Erik Erikson, viewed personality theory through a wider lens. He believed that throughout life, people encounter challenges that they must overcome in order to successfully move into the next stage of life. This is known as Erikson’s eight “Psychosocial Stages of Development” (Engler, p. 153). According to Engler (2009), the stages each have a life crisis which must be overcome. If the crisis is overcome, the person will gain a result of a positive virtue that is valuable in life. The eight stages are: Trust versus Mistrust, Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt, Initiative versus Guilt, Industry versus Inferiority, Ego Identity versus Role Confusion, Intimacy versus Isolation, Generativity versus Stagnation, and finally Ego Integrity versus Despair.
In Erikson’s theory, he labeled the first one “the cornerstone of the vital personality” (Owens, 2002). This is the stage from birth to age two called Trust versus Mistrust in which infants seek satisfaction for their needs. If the child’s needs are met in a timely way, they develop a strong sense of trust, but if they are not the child will develop a sense of mistrust (p. 16). Young infants are entirely dependent on others and in order to survive they must develop a sense of dependability for people and objects. They will learn to trust the ones who will protect them and distrust the ones whose intent is to harm them (Papalia, Olds & Feldman. 2007, p. 205). During this time it is crucial that intimate bonds be formed between the infant and parents or other caregivers. A child that has success in this stage will gain hope, which will help them throughout life. However, a young child who is seeking to have his emotional and physical needs met, only to be... [continues]
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