The Epigenetic Theory

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Erik Erikson was a psychologist who came up with the theory that everyone goes through eight stages of psychosocial development in their lifetime. This theory is called the "epigenetic principle." How we go through each stage is determined by the situations, or development "tasks," in our lives. Each stage has a task that is referred to with a two-word phrase, such as ‘trust-mistrust' in the infant's stage. Also, each stage has what is called an ‘optimal time,' which means that each stage can only happen at certain times in the person's life. No stages can be skipped, but the time it takes to go through each stage can vary. The eight stages, and the approximate ages for them are:

1.Oral-sensory stage - ages 0 to 1½
2.Anal-muscular stage - ages 2 to 3
3.Genital-locomotor stage - ages 3 to 6
4.Latency stage - ages 7 to 12
5.Adolescence - ages 12 to 18
6.Young adulthood - ages 20 to about 27
7.Middle adulthood - ages 27 to about 50
8.Maturity - age 50 and over

After watching "Walk The Line," the film about the life of singer Johnny Cash, it is easy to distinguish the psychosocial stages of Johnny Cash's life. There were a few stages left out of the film, but it is fairly simple to hypothesize about what occurred during those stages based on everything else the film shows. Just about every major turning point in Johnny Cash's life is depicted in the film, so it is safe to say that this is a good film to analyze.

The first of the eight stages of psychosocial development, the oral-sensory stage, is not shown in the film. However, this is the stage where the child makes the trust-mistrust turn, and judging by Johnny Cash's personality in the rest of the film, his first stage went towards the "mistrust" side. His father never seemed to want to get close to him, so I would guess that he did the same thing during Johnny's first year or so. The distance between him and his father probably made Johnny less able to trust adults in...
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