Erikson believed that childhood is very important in personality development. He accepted many of Freud’s theories, including the id, ego, and superego, and Freud’s theory of infantile sexuality. But Erikson rejected Freud’s attempt to describe personality solely on the basis of sexuality, and, unlike Freud, felt that personality continued to develop beyond five years of age.
All of the stages in Erikson’s epigenetic theory are implicitly present at birth, but unfold according to both an innate scheme and one’s up-bringing in a family that expresses the values of a culture. Each stage builds on the preceding stages, and paves the way for subsequent stages. Each stage is characterized by a psychosocial crisis, which is based on physiological development, but also on demands put on the individual by parents and/or society. Ideally, the crisis in each stage should be resolved by the ego in that stage, in order for development to proceed correctly. The outcome of one stage is not permanent, but can be altered by later experiences. Everyone has a mixture of the traits attained at each stage, but personality development is considered successful if the individual has more of the “good” traits than the “bad” traits.
According to Erickson, Freudian theory under valued the influence of society on the developing personality. He saw society as a potentially positive force, which shapes the the development of the ego or self. From sexual orientation alone, he moved to balance between biological and social factors.
The picture above compares the theory between Erikson’s 8 stages of Development and Freud’s psycho-sexual theory. Freud’s theory focuses on individual’s sexual orientation and stops at the adolescent stage (Genital). Erikson’s 8 stages of development deals all throughout the lifespan with greater balance between social and biological factors.
This theory is of greater value to myself. Of all the psychological theories, this has caused marked significance to me since it is readily applicable to my developmental stages.
0-1.5 years (Stage 1)- The stage wherein Trust versus Mistrust dominates. During this stage, though I am not yet aware of what’s happening around me, builds the foundation of Trust. My attachment to my mother simply by giving to me all my basic needs convinced me to trust her. Unless, mistrust will likely to occur and any unresolution will cause me to be suspicious and will make me difficult to relate to people.
1.5-3 years (Stage 2)- The stage wherein Autonomy versus shame and doubt. This is the stage where I am allowed to do whatever I want. I keep on discovering things around me, identifying the objects around me etc. Unsuccessful resolution means Independence-fear conflict and self-doubt.
3-6 years (Stage 3)- The stage of Initiative versus Guilt. During this stage, learning is very active. I got a sense of purpose, ability to initiate one’s own activities. I remember this stage where my mom enrolled me in a school as Kindergarten. I keep on doing activities even sometimes I am not consciously aware of the things that I am doing. Sense of inadequacy will happen for unsuccessful resolution.
6 years- puberty (Stage 4)- Industry versus inferiority dominates. The sense of competence, ability to learn and work takes place. I have explored many things that facilitates learning. I competed for several competitions like news writing, drum and lyre band, drawing and school literary competition and more. I have identified many skills. I was able to identify my advantages and weaknesses. I gained a conscious effort to strive hard for excellence.
Adolescence (Stage 5)- Identity versus Inferiority. The stage of seeking my personal identity. I learned to identify myself towards other group members. The stage wherein being loved and to love is very active. Unsuccessful resolution means confusion about who one is.
Early adulthood (Stage 6)- Intimacy versus Isolation. This is where my present status falls. I am on my early adulthood. Though I am not yet committed to someone else, I believe it will come soon. Unless, Emotional isolation will takes place in which I don’t like to happen.
For the purpose of completing the remaining stages, I would just like to discuss Middle Age and Later years. This is not yet applicable to me given that I am on my Early Adulthood stage.
Middle Age (Stage 7)- Generativity versus Self-Absorption. The stage where ability to give and care for others. Unsuccessful resolution means self-absorption (stagnation) and inability to grow as a person.
Later years (Stage 8)- Integrity versus Despair. The last stage identified by Erik Erikson where sense of integrity and fulfillment happens. Willingness to face death and wisdom. Unsuccessful resolution of crisis means dissatisfaction with life, denial or despair over prospect of death.
Erikson’s theory has stood up much better to scrutiny:
1. It focuses on the impact of social and cultural experience rather than focusing on the biological and maturational factors alone.
2. It covers the entire lifespan.
3. It is generally applicable to everyone though the concentration of theory is based on male.
Doug Davis and Alan Clifton: “Psychosocial Theory: Erikson.” Haverford. n.d. Web. 7 August 2012.