Erik Erikson’s Eight Psychosocial Stages of Development


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Running head: ERIK ERIKSON’S PYSCHOSOCIAL STAGES


Erik Erikson’s Eight Psychosocial Stages of Development


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Abstract


Erik Erikson developed the “Psychosocial Development”, which covers eight stages across the life span. These stages permanently shape personality and experiences throughout childhood to adulthood, each stage involves a “crises” in personality, a major development issue that is particularly important at that time and will remain an issue to some degree through out the rest of life. Erikson made a major contribution to the field of psychology with his developmental theory. He can be compared to Sigmund Freud in that he also claimed that humans develop in stages. The stages are Trust vs. Mistrust, Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, Identity vs. Role Confusion, Intimacy vs. Isolation, Generativity vs. Stagnation, and Integrity vs. Despair. Erikson believed that development is primarily qualitative because changes are stage like, but also quantitative as one's identity becomes stronger and one's convictions solidify. He believed that nature determines the sequence of the stages and sets the limits within which nurture operates. However, all must pass through one stage before entering the next in the stated order.


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Erik Homberger Erikson was born in 1902 near Frankfort, Germany to Danish parents. Erikson studied art and a variety of languages during his school years, rather than science courses such as biology and chemistry. He did not prefer the atmosphere that formal schooling produced, so instead of going to college he traveled around Europe, keeping a diary of his experiences. After a year of doing this, he returned to Germany and enrolled in art school. After several years, Erikson began to teach art and other subjects to children of Americans who had come to Vienna for Freudian training. He was then admitted into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1933 he came to the U.S. and became Boston's first child analyst and obtained a position at the Harvard Medical School. Later on, he also held positions at institutions including Yale, Berkeley, and the Menninger Foundation. Erikson then returned to California to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto and later the Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, where he was a clinician and psychiatric consultant. Erikson's interests were spread over a wide area. He studied combat crises in troubled American soldiers in World War II, child-rearing practices among the Sioux in South Dakota and the Yurok along the Pacific Coast, the play of disturbed and normal children, the conversations of troubled adolescents suffering identity crises, and social behavior in India. Erikson was also constantly concerned with the rapid social changes in America and wrote about issues such as the generation gap, racial tensions, juvenile delinquency, changing sexual roles, and the dangers of nuclear war. He spent ten years working and teaching at a


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clinic in Massachusetts, and ten more years back at Harvard. Erickson is a winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. He is one of the leading figures in the field of psychoanalysis and human development. His clinical practice has included the treatment of children and he has studied the process of growing up in a variety of cultural and social settings. Retiring in 1970, he wrote and did research with his wife. Erikson died in 1994.


The eight stages in Erikson’s psychosocial theory involve certain developmental tasks that are psychosocial in nature. His theory on social development is an approach to the personality that extends Freudian psychosexual theory, Erikson's theory is unique in that it encompasses the entire life cycle and recognizes the impact of society and culture on personality. Erikson is best known for his concept of the identity crisis. This idea may have stemmed from a personal identity crisis he experienced at a young age. Again, each stage is characterized by a different conflict that must be resolved by the individual. When the environment makes new demands on people, the conflicts arise. The person is faced with a choice between two ways of coping with each crisis, an adaptive, or maladaptive way. Only when each crisis is resolved, which involves a change in the personality, does the person have sufficient strength to deal with the next stages of development. If a person