Erikson\'s Psychosocial Theory of Development: Young Adults

The young adult has numerous stresses placed upon them through the route of
development. Erikson has theorised developmental stages of growth into tasks. Of
Eriksons\' theoretical tasks, one task describes the theory of intimacy versus
isolation. This task theory can be examined using the normative crisis model.
The knowledge of developmental tasks of the young adult can be beneficial to the
nurse especially associated with their ability to relate to the young adult.

One of the stages in life is the young adult, which suggests significant changes
and an increase of responsibility. This stage of development is described as
between twenty and forty years, where "...the potential for furtherance of
intellectual, emotional and even physical development occurs". (Gething, 1995,
p.377). As people age the progress of the developmental stages can differ, so
they have formulated to assess the progression by using two principal crisis
models. The first, are the normative crisis model and the second includes the
timing of events crisis model. The normative crisis model has been powerful in
shaping the psychology of the developmental stages as it has allowed theorists
to imply that stages of development can follow an age related time sequence.
(Gething, 1995).

The normative crisis model suggests that human development has a built in
ground plan in which crisis as describe by Erikson are seen as a requirement
that must be resolved by the person before successful progression from one
developmental stage to another. Such achievement of this task crisis should
provide the young adult with the ability to challenge previous ideas held by the
adolescent about intimacy and isolation. This model is adapted for progression
of the tasks to follow the chronological age of the adult, while the related
social and emotional changes progress through a sequence that Erikson
characterises in to eight specific crisis tasks over the life span. (Kozier, erb,
blais & wilkinson, 1995.).

The second crisis model depends upon the timing of events and is not dependant
upon resolution of crisis or a ground plan, but stresses the importance of each
event that occur in the young adults life. Life events that proceed as expected
will encourage development, where as life events that are unexpected can result
in anxiety and a slow progression of development. (Gething, 1995.).

The young adult according to Erikson\'s theory of personality should be
progressing through the psychosocial crisis of intimacy versus isolation. The
tasks for this stage of life consist of courting and selecting a "mate",
marriage and associated choices, e.g. children and monogamous relationship,
career choices and lifestyle changes and furthering intellectual abilities to
accommodate choices. (Turner & Helms, 1987.). Some of the personal abilities
that the young adult must employ include decision making, career planing,
understanding nature of increased responsibility and being able to accommodate
greater demands of self.

Erikson\'s theory describes the crisis of the young adults developmental stage
being intimacy versus isolation. This indicates the maturity of psychosocial
development from the prior stage of crisis of adolescence. Erikson\'s theory has
been adapted and modified from Freud\'s psychosocial theory to incorporate the
entire life span, defining eight crises each with various tasks. (Kozier, et al
1995). Erikson believes that "...the greater the task achievement, the healthier
the personality of the person", (Kozier, et al, 1995, P.572.) thus suggesting
from his theory that failure to achieve these tasks, will result in the
inability to proceed to the next task or crisis. Erikson believed that failure
to achieve any given task could lead to a detrimental effect on the ego.
(Rapoport & Rapoport, 1980.)

One of the tasks of the theory of intimacy versus isolation, relates to courting
and selecting a mate for marriage. Courting usually starts prior to this
developmental stage and may continue for an undesignated period. The
continuation of courtship is entirely reliant on the individual but the
development of issues such as independence and sharing associated within a
serious relationship should be initiated. A result of this task achievement
should be that the individual has developed or learned skills that are essential
to relationships, e.g. sacrifice, compromise and commitment. This task is
considered a major issue that helps the individual to conclude their own
feelings on intimacy with another. (Gething, 1995.).

The union of marriage is dependant on the partners involved as to the reason to
extend a long-term relationship to marriage. Some reasons for marriage can
consist of a long-term commitment to sharing, companionship, monogamous
relationship and a desire to start a family. These characteristics symbolise
dedication, expression and development of the individual\'s identity. Marriage is
an opportunity to overcome Erikson\'s negative theory of isolation and to
continue through intimacy in a positive