Psychosocial development

     Erik Erikson is one of the most famous neo-freudians. His theory is a psychosocial theory that emphasizes emotional development and interaction with social environment. What makes Erikson's theory more interesting is the fact that he described the development from the first year of a person's life to the stage of late adulthood, unlike some psychologists who used to concentrate only on childhood and thought that  adulthood is the consequence of everything lived in childhood. According to Erikson the development is characterized by many conflicts and each crises marks a certain stage of development.      

         According to Erikson, the first conflict the person experience is trust versus mistrust. This conflict takes place the first year of life, if resolved successfully the infant will trust his environment if not he will develop the feeling of mistrust which will make the child suspicious.

           The second stage is marked by the crisis of autonomy versus shame and doubt. This crisis can be seen from one to three years old. If passed successfully the child will have a sense of competence and autonomy. If not the child will develop the feeling that what happens is the result of external influences rather than one's own volition.

        From three to six years old the child experience the crisis of initiative versus guilt. If passed successfully the child will have the ability to initiate activities, and the ability to enjoy his accomplishment. If not the child will be overwhelmed by the fear of punishment which causes the child to either unduly restrict himself or overcompensate by showing off.

 

        After that from six to twelve years old comes the crisis of industry versus inferiority. If passed successfully the child will feel competent, and will have the ability to make the first step toward his goals. If not the child will have the feeling of inferiority, inadequacy and insecurity. 

        Adolescence on the other hand is marked by a famous crisis known as identity crisis or more specifically identity versus role confusion. During this stage the adolescence tries different roles to discover his identity. If passed successfully the adolescent will have an identity that he will identify and that will characterize him. If not the adolescent will experience role confusion which results in an unstable personality that changes from day to day.

 

        After adolescence comes young adulthood and this stage is marked by the crisis of intimacy versus isolation. If passed successfully the person will have the ability to have intimate relationships. If not the person will develop an avoidance of commitment which will make the person withdraw from relationships or have superficial relationships.

 

        Stage seven is generativity versus stagnation. The person experiences this crisis during middle adulthood, if passed successfully the person will be productive and caring. If not the person will develop a feeling of stagnation which can lead him to be self-indulgent, bored and self-centered.

 

          Finally, we come to the last stage which is late adulthood. According to Erikson this stage is marked by the crisis of integrity vs despair. If passed successfully the person will have wisdom and most importantly he will be happy with his life. If not the person will have a feeling of regret for his life and fear of death.

See Also:

Piaget's theory of cognitive development

Psychosexual development