Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson (1950, 1963) does not talk about psychosexual Stages, he discusses psychosocial stages.
His ideas though were greatly influenced by Freud, going along with Freud’s (1923) theory regarding the structure and topography of personality.
However, whereas Freud was an id psychologist, Erikson was an ego psychologist. He emphasized the role of culture and society and the conflicts that can take place within the ego itself, whereas Freud emphasized the conflict between the id and the superego.

According to Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future.

Erikson extends on Freudian thoughts by focusing on the adaptive and creative characteristic of the ego, and expanding the notion of the stages of personality development to include the entire lifespan.

Erikson proposed a lifespan model of development, taking in five stages up to the age of 18 years and three further stages beyond, well into adulthood. Erikson suggests that there is still plenty of room for continued growth and development throughout one’s life. Erikson put a great deal of emphasis on the adolescent period, feeling it was a crucial stage for developing a person’s identity.


Like Freud and many others, Erik Erikson maintained that personality develops in a predetermined order, and builds upon each previous stage. This is called the epigenic principle.

The outcome of this 'maturation timetable' is a wide and integrated set of life skills and abilities that function together within the autonomous individual. However, instead of focusing on sexual development (like Freud), he was interested in how children socialize and how this affects their sense of self.

Like Freud, Erik Erikson believed in the importance of early childhood. However, Erikson believed that personality development happens over the entire course of a person’s life. In the early 1960s, Erikson proposed a theory that describes eight distinct stages of development. According to Erikson, in each stage people face new challenges, and the stage’s outcome depends on how people handle these challenges. Erikson named the stages according to these possible outcomes:


Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development , Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, CDP Notes, CTET Exam Notes, Child Development & Pedagogy Study Material

1. Infancy: Birth-18 Months Old


Basic Trust vs. Mistrust – Hope
During the first or second year of life, the major emphasis is on the mother and father’s nurturing ability and care for a child, especially in terms of visual contact and touch. The child will develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security if properly cared for and handled. If a child does not experience trust, he or she may develop insecurity, worthlessness, and general mistrust to the world.

2. Toddler / Early Childhood Years: 18 Months to 3 Years

Autonomy vs. Shame – Will
The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years. At this point, the child has an opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as he or she learns new skills and right from wrong. The well-cared for child is sure of himself, carrying himself or herself with pride rather than shame. During this time of the “terrible twos”, defiance, temper tantrums, and stubbornness can also appear. Children tend to be vulnerable during this stage, sometimes feeling shame and and low self-esteem during an inability to learn certain skills.

3. Preschooler: 3 to 5 Years

Initiative vs. Guilt – Purpose
During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie’s and Ken’s, toy phones and miniature cars, playing out roles in a trial universe, experimenting with the blueprint for what we believe it means to be an adult. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the world—”WHY?”
While Erikson was influenced by Freud, he downplays biological sexuality in favor of the psychosocial features of conflict between child and parents. Nevertheless, he said that at this stage we usually become involved in the classic “Oedipal struggle” and resolve this struggle through “social role identification.” If we’re frustrated over natural desires and goals, we may easily experience guilt.
The most significant relationship is with the basic family.

4. School Age Child: 6 to 12 Years

Industry vs. Inferiority – Competence
During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem.
As the world expands a bit, our most significant relationship is with the school and neighborhood. Parents are no longer the complete authorities they once were, although they are still important.

5. Adolescent: 12 to 18 Years

Identity vs. Role Confusion – Fidelity
Up until this fifth stage, development depends on what is done to a person. At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity, while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in”, and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong.

Some attempt to delay entrance to adulthood and withdraw from responsibilities (moratorium). Those unsuccessful with this stage tend to experience role confusion and upheaval. Adolescents begin to develop a strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes, and friends.

6. Young adult: 18 to 35

Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation – Love
At the young adult stage, people tend to seek companions hip and love. Some also begin to “settle down” and start families, although seems to have been pushed back farther in recent years.
Young adults seek deep intimacy and satisfying relationships, but if unsuccessful, isolation may occur. Significant relationships at this stage are with marital partners and friends.

7. Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65

Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation – Care
Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control.
For this stage, working to establish stability and Erikson’s idea of generativity – attempting to produce something that makes a difference to society. Inactivity and meaninglessness are common fears during this stage.
Major life shifts can occur during this stage. For example, children leave the household, careers can change, and so on. Some may struggle with finding purpose. Significant relationships are those within the family, workplace, local church and other communities.

8. Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death

Integrity vs. Despair – Wisdom
Erikson believed that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage involves much reflection. As older adults, some can look back with a feeling of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment, having led a meaningful life and valuable contribution to society. Others may have a sense of despair during this stage, reflecting upon their experiences and failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering “What was the point of life? Was it worth it?”

Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development

Stage
Conflict Faced
Typical Age Range
Major Challenge(s)
1
Trust vs. mistrust
First year of life
Having basic needs met, attaching to people
2
Autonomy vs. shame and doubt
1–3 years
Gaining independence
3
Initiative vs. guilt
3–6 years
Acting in a socially responsible way
4
Industry vs. inferiority
6–12 years
Competing with peers, preparing for adult roles
5
Identity vs. role confusion
Adolescence
Determining one’s identity
6
Intimacy vs. isolation
Early adulthood
Developing intimate relationships
7
Generativity vs. self-absorption
Middle adulthood
Being productive
8
Integrity vs. despair
Old age
Evaluating one’s life

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