Theories of Human Development Course No. 197 (24 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture) Taught by Malcolm W.

Brandeis University Ph.D., University of Denver

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Have you ever wondered where the terms "terrible twos’’ and "identity crisis" come from? Did you know that the notion that children are different from adults, and require special care, is only about 200 years old? Did you know we can trace most of our modern ideas about children to just two renowned thinkers of the 17th and 18th centuries? These are just a few of the fascinating aspects of the field of "human development": the science that studies how we learn and develop psychologically, from birth to the end of life. To a large extent, the study of human development is the study of child development, because the most significant changes take place from infancy through adolescence. This very young science not only enables us to understand children and help them develop optimally, but also gives us profound insights into who we are as adults. In Theories of Human Development, Professor Malcolm W. Watson introduces you to the six theories that have had perhaps the greatest influence on this field. You will meet the people who formulated each theory, become familiar with their philosophical backgrounds and the historical contexts in which they worked, and study the specific processes of human development that each theory describes. Along the way, you will evaluate the strength and weaknesses of each theory. How do these six great theories complement or contradict one another? What do they tell us, as a whole, about human development?

Six Theories of How We Become Who We Are The six major theories have had a pervasive impact on the way we, both scientists and the general public, see ourselves. They are: Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory. The lectures discuss this theory, the earliest of the six, including such concepts as the Oedipus Complex and Freud’s five stages of psycho-sexual development. Although now widely disputed, Freudian thinking is deeply imbedded in our culture and constantly influences our view of human nature. Erik Erikson’s Psycho-Social Theory. This is the theory that gave rise to the term "identity crisis." Erikson was the first to propose that the "stages" of human development spanned our entire lives, not just childhood. His ideas heavily influenced the study of personality development, especially in adolescence and adulthood. John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s Integrated Attachment Theory. This was the first theory to focus primarily on the formation of parent-child relationships. It explains the connection between relationships that occur early in our lives and those that happen later, including romantic ones. Attachment theory has generated thousands of scientific studies, and has led to changes in many childcare policies, such as those allowing parents to stay with their children in hospitals. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. This theory modified traditional learning theory developed by such behaviorists as B. F. Skinner, which was based on stimulus-response relationships. It considered learning to be no different among infants, children, adults, or even animals. Bandura’s approach is influential in such areas as the effect of media violence on children, and the treatment of problem behaviors and disorders. Jean Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory. Piaget’s influence created a revolution in human development theory. He proposed the existence of four major stages, or "periods," during which children and adolescents master the ability to use symbols and to reason in abstract ways. This has been the most influential of the six major theories. In the 1970s and 1980s, it completely dominated the study of child development. Lev Vygotsky’s Cognitive-Mediation Theory. Alone among the major theorists, Vygotsky believed that learning came first, and caused development. He theorized that learning is a social process in which teachers, adults, and other children form supportive "scaffolding" on which each child can gradually master new skills. Vygotsky’s views have had a large impact on educators. Early Theorists: Locke, Rousseau, and even Darwin

To give you the best understanding of these theories, this course also explores the general history of the study of child development. It touches on the work of other important researchers, such as John Watson of Johns Hopkins University, who developed behaviorism, and Arnold Gesell of Yale, from whose work sprang such well-worn phrases as "just going through a stage" and "the terrible twos." Professor Watson also discusses the era of observational research on children, which marked the beginnings of child study as a true science. This period was pioneered by scientists who began publishing detailed accounts of the development of their own children. These early "baby biographers" included Alfred Binet, who first developed intelligence testing in France, and even Charles Darwin. You may be struck not only by how much we have learned about child development, but also by how much our attitudes toward children have changed. Until the beginning of the 19th century, there was no interest in child study and, in fact, no concern for children. Such factors as poverty and high infant mortality created an atmosphere in which children were barely tolerated, or used for labor. In Paris in 1750, 33 percent of all newborns were left in foundling homes or on doorsteps; most died. In England, boys and girls as young as four were often sent to work in mines. You will see how attitudes toward children gradually improved, due mostly to the efforts of physicians and religious leaders. And you will appreciate the tremendous contribution that two renowned philosophers, John Locke (1632– 1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), have made to the field of child development. Their ideas about children—whether they are inherently good or bad, or whether they actively shape their environments or passively react to stimuli—still form much of the basis of our modern theories. The lessons of this course are not simply about learning, behavior, and relationships in youth, but at any age. Taken as a whole, they provide our best answers to the questions of human nature—how we learn, adapt, and become who we are at every stage in life.

Erikson's psychosocial development theory erik erikson's psychosocial crisis life cycle model - the eight stages of human development
Erikson's model of psychosocial development is a very significant, highly regarded and meaningful concept. Life is a serious of lessons and challenges which help us to grow. Erikson's wonderful theory helps to tell us why. The theory is helpful for child development, and adults too. For the 'lite' version, here's a quick diagram and summary. Extra details follow the initial overview. For more information than appears on this page, read Erikson's books; he was an awardwinning writer and this review does not convey the richness of Erikson's own explanations. It's also interesting to see how his ideas develop over time, perhaps aided by his own journey through the 'psychosocial crisis' stages model that underpinned his work. Erik Erikson first published his eight stage theory of human development in his 1950 book Childhood and Society. The chapter featuring the model was titled 'The Eight Ages of Man'. He expanded and refined his theory in later books and revisions, notably: Identity and the Life Cycle (1959); Insight and Responsibility (1964); The Life Cycle Completed: A Review (1982, revised 1996 by Joan Erikson); and Vital Involvement in Old Age (1989). Erikson's biography lists more books. Various terms are used to describe Erikson's model, for example Erikson's biopsychosocial or bio-psycho-social theory (bio refers to biological, which in this context means life); Erikson's human development cycle or life cycle, and variations of these. All refer to the same eight stages psychosocial theory, it being Erikson's most distinct work and remarkable model. The word 'psychosocial' is Erikson's term, effectively from the words psychological (mind) and social (relationships). Erikson believed that his psychosocial principle is genetically inevitable in shaping human development. It occurs in all people. He also referred to his theory as 'epigenesis' and the 'epigenetic principle', which signified the concept's relevance to evolution (past and future) and genetics.

etc.variations and refinements to names and headings. Healthy personality development is based on a sensible balance between 'positive' and 'negative' dispositions at each crisis stage. which influenced Erikson's approach to the psychosocial model.potential negative outcomes (one or the other) arising from each crisis stage..Erikson explained his use of the word 'epigenesis' thus: ". and in connection with genesis can well represent the spacetime nature of all development. which is why I occasionally use the . like Freud. Erikson's 'psychosocial crises' (or crisis stages) .a diagram and concise explanation of the main features of model. Trust = positive. The main elements of the theory covered in this explanation are: Erikson theory overview .epi can mean 'above' in space as well as 'before' in time. was largely concerned with how personality and behaviour is influenced after birth . Erikson didn't use the words positive and negative in this sense. Erikson's model is simple and elegant. In the 'nature v nurture' (genes v experience) debate. He tended to use 'syntonic' and 'dystonic' to differentiate between the two sides of each crisis.. yet very sophisticated. 'Maladapations' and 'Malignancies' .. In Erikson's theory. 1989).meanings and interpretations.the potential positive outcomes arising from each of the crisis stages. Epigenetic therefore does not refer to individual genetic make-up and its influence on individual development.. • • • • • • • The Freudian stages of psychosexual development. Erikson. Erikson terminology . erik erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development Like other seminal concepts. The theory is a basis for broad or complex discussion and analysis of personality and behaviour. 'Basic virtues' (basic strengths) . This summary occasionally uses the terms 'positive' and 'negative' to identify the first or second factors in each crisis (e.whatever you choose to call them descriptions are quite tricky as even Erikson found) is actually wholly positive or wholly negative..g. and also for understanding and for facilitating personal development . Mistrust = negative) however no crisis factor (disposition or emotional force . Erikson was firmly focused on nurture and experience.B. This was not central to Erikson's ideas.and especially during childhood.not before birth . Erik Erikson biography (briefly) N." (from Vital Involvement in Old Age.of self and others.

erikson's psychosocial theory . Autonomy v Shame & Doubt Anal Willpower and Self-Control Impulsivity / Compulsion or the other . but he seems never to have produced a fully definitive matrix. friends. He viewed his concept as an evolving work in progress. Various people have produced different interpretations like this grid below. teachers. sleeping toddler / parents / bodily functions. This summary attempts to show the main points of the Erikson psychosocial crisis theory of human development. toilet training. Initiative v Guilt Phallic Purpose and Direction Ruthlessness / Inhibition 4.more recognisable 'positive' and 'negative' terms. You should also qualify your use of these terms if using them in relation to the crisis stages. from different perspectives. some of which he advocated be used as worksheets. muscular control. neighbourhood / achievement and accomplishment maladaptation / malignancy (potential negative outcome .from unhelpful experience during each crisis) Erikson's psychosocial crisis stages (syntonic v dystonic) Freudian psychosexual stages 1. Erikson produced a few charts of his own too. teething. adventure and play schoolchild / school. Trust v Mistrust Oral Hope and Drive Sensory Distortion / Withdrawal 2. To aid explanation and use of his theory he produced several perspectives in grid format. basic virtue and second named life stage / relationships / strength issues (potential positive outcomes from each crisis) infant / mother / feeding and being comforted.summary diagram Here's a broad introduction to the main features of Erikson's model. walking preschool / family / exploration and discovery. More detail follows this overview. despite them being potentially misleading. Industry v Inferiority Latency Competence and Method Narrow Virtuosity / Inertia .

life achievements Fidelity and Devotion Fanaticism / Repudiation 6. but generally Erikson's theory is considered fundamentally significant. erik erikson's psychosocial theory overview Erikson's psychosocial theory is widely and highly regarded. Erikson later suggested psychosexual stages 7 and 8. groups. Erikson's theory stands alone and does not depend on Freud for its robustness and relevance. . There is a strong. Fans of Freud will find the influence useful. work connections / intimate relationships. So his theory is useful far beyond psychoanalysis .of oneself or others. friends. Freudian element in Erikson's work and model. Generativity v Stagnation n/a Care and Production Overextension / Rejectivity 8. revised 1996 by Joan Erikson). life / meaning and purpose. diagrams and other references.5. People who disagree with Freud. work and social life mid-adult / children. drawn from various Erikson books. and Vital Involvement in Old Age (1989). but not essential. Identity v Role Confusion adolescent / peers. Identity and the Life Cycle (1959). This chart attempts to capture and present concisely the major elements of Erikson's theory. See Freud's psychosexual stages below. As with any concept there are critics. Erikson was a psychoanalyst and also a humanitarian. but they are not typically part of Freud's scheme which extended only to Puberty/Genitality. Puberty and influences / resolving identity Genitality and direction. Intimacy v Isolation (Genitality) Love and Affiliation Promiscuity / Exclusivity 7. Integrity v Despair n/a Wisdom and Renunciation Presumption / Disdain The colours are merely to help presentation and do not signify any relationships between factors. The Life Cycle Completed: A Review ('s useful for any application involving personal awareness and development . including Childhood and Society (1950). helping. community / 'giving back'. and especially his psychosexual theory. contributing late adult / society. becoming a grown-up young adult / lovers. the world. can ignore the Freudian aspect and still find Erikson's ideas useful.

He actively pioneered psychoanalytical development from the late 1940's until the 1990's. but the eight stage model is most commonly referenced and is regarded as the standard. brain. in which bio refers to life. dealing with conflict. self-awareness. This term is an extension of Sigmund Freud's use of the word 'crisis'. who collaborated as psychoanalysts and writers. and then also from his clinical therapy work attached to leading mental health centres and universities. from several different perspectives. and generally for understanding self and others. Eriksons' work is as relevant today as when he first outlined his original theory. which was essentially Freud's approach. etc) and social (external relationships and environment). and its effects on adult society. and also because his research was carried out among human societies far removed from the more inward-looking world of the psychoanalyst's couch.and the quest for personal development and fulfilment . This helps Erikson's eight stages theory to be a tremendously powerful model: it is very accessible and obviously relevant to modern life. Both Erikson and his wife Joan. which represents internal emotional conflict.namely psychological (or the root. personality. . being the plural). You might also describe this sort of crisis as an internal struggle or challenge which a person must negotiate and deal with in order to grow and develop. managing and coaching. Occasionally you'll see the term extended to biopsychosocial. as in biological. for understanding and explaining how personality and behaviour develops in people. Erikson's concept crucially incorporated cultural and social aspects into Freud's biological and sexually oriented theory.) Erikson's theory refers to 'psychosocial crisis' (or psychosocial crises. and will in the future be summarised on this page. both at the heart of Erikson's theory. were passionately interested in childhood development. Joan Erikson described a 'ninth' stage after Erik's death. especially young people. Erikson's psychosocial theory basically asserts that people experience eight 'psychosocial crisis stages' which significantly affect each person's development and personality.Aside from Freudian psychoanalysis.his ideas are probably more relevant now than ever. (Joan Erikson's work on the 'ninth stage' appears in her 1996 revisions to The Life Cycle Completed: A Review. parenting. As such Erikson's theory is useful for teaching. family and relationships . 'psycho' relating to the mind. Erikson developed his theory mainly from his extensive practical field research. Erikson was able to do this because of his strong interest and compassion for people. Erikson's 'psychosocial' term is derived from the two source words . initially with Native American communities. in fact given the modern pressures on society.

Psychosocial development is not clear-cut and is not irreversible: any previous crisis can effectively revisit anyone.. and how 'hopeless failures' can ultimately achieve great things. Mistrust). Erikson also identified a second supporting 'strength' word at each stage. so as not to be hopelessly unrealistic or gullible.) The actual definitions of the syntonic and dystonic words (see Erikson's terminology below) are mainly irrelevant unless you have a passion for the detailed history of Erikson's ideas. so as to be free-thinking and independent. He identified one particular word to represent the fundamental strength gained at each stage. Erikson used the words 'syntonic' for the first-listed 'positive' disposition in each crisis (e. because it implied gaining something clear-cut and permanent. nor to be mistrustful of everything. etc. and other explanations of his work. using just one or two words alone is not adequate for truly conveying the depth of the theory.g. A helpful term used by Erikson for these opposing forces is 'contrary dispositions'. which appear commonly in Erikson's diagrams and written theory. and particularly the emotional and behavioural strengths that arise from healthy progression through each crisis. No-one should become complacent. It's very useful however to gain a more detailed understanding of the meaning behind these words because although Erikson's choice these words is very clever. and there is hope for us all. Autonomy v Shame & Doubt). meaning turned towards or against. For example a healthy balance at crisis stage stage one (Trust v Mistrust) might be described as experiencing and growing through the crisis 'Trust' (of people. Each crisis stage relates to a corresponding life stage and its inherent challenges. which he abbreviated to 'v'. Examples of basic virtues and supporting strengths words are 'Hope and Drive' (from stage one.. while also being ethical and considerate and responsible.g. . life and one's future development) and also experiencing and growing a suitable capacity for 'Mistrust' where appropriate. (Versus is Latin. which along with the basic virtue emphasised the main healthy outcome at each stage. and the words are very symbolic. Or experiencing and growing through stage two (Autonomy v Shame & Doubt) to be essentially 'Autonomous' (to be one's own person and not a mindless or quivering follower) but to have sufficient capacity for 'Shame and Doubt'. Erikson was sparing in his use of the word 'achieve' in the context of successful outcomes. More detail about basic virtues and strengths is in the Basic Virtues section. and helped convey simple meaning in summaries and charts. Trust v Mistrust) and 'Willpower and Self-Control' (from stage two. albeit in a different guise. This perhaps helps explain how 'high achievers' can fall from grace. To signify the opposing or conflicting relationship between each pair of forces or dispositions Erikson connected them with the word 'versus'. Erikson called these successful balanced outcomes 'Basic Virtues' or 'Basic Strengths'. with successful or unsuccessful results. Successfully passing through each crisis involves 'achieving' a healthy ratio or balance between the two opposing dispositions that represent each crisis. Trust) and 'dystonic' for the second-listed 'negative' disposition (e.Each stage involves a crisis of two opposing emotional forces.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's 'Grief Cycle'. which if the balance is toward the positive. and all following generations. and particularly between parents and children and's own children. will help him to meet later crises with a better chance for unimpaired total development. not a mathematical formula which replicates precisely across all people and situations. The terms are linked. More under 'Maladapations' and 'Malignancies'. and again he identified specific words to represent the malignancy at each stage.What the child acquires at a given stage is a certain ratio between the positive and negative. Where a person passes unsuccessfully through a psychosocial crisis stage they develop a tendency towards one or other of the opposing forces (either to the syntonic or the dystonic. Erikson said (in Identity and the Life Cycle): ". In this respect the 'feel' of the model is similar to other flexible human development frameworks (for example. Changes don't happen in regimented clear-cut steps. and in a way everyone else's children . Mutuality reflects the effect of generations on each other. and that to believe so is dangerous and inept.. stage seven).Later in his life Erikson was keen to warn against interpreting his theory into an 'achievement scale'. Erikson was keen to point out that the transition between stages is 'overlapping'. and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs). The crisis stages are not sharply defined steps.. Everyone potentially affects everyone else's experiences as they pass through the different crisis stages. It's a broad framework and concept. People don't suddenly wake up one morning and be in a new life stage.. secured once and for ever. or even a mental problem. Crisis stages connect with each other like inter-laced fingers. which then becomes a behavioural tendency." He continued (in rather complicated language. Changes are graduated. Elements tend to overlap and mingle from one stage to the next and to the preceding stages. reflects the significant relationship between adults and the best interests of children . and he identified specific words to represent the maladapation at each stage. I use them here to illustrate that Erikson's ideas are very much related to real life and the way ordinary people think and wonder about things.the next generation. not like a series of neatly stacked boxes. Generativity. In crude terms we might call this 'baggage' or a 'hang-up'. Erikson emphasised the significance of and 'mutuality' and 'generativity' in his theory. Erikson called an extreme tendency towards the syntonic (first disposition) a 'maladapation'. hence paraphrasing) that at no stage can a 'goodness' be achieved which is impervious to new conflicts. especially among families. in Erikson's language). actually a named disposition within one of the crisis stages (Generativity v Stagnation. although perhaps avoid such terms in serious work. He called an extreme tendency towards the dystonic (second disposition) a 'malignancy'. .. in which the crisis stages represent single safe achievement or target of the extreme 'positive' option. mixed-together and organic.

and it's this perhaps more than anything else that enabled him to develop such a powerful concept. Same for grandparents. genitals. otherwise leave them to one side. because they are not crucial for understanding and using Erikson's model. breasts. and bodily functions generally do . It is not necessary therefore to understand or agree with Freud's ideas in order to appreciate and use Erikson's theory. If you naturally relate to Freud's ideas depending on interpretation) Freudian stages of development. erikson's psychosocial theory in more detail freud's influence on erikson's theory Erikson's psychosocial theory of the 'eight stages of human development' drew from and extended the ideas of Sigmund Freud and Freud's daughter Anna Freud. Freud's concepts. which stands up perfectly well in its own right. known as Freud's psychosexual stages or Freud's sexual theory. The perspective of giving and making a positive difference for future generations echoes Erikson's humanitarian philosophy. Again this helps explain why as parents (or teachers or siblings or grandparents) we can often struggle to deal well with a young person when it's as much as we can do to deal with our own emotional challenges.and in a way that did not wholly rely on adherence to fundamental Freudian thinking. Part of Erikson's appeal is that he built on Freud's ideas in a socially meaningful and accessible way . but in turn the parent's psychosocial development is affected by their experience of dealing with the child and the pressures produced. since stage eight is more about taking stock and coming to terms with how one has made use of life. while influential on Erikson. In some ways the development actually peaks at stage seven. and ideally preparing to leave it feeling at peace. freud's psychosexual stages .Generations affect each other. are not however fundamental to Erikson's theory.overview . and particularly the four (or five. Some of Freud's theories by their nature tend attract a lot of attention and criticism .and if you are distracted or put off by these references then ignore them. A parent obviously affects the child's psychosocial development. These concepts are fundamental to Freudian thinking and are outlined below in basic terms relating to Erikson's psychosocial stages.

Trust v Mistrust 0-1½ yrs. Am I pleasing my mum and dad? Are they making me feel good or bad about my bottom? Am I okay or naughty? Again the young child's actual experiences through this stage have a deep effect on the unconscious and behaviours and preferences in later life.'holding on' or 'letting go' . Anal Stage . Autonomy v Shame and Doubt 1-3 yrs." Inevitably once more. (Girls) I'm in love with my dad. Castration Anxiety. 2. hence the overlaps. Penis envy. crying.Phallic is not restricted to boys.It's a lot to do with pooh . preschool. Oedipus Complex. biting. toilet training 3. This stage is focused on resolving reproductive issues. "If you touch yourself down there it'll fall off/heal up. thumbsucking. Erikson's psychosocial crisis stages Freudian psychosexual stages . Oral Stage . experiences in this stage have a profound effect on feelings and 3.overview age guide 1. toddler.. which along with the next two stages affect all sorts of behaviours and (sexually powered) drives and aims Freud's 'libido' .Feeding.the pleasure and control. Phallic Stage . weaning . The stages happen in this sequence. birth to walking 2. The infant's actual experiences and attachments to mum (or maternal equivalent) through this stage have a fundamental effect on the unconscious mind and thereby on deeply rooted feelings. 1. Is it dirty? Is it okay? Bodily expulsions are the centre of the world. baby.the mouth and the breast are the centre of all experience. etc. Initiative v Guilt 3-6 yrs. teething. This is a sort of dry run before the real game starts in adolescence. Where do babies come from? Can I have a baby? Why has dad got a willy and I've not? Why have I got a willy and mum hasn't? Why do they tell me off for touching my bits and pieces down there? (Boys) I'm going to marry mum (and maybe kill dad). but not to a fixed timetable. and the pivot around which early character is formed. nursery .and preferences in later life.Age guide is a broad approximation.

4. skills. even though these same parents went through exactly the same struggles themselves just a few years before. continues through to old age. and physical changes in the adolescent child's body cause a resurgence of sexual thoughts. Basically everyone is in turmoil and it's mostly to do with growing up. and re-interprets Freudian sexual theory into the adult life stages equating to Erikson's crisis stages. Experiences. 4. which entails more sexual undercurrents than parents would ever believe. Girls flirt with their fathers and argue with their mums (Freud's 'Electra'). teens earlier for girls . not Erikson. schoolwork. Erikson's model. Glandular. which from the start offers a different and more socially oriented perspective. Identity v Role Confusion 11-18 yrs. If you want to know more about all this I recommend you read about Freud. hormonal. and mostly it's all perfectly normal. fears and conditioning from the previous stages have already shaped many of the child's feelings and attitudes and these will re-surface in the next stage. Latency Stage . Dating and fondling quickly push schoolwork and sports (and anything else encouraged by parents and figures of authority) into second place. This is the final Freudian psychosexual stage. Boys start treating their mothers like womanservants and challenge their fathers (Freud's 'Oedipus'). early school 5. It's a wonder anyone ever makes it to adulthood. and I repeat that understanding Freud's psychosexual theory is not required for understanding and using Erikson's concepts. This incorporation of Freudian sexual stages into the adult 5. but of course they do.Puberty in other words.Sexual dormancy or repression. feelings and behaviours. All become highly agitated if away from a mirror for more than half an hour (Freud's Narcissus or Narcissism). This is actually not a psychosexual stage because basically normally nothing formative happens sexually.behaviour and libido in later life. Industry v Inferiority 5-12 yrs. puberty. Genital stage . The focus is on learning.

and Intimacy v Isolation. especially through the later levels when parenthood timing and influences vary. Age range and other descriptions are general interpretations and were not shown specifically like this by Erikson. Integrity v Despair 50+. Hence the overlap between the age ranges in the interpretation below. 6. Arguably no direct equivalent Freudian stage. using the crisis terminology of the original 1950 model aside from the shorter terminology that Erikson later preferred for stages one and eight.crisis stages is not especially significant. and it's impossible for anyone to do so. early parenthood No direct equivalent Freudian stage. Remember age range is just a very rough guide. Below is a reminder of the crisis stages. erikson's eight psychosocial crisis stages Here's a more detailed interpretation of Erikson's psychosocial crisis stages. This is a quick light overview of Freud's sexual theory and where it equates to Erikson's crisis stages. Interpretations of age range vary among writers and academics. Erikson later called this the psychosexual stage of 'Generalization of Sensual Modes'. although as from Identity and the Life Cycle (1969) Erikson clearly separated Puberty and Genitality (Freud's Genital stage) . parenting Again no direct equivalent Freudian stage. grandparents N. I'm open to suggestions from any Freud experts out there who would like to offer improved (quick. courting. easy. Erikson's main terminology changes are explained below. 8. old age. The 'Life Stage' names were suggested in later writings by Erikson and did not appear so clearly in the 1950 model. That said. Generativity v Stagnation 30-65. middle age. Erikson intentionally did not stipulate clear fixed age stages. Intimacy v Isolation 18-40. although Erikson later interpreted this as being a psychosexual stage of 'Procreativity'. and related each respectively to Identity v Role Confusion.B. down-to-earth) pointers to the Freudian psychosexual theory. 7. It's not meant to be a serious detailed analysis of Freud's psychosexual ideas. .

toilet training Play Age School Age Adolescence 3-6 yrs. Autonomy v Shame and Doubt 3.Crisis stages are driven by physical and sexual growth. old age. Trust v Mistrust Infancy 2. middle age. early parenthood 30-65. The crises are therefore not driven by age precisely. erikson's eight psychosocial stages Psychosocial Crisis Stage Life Stage age range. . parenting 50+. but given that Erikson and Freud cite the onset of puberty as the start of this stage. Erikson never showed precise ages. Identity v Role Confusion Early Childhood 1-3 yrs. other descriptions 0-1½ yrs. Integrity v Despair Adulthood Mature Age * Other interpretations of the Adolescence stage commonly suggest stage 5 begins around 12 years of age. grandparents 6. teens* 18-40. Initiative v Guilt 4. and I prefer to state wider age ranges than many other common interpretations. This is reasonable for most boys. stage 5 can begin for girls as early as age nine. baby. which no doubt fuelled Joan Erikson's ideas on a 'ninth stage' after Erik's death. birth to walking 1. puberty. Intimacy v Isolation Young Adult 7. Industry v Inferiority 5. which then prompts the life issues which create the crises. It's worth noting also that these days there's a lot more 'life' and complexity in the final (old age) stage than when the eight stages were originally outlined. pre-school. early school 9-18 yrs. The final three (adult) stages happen at particularly variable ages. courting. Generativity v Stagnation 8. nursery 5-12 yrs. toddler.

g. Each of the eight 'psychosocial crises' is characterised by a conflict between two opposing positions or attitudes (or dispositions or emotional forces). Trust v Mistrust) rather than strict age or life stage definitions. which probably conveys a fuller meaning. Successful passage through each stage is dependent on striking the right balance between the conflicting extremes rather than entirely focusing on (or being guided towards) the 'ideal' or 'preferable' extreme in each crisis. Each stage contains far more meaning than can be conveyed in just two or three words. See the more detailed crisis stages descriptions below for a clearer understanding. Stage four 'Industry versus Inferiority' is a little trickier. or wholly positive or negative. which is easier to understand than some of the others. Age and life stages do feature in the model. but not surprisingly these esoteric words never featured strongly in interpretations of Erikson's terminology. This is why the stages and the model are represented primarily by the names of the crises or emotional conflicts themselves (e. but timings vary according to people and circumstances.a helpful personality development). People experience these 'psychosocial crisis' stages in a fixed sequence. Crisis stage one is 'Trust versus Mistrust'. A well-balanced positive experience during each stage develops a corresponding 'basic virtue' (or 'basic strength . not total adoption of the apparent 'positive' disposition. Successful development through each crisis is requires a balance and ratio between the two dispositions. which if happens can produce almost as much difficulty as a strong or undiluted tendency towards the second 'negative' disposition. although in later works the first disposition is formally referred to as the 'Adaptive Strength'. and their usual meanings are not very helpful in understanding what Erikson meant in this context. You could say instead 'usefulness versus uselessness' in more modern common language. Erikson never really settled on a firm recognisable description for the two components of each crisis. but as related rather than pivotal factors. but an ideal outcome is achieved only when it is counter-balanced with a degree of the second disposition. Some of the crisis stages are easier to understand than others. each of which enables a . Erikson later refined 'Industry' to 'Industriousness'. The first disposition is certainly the preferable tendency.. In this respect Erikson's theory goes a long way to explaining why too much of anything is not helpful for developing a well-balanced personality. He also used the terms 'syntonic' and 'dystonic' for respectively the first and second dispositions in each crisis. The difficulty in 'labeling' the first and second dispositions in each crisis is a reflection that neither is actually wholly good or bad. and age ranges are increasingly variable as the stages unfold.Erikson's psychosocial theory essentially states that each person experiences eight 'psychosocial crises' (internal conflicts linked to life's key stages) which help to define his or her growth and personality.

which in the earlier stages reflect Freudian theory. Trust v Mistrust The infant will develop a healthy balance between trust and mistrust if fed and cared for and not over-indulged or over-protected. Erikson reinforced these crisis explanations with a perspective called 'psychosocial modalities'. Abuse or . etc). or the opposite tendency towards uselessness and apathy. between 6-12 years of age for most people) produces the 'basic psychosocial virtue' of 'competence' (plus related strengths such as 'method'. skills.range of other related emotional and psychological strengths. In the most extreme cases the tendency can amount to serious mental problems. Here is more explanation of what lies behind these terms. techniques.meanings and interpretations Erikson used particular words to represent each psychosocial crisis. but they do provide a useful additional viewpoint. Here is each crisis stage in more detail. They are not crucial to the model. which corresponds to one of the two opposite extremes of the crisis concerned. Erikson later introduced the terms 'maladaptation' (overly adopting 'positive' extreme) and 'malignancy' (adopting the 'negative' extreme). For example unsuccessful experiences during the Industry versus Inferiority crisis would produce a tendency towards being overly focused on learning and work. 'psychosocial crisis' / 'psychosocial modality' meaning and interpretation 1. psychologically damaging) then to a varying extent the personality acquires an unhelpful emotional or psychological tendency. or worse still. Where passage through a crisis stage is less successful (in other words not well-balanced. erikson's psychosocial crisis stages . More detail is under 'Basic virtues'. and which are paraphrased below. single words can be misleading and rarely convey much meaning. As ever. For example passing successfully through the Industry versus Inferiority crisis (stage four. ability to work with processes and collaborations. More detail is under 'Maladaptations' and 'Malignancies'. but so is too much emphasis on the apparent 'good' extreme. Neglect and failure at any stage is is problematical. Describing these unhelpful outcomes.

This is independence of thought. The parental balancing act is a challenging one. encouragement and patience play an important role in shaping the young child's experience and successful progression through this period. Toilet and potty training is a significant part of this crisis. if the infant is insulated from all and any feelings of surprise and normality.. opinions and sense of self.almost literally . where parental reactions. or unfailingly indulged. notably feeding and relationship with mum. even with a risk of failure or making mistakes. especially in tables and headings. and a confidence and belief that it is okay to do so.maybe karma even. and obviously inhibit self-expression and developing one's own ideas. in other words a failure to appreciate reality.. in which the infant's crucial relationships and experiences are defined by oral concerns all aspects of toddler exploration and discovery while small children struggle to find their feet . This crisis stage incorporates Freud's psychosexual Oral stage. Infants who grow up to trust are more able to hope and have faith that 'things will generally be okay'.) Autonomy means self-reliance. Guilt means what it says. On the other hand. and of course deal with the influence of their own emotional triggers which were conditioned when they themselves passed through earlier formative crisis stages. 2.'To get' 'To give in return' (To receive and to give in return. Of course very Freudian.. "That's dirty. Guilt results from being admonished or believing that . especially since parents themselves are having to deal with their own particular psychosocial crisis. "Once bitten twice shy" is an apt analogy. Autonomy v Shame & Doubt 'To hold on' 'To let go' (To direct behaviour outward or be retentive." it will be an echo from their own past experience at this very stage? 3. this will create a false sense of trust amounting to sensory distortion. The 'terrible twos' and 'toddler tantrums' are a couple of obvious analogies which represent these internal struggles and parental battles. Shame and Doubt mean what they say. and a basic confidence to think and act for oneself. Mistrust increases a person's resistance to risk-exposure and exploration. What are the odds that whenever a parent berates a child. Erikson later shortened 'Basic Trust v Basic Mistrust' to simply Trust v Mistrust. and in this context is the feeling that it is wrong or inappropriate to instigate something of one's own design.) neglect or cruelty will destroy trust and foster mistrust. as in Freud's psychosexual Anal stage. Initiative v Guilt 'To make (= going after)' Initiative is the capability to devise actions or little people in their own right.. The significance of parental reaction is not limited to bottoms and pooh . Trust is reciprocal .

Penis Envy and Castration Anxiety.will move towards successful negotiation of this crisis stage.of anything positive . A child who experiences the satisfaction of achievement . What's more essential is to recognise that children of this age are not wicked or bad or naughty. replacing it instead with an unhelpful fear of being wrong or unapproved. without which an irresponsible or reckless tendency can develop. Suppressing adventure and experimentation. Engaging with others and using tools or technology are also important aspects of this . and to Industry here refers to purposeful or meaningful activity. and to make things together. plans) something is wrong or likely to attract disapproval. and to the consequences of mistakes. It's the development of competence and skills. quite naturally is prone to feeling inferior and useless. about which further explanation and understanding is not critical to appreciating Erikson's theory. A child who experiences failure at school tasks and work.'To "make like" (= playing)' (To make and complete things. This crisis stage correlates with Freud's psychosexual Phallic stage. Erikson described this stage as a sort of 'entrance to life'. and also to enable a sensible exposure to trail and error. and is a crucial aspect of school years experience.. and to make things together' (To initiate projects or ideas. The fear of being admonished or accused of being stupid becomes a part of the personality. carers and older siblings have a challenge to get the balance right between giving young children enough space and encouragement so as to foster a sense of purpose and confidence. To pursue ideas. but to protect against danger. characterised by a perfectly natural interest in genitals. and as Freud asserted. they are exploring and 4." (from feeling guilty and bad). and a confidence to use a 'method'. where babies come from. or worse still who is denied the opportunity to discover and develop their own capabilities and strengths and unique potential. when sexual motives and concerns are largely repressed while the young person concentrates on work and skills development. Industry v Inferiority 'To make (= going after)' 'To "make like" and complete things. This correlates with Freud's psychosexual Latency stage. "If I don't initiate or stick my neck out I'll be safe. an attachment to the opposite sex parent. Parents. and the murky mysteries of the Oedipus Complex. mess or a bit of risk will inhibit the development of confidence to initiate. Initiative flourishes when adventure and game-playing is encouraged. or preventing young children doing things for themselves because of time. irrespective of how daft and silly it seems to the grown-up in charge.

. Affirmation or otherwise of how you see yourself. love. In essence they mean the same. This stage coincides with puberty or adolescence.) stage. with the low self-esteem that accompanies such feelings. Role Confusion is the negative perspective . unable to contribute. and yet also to become individuals.collaborate and cooperate with others to produce something. 5. Young people struggle to belong and to be accepted and affirmed. Help them to find and excel at what they are naturally good at. support. and then they will achieve the sense of purpose and industry on which everything else can then be and receiving . Intimacy v Isolation 'To lose and find oneself in another' (Reciprocal love for and with another person. Erikson later replaced the term 'Role Confusion' with 'Identity Diffusion'. Inferiority is feeling useless. Identity v Role Confusion 'To be oneself (or not to be)' 'To share being oneself' (To be yourself and to share this with others. There is a strong reciprocal feature in the intimacy experienced during this stage . and all the other elements that we would typically associate with healthy adult relationships conducive to mating and child-rearing. It's a sense of self or individuality in the context of life and what lies ahead.the giving and receiving of physical and emotional connection. and the reawakening of the sexual urge whose dormancy typically characterises the previous stage. aside from all the other distractions and confusions experienced at this life stage. In itself this is a big absence of identity . unable to cooperate or work in a team to create something. Erikson knew this over fifty years ago. trust. How is it that the people in charge of children's education still fail to realise this? Develop the child from within. comfort.meaning that the person cannot see clearly or at all who they are and how they can relate positively with their environment. Isolation conversely means being and feeling excluded from the usual life experiences of dating and mating and mutually loving relationships. 6.) Identity means essentially how a person sees themselves in relation to their world.especially between sexual or marital partners.) Intimacy means the process of achieving relationships with family and marital or mating partner(s). Erikson explained this stage also in terms of sexual mutuality . It is like a rehearsal for being productive and being valued at work in later life.

greed. and potentially to the wider world. as in parents and children. and specifically the unconditional giving that characterises positive parental love and care for their offspring. Stagnation and/or Self-Absorption result from not having an outlet or opportunity for contributing to the good or growth of children and others. social withdrawal or non-participation. lack of interest in young people and future generations. just as being a parent is no guarantee that Generativity will be achieved. . and probably the influence of Freudian theory. Stagnation is an extension of intimacy which turns inward in the form of self-interest and self-absorption. Erikson later used the term 'Self-Absorption' instead of 'Stagnation' and then seems to have settled in later work with the original 'Stagnation'.This logically is characterised by feelings of loneliness. which gives the model ultimately a very modern globally responsible perspective.putting something back into life. Erikson acknowledged that this stage also extends to other productive activities . and the wider world. self-indulgence. It's the disposition that represents feelings of selfishness.but given his focus on childhood development. but success at this stage actually depends on giving and caring . which illustrates the difficulty in equating Freudian psychosexual theory precisely to Erikson's model. Erikson also later correlated this stage with the Freudian Genitality sexual stage. Erikson's analysis of this stage was strongly oriented towards and creativity for example . Positive outcomes from this crisis stage depend on contributing positively and unconditionally. Generativity v Stagnation 'To make be' 'To take care of' (Unconditional. Caring for children is the common Generativity scenario. to the best of one's capabilities. 7. and also to all future generations. There is a correlation but it is not an exact fit. nonreciprocating care of one's children. or other altruistic outlets) Generativity derives from the word generation. We might also see this as an end of selfinterest. alienation. Generativity potentially extends beyond one's own children. Having children is not a prerequisite for Generativity.

) This is a review and closing stage. Integrity v Despair 'To be. No regrets or recriminations. To bring this idea to life look at the 'obituaries' exercise. He also continued to use the shorter form 'Integrity v Despair'. wishing to be able to turn back the clock and have a second chance. even in the depths of despair. Later Erikson dropped the word 'Ego' (from 'Ego Integrity') and extended the whole term to 'Integrity v Disgust and Despair'. When this happens people are effectively rebuilding wreckage from the previous stage. or 'sour grapes' feeling towards what life might have been) represent the opposite disposition: feelings of wasted opportunities. and potentially future generations everywhere.and related strengths which result from successfully passing through each whatever way. This crisis stage highlights the issue very meaningfully.. through having been To face not being' (To be peaceful and satisfied with one's life and efforts.e. and to be accepting that life will end. to whatever extent. The previous stage is actually a culmination of one's achievement and contribution to descendents. Erikson described success as a 'favourable ratio' (between the two extremes) at each crisis stage. erikson's basic psychosocial virtues or strengths (positive outcomes) The chart below identifies the 'basic psychosocial virtues' . regrets. There lies Integrity and acceptance. Despair and/or 'Disgust' (i. The linking between the stages is perhaps clearer here than anywhere: people are more likely to look back on their lives positively and happily if they have left the world a better place than they found it . . rejective denial. which is fine. Integrity means feeling at peace with oneself and the world. Erikson had a profound interest in humanity and society's well-being in general.even before old age is reached. Happily these days for many people it's often possible to put something back. This stage is a powerful lens through which to view one's life .

Initiative v Guilt Purpose & Direction (sense of purpose. From this he was able to (and we can too . Trust v Mistrust Hope & Drive (faith. albeit towards the 'positive'. plus another virtue (described below a 'secondary virtue') for each stage.he encouraged people to do so) extrapolate other related strengths. a trust in life and self and others. Autonomy v determination. responsibility. persistence. basic feeling that everything will be okay . are Erikson's terminology.A basic virtue is not the result of simply achieving the positive extreme of each crisis. muscular control. At times he referred to 'basic virtues' as 'basic strengths'. Shame & Doubt confidence in self to decide things. teething. Trust. A bit confusing. toilet training. but the main point is that based on what observed for each stage he identified one clear basic virtue and one secondary virtue. inner resolve and strength in the face of uncertainty and risk) infant / mother / feeding and being comforted. Erikson identified one basic virtue. 'Basic psychological virtue' and 'basic virtue' (same thing). between the two extremes. judgement) 3. 2. grounding.. sleeping Willpower & Self-Control (selftoddler / parents / bodily functions. etc) as an 'Adaptive Strength'. basic virtues and other strengths crisis including adaptive strength basic virtue & secondary virtue (and life stage / relationships / related strengths) issues 1. inner calm.enabling exposure to risk. being one's own person. independence of thought. self-belief. Erikson recognised this by later referring to the first disposition (e. having walking a voice. working with preschool / family / exploration and . Bear in mind also that the first disposition in each crisis is also inevitably a related strength that comes from successfully experiencing each stage. decision-making. Basic virtue is attained by a helpful balance. Helpfully balanced experience leads to positive growth. Chief life stage issues and relationships are also re-stated as a reminder as to when things happen.g. self-reliance. self-discipline. Autonomy.

ability to apply method and process in pursuit of ideas or objectives. seeing useful personal role(s) and purpose(s) in life) adolescent / peers. applying skills friends. social and interpersonal integrity. making a positive difference. confidence to seek and respond to challenge and learning. ability to form honest reciprocating relationships and friendships. Identity v Role Confusion 6. socially and work and social life inter-personally comfortable. Care & Production (giving mid-adult / children. society and the wider world where possible and applicable. helping . friends. ability to define personal direction and aims and goals. teachers.emotionally and physically. loyalty. connections / intimate relationships. Industry v Inferiority discovery. capacity to bond and commit with others for mutual satisfaction . building a good legacy. initiating projects and ideas.towards good) 7. courage to instigate. contributing for the greater good. personal standards and dignity. active busy productive outlook) Fidelity & Devotion (self-confidence and self-esteem necessary to freely associate with people and ideas based on merit. work receive love . feeling valued achievement and accomplishment and capable of contributing. producing results. adventure and play Competence & Method (making schoolchild / school. things. contributing Stagnation and/or for others. reciprocity give and take .for work and personal life. altruism. community / Generativity v unconditionally in support of children 'giving back'.and leading others. becoming a grown-up 5. influences / resolving identity and direction. connectivity with others. able to take initiative and appropriate risks) 4. Intimacy v Isolation Love & Affiliation (capacity to give and young adult / lovers. neighbourhood / and processes productively. pride and personal identity. discretion. helping. community. groups.

non-projection. toilet training. but the correlations are clear and fascinating. achievements. Erikson separately listed a series of 'Related Elements of Social Order' within his psychosocial model.others through their own crisis stages 8. no regrets. late adult / society. Trust v Mistrust teething. spiritual or universal reconciliation. life / tolerance. Autonomy v Shame & Doubt 3. It's not a precise fit obviously because the Erikson and Maslow perspectives are different. Integrity v Despair Wisdom & Renunciation (calmness. walking preschool / family / 2. might aid the comparison. there are significant parallels between the growth outcomes of the Erikson psychosocial model. and the growth aspects Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. You might have your own views on this. appropriate emotional meaning and purpose. acceptance of inevitably departing) erikson and maslow correlations? As an aside. 1. the world. Initiative Willpower & Self-Control 'law and order' safety Purpose & 'ideal belongingness . non-judgemental. muscular control. acceptance peace of mind. life detachment . which although quite obscure in this context. sleeping toddler / parents / Hope & Drive 'cosmic order' biological & physiological bodily functions. For what it's worth here's mine: life stage / relationships / crisis Maslow Erikson's Hierarchy of 'related Needs stage elements of primary social order' correlation issues virtue outcomes infant / mother / feeding and being comforted.

exploration and discovery. Integrity v Despair Wisdom & Renunciation 'wisdom' selfactualisation . teachers. friends. adventure and play schoolchild / school. Generativity 'giving back'. life achievements. community / 6. work and social life mid-adult / children. Identity v resolving identity Role and direction. contributing late adult / society. the world. acceptance 8. Industry v Competence & Method Inferiority 'technological elements' esteem achievement and accomplishment adolescent / peers. work connections / Fidelity & Devotion 'ideological perspectives' esteem intimate relationships. Intimacy v Isolation Love & Affiliation 'patterns of cooperation and competition' esteem 7. neighbourhood / v Guilt Direction prototypes' & love 4. Confusion becoming a grown-up young adult / lovers. helping. influences / 5. life / v Stagnation Care & Production 'currents of education and training' selfactualisation meaning and purpose. friends. groups.

anyone can find themselves revisiting and having to resolve needs (or crisis feelings or experiences) from earlier years. homelessness). I'm not suggesting a direct fit between Erikson's and Maslow's models. is a way to help people understand where the baggage came from.B. Further thoughts and suggestions about correlations between Maslow and Erikson are welcome. This chart is laid out with the crisis in the centre to aid appreciation that 'maladaptations' develop from tending towards the extreme of the first ('positive') disposition in each crisis.maladaptations and malignancies (negative outcomes) Later Erikson developed clearer ideas and terminology . Psychoanalysis. or more realistically the essential aspects of a crisis. erikson's model . the particular therapeutic science from which Erikson approached these issues.notably 'Maladaptations' and 'Malignancies' . Rather. is actually a very apt metaphor. and 'malignancies' develop from tending towards the extreme of the second ('negative') disposition in each crisis. which causes the person to revisit certain needs and internal conflicts (crises) which were once satisfied earlier but are no longer met. A malignancy could be seen as not enough. A maladaptation could be seen as 'too much of a good thing'.to represent the negative outcomes arising from an unhelpful experience through each of the crisis stages. maladaptations and malignancies . instead we revisit the experiences and feelings associated with earlier life. this simply puts the two perspectives alongside each other to show how similar aspects could could inter-relate. bankruptcy. and thereby to assist the process of dumping it. In later writings malignancies were also referred to as 'antipathies'. In crude modern terms these negative outcomes might be referred to as 'baggage'. divorce. Judge for yourself. since people tend to carry with them through life the psychological outcomes of previously unhelpful experiences. social exclusion. We might also use the Erikson model to help explain what happens in Maslow's theory when a particular trauma sweeps away a part of someone's life (perhaps due to redundancy.N. To an extent these negative outcomes can also arise from repeating or revisiting a crisis. According to both Erikson's and Maslow's theories. since we don't actually regress to a younger age. which although somewhat unscientific.

etc. Neither do these examples suggest that anyone experiencing any of these behavioural tendencies is suffering from mental problems. In each case the maladaptation or malignancy corresponds to an extreme extension of the relevant crisis disposition (for example. tendencies. not scientific certainties. and interestingly helps to identify the traits in people .Maladaptation Sensory Distortion (later Sensory Maladjustment) Impulsivity (later Shameless Willfulness) Ruthlessness Narrow Virtuosity Fanaticism Promiscuity Overextension Presumption Crisis Malignancy Trust v Mistrust Withdrawal Autonomy v Shame/Doubt Compulsion Initiative v Guilt Industry v Inferiority Identity v Role Confusion Intimacy v Isolation Generativity v Stagnation Integrity v Despair Inhibition Inertia Repudiation Exclusivity Rejectivity Disdain Erikson was careful to choose words for the maladaptations and malignancies which convey a lot of meaning and are very symbolic of the emotional outcomes that are relevant to each stage.. using more modern and common language. . Erikson never established any absolute measurement of emotional difficulty or tendency as to be defined as a malignancy or maladaptation. to help understand and interpret the meaning and possible attitudes. Here are examples. within the various malignancies and malapdations. These examples are open to additional interpretation and are intended to be a guide. 'Withdrawal' results from an extreme extension of 'Mistrust'). behaviours.when you encounter the behavioural tendency concerned. in which case the terms would be more extreme too.or oneself . Malignancies and maladaptations can manifest in various ways. In each case the examples can manifest as more extreme mental difficulties. Thinking about this helps to understand what these outcomes entail.

pompous. uncaring. blaming . dispassionate workaholic. depressive. thoughtless exploitative. and it is always a matter of opinion as to what actually constitutes a problem. meddling conceited. since none of us is perfect. It's always a question of degree. Not to do so would not be human. maybe understanding where they come from too. All people possess a degree of maladaptation or malignancy from each crisis experience. spoilt. selfcontained Trust v Mistrust Withdrawal Impulsivity Autonomy v Shame/Doubt Compulsion Ruthlessness Initiative v Guilt Inhibition Narrow Virtuosity Industry v Inferiority Identity v Role Confusion Intimacy v Isolation Generativity v Stagnation Inertia self-important. cold. constrained. cynical Presumption Integrity v Despair Disdain miserable. It's also a matter of understanding our weaknesses. apathetic. selflimiting risk-averse. unfulfilled. maladaptations and malignancies .examples and interpretations examples unrealistic. arrogant Promiscuity Exclusivity Overextension Rejectivity disinterested. vulnerable do-gooder. busy-body. extremist Fanaticism Repudiation sexually needy. afraid anal.In truth each of us is subject to emotional feelings and and extremes of various sorts. inconsiderate. deluded reckless. purposeless socially disconnected. and thereby better understanding how we might become stronger. obsessive specialist maladaptation Sensory Distortion crisis malignancy examples neurotic. cut-off loner. unadventurous lazy. more productive and happier.

Erik's wife and collaborator. Trust) and 'dystonic' being the 'negative' second-listed word (e. and Ego Integrity (1950) is shortened to Integrity.g.. For clarity therefore this page sticks mostly with Erikson's original 1950 and other commonly used terminology. The Eriksons' refinements also involved alterations . 1986).. Some of what is summarised here did not initially appear clearly in Childhood and Society in 1950. neither literal definition particularly aids understanding of Erikson's theory and as such they are not very helpful in using the model. Extreme tendency in either direction is not helpful. Autonomy. e. for grasping what the theory means and making use of it. Syntonic conventionally refers to a high degree of emotional response to one's environment. (notably in Vital Involvement in Old Age. • Erikson later used 'Adaptive Strength' as a firm description of the first disposition in each crisis. and is not crucial to understanding the model at a simple the terminology. especially at a basic working level. Syntonic extremes equate to maladaptations.g. • . Again realise that a balance between syntonic and dystonic tendencies is required for healthy outcomes. This developmental approach enabled the useful extension of the model to its current format. including work focusing on old age by Joan Erikson. and he encouraged his readers and followers to do likewise.. dystonic conventionally refers to abnormal muscular responsiveness. Dystonic extremes equate to malignancies.g. and perhaps easier too. Here are the main examples of alternative terminology that Erikson used in later works to describe the crisis stages and other aspects. not its completion.some would say complications . Several aspects of Erikson's theory were clarified in subsequent books decades later. notably in the 1996 revised edition of The Life Cycle Completed: A Review. He used the description loosely early in his work but seems to have settled on it as a firm heading in later work. Erikson was continually refining and re-evaluating his psychosocial theory. The words syntonic and dystonic outside of Erikson's theory have quite specific scientific medical meanings which are not easy to equate to Erikson's essential ideas. Basic Trust v Basic Mistrust (1950) is however shortened here to Trust v Mistrust. The terms used on this page are perfectly adequate. because these seem to be more consistent Erikson preferences. which marked the establishment of the basic theory.. Initiative. See what I mean?.erikson's terminology This section explains how some of the model's terminology altered as Erikson developed his theory. which (although presumably aiming for scientific precision) do not necessarily aid understanding.'syntonic' being the 'positive' first-listed factor (e. Erikson used the terms 'syntonic' and 'dystonic' to describe the contrary dispositions and effects within each crisis stage . which will help you recognise and understand their meaning if you see them elsewhere. Trust. Mistrust).

'Basic Virtues' Erikson also called 'Basic Strengths' (the word 'basic' generally identified the single main virtue or strength that potentially arose from each crisis. It is certainly a view that greatly assists encouraging oneself and others to see the future as an opportunity for positive change and development. • 'Sensory Distortion' was later referred to as 'Sensory Maladjustment'. and that personality is not exclusively formed during early childhood years. He later referred to 'Intimacy' also as 'Intimacy and Distantiation'. the concept also asserts that humans continue to change and develop throughout their lives. in conclusion Erikson's psychosocial theory very powerful for self-awareness and improvement. the better they will tend to deal with what lies ahead. instead of looking back with blame and regret. and for teaching and helping others. if we recognise and welcome them. While Erikson's model emphasises the sequential significance of the eight characterforming crisis stages. • Erikson (or maybe Joan Erikson) later used the term 'Antipathy' as an alternative for 'Malignancy' (being the negative tendency towards the second resulting from unsuccessful experience during a crisis stage). This is a helpful and optimistic idea. . 'Stagnation' was later shown alternatively as 'Self-Absorption'.) 'Ego Integrity' he also simplified at times to simply 'Integrity'. and later still reverted to 'Stagnation'. The better that people come through each crisis. and many believe it is realistic too. At times he extended 'Despair' to 'Despair and Disgust' (Disgust here being a sort of 'sour grapes' reaction or rejective denial).to personal decision-making. • • • • • • • • • 'Impulsivity' he later changed to 'Shameless Willfulness'. (Distantiation means the ability to bring objectivity .emotional detachment . but this is not to say that all is lost and never to be recovered if a person has had a negative experience during any particular crisis stage. being the maladaptive tendency arising at stage one (Trust v Mistrust). Erikson later referred to 'Role Confusion' as 'Identity Diffusion' and 'Identity Confusion'. Lessons can be revisited successfully when they recur. Erikson later refined 'Industry' to 'Industriousness'. being the maladaptive tendency arising at stage two (Autonomy v Shame & Doubt) Erikson generally used the simpler 'Trust v Mistrust' instead of 'Basic Trust v Basic Mistrust' which first appeared in the 1950 model. which would be accompanied by various other related strengths).

they are very accessible and rich in ideas. A degree of uncertainty about personal identity and direction apparently characterised Erik's childhood and early adult years . Erik changed his surname later in life. understanding why we are like we are . And as ever.Everyone can change and grow.she initially came to Vienna for psychoanalysis). no matter what has gone before.biography Erik Homburger Erikson (1902-94) was born in Frankfurt-am-Main Germany on 15 June 1902 to a young Danish Jewish woman. and they do have a strong resonance with much of what we face in modern life. Erikson's psychosocial theory should be taught to everyone . to psychoanalysis. Around 1927 aged 25 he took a teaching job at an experimental school for American children in Vienna run by psychoanalyst Dorothy Burlingham (daughter of New York jeweller Charles Tiffany incidentally .and particularly how grown-ups can help rather than hinder children's development into rounded emotionally mature people. teachers and parents . I'm always open to suggestions of improvements. Erikson came to psychoanalysis almost by accident. beyond the clinical and counselling professions.especially to school always a useful and important step forward. erik erikson . and would greatly assist all people of all ages to understand the connections between life experiences and human behaviour . Erikson was keen to improve the way children and young people are taught and nurtured. After wandering and working around Europe as an artist. especially for a challenging and potent area like this one. helps to enable this meaningful understanding and personal growth. to Anna Freud (lifelong friend and collaborator of .not surprisingly given his circumstances . His natural father departed before the birth. along with many other concepts featured on this's certainly accessible enough. Or read any of Erikson's books . and it would be appropriate for his ideas to be more widely known and used in day-today life. I recommend for more detail you see the wonderful materials created by Professor George Boeree of the Shippensburg (Pennsylvania) University Psychology Department. Erikson's theory.which reflected and perhaps helped inspire his life work.gaining meaningful self-awareness . and his mother subsequently married Dr Theodor Homberger. This appointment was pivotal: it introduced Erikson to Montessori education methods. Karla Abrahamsen. seemingly on becoming an American citizen. and specifically George Boeree's Erikson theory explanation. Hopefully this page explains Erikson's psychosocial theory in reasonable simple terms. Erik's paediatrician.

and later Berkeley California. was published in 1950. in 1970. three years after her husband. Erickson's book The Life Cycle Completed: A Review (1982) was revised in 1996 by Joan Erikson in which she extended the stages of old age within the life cycle model. Erik's Canadian wife Joan M Erikson. They had two sons and a daughter. When McCarthy demanded California academics sign the 'loyalty oath' in 1950. The book Vital Involvement in Old Age (1989). was also keenly interested and expert in the life stages theory and its application to childhood development and psychoanalysis. Yale. Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968). Erikson moved to Massachusetts. notably conducted in 1938 with the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) and Yurok Native American people. where he also engaged in clinical work and teaching at Harvard. back to Massachusetts. which revisited people and life stages first studied forty years earlier. These experiences especially helped Erikson to realise that Freudian ideas lacked vital social dimensions. He subsequently moved to the University of California. with a strong emphasis on how society affects childhood and development. whom he met and married in Vienna. Childhood and Society. and incidentally also established the concept of the 'identity crisis' in adolescence. and also practised at the San Francisco Veterans Hospital treating trauma and mental illness. but not from research and writing. She collaborated in Erikson's clinical and teaching work and in the development and writing of his ideas too. and provided a key for his 'biopsychosocial' perspective. Sigmund Freud's centre of psychoanalytical excellence.which won the Pulizter Prize. in which his interest and research grew following his emigration to the USA in 1933. and Dimensions of a New Identity (1974). continuing his focus on child welfare. where he taught and worked for ten years until moving to Harvard. and died in 1994. and included Young Man Luther (1958). Identity and the Life Cycle (1959). Erikson's first and arguably most important book. This research entailed detailed anthropological studies of children in societies. The work and teachings of Sigmund Freud and daughter Anna were to prove hugely significant in the development of Erikson's own ideas and direction.Dorothy Burlingham). Gandhi's Truth (1970) . in which he first explained his eight stage theory of human development. and also to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Insight and Responsibility (1964). was jointly written with Joan Erikson and Helen Kivnik. . Erik Erikson's early work focused chiefly on testing and extending Freudian theory in relation to the effect of social and cultural factors upon human psychology. Erikson's early specialisation was child analysis. He retired from clinical practice. and all from an inconspicuous teaching appointment. Later books reflected his interest in humanistic and society perspectives and his own passage through later life stages. She died in 1997.

teachers. Kolb's learning styles model and experiential learning theory are today acknowledged by academics. adult development. including Rogers. and notably 'learning focused institutional development in higher education'. Cleveland. learning style. Ohio. In addition to personal business interests (Kolb is founder and chairman of Experience Based Learning Systems). See also Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and VAK learnings styles models.the model contains parallels with Erikson's ideas Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 'Grief Cycle' Personality Models (which includes explanations of Jung. The model gave rise to related terms such as Kolb's experiential learning theory (ELT).see also • • • • • • • • • • Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs . David Kolb is still (at the time I write this. fundamental concepts towards our understanding and explaining human learning behaviour. OCEAN. In his publications notably his 1984 book 'Experiential Learning: Experience As The Source Of Learning And Development' Kolb acknowledges the early work on experiential learning by others in the 1900's. etc) Conscious Competence John Fisher's Personal Transition Curve and the John Fisher Transition Curve Diagram (PDF) Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory and the VAK (visual auditory kinesthetic) learning styles inventory Bloom's Taxonomy or Learning Domains Donald Kirkpatrick's Learning Evaluation Model David Kolb's Learning Styles Model kolb learning styles David Kolb's learning styles model and experiential learning theory (ELT) Having developed the model over many years prior. Myers Briggs. and towards helping others to learn. Four Temperaments. managers and trainers as truly seminal works. which assist in understanding and using Kolb's learning styles concepts. . experiential learning. In turn. where he teaches and researches in the fields of learning and development. and Kolb's learning styles inventory (LSI). and Piaget. David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984. 2005) Professor of Organizational Development at Case Western Reserve University. Jung.

as illustrated below).(AC) Active Experimentation . Immediate or concrete experiences lead to observations and reflections. Diverging (CE/RO) Assimilating (AC/RO) Converging (AC/AE) Accommodating (CE/AE) diagrams of kolb's learning styles . Kolb includes this 'cycle of learning' as a central principle his experiential learning theory. typically expressed as four-stage cycle of learning. 4. for which Kolb used the terms: 1. (which might also be interpreted as a 'training cycle'). 3. These 'observations and reflections' are assimilated and distilled into 'abstract concepts' producing new implications for action which can be 'actively tested' in turn creating new experiences.(CE) Reflective Observation . (each representing the combination of two preferred styles.a four-stage cycle: 1. reflecting. ie. rather like a two-by-two matrix of the four-stage cycle styles.. Concrete Experience . in which 'immediate or concrete experiences' provide a basis for 'observations and reflections'. and also an explanation of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all. 4. Kolb's model therefore works on two levels .(RO) Abstract Conceptualization . and acting. 2. which in turn enable the creation of new experiences. 3.(AE) and a four-type definition of learning styles. In this respect Kolb's model is particularly elegant. which are based on a four-stage learning cycle. a cycle of experiencing. These reflections are then assimilated (absorbed and translated) into abstract concepts with implications for action. which the person can actively test and experiment with.kolb's experiential learning theory (learning styles) model Kolb's learning theory sets out four distinct learning styles (or preferences). since it offers both a way to understand individual people's different learning styles. thinking. Kolb says that ideally (and by inference not always) this process represents a learning cycle or spiral where the learner 'touches all the bases'. 2.

Here is a new improved (May 2006) free diagram illustrating Kolb's learning cycle and learning types (MSWord). (Also as a pdf. and Kolb colour diagram PDF.) Kolb diagrams also in colour (like the image below): Kolb learning styles colour diagram MSWord. (Kolb diagrams updated May 2006) See also the personality styles and models section for help with understanding how Kolb's theory correlates with other personality models and psychometrics (personality testing). learning styles (This interpretation was amended and revised March 2006) .

expression of non-dominant learning style in work and personal life.CE (feeling) -----V-----Abstract Conceptualization .the development of a particular 'specialized learning style' shaped by 'social.development of basic abilities and 'cognitive structures' 2. or two separate 'choices' that we make. and the north-south axis is called the Perception Continuum (our emotional response.mid-career through to later life .Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style.birth to adolescence . each with 'conflicting' modes at either end: Concrete Experience . These learning styles are the combination of two lines of axis (continuums) each formed between what Kolb calls 'dialectically related modes' of 'grasping experience' (doing or watching). the learning style preference itself is actually the product of two pairs of variables. The development stages that Kolb identified are: 1. Various factors influence a person's preferred style: notably in his experiential learning theory model (ELT) Kolb defined three stages of a person's development.AE (doing)-----V----. and suggests that our propensity to reconcile and successfully integrate the four different learning styles improves as we mature through our development stages. early work and personal experiences of adulthood . or how we think or feel about it). Whatever influences the choice of style.RO (watching) A typical presentation of Kolb's two continuums is that the east-west axis is called the Processing Continuum (how we approach a task).schooling. Acquisition . and organizational socialization' 3. and 'transforming experience' (feeling or thinking): .Reflective Observation . educational. Integration .AC (thinking) Active Experimentation . which Kolb presented as lines of axis. Specialization .

. which we resolve through choice when confronted with a new learning situation. which defines our emotional response to the experience. We choose a way of 'grasping the experience'. Kolb meant by this that we cannot do both at the same time. how to approach a task . The result of these two decisions produces (and helps to form throughout our lives) the preferred learning style. 'transforming experience' preferring to (a) think or (b) feel. and we choose a way to 'transform the experience' into something meaningful and usable. We internally decide whether we wish to do or watch. 'grasping experience' . and yet carries an essential meaning. and at the same time we decide whether to think or feel. and 2. Our learning style is a product of these two choice decisions: 1. and to an extent our urge to want to do both creates conflict.The word 'dialectically' is not widely understood. hence the two-by-two matrix our emotional response to the experience .preferring to (a) watch or (b) do . which defines our approach to namely 'conflicting' (its ancient Greek root means 'debate' .and I thank P Stern for helping clarify this precise meaning).

and converging.CE) accommodating (CE/AE) converging (AC/AE) diverging (CE/RO) assimilating (AC/RO) thinking (Abstract Conceptualization AC) . felt qualities of the world' ('concrete experience' .RO) feeling (Concrete Experience .'watching') or • • 1(b) .through experiencing the 'concrete.through gaining new information by thinking.through 'jumping straight in' and just doing it ('active experimentation' 'doing' ) And at the same time we choose how to emotionally transform the experience into something meaningful and useful by opting for 2(a) or 2(b): 2(a) . accommodating: doing (Active Experimentation . analyzing. assimilating. See the matrix below. tangible.'thinking') or • • 2(b) . diverging. The diagram also highlights Kolb's terminology for the four learning styles.'feeling') The combination of these two choices produces a preferred learning style.matrix view It's often easier to see the construction of Kolb's learning styles in terms of a two-by-two matrix. kolb's learning styles .AE) watching (Reflective Observation .In other words we choose our approach to the task or experience ('grasping the experience') by opting for 1(a) or 1(b): 1(a) . or planning ('abstract conceptualization' .though watching others involved in the experience and reflecting on what happens ('reflective observation' .

A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. people with this style prefer readings. tend to be imaginative and emotional.People with a Converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. and having time to think things through. in Kolb's terminology.CE/AE) . They are best at viewing concrete situations several different viewpoints.Thus. People with a Converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They are interested in people. People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format. namely an 'Accommodating' learning style.The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise. People with a Converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. logical approach.These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. People with the Diverging style prefer to work in groups. • Accommodating (doing and feeling . These learning style people is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. • Converging (doing and thinking .it's a matter of using emphasis that fits best with the given situation and a person's learning style preferences. They are sensitive. exploring analytical models. for example. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. • Assimilating (watching and thinking . brainstorming. These people use other people's • . Here are brief descriptions of the four Kolb learning styles: Diverging (feeling and watching .AC/RO) . In formal learning situations.AC/AE) . They prefer to watch rather than do. and relies on intuition rather than logic. lectures.CE/RO) . People with a Diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. Kolb called this style 'Diverging' because these people perform better in situations that require ideas-generation. to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.The Accommodating learning style is 'hands-on'. That said. and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. kolb learning styles definitions and descriptions Knowing a person's (and your own) learning style enables learning to be orientated according to the preferred method. will have a learning style which combines and represents those processes. everyone responds to and needs the stimulus of all types of learning styles to one extent or another . and tend to be strong in the arts. a person with a dominant learning style of 'doing' rather than 'watching' the task. and 'feeling' rather than 'thinking' about the experience. for example. to simulate. People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas. and to work with practical applications. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They prefer technical tasks.

will tend to learn more effectively if learning is orientated according to their preference. They commonly act on 'gut' instinct rather than logical analysis. and prefer to take a practical. People with an Accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks. This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative. For example. People with an Accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences. They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective. Kolb says that his experiential learning theory. The ability to use or 'switch between' different styles is not one that we should assume comes easily or naturally to many people. people who have a clear learning style preference.people who prefer the 'Assimilating' learning style will not be comfortable being thrown in at the deep end without notes and instructions. As with any behavioural model. and are unable to get hands on experience as soon as possible. this is a guide not a strict set of rules. People who like prefer to use an 'Accommodating' learning style are likely to become frustrated if they are forced to read lots of instructions and rules. Simply. Kolb points out that Jung's 'Extraversion/Introversion' dialectical dimension . Also. . the MBTI 'Feeling/Thinking' dimension correlates with the Kolb model Concrete Experience/Abstract Conceptualization dimension (north-south continuum). for whatever reason. relationships between kolb and other behavioural/personality theories As with many behavioural and personality models. interesting correlations exist between Kolb's theory and other concepts. experiential approach. Nevertheless most people clearly exhibit clear strong preferences for a given learning style. builds on Carl Jung's assertion that learning styles result from people's preferred ways of adapting in the world. and therefore the learning styles model within it.analysis. For instance .(which features and is measured in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI]) correlates with the 'Active/Reflective' (doing/watching) dialectic (east-west continuum) of Kolb's model. and to carrying out plans. Among many other correlations between definitions.

Kolb uses different words to describe the stages of the learning cycle and four learning styles. 'theorist'. 4. thoughtful. and 'pragmatist' are from a learning styles model developed by Honey and Mumford. delay reaching conclusions." And. listen before speaking. Arguably therefore the terms 'activist'. and 'pragmatist' (respectively representing the four key stages or learning steps) in seeking to explain Kolb's model.. and Activists (style 1): 'here and now'. In fact. 'Reviewing the Experience' (stage 2) and Reflectors (style 2): 'stand back'. 2. practical. rationally objective. 3. 'reflector'. bored with long discussions. is different. Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed their learning styles system as a variation on the Kolb model while working on a project for the Chloride corporation in the 1970's. which although based on Kolb's work.The similarities between his model and ours are greater than the differences. south and west on a circle or four-stage cyclical flow diagram.. ponder and analyse. enjoy problem solving and decision-making quickly.. open-minded. Honey and Mumford say of their system: "Our description of the stages in the learning cycle originated from the work of David Kolb.honey and mumford's variation on the kolb system Various resources (including this one in the past) refer to the terms 'activist'. The typical presentation of these H&M styles and stages would be respectively at north. which incidentally are directly mutually corresponding and overlaid. 'theorist'. reject subjectivity and flippancy. There is arguably a strong similarity between the Honey and Mumford styles/stages and the corresponding Kolb learning styles: • • Activist = Accommodating Reflector = Diverging . 1. 'Having an Experience' (stage 1).. 'Concluding from the Experience' (stage 3) and Theorists (style 3): think things through in logical steps. gather data. gregarious. east." (Honey & Mumford) In summary here are brief descriptions of the four H&M key stages/styles. 'reflector'. 'Planning the next steps' (stage 4) and Pragmatists (style 4): seek and try out new ideas. down-to-earth. as distinct from the Kolb model in which the learning styles are a product of combinations of the learning cycle stages. ".. 'activist'. seek challenge and immediate experience. and 'pragmatist' effectively 'belong' to the Honey and Mumford theory. bored with implementation. 'reflector'. 'theorist'. assimilate disparate facts into coherent theories.

• • Theorist = Assimilating Pragmatist = Converging .

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