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PSY/ 230 Theories of Personality Instructor: Chris Allen Shreve, MA, LPC

Erikson’s Timeline

Mature Adulthood, according to Erikson’s “Eight Stages of Life”, is characterized by the need to create and nurture (McAdams, 2006). This stage of life defines the answer to the questions; “How can I fashion a gift?”, and “How can I achieve symbolic immortality?” By accomplishing these needs, an individual is able to leave the world having put his “mark” upon it. Generatively is the term Erikson used for an individual’s desire to make the world a better place for future generations (McAdams, 2006).

According to Erikson’s “Eight Stages of Life” I am in the “Mature Adulthood (Generativity vs. stagnation)” stage of my growth as a human being. I am 48 years old, have four grown children, three grandchildren, and have been married for almost 20 years. This means that I have passed the stage of “Young adulthood (Intimacy vs. isolation)” and have achieved a level of intimacy that allows me to be part of a committed relationship to my spouse, children, and grandchildren. Experiencing the fact that I am no longer the center of my children’s lives, I began to feel that I no longer had a purpose or anyone to nurture. I now find myself at a crossroads in life between having fulfilled the needs of my family and wanting to reevaluate my personal needs and desires. The desire to go back to school to earn the education needed to go outside my family into my community and possibly have a positive impact on other people’s lives is an personal example of what Erikson is referring to when speaking of generativity.

In contrast, my daughter is at Erikson’s “Young Adulthood (Intimacy vs. Isolation) stage of development (McAdams, 2006). This stage is characterized by the need to love and be loved. Jenni is 31 years old and has experienced an intimate relationship with her child. She is seeking to answer Erikson’s questions defining this stage of life, which is, “How can I love?” Jenni is responding to this question by experimenting with committed relationships with men instead of the surface relationships she had in the past.


McAdams, D. P. (2006). The person: A new introduction to personality psychology. (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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