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Ms. Andrea B. Martinez
UP CAS Dep t . Of Behavioral Sciences
Erik H. Erikson was an influential and pioneering psychologist, psychoanalyst, and author whose theory of the eight psychosocial stages of development profoundly shaped the field of child development.
In Erikson s view, people pass through eight stages in their journey through the human life span. There were various developmental "crises or tasks that developed naturally and inevitably at various points in the life cycle.
The developmental task can be a turning point of increased vulnerability or enhanced potential.
The more successfully people resolves the issues in each development al stage, the more compet ent they are likely to become.
If a stage is managed well, we carry away a certain virtue or psychosocial strength which will help us through the rest of the stages of our lives.
On the other hand, if we don't do so well, we may develop maladaptations and malignancies, as well as endanger all our future development .
A malignancy involves too little of the positive and too much of the negative aspect of the task, such as a person who can't trust others. A maladaptation is not quite as bad and involves too much of the positive and too little of the negative.
Infants are dependent on thei r caregivers for survival. If their needs are met, they develop trust. But if they are rejected, they develop mistrust.
Infants most significant interpersonal relations are with their primary caregiver.
Basic trust is built when the baby s basic needs such as comfort, food and warmth are consistently met by responsive, sensitive caregivers; if they can rely on an exciting visual environment, they can solidify basic trust even more.
If trust develops successfully, the child gains confidence and security in the world around him.
If infant s needs are not met and does not find the world responsive to his needs, the result is basic mistrust and they remain suspicious and wary. The child develops a sense of fear about the inconsistent world, resulting in anxiety and heightened insecurities
Basic trust is ordinarily syntonic, and basic mistrust, dystonic.
Nevertheless, infants must develop both attitudes.
Erikson believed that some ratio of trust or mistrust is critical to people s ability to adapt.
Too much trust makes them gullible and vulnerable t o the vagaries of the world
Too little trust leads to frustration, anger, hostility, cynicism or depression.
Trust in infancy sets the stage for a lifelong expectation that the world will be a good and pleasant place to live.
The inevitable clash between bas ic trust and basic mistrust results in people s first psychosocial crisis. If people successfully resolve this crisis, they acquire their first basic strength hope.
Infants must experience hunger, pain and discomfort as well as the alleviation of these unpleasant conditions. By having both painful and pleasurable experiences, infants learn to expect and hope that future distresses will meet with satisfactory outcomes.
If infants do not develop sufficient hope, they will demonstrate the antithesis of hope withdrawal, the core pathology of infancy. With little to hope for, they will retreat from the outside world and begin the journey towards serious psychological disturbance.
For Erikson, young children develop a sense of control over their interpersonal environment, as well as a measure of self-control. However, chi ldren also experience doubt and s hame as they learn that many of their attempts at autonomy are unsuccessful.
Early childhood is a time of exploring environment walking, running, holding on toys, etc. With each activity, children are likely to display some stubborn tendenci es.
Early childhood is a time of contradiction, a time of stubborn rebellion and meek compliance, a time of impulsive selfexpression and compulsive deviance, a time of loving cooperation and hateful resistance. This conflicting period triggers the major psychosocial crisis during early childhood autonomy vs. shame and doubt. 21
Toddlers acquire selfconfidence and autonomy if they learn to regulate their bodies and act independently.
If children are encouraged and supported in their increased independence, they become confident and secure in their own ability to survive in the world.
Autonomy grows out of basic trust hence, if basic trust is established in infancy, then children learn to have faith in themselves.
In seeking autonomy, toddlers assert their will. If they fail in their attempt to act independent ly, labeled inadequate, criticized or overly controlled, restrained too much or punished too harshly, they experience shame and doubt and are not likely to develop this sense of independence.
They begin to feel inadequate in their ability to survive and may become overly dependent on others, lack self-esteem and feel a sense of shame and doubt i n their own abilities.
Shame is a feeling of self-consciousness, of being looked at and exposed. Doubt is a feeling of not being certain, the feeling that something remains hidden and cannot be seen. Both shame and doubt are dystonic qualities and both grow out of basic mistrust established during inf ancy.
The basic strength of will or willfulness evolves from the resolution of the psychosocial crisis of autonomy versus shame and doubt. Toilet training epitomizes the conflict of wills between adult and child the child s striving for autonomy and the parents attempts to control the child through the use of shame and 28 doubt.
Inadequate will is expressed as compulsion the core pathology of early childhood. Too little and too much compulsivity carry forward into the play age as lack of purpose and into the school age as lack of confidence.
In the play age, children identify with their parents, and at the s ame time are developing locomotion, language skills, curiosity, imagination and the ability to set goals.
In engaging with play, children develop sense of purpose in which they manufacture elaborate fantasies of what it is like to be a grown up. These fantasies, however, also produce guilt and thus contribute to the psychosocial crisis of the play age, namely, initiative versus guilt.
During the preschool years, children s social world widen and they are challenged to develop purposeful behavior and cope with these challenges. They plan activities, make up games and initiate activities with others.
When asked to assume more responsibility for themselves, children develop initiative and feel secure in their ability to lead others and make deci sions.
The child can also make choices about what kind of person to be based in part on identification with parents.
If children are irresponsible or made to feel anxious, they might develop too much guilt for being not able to complete certain tasks. They may feel like a nuisance to others and may therefore remain followers, lacking in self-initiative.
Children now play with a purpose (e.g., competing at games), setting goals and pursue them with purpose. Play age is also the stage in which children are developing a conscience and beginning to attach labels such as right and wrong to their behavior. 36
This youthful conscience becomes the cornerstone of morality. (Erikson, 1968) However, young children are resilient. Most guilt are compensated for by a sense of achievement.
But if guilt is dominant, the child may become compulsively moralistic or overly inhibited. Inhibition which is the antipathy of purpose constitutes the core pathology of the play age.
At this age, the social world of children is expanding beyond family to include peers, teachers and other adul t models. School-age children s wish to know becomes strong and is tied to basic striving for competence.
Industry (industriousness) is the willingness to remain busy with something and to finish a job. Industry is achieved by mastering knowledge, athletic, music, artistic, and intellectual skills and other competencies.
If children take pride in their competenci es, they acquire high self-esteem.
If children compare themselves unfavorably with others, or do not attain mastery, they might develop a sense of incompetence and feel unproductive hence, a sense of inferiority.
Earlier inadequaci es can also contribute to children s feelings of inferiority. However, fai lure is not inevitable. It can serve as impetus to do one s best.
Competence is the confidence to use one s physical and cognit ive abilities to solve the problems that accompany school age. Competence lays the foundation for cooperative participation in productive adult life. (Erikson, 1968)
If the struggle between industry and inferiority favors either inferiority or overabundance of industry, children are regress to an earlier stage of development and spend most of their time in non productive play. This regression is called inertia the antithesis of competence and the core 45 pathology of school age.
For Erikson, adolescence period is one of the most crucial development al stages because, by the end of this period, a person must gain a sense of ego identity. This is so because the crisis between identity vs. identity confusion reaches its ascendance during this stage. From this crisis emerges fidelity, the basic strength of adolescence.
At this period, individuals are faced with finding out who they are, what they are all about, and where they are going in life. They begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc.
Hence, the search for ego identity reaches a climax during adoles cence as young people strive to find out who they are and who they are not. Adolescents look for new roles to help them discover their sexual, ideological and occupational identities. 48
Adolescents are confronted with many new roles and adult statuses such as vocational, romantic, gender-based, etc. They explore possibilities and begin to form their own identity bas ed upon outcomes of their explorations.
Identity is defined both positively and negatively, as adolescents are deciding what they want to become and what they believe, while also discovering what they do not wish to be and what they do not believe a dilemma that may intensify their identity confusion.
Adolescents must integrate various roles into a consistent selfidentity. Self-identity is the understanding of own unique traits and what is really of central importance to a person.
If adolescents don t adequately explore their identity, they emerge from thi s stage with a sense of identity or role confusion.
Identity confusion is a syndrome of problems that includes:
A divided self image An inability to establish intimacy A sense of time urgency A lack of concentration on required tasks A rejection of family or community standards. 53
Young people must experience some doubt and confusion about who they are bef ore they can evolve a stable identity. Examples: Leaving home Experimenting with drugs and sex Identifying with street gang Joining a religious order Rallying against the existing 54 social order
However, too much identity confusion can lead to pathological adjustment in the form of regression to earlier stages of development. Examples: Postponing responsibilities of adulthood and drifting aimlessly from one job to another, from one sex partner to another, or from one ideology to another 55
Society assists the healthy resolution of this stage by providing a moratorium a period when the adol escent is free to explore various possible adult roles without having the obligations of real adulthood.
Fidelity is faith in one s ideology. Fidelity is the ability to sustain loyalties freely pledged in s pite of the inevitable contradictions of value systems (Erikson, 1964), making commitments and striving to honor them.
After establishing their internal standards of conduct, adolescents are no longer in need of parental guidance but have confidence in their own religious, political or sexual ideologies.
The pathological counterpart of fidelity is role repudiation the core pathology of adolescence that blocks one s ability to synthesize various selfimages and values into a workable identity. Role repudiation can take the form of either diffidence or defiance.
Diffidence (identity foreclosure) is an extreme lack of self-trust or self-confidence and is expressed as shyness or hesitancy to express oneself. Defiance (negative identity) is the act of rebelling against authority (e.g., by stubbornly holding socially unacceptable beliefs and practices simply because they are unaccepted) or an identity based on undesirable roles in society.
After achieving identity during adolescence, people must acquire the ability to fuse that identity with the identity of another person while maintaining their sense of individuality. In young adulthood, people experience the conflict between intimacy and isolation, and acquire the basic strength of love.
At this time, individuals face the developmental task of forming intimate relationships with others with partners, friends or spouses.
Erickson eloquently described intimacy as finding yourself and yet losing yourself in another person.
Hence, intimacy is the ability to fuse one s identity with that of another pers on without fear of losing it secured that i ndividual identity will not be des troyed by the merger.
Intimacy can only be achieved after people have formed a stable ego identity. Mature intimacy means an ability and willingness to share mutual trust which involves sacrifice, compromise and commitment within a relationship of two equals. 65
Successful completion can lead to comfortabl e relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship.
If individuals do not find intimacy in relationships with a partner and/or friends, they can develop a sense of social isolation fearing commitment, leading to loneliness and sometimes depression.
Isolation is the incapacity to take chances with one s identity by sharing true intimacy. (Erikson, 1968) This is sometimes referred to as distantiation the readiness to repudiate, isolate, and if necessary destroy those forces and people whose essence seems dangerous to one s 68 own.
Love emerges from the crisis of intimacy versus isolation. Love is defined as mature devotion that overcomes basic differences between men and women (Erikson, 1982).
Although love includes intimacy, it also contains some degree of isolation because each partner is permitted to retain a separate identity. Mature love means commitment, sexual passion, cooperation and friendship.
The antipathy of love is exclusivity the core pathology of young adulthood.
Exclusivity becomes pathological when it blocks one s ability to cooperate, compete or compromis e all prerequisite ingredients for intimacy and love.
Middle adulthood is the time when people begin to take their place in society and assume responsibility for whatever society produces. Adulthood is characterized by the psychosexual mode of procreativity, the psychosocial crisis of generativity versus stagnation, and the basic strength of care.
A chief concern of individuals at this stage is to assist the younger generation in developing and leading useful lives hence generativity.
Generativity is defined as the generati on of new beings as well as new products and new ideas. (Erikson, 1982)
Generativity includes the procreati on of children, the producti on at work, the creation of new things and ideas that contribute to the building of a better worl d.
Generativity extends beyond one s own children to an altruistic concern for other young peopl e or broader social issues.
If the person is preoccupied with purely selfish needs, he/she will have a feeling of having done little or nothing for the next generati on, or self-absorption and stagnation the feeling of being unproducti ve, too self-indulgent.
This interaction of generativit y and stagnation produces care the basic strength of adulthood.
Care is a widening commitment to take care of the persons, the products and the ideas one has learned to care for (Erikson, 1982). Care is not a duty or obligation but a natural desire emerging from the conflict between generativity and stagnation.
The antipathy of care is rejectivity, the core pathology of adulthood. Rejectivity is the unwillingness to take care of certain persons or groups (Erikson, 1982) manifested as self-centeredness, provincialism, or pseudospeciat ion the belief that other groups of people are inf erior to one s own. 81
Old adulthood is the period from about 60 to the end of life. Yet old, people can remain productive and creative in other ways. Old age can be a time of joy, playfulness and wonder; but it is also a time of senility, depression and despair. The psychosocial stage is integrity versus despair, and the basic strength is wisdom.
In late adulthood, people review their lives contemplating on their failures and accomplishments. If the retrospective glances reveal a life wellspent, the person feels a sense of satisfaction hence integrity is 83 achieved.
Integrity means a feeling of wholeness and coherence, an ability to hold together one s sense of I-ness despite diminishing physical and intellectual powers. Integrity means being able to look back on one s own life and decide that it is meaningful without wishing that things had been different.
However, if the retrospective glances are negative, the pers on may feel a sense of dissatisfaction with life sense of despair often leading to depression and hopelessness.
Despair means to be without hope. From infancy to old age, hope can exi st. But once hope is lost, despair follows and life ceases to have meani ng.
The struggle between integrity and despair produces wisdom the basic strength of old age. Wisdom is informed and detached concern wit h life itself in the face of death itself (Erikson, 1982), seeking to understand the meaning of individual and collective human life. 87
The antithesis of wisdom and core pathology of old age is disdain a reaction to feeling (and seeing) others in an increasing state of being finished, confused, helpless, a continuation of rejectivity.
Erik H. Erikson: In the end, the power behind development is life.
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