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From infancy until early adulthood, humans experience complex mental and physical growth and development. Individuals' psychological and developmental stages may change depending on their origins, lifestyle, and academic level (Newman & Newman, 2014). However, all individuals follow a consistent pattern of psychological development stages. Erikson examined human mental behavior and established a hypothesis that describes the numerous stages that humans go through from infancy to late maturity and death (McLeod, 2008). Different situations may influence Erickson's model, resulting in minor differences (Newman et al., 2014). This paper presents the results of an interview conducted to enquire about Mr. Jonathan’s life story and employs the Erickson’s development theory to assess the personality of this individual.
Mr. Jonathan is a former hotelier who has worked in the hospitality industry for more than thirty years. Although in his late sixties, the interviewee looks strong, healthy and well-built. Jonathan is a dedicated father of four and a loving husband to Noel, an accountant. The former hotelier currently runs an electronic store downtown and dedicate a significant portion of his time to his family. I met Jonathan at an art expo where he had come to learn more about Asian culture late last year. However, I never enquired about his life story that is twisted. I conducted a two-hour interview where Jonathan opened up about his unfortunate childhood and successful adulthood. From this interview, the most evident fact was that the Erickson’s development theory was in action all through this individual’s life.
Erik Erikson was a renowned psychoanalyst who proposed a psychosocial development theory that comprises of the eight development stages that a person undergoes from birth to death. The fundamental assumption of this theory is that all individuals live for more than 60 years (McLeod, 2008). The ideologies expressed in this psychoanalytic theory have their basis on the Feuds theory that described the topology of personality. The Erickson’s theory assists learners to develop an in-depth understanding of the nature of humans and why the individuals of a given age behave in the manner that they do (Newman et al., 2014). According to Erikson, the period between birth to 18 years is associated with a complex psychological development stage. Consequently, the Erikson’s development theory proposes that there are five distinct stages of mental development in this period. The other three stages occur in young adulthood, adulthood, and maturity stages where an individual has settled down and became a senior citizen (Newman et al., 2014).
Jonathan was born and raised in North Carolina. This individual was closer to his mother as he felt more secure around her than any other person. Erikson’s trust vs. mistrust stage was evident at this stage of Jonathan’s childhood. He was more comfortable around his parents than his siblings and forced his mother to resign from her job just to take care of him. Jonathan had five siblings who taught him the basic things like using the toilet and feeding himself when he was close to three years. At this age, Jonathan was undergoing the second stage of autonomy vs., Shame and doubt. This renowned hotelier began school at the age of four and states that “at this age is when I realized that there was something known as mischief and I would always be held responsible for my mischievous actions.” Jonathan was undoubtedly undergoing the third phase that is initiative vs., guilt. This individual also states that he felt guilty when he made mistakes that he believed would anger his mother.
Jonathan says that his early life in school was the most unbearable. He encountered several challenges in school and missed spending time at home with his family and pet. However, he fully adapted to the education system and made more friends in school than at home. Using the Erikson’s model, it is manifest that Jonathan was undergoing the fourth phase that is industry vs. inferiority (McLeod, 2008). At this stage, children have to adapt to the current setting or else they will feel inferior.
Jonathan’s time in middle and high school was the most unimaginable. This individual engaged in various types of ill behavior. Jonathan used drugs a lot, would spend more time in parties than in reading books and made friends with his television. The adolescent was confused by the opportunities in life. Jonathan’s parents continually counseled him and advised him on the issue of identifying his goals in life. According to the Ericson’s development theory, most adolescents experience the challenge of identity vs. role confusion (McLeod, 2008). The identity psychosocial aspect was lacking in Jonathan’s adolescent life as his life was totally confused.
Young adulthood marked Jonathan’s turning point. This individual secured a slot at the prestigious New York University where he pursued BS in Hotel and Tourism Management. He concentrated more on school work and part-time jobs. However, Jonathan still maintained some social connections with friends and would occasionally attend parties. The sixth phase of Erikson’s development theory was in action in Jonathan’s life. The primary challenge of this stage is intimacy vs. isolation (McLeod, 2008). Jonathan tried to balance both but intimacy outflowed isolation. After completion of his university education, Jonathan met Noel and formed an intimate relationship. This couple united in a mega wedding ceremony in 1980 and were privileged to get children.
Jonathan’s marriage to Noel came with several responsibilities. The new position as a father prompted this man to look for well-paying jobs that would sustain his family. Jonathan’s children were maturing fast, and he had to counsel them to avoid history repeating itself. He strived to provide all the needs and the luxuries that the family would need. The seventh stage of the psychosocial theory proposed by Erik Erikson explains Jonathan's actions. Individuals aged between 40-65 have a challenge of choosing between generativity and stagnation (McLeod, 2008). Jonathan chose generativity over stagnation as he had a family that looked upon him. According to Erikson, individuals in their middle adulthood ages may either develop a concern for being helpful to others and guiding the next generation or adopt a culture of self-centeredness (Newman et al., 2014). Jonathan devoted his resources and efforts in nurturing his children to become responsible adults.
The interviewee is currently 68 years and never runs out of kind and motivating words. At the time of the interview, Jonathan expressed that he had achieved most of the things that he aspired in life. He had recently applied for an early retirement with the aim of establishing the electronics shop that is currently booming. Integrity vs. despair is currently in action (McLeod, 2008). Individuals of ages 60 and above can either reap the benefits of their prior actions in life or spend their time lamenting and regretting the things that they did not do right. No major life changes can be done at this stage (Newman et al., 2014).
In conclusion, Erik Erikson’s psychoanalytic development theory is evident in all stages of Jonathan’s life as described in this paper. Jonathan’s personality also fits in the various phases of this theory. The settings that humans live may vary, but the phases of Erikson’s theory are constant. Individuals will only have to choose between Erickson’s two options to shape their lives.
McLeod, S. (2008). Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development. Simply Psychology. Retrieved 3 March 2017, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html
Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2014). Development through life: A psychosocial approach. Cengage Learning.
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