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Erick Erickson and his Psychosocial Theory

Erick Erickson was a German psychoanalyst influenced primarily by Sigmund Feud (Dreeben-Irimia, 2010). Erickson is well-known for his belief that personality develops in a predictable pattern through eight distinct phases of psychosocial development from infancy to adulthood (McAdams, 2001). At each stage, the individual is likely to go through a psychological crisis, which can have a detrimental or beneficial impact on personality development. Erickson investigated three distinct dimensions of human identity. Personal identification, ego identity, and socio-cultural identity are all included. The most important thing is that Erickson's psychosocial theory tends to consider the impact of society, parents and external factors on personality development. According to him, all people must pass via a series of eight different interrelated stages over a person's full life cycle. Therefore, there are different psychological stages that I have passed through since childhood. This successfully illustrate the implication of psychoanalytical perspective of Erick Erickson's stages of development, and it is in a healthy projection with a focus on my own experience.

Infancy: Trust vs. Mistrust

The first stage that I passed through is infancy. This was between the time of birth and eighteen months. This is the phase that is identified as trust vs. mistrust (Erikson, 1950). During the first and second years of life, increased emphasis is usually put on the fathers and mother's nurturing ability as well as care for their child. This is especially in the form of touch and visual contact. For instance, I had a strong upbringing and my parents played a very important and crucial role in my infant upbringing. The first words I learnt was from them. As a result, I developed trust, optimism, security and confidence because I was properly handled and cared for. According to Erickson's physiological perspective to development, when children do not experience trust, they may develop worthlessness, insecurity as well as general mistrust to the rest of the world.

Toddlerhood: Autonomy vs. Shame

The second stage that I experienced is identified as Autonomy vs. Shame (Erikson, 1950). This is the time between being a toddler and early childhood years. It occurred between 18 months of age and 3 years. At this juncture, I had the opportunity to build autonomy and self-esteem as I learnt new skills as well as what was right and what was wrong. As a well-cared for child, I was always sure of myself and I always carried myself with pride instead of shame. However, my parents confirm that during this time, temper tantrums, stubbornness and defiance may also appear. This is because, children are often considered as vulnerable during this particular stage. The main reason is because they feel shame and low self-esteem as a result of an inability to learn new things (Erikson, 1950).

Preschool: Initiative vs. Guilt

The third stage is identified as initiative vs. Guilt Erikson (Newman & Newman, 2009). I was at this stage between the years of 3 to 5. I experienced a desire to copy adults around me as well as to take initiative in creation of play situations. At this stage, I often made stories with different toys as I played out roles that adults usually do. The next stage that I passed through refers to industry vs. Inferiority. This was between 6 to 12 years. I was capable of accomplishing, creating and learning new set of skills as well as knowledge. I realized that this stage was a very social stage of development. Therefore, when children at this age experience different unresolved feelings of inferiority and inadequacy among their peers, then they may have severe problems in terms of self-esteem and competence. The next stage that I passed through is identified as identity Vs. role confusion. This was between the age of 12 to 18 years. As an adolescent, I struggled to discover as well as to find my own identity, while at the same time struggling and negotiating with fitting in different groups as well as with specific social interactions. I believe that during this stage I began to develop a strong devotion and affiliation to friends, ideals and causes. For instance, I remember one time while I was in High School, I struggled to fit in the music club because they were more popular and social that I was. They wore latest clothes and to fit in I felt I had to change my wardrobe.

Young Adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation

Currently, I am at the 6th stage of Erickson's psych developmental stages (Atchley, 2009). This is a stage that consists of persons between the ages of 18 to 35 years. The stage is known as intimacy vs. solidarity. As a young adult, I often find myself seeking love and companionship from friends and relatives. This is also the stage that I found myself a partner whom I wish to settle down with in the near future. Other individuals also at this stage also constantly seek satisfying relationships and intimacy. However, in cases where these relationships have been unsuccessful, isolation tends to occur. For instance, individuals who break up from their relationships may feel depressed and suicidal. The last to stages that I am yet to pass through are generativity vs. self-absorption and integrity vs. Despair.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that a crisis normally occurs at all the Erickson's stages of development (Atchley, 2009). These crises are in most cases of psychological nature since they involve needs of an individual conflicting with the various needs of the entire society. Having successfully undergone 5 of the Erickson's stages, I can attest that it has resulted in a healthy personality as well as the acquisition of basic virtues.


Erikson, E.H., (1950). Childhood and Society. New York: Norton

McAdams, D.P (2001). The psychology of life stories. Review of general psychology, 5(2): 100- 122

Dreeben-Irimia, O. (2010). Patient education in rehabilitation. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Atchley, R. C. (2009). Spirituality and aging. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2009). Development through life: A psychosocial approach. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

April 19, 2023

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