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EMOTIONAL and SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ERIKSON’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT Erik Erikson One of the lasting contributions of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is its ability to capture the essence of personality development during each stage of life. The leading neo-Freudian perspective is Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory. EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Emotions play a powerful role in organizing the developments that Erikson regarded as so important to relationships with caregivers, exploration of the environment, and discovery of self. Life Span Development ► Erikson proposed that the life span could be subdivided into eight “ages” (infancy, toddlerhood, etc. through old age) ► At each age, a developmental task, or conflict, becomes dominant. ► Healthy development depends on the successful and positive resolution of each conflict. ► Unresolved conflicts, or negatively resolved ones, carry over to succeeding ages, and cause problems. The eight ages of development Age Conflict ► Infancy ► Trust vs. Mistrust ► Toddlerhood ► Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt ► Pre-school years ► Initiative vs. Guilt ► School years ► Industry vs. Inferiority ► Adolescence ► Identify vs. Role Confusion ► Young adulthood ► Intimacy vs. Isolation ► Middle age ► Generativity vs. Stagnation ► Old age ► Ego Integrity vs. Despair 1. Basic Trust versus Mistrust ► Freud called the first year the oral stage, in which infants’ need for food and oral stimulation is vital. ► Erikson believed that a healthy outcome in infancy depended on the quality of the mother’s behavior during feeding, and not the amount of food or oral stimulation offered. ► Basic trust versus mistrust is the conflict during infancy in Erikson’s psychosocial theory. The dilemma is resolved positively if the balance of care is sympathetic and loving. 2. Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt ► Freud’s second stage is the anal stage, during which instinctual energies shift to the anal region. ► In Erikson’s theory, autonomy versus shame and doubt is the conflict of toddlerhood. It is resolved positively if parents provide suitable guidance and reasonable choices. ► If children emerge from the first few years without sufficient trust in caregivers and without a healthy sense of individuality, the seeds are sown for adjustment problems. 3. INITIATIVE VERSUS GUILT In Erikson’s theory, initiative versus guilt is the psychological conflict of early childhood. It is resolved positively through play experiences that foster a healthy sense of initiative and through development of a conscience that is not overly strict. 4. INDUSTRY VERSUS INFERIORITY According to Erikson, the personality changes of the school years build on Freud’s latency stage. In Erikson’s theory, industry versus inferiority is the psychological conflict of middle childhood, which is resolved positively when experiences lead children to develop a sense of competence at useful skills and tasks. The danger at this stage is inferiority, reflected in the sad pessimism of children who have little confidence in their ability to do things well. 5. IDENTITY VERSUS IDENTITY CONFUSION Identity involves the definition of who you are, what you value, and the directions you choose to pursue in life. Identity versus identity confusion is the stage in Erikson’s theory which is resolved positively when adolescents attain an identity after a period of exploration and inner soul-searching. ►Adolescents with a weak sense of trust have trouble finding ideals in which to have faith. ►Adolescents with little autonomy or initiative do not engage in the active exploration required to choose among alternatives. ►Those who lack a sense of industry fail to select a vocation that matches their interests and skills. The negative outcome of Erikson’s identity stage is identity confusion, in which some adolescents appear shallow and directionless. 6. INTIMACY VERSUS ISOLATION Erikson’s young adult stage centers on the development of intimacy. It is difficult to become involved in intimate relationships if individuals do not have a firm sense of self. Intimacy versus isolation is the stage in Erikson’s theory where young adults seek to establish psychological intimacy with another. The negative outcome, isolation, in which social relationships can be stereotyped, cold, and empty. 7. GENERATIVITY VERSUS STAGNATION Generativity involves the mature adult establishing and guiding the next generation and in establishing a productive and worthwhile life. The alternative, stagnation, refers to a sense of personal impoverishment, or the view that one is not accomplishing much of worth. 8. EGO INTEGRITY VERSUS DESPAIR In this last stage of late adulthood, a person looks back on what he/she has built over a lifetime. Ego Integration involves the acceptance of the limitations of life, a sense of being part of a chain of generations, and a synthesis of all prior stages. The negative, despair, consists of regret with what one has, or has not, done with his/her life. Erikson was one of the first theorists to extend developmental theory beyond childhood. Throughout his life, he sought a deeper understanding of middle and old age, and he believed that people late in life can achieve wisdom, based on the positive resolution of earlier emotional crises.
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