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					      Erik Erikson:
Psychosocial Development
      By: Sarah Sanders &
          Cara Barwell
•   born on June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany
•   studied art and a variety of languages during his
    school years
•   instead of going to college he travelled around
    Europe, where he kept a journal of all his life
    experiences along the way
•   after traveling he then went to art school in 1927,
    where he then began to teach art and other subjects
    to children of Americans who had come to Vienna for
    Freudian training
•   after teaching the children in Vienna he then was
    admitted into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute
•   1933 moved to the United States
•   There he became Boston’s first child analyst and
    received a position at the Harvard Medical school
•   Moved to California to the Center for Advanced Study
    in the Behavioural Sciences at Palo Alto and later
    Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco where he was a
    clinician and psychiatric consultant
•   Erik Erikson's early work focused chiefly on testing
    and extending Freudian theory in relation to the effect
    of social and cultural factors upon human psychology,
    in addition he focus more on how society affects
    childhood and development.
•   1950 moved to Massachusetts, where he taught and
    worked for ten years
•   In the same year he wrote his first book, which is said
    to be his most important one called Childhood and
    Society, it was in this book he first explained his eight
    stages theory of human development
•   He also wrote many other books that talked about his
    interest in humanistic and society perspectives
•   He later retired from clinical practice but did not stop
    his research and his writing
•   Died on May 12th 1994 at the age of 91
    Psychosocial Development
• Psychosocial development theory is based
  on eight stages of development
• Erikson’s theory is based on the idea that
  development through life is a series of stages
  which are each defined by a crisis or challenge
• The early stages provide the foundations for
  later stages so Erikson says that if a child does
  not resolve a crisis in a particular stage, they will
  have problems in later stages
• For example, if an adolescent does not establish
  their own identity, they will have difficulty in
  relationships as an adult
    The stages are as follows:

•   Stage 1   –   Oral Sensory
•   Stage 2   –   Muscular-Anal
•   Stage 3   –   Locomotor
•   Stage 4   –   Latency
•   Stage 5   –   Adolescence
•   Stage 6   –   Young Adulthood
•   Stage 7   –   Middle Adulthood
•   Stage 8   –   Maturity
       Stage 1 – Oral Sensory
•   birth to 1 year (infancy)
•   basic conflict is trust vs.
•   the important event is
    feeding and the
    important relationship is
    with the mother
•   the infant must develop
    a loving, trusting
    relationship with the
    through feeding,
    teething and comforting
•   failure to resolve this
    conflict can lead to
    sensory distortion, and
Stage 2 – Muscular-Anal
           •    age 1 to 3 years (toddler)
           •   Basic conflict is autonomy
               vs. shame/doubt
           •   The important event is
               toilet training and the
               important relationship is
               with the parents
           •   The child’s energy is
               directed towards
               mastering physical skills
               such as walking, grasping
               and muscular control
           •   The child learns self
               control but may develop
               shame, doubt, impulsivity
               or compulsion if not
               handled well
            Stage 3 – Locomotor
•   age 3 to 6 years
•   basic conflict is initiative
    vs. guilt
•   the important event is
    independence and the
    important relationship is
•   the child continues to
    become more assertive
    in exploration, discovery,
    adventure and play
•   the child may show too
    much force in this stage
    causing feelings of guilt
•   failure to resolve this
    conflict can lead to
    ruthlessness and
Stage 4 – Latency
         •   age 6 to 12 years
             (school age)
         •   the basic conflict in this
             stage is industry vs.
         •   the important event is
             school and the
             important relationships
             are teachers, friends
             and neighbourhood
         •   the child must learn to
             deal with new skills
             and develop a sense of
             achievement and
         •   failure to do so can
             create a sense of
             inferiority, failure and
               Stage 5 – Adolescence
•   age 12 to 20 years (adolescent)
•   the basic conflict is identity vs. role
•   the important event is
    development of peer relationships
    and the important relationships
    are peers, groups and social
•   The teenager must achieve a
    sense of identity in occupation,
    sex roles, politics and religion. In
    addition, they must resolve their
    identity and direction.
•   Failure to make these resolutions
    can lead to the repression of
    aspects of the individual for the
    sake of others (fanaticism)
Stage 6 – Young Adulthood
             •   age 20 to 40 years
             •   the basic conflict in
                 young adulthood is
                 intimacy vs. isolation
             •   the important event is
                 parenting and the
                 important relationships
                 are lovers, friends and
                 work connections
             •   in this stage, the
                 individual must develop
                 intimate relationships
                 through work and social
             •   failure to make such
                 connections can lead to
                 promiscuity, exclusivity
                 and isolation
    Stage 7 – Middle Adulthood
•   age 40 to 65 years
•   the basic conflict is
    generativity vs. stagnation
•   the important event is
    parenting and the
    important relationships are
    with children and the
•   this stage is based on the
    idea that each adult must
    find a way to satisfy,
    support and contribute to
    the next generation; it is
    often thought of as giving
•   failure to resolve this stage
    can lead to overextension
    or rejectivity
Stage 8 – Maturity
         • age 65 to death
         • the basic conflict is
           ego integrity vs.
         • the important event is
           reflection on and
           acceptance of the
           individual’s life
         • the individual is
           creating meaning and
           purpose of one’s life
           and reflecting on life
         • failure to resolve this
           conflict can create
           feelings of disdain
        Application of Stage 3
         (initiative vs. guilt)
• Students need to understand appropriate social
  rules and how to work well together. They are
  learning their own independence and how that
  applies to being a part of a family, class, etc. In
  the classroom, teachers can help facilitate this
  stage (developing initiative) through:

• active play including fantasy and role playing
  (puppet shows, skits, house centre, etc.)
• Centres that allow students to learn how to play
  appropriately together
• teacher acting as role model to allow students to
  have someone to lead them, but also allowing
  students to take on small responsibilities
       Application of Stage 4
    (competence vs. inferiority)
•   Students need to master the formal academic skills in order
    to feel as though they are capable of accomplishments. The
    child must learn teamwork, an understanding of their
    potential contributions, and continue to learn to self-
    discipline to achieve. The teacher and classroom play a vital
    role in this stage and competence can be fostered through:
•   collaborative approach to classroom expectations and rules
    of interacting with others (all students make a contribution
    to this)
•   group projects and assignments that teach students how to
    contribute to a group working towards a common goal
•   providing a variety of learning opportunities for fundamental
    skills including addressing all learning styles
•   assigning appropriate levels of homework to give students a
    sense of accomplishment without overwhelming them- too
    much homework means students will be unable to finish it,
    causing them to develop a sense of inferiority
•   hands on projects that emphasize the individual’s strengths
          Application to Sara Porter
•   Ms. Mercer recognizes that Sara needs to develop “survival skills” This
    directly relates to stage 4 (the stage Sara is currently in) which includes
    children developing and mastering new skills at school by the end of the
•    Sara does not seem to have developed an understanding of her role in
    collaborative learning during the group reading time. Stage 4 calls for
    students to recognize the process involved in working with a group and
•   When Ms. Mercer tells Sara she did not get 100% on her math activity,
    Sara seems upset and as though she has given up on trying. In stage 4,
    students should be developing a sense of achievement and
    accomplishment in regards to their school work.
•   Because Sara seems to be strong in art (shown in the science title page
    activity), Ms. Mercer should emphasize Sara’s strengths to help her feel
    as though she is a valuable part of the class and to give her a sense of
•   Sara is in grade six which puts her at the end of stage 4 and about to
    enter stage 5. Erikson says that if an individual does not over come the
    conflict in a particular stage, they will struggle with that conflict in the
    following stages. In this case, it is essential that Ms. Mercer fosters a
    sense of achievement, accomplishment and helps Sara master her
    “survival skills” or Sara may chronically struggle with feelings of
    inferiority and failure.
•   Boeree, C. G., Dr. (1997, 2006). Erik Erikson
    Retrieved October 23, 2008, from
•   Erik Erikson [Slide show]. (n.d.). Retrieved October
    22, 2008, from
•   Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development.
    (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2008, from
•   Gerhardt, K. (2008, September 17). Developmental
    psychology, chapter two, Erik Erikson. Lecture
    presented at Nipissing University - Brantford Campus.
•   Stages of social-emotional development. (n.d.).
    Retrieved October 23, 2008, from