Erikson’s theory of psychosocial growth is a critical, and useful theory in relation to our lives. Life is a never-ending cycle of learning and trials that help us grow.According to new research, Erikson expanded on Freud’s biological and sexually focused theory by incorporating cultural and social elements (Salkind, 2008). The theory of psychosocial development is based on eight developmental stages. Erikson’s theory is founded on the premise that life is divided into phases, each of which is characterized by a challenge (Batra, 2013). It’s also fascinating to see how his theories evolved, perhaps helped by his own experience with the “psychosocial crisis” phase’s model that guided his work. Erikson’s theory is an eight stages extremely effective model. It is quite open and applicable to everyday life from various viewpoints for understanding and demonstrating how people’s personalities and behaviours evolve. As a result, Erikson’s theory can be applied to our daily involvements in our social lives (Batra, 2013).
In Erikson’s theory, there are milestones achieved in life in each stage; most are biological while others are psychological or social. Biological milestones are achieved during infancy, whereby there is a development of visual, cognitive, intellectual, and behavioural capacities and basic functioning (Salkind, 2008). The growth of or improvements in self-esteem, personality, ethics, sexuality, and friendship are examples of psychosocial turning points that later take place as years progress. In this self-analysis I will use Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development to analyze the impact of four social developmental milestones in my life and one from my grandfather.
Dilemmas in Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
Initiative vs Guilt
Children begin asserting themselves around the age of three and continue until they are five years old. These are the most active and rapidly developing years of a child’s life thus period of the vigour of action and of actions that the parents may see as offensive (Salkind, 2008). The first few days in kindergarten when I was 4 were hard as I had to adapt to a whole different world and meet children in the same age group as I was. During this time, the child’s main characteristic is that he or she interacts with other children at school daily. Play is important at this stage because it allows children to practice their interpersonal skills by initiating activities (Hurrell & Stack, 2020).
During these years, I developed a sense of leadership as I was always at the forefront to make up games and initiate activities with others. I was punished several times during these years, and later in life, I have learned that they were only protecting me and helping me gain self-control and conscience.
Competence vs Inferiority
At this stage and age, the child’s peer or age group takes on greater importance and becomes a significant source of self-esteem. The child now feels compelled to gain acceptance by displaying unique skills that society values and they begin to take pride in their achievements. (Jenkins et al, 2005). At age 6, I transferred schools and joined elementary school. When children are praised and rewarded for their effort, they become more motivated and confident in achieving their goals. Suppose this effort is not promoted or limited by parents or teachers. In that case, the child will develop an inferiority complex, doubting his or her ability, and will not achieve their full potential (Jenkins et al. 2005). In elementary school awards started being a common thing as there were awards in every field that had even the slightest competitive nature like a promise my father offered me that if I topped my class in three or more subjects I would go to Disneyland. This was a great motivation, and I remember doing fairly poor so I had to wait for another school term to work even harder and collect my reward which I eventually did. Even to date I try being competent in every aspect of my life since it was taught to me from a young age that being industrious rewards and feeling inferior leads to being incompetent.
Identity vs. Role Confusion
This is a critical stage in a child’s growth where he or she must learn the roles he will play as an adult. During this time, the teenager can re-examine his or her personality and try to figure out who he or she really is. Erikson proposes that there are two identities at play: sexual and occupational (Batra, 2013). As I joined high school, I was full of confidence and the urge to explore a new me, an adolescent. Freedom to satisfy my urges was the main focal point in this stage of trying to identify with a particular group. During this stage, there are many physical (body) and mental changes happening to me. Exploring this newly found freedom in high school landed me in so much trouble at home and in school as I ended up associating with a group of friends who had the same urge to explore as I did. In high school, I met my current girlfriend, whom we are planning to have a future together, have a family and maybe even grow old together.
Being in this relationship has changed my life since then in so many ways. First I was forced to change my ways and go back to focussing on the competencies I developed as a child of winning in every field I am in. This newly found friendship and intimacy from an opposite sex was valuable to me that I had to re-evaluate my goals and the role I will play as an adult as the next stage from adolescence is adulthood.
Intimacy and Isolation
Between ages 18-40 we look at relationships that lead to longer-term commitments with people that aren’t family members. Completing this stage successfully will result in comfortable relationships as well as a sense of commitment, protection, and care in a relationship. Isolation, loneliness, and depression may result from avoiding intimacy and fearing commitment and relationships (Salkind, 2008). I am currently in college aged 20 and the next milestone I want to achieve in life is marriage having graduated high school successfully all thanks to a person I met and created a friendship with in high school who helped me to find my identity.
My Grandfather’s Story
Ego Integrity vs. Despair
I scripted a short interview based on this stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial growth to gain information from my grandfather as this stage is achieved during the senior citizens years (Sneed et al, 2006). This stage’s success would result in the virtue of wisdom. Wisdom allows an individual to reflect on their life with a sense of closure and completion, as well as to embrace death without fear. This is the information that was delivered.
Being 70 years of age my grandfather qualifies being categorized as a senior citizen. We prefer to slow down our productivity as we get older and explore life as a retiree. This is the time when we reflect on our achievements and, if we consider ourselves to be good, we will gain honesty. Of course there are mistakes he made during his younger years and upon reflecting there are some he regrets and some that shaped his entire life. In his entire life he has married three times and the only thing he regrets about that is the fact that some of his children grew without their biological father being ever present. This haunts him to date as a connection with some of his children was broken forever and cannot be fixed and he is in his dawn years. In this interview I noticed the honesty in his stories and the wisdom he spoke with gathered from his years of experience.
Social developmental milestones as seen in this self-analysis have been well explained in Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial growth. Milestone achieved in the stages analyzed in the essay were characterized by a certain conflict which was solved in some way. Each stage directly or indirectly affects the next stage in life and how to deal with the challenge in that stage (Salkind, 2008). In these stages of life there are both positive and negative outcomes and every outcome has consequences which usually bring about major turning points in life.
Batra, S. (2013). The psychosocial development of children: Implications for education and society—Erik Erikson in context. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 10(2), 249-278.
Hurrell, K., & Stack, M. (2020). Initiative Versus Guilt. Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, 2257-2259.
Jenkins, S. M., Buboltz, W. C., Schwartz, J. P., & Johnson, P. (2005). Differentiation of self and psychosocial development. Contemporary Family Therapy, 27(2), 251-261.
Salkind, N. J. (2008). Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology (1st ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc..
Sneed, J. R., Whitbourne, S. K., & Culang, M. E. (2006). Trust, identity, and ego integrity: Modeling Erikson’s core stages over 34 years. Journal of Adult Development, 13(3), 148-157.