Psychosocial Stages of Development


Erick Erickson was one of the most renowned psychoanalysts whose works has been very influential in the field of psychologist. His most notable works was the social development theory which expounded further on earlier works written on the same field mainly by Sigmund Freud as well as the Ego psychology (Chapman, 2010). In his work, theory of social development Erickson provided new insight of human development stages that are comprehensively described in the eight stages of human development, what is now popularly known as Erickson’s model. Erickson’s model of development is a very effective framework that enables people, both children and adult to understand the personality, emotional and psychological development that takes place at each stage of our life (Chapman, 2010). In this paper I intend to analyze my psychosocial stage of development up to the current stage of my life based on this framework of Erickson. In order to understand the concept behind the Erickson model and thereby explain the process of my psychosocial development let us briefly discuss what it this framework entails.


The Erickson’s model is a framework that summarizes through description the major eight stages that life can be subdivided as identified in the theory; the Erickson’s model of development basically incorporates the major components of human development which include physical development, emotional development and psychological development (Wright, 1998). In addition to this growth components, the model as advanced by Erickson include six major components; Erickson theory overview, Freudian stages of psychosexual development, crisis stages, basic virtues, maladaptations and malignancies (Wright, 1998). In every stage of human development that is described in the Erickson’s model, there are several key features that are identified which are the key characteristics for that particular developmental stage such as virtue, stage in life and maladaptation.

My Psychosocial stages of development

Hope: Trust vs. Mistrust (0-1 year)

This is the first stage of human development which occurs between birth and up to one year, the characteristic feature of this stage is hope (Chapman, 2010). In a nutshell this stage is when the infant is starting to learn how to live so to speak and is completely dependent on caregivers, other peoples and the environment without knowledge of how life is lived; this is where hope comes in. Obviously, I can’t remember my experiences while I was this age, all I can say about myself when I was this age is that I was living in Brooklyn with my mother where I was born.

Will: Autonomy vs. Shame (2-3 years)

The characteristic feature of this stage is will to live; at this stage the toddler desire of wanting to live and learning is exhibited through the constant need to start walking and exploring the world (, 2001). At this point the child is preoccupied by the desire and the passion to do things without having to continue relying on the caregivers. In this process therefore the role of parents and caregivers starts to become very significant for two major reasons: for one, the rate of the child’s progress is dependent on the level of support and encouragement accorded, two, the future confident level of the child depends on this support.

If for instance the child is encouraged and supported at every step along the way, the child learns not to give up despite failures and will have an attitude of trying; consequently they develop and progress further. On the other hand if the child is ridiculed or reprimanded when they make failures in the process they stop being confident about themselves and are generally afraid to try.

My life experience for this stage of life as far as I can remember is a mother and my aunt who were very caring for me not to let me injure myself but encouraging enough to let me explore life on my own. I guess the fact that I was not entirely left on my own to explore the world during my early life makes me a bit cautious when it comes to major decisions. On the other hand I am confident enough and comfortable taking leads on issues, a habit that I continue to learn even in my adult life and which must have been influenced by my early life experiences.

Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt (4-6 years)

This stage of life is characterized by the need of a child to take initiatives on issues, get to know the concept of good and bad while learning about sexuality (, 2001). The major virtue at this stage is purpose since all the child actions revolves around this aspect in everything that they undertake to do. At this point the child gets to learn and acquaint themselves with abstract elements of life such as natural laws, conscience, guilt, judgment courage and so on. Throughout this stage the child attitudes is essentially proactive in that they choose and attempt to independently undertake project with expectation of success only.

This stage is when I was starting my schooling at age five which I was in grade 1, I remember my first experience in school very well and I was amazed and afraid at the same time for being in school on my own without my mum. It took me sometime getting used to the system and I didn’t make so many friends, except three classmates who I could have considered as my friends. Since I was a bit shy I usually sat at the middle of the class to be further from the teacher and also to ensure that the teacher would not pick on me to answer most of the questions.

Competence: Industry vs. Inferiority (7-11)

The general characteristics of this stage involve child efforts of self worth determination which they attempt to realize by working hard in school for instance in order to excel and therefore become valuable and important society members (Kail and Cavanaugh, 2004). It is the first stage of the child attempt to try to grasp the complex system of life and the ideal path to follow in order to be an achiever in life as dictated by society. The need to be independent becomes intense at this stage and rebellion is usually a product of this independence, the various skills that the child attempt to master is an indication of their need to be competent in everything that they do.

In my early life, I know this was the stage when I first wanted to be a pilot like my uncle so that I can fly the military aircrafts that I saw in his many photos. Every time I went to school I reminded myself that I have to work hard so that I can become a pilot, incidentally that is what my mother would occasionally tell me to motivate me since she knew of this little dream of mine.

Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion (12-19)

The major virtue in this stage is fidelity and the central issues at hand pertains the definition of personality and the purpose of life (Chapman, 2010). This is basically what is referred as the adolescent stage, which is the transition stage towards adulthood and is characterized with sense of maturity and some form of self-confidence. At this stage for instance a student has adjusted to the huge academic workload that they are required to undertake and are usually able to meet the minimum requirements of academic performance. In terms of co-curriculum activities the student are now more aware of their talents and the need to balance sport activities, social life with school academics. This stage is easy for parents and teachers in that not much is expected from them when it comes to providing guidance to students. This is because the teachers and parents have already laid the foundations at the previous stage and the personality for majority of children has already been shaped.

At this point in my life I started searching answers on issues that no one could find out for me except myself such as what I really want to be in life, the number of children I would like and the type of wife that I wanted to marry. It was also one of the most confusing stages in my life because my sexual urges and other needs seemed to be exploding on my hands and I couldn’t control them no matter what our preacher and counselors were advising. During this stage I realized that I was very romantic and that love to me was central in my life.

Love: Intimacy vs. Isolation (20-34)

The central virtue in this stage is love, at this stage a person desire to marry or fall in love is greatest, and lack of it magnifies the feeling of loneliness (Chapman, 2010). This period partly covers that final duration of adolescent and normally describes individuals that are in their early years of adulthood. It is therefore the duration where a person is finalizing college and just about starting to work. The person has already formed habits that are likely to be long life in every level of their development which mainly include academically, socially, mentally, morally and physically, except for love which at this point in life is extremely profound. In this stage of life a person has made choices that have been influential in shaping their academic performance and social life.

I am currently in this stage of life; I would say based on my personality and life experiences I married early in life my childhood lover whom I got three daughters with during the 6 years (approximately) that we were together. Because love to me was central to my life I felt that I needed someone to love and who will also love me in return which is the reason I chose to marry; even after I broke up with the mother of my children I never stopped searching for love which is the reason that I started another relationship with another lady but whom we have also unfortunately broken up with. But even then, I am still struggling in finding the right balance of love that I need in my life as I have been trying very hard to reconcile with her.

As I go through the hassles of everyday life I can’t help but to realize how love is essential in my life and despite my achievements in life I feel I need someone to share love with. At the same time, my early life experiences as a single parent child during when I never benefited from a fatherly love makes me feel that the experiences of those times are the ones that have contributed to the difficulties that I experience in my relationships as I don’t know how to function in these roles of love relationships which I never received or experienced.


Chapman, A. (2010). Erickson’s Psychosocial Developmental Theory. Web. (2001). Erickson’s Developmental stages. Web.

Kail, R. & Cavanaugh, J. (2004). Human development: A life-span view. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Wright, J. (1998). Erikson: Identity & Religion. New York; The Seabury Press.

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