1: Introduction to Development, Personality, and Stage Theories
2: Motor and Cognitive Development
Section 3: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
Section 4: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development
5: Freud's Structural and Topographical Model
6: Freud's Ego Defense Mechanisms
7: Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Erikson’s Stages of
Like Piaget, Erik Erikson (1902-1994)
maintained that children develop in a predetermined order. Instead of
focusing on cognitive development, however, he was interested in how
children socialize and how this affects their sense of self. Erikson’s
Theory of Psychosocial Development has eight distinct stage, each with
two possible outcomes. According to the theory, successful completion of
each stage results in a healthy personality and successful interactions with
others. Failure to successfully complete a stage can result in a reduced
ability to complete further stages and therefore a more unhealthy
personality and sense of self. These stages, however, can be resolved
successfully at a later time.
Trust Versus Mistrust.
From ages birth to one year, children
begin to learn the ability to trust others based upon the consistency of
their caregiver(s). If trust develops successfully, the child gains
confidence and security in the world around him and is able to feel secure
even when threatened. Unsuccessful completion of this stage can result in an
inability to trust, and therefore an sense of fear about the inconsistent
world. It may result in anxiety, heightened insecurities, and an over
feeling of mistrust in the world around them.
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt.
Between the ages of one and three,
children begin to assert their independence, by walking away from their
mother, picking which toy to play with, and making choices about what they
like to wear, to eat, etc. If children in this stage are encouraged and
supported in their increased independence, they become more confident and
secure in their own ability to survive in the world. If children are
criticized, overly controlled, or not given the opportunity to assert
themselves, they begin to feel inadequate in their ability to survive, and
may then become overly dependent upon others, lack self-esteem, and feel a
sense of shame or doubt in their own abilities.
Initiative vs. Guilt.
Around age three and continuing to age
six, children assert themselves more frequently. They begin to plan
activities, make up games, and initiate activities with others. If given
this opportunity, children
develop a sense of initiative, and feel secure in their ability to lead
others and make decisions. Conversely, if this tendency is squelched, either
through criticism or control, children develop a sense of guilt. They may
feel like a nuisance to others and will therefore remain followers, lacking
Industry vs. Inferiority.
From age six years to puberty, children
begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments. They initiate
projects, see them through to completion, and feel good about what they have
achieved. During this time, teachers play an increased role in the child’s
development. If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative,
they begin to feel industrious and feel confident in their ability to
achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by
parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own
abilities and therefore may not reach his potential.
Identity vs. Role Confusion.
During adolescence, the transition from
childhood to adulthood is most important. Children are becoming more
independent, and begin to look at the future in terms of career,
relationships, families, housing, etc. During this period, they explore
possibilities and begin to form their own identity based upon the outcome of
their explorations. This sense of who they are can be hindered, which
results in a sense of confusion ("I don’t know what I want to be when
I grow up") about themselves and their role in the world.
Occurring in Young adulthood, we begin to share
ourselves more intimately with others. We explore
relationships leading toward longer term commitments
with someone other than a family member. Successful
completion can lead to comfortable relationships
and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within
a relationship. Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment
and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness,
and sometimes depression.
During middle adulthood, we establish our careers,
settle down within a relationship, begin our own
families and develop a sense of being a part of
the bigger picture. We give back to society through
raising our children, being productive at work,
and becoming involved in community activities and
organizations. By failing to achieve these objectives,
we become stagnant and feel unproductive.
Ego Integrity vs. Despair.
As we grow older and become senior
citizens, we tend to slow down our productivity, and explore life as a
retired person. It is during this time that we contemplate our
accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as
leading a successful life. If we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt
about our pasts, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we
become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to
depression and hopelessness.