Erik Erikson's stages of life
Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory focuses on eight stages of development in a person's entire life. These stages are impacted by factors such as the environment, people they interact with and external factors on personal development from childhood to adulthood. In each stage, a person is confronted by two opposing statements representing challenges faced at a particular age, and upon the ability to resolve the challenge successfully, the person will automatically move on to the next stage. Failure to resolve these challenges at one stage may result in fixation in the future. (Adler-Tapia, R. (2012).
These stages include: Trust versus Mistrust 0-2years, Autonomy versus shame and doubt 2-4 years, initiative versus guilt 4-5 years, industry versus inferiority 5-12 years, identity versus role confusion 13-19 years, intimacy versus isolation 20-39 years, generativity versus stagnation 40-64 years, integrity versus despair 65-death. Each stage is framed with opposing conflicts which are either positive or negative depending on one's ability to resolve the challenges.
I am going to analyze the sixth stage of intimacy versus isolation 20-39 years, about my personal experience. This is the period where a person graduates from adolescent stage to young adulthood, and is expected to have resolved the identity versus role confusion stage successfully and has firmly found a true identity of oneself, successful move to intimacy versus isolation stage.
Social development on my personal experience
During this period the conflict is directed towards forming intimate and lasting relationships with other people around you and the communities, these improve emotional and social development. This stage emphasizes on one being able to share ourselves with other people intimately and positively regardless of their different personalities, egos, and character, to have longer relationships with other people such as family members, friends, communities and those of opposite sex. Failure to successfully resolve these challenges will lead to isolation. (McLean, K. C., & In Syed, M. U. (2015).
Personally, I feel I haven't resolved the conflicts in this stage successfully, at some point in life I was isolated, could not associate myself with friends of opposite sex although I am currently working on it and my progress is really good. I was raised in a Christian family, and my parents were extra strict. During my high school period, I was under close supervision and this continued even after high school. My parents made sure that they choose friends I associated with and people I interacted with, this affected my exposure to the world and communities around me. They did have all kinds of reasons to discourage me from certain friendships and relationship. Due to lack of exposure, I could not identify myself with any friends. My psychosocial development and identity were significantly affected.
When I was 19 years, I had a relationship with a girl from the neighborhood, at this particular moment my psychosocial development significantly improved since I had a friend to share and identify with, but it was not long until my parents discovered it. As usual, I was discouraged, and eventually, I dropped the relationship. After admission to the university, I tried to formulate intimate relationships with other students, but these would not materialize into successful relationships since I would feel left out due to great differences in personal experiences, therefore not many who wanted to be associated with me. Due to this identity crisis, all the intimate relationships collapsed, I felt isolated, and I was a social outcast. With no one to identify myself with my low esteem levels dropped gradually; I was not confident with myself, I was afraid to undertake the task.
This isolation in my early adulthood, affected my life even after graduation because I had no particular experience to deal with people in the community. I have struggled with an identity crisis for a long time, forming relationships with friends I do not fit into their groups, or having a relationship with a girl who does not like my lifestyle.
I feel this identity crisis caused by my over-protective parents, has affected my relationship with opposite sex since my relationships with girls last for a short period. I find it hard to identify myself with their personalities and character; therefore there are lower chances of intimacy in the relationship. Although I have worked hard on resolving the identity versus role confusion, I do not feel that I have resolved intimacy versus isolation stage conflict. However, it has not hindered me from moving forward, but it is hindering my personal development.
Erik Erikson's theory is valid as I find I can relate to it in various stages of my development, through my life experiences. As the psychosocial theory by Erik Erikson's indicate that each stage builds on the previous stage, this is very clear in my personal development. Having failed to resolve the identity versus role confusion successfully, this has affected my ability to resolve the current stage, intimacy versus isolation; In addition, it is well shown how society affects each development stage in resolving conflicts in the preparation of future developments. Although this theory does not explain what kind of experiences one has to successfully resolve so as to move from one stage to the to the other, positive experiences propel us towards resolving these conflicts.( Hoare, C. H. (2002)
Adler-Tapia, R. (2012). Child psychotherapy: Integrating developmental theory into clinical practice. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Hoare, C. H. (2002). Erikson on development in adulthood: New insights from the unpublished papers. New York: Oxford University Press.
McLean, K. C., & In Syed, M. U. (2015). The Oxford Handbook of identity development
Levine, L. E., & Munch, J. (2011). Child development: An active learning approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Watson, M. W., & Teaching Company. (2002). Theories of human development. Chantilly, VA: Teaching Co.
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