According to Erikson the people between the ages of 12-18 are characterized by identity vs. role confusion. The interviewee (an adolescent) was required to respond to a number of question, ranging from self-identity to appreciating oneself (McAdams, 2005). The interview and responses are indicated below:
The first question focused on whether the teenager knew what he wanted to become in future. The respondent indicated that he had not yet made up his. His parents wanted him to become a doctor, while he felt more comfortable working as a lawyer. Asked if he had the capability and valuable information of making a good lawyer, the interview said that he already had some mentors. One of his uncles was a lawyer and happened to be his main motivator. The interview was also asked whether he felt any anxiety and in dilemma over making the decision on his future career. His response was that his parents were the main determinants of what he would become. Therefore, he was still waiting to hear from his parents, though he had expressed his desire to become a lawyer. He agreed that he was still in a confused state about his future career.
On the question of whether he appreciated who he was and what he had so far achieved, the interviewee had a positive evaluation of himself. He considered himself above average, with the ability to compete with others. The interviewer wanted to know if the teenager had any issues with his physical appearance. He said that while in childhood he was sensitive about his weight, he no longer felt the same. He had learnt to appreciate his physical appearance, but was doing everything possible, including engaging in physical exercises to keep fit. The other goal was to establish if the interviewee wanted had an open mind, allowing him to appreciate and accommodate the opinion of others. The interviewee indicated that he had been taught since childhood to be tolerant to other peoples opinion. While he did not agree with everything his friends did and said, he respected their position and ideologies. Asked if there is anything he could change about his life if he had a chance, the teenager said he was content with who he was.
The teenager was also asked whether he encountered any challenges and pressures as a teenager. According to him, the main challenge was being able to make independent decisions about himself. On the question of whether he cared about how people thought of him, the teenager said that people were entitled to their opinions, but he was not really affected. According to him, he had already learnt to appreciate himself.
A young adult (18 40)
At the above stage, the young adults find themselves battling between intimacy vs. isolation, according to Erikson (McAdams, 2005). The young adults begin appreciating the need to form strong relationships, not just with the family members, but also with people of the opposite sex. Where an individual is unable to establish strong bonds and be committed to someone, loneliness may follow. The following is a response of the interview conducted with a young adult to establish her relationships and effects on personal development.
The first question was to establish how the interviewee thought about her ability to form lasting relationships. she responded that she had a large circle of friends, including the ones she formed at childhood. She said she loved her family and appreciate all her friends since they had played a major role in fostering her emotional and mental development. Asked whether she was currently dating, she said that she was taking a break. I was involved in a very emotionally and mentally draining relationship, she said. According to her, the man she was in love with mistreated her. He was insensitive and did not care about my feelings she added. On the question of whether she thought of dating again, she said that she had not yet given it a thought. According her to, she had invested much in the previous relationship and felt betrayed. When asked if she sometimes felt depressed or anxious, she said yes. According to her, it was normal for her to feel stressed, but because she was still healing from the breakup and having to find a balance in her career.
The respondent was asked whether she felt jealous, especially if she saw her friends enjoy bring in stable relationships. It sometimes makes me sad, she said. However, she said that her main motivation is the fact that she was not to blame for the breakup. She had done everything possible to make the relationship work. The respondent was also asked if her breakup had affected her relationship with the rest of the family and friends. According to the interviewee, the relationship with her parents had even got stronger. Her parents were very supportive and were still helping her recover. She also said that some of her close friends were also morally supportive. Also, the interviewer wanted to establish if the respondent has been feeling lonely. According to her, while she had may close friends, she felt that there was still a gap that needed to be filled. She felt lonely especially because she did not have any intimate partner. The respondent was asked whether she the thought her personal relationships were affecting her performance in the work place. According to her, her performance in the first few weeks after the breakup was relatively lower. She said that her fellow employees and supervisor had noticed her emotional distress. She received two days off, which helped her to deal with her situation.
A middle-aged adult (40 65)
According to Erikson, the middle-aged group tries to strike a balance between generativity and stagnation. Generativity means that people are able to contribute positively to the growth and development of the society. If people are able to contribute positively towards making the society better, enhancing growth and development of their careers, and supporting their families, they become happy. a feeling of stagnation is common to those who feel that they are not doping anything apart from supporting themselves. The following is an interview with a middle-aged man.
The first question was to establish if the respondent had fully achieved his career growth and development. I am not yet there, but I have achieved most of the milestones, he said. According to him, the career growth and development was a process, and he learnt news things every day. Asked whether he was happy about his family, he indicated that he had done his best to ensure that everyone in his family was contented. He had ensured that his children had quality education and supported them in making wise career decisions. Asked whether he was involved in any charitable activity, he asserted that giving back to the community was his principle. According to him, he was sponsoring an orphan, who had performed well in high school, but did could not afford to college. The respondent was asked how contributing towards giving hope to someone made him feel. It makes me feel that I am accomplishing something. It gives me joy to know that I can make someone else smile, he said. He was asked if the feeling would be different if he was unable to contribute anything in making the society better. He said that would make him very sad.
Asked if he had any regrets about the choices he had made in life, he said that he was comfortable the way he was. Of course I have not achieved everything I would wish to, but I am content with what I have. I have a beautiful and lovely family, and I love my job, he asserted. On the question of what he was doing to contribute to the growth and development in his job, he said had contributed immensely to major decision making that saw the company attract and retain more customers. The interviewee was also asked what he thought about participating in national building and in political activities. He said it was a duty of every citizen to elect leaders who are ready to improve the living standards of the people. Also, he was very particular on the need to foster justice and the rule of law within the society. On the question of whether he participated in any community activities, he said that he was working with the local church where they were establishing a kit that would assist the less fortunate members in the society. Also, he indicated that he was playing a vital role in mentoring young people, especially on career choices and living a positive life.
An elderly adult (65+)
Erikson said that people above the age of 65 grapple with the issue of ego integrity or despair. At this age, it is expected that most of the people have retired (McCrae & Costa, 2003). Regardless of whether a person is successful or not, there is nothing much one can do about the situation. The successful people will have a sense of accomplishment. On the contrary, those who still struggle with life will suffer from guilt, blaming themselves about how they spent their life. The following interview shows the responses of an elderly adult.
The first question sought to establish if the elderly adult was happy with what he had already accomplished. I do not consider myself to have accomplished much. I wish I could have done more, he replied. I asked him what he thought he would change about his life if he was given an opportunity. According to him, he would be more serious about his career growth and development. he would also want to build healthy relationships with friends and family. The elderly man was also asked whether he was regretting his past life. of course, I do regret a number of things, he said. I did not do the best to empower my children in terms of education and career choices, he continued. He blamed himself because of the struggles that his children were facing and the fact that he also found his life to be hard. The interviewer was also interested in establishing if the respondent felt lonely. The interviewee said that he was indeed very lonely. He was not a social person and also did not establish strong relationship with his family. Asked whether he felt depressed about life, he said he was trying hard to ensure that he remained mentally and emotionally stable. However, he confirmed that at times he was experiencing feelings of despair. Also, he said that he was not very happy about his life and given a chance he would make many changes. Asked whether he feared death (which is inevitable, especially at old age), he said he wished he could have more time to do what unable to do when he was full of energy.
In conclusion, I had a very comfortable time during the interviews. I had prepared myself in advance. I knew what to expect and how I was supposed to deal with the situation. For instance, I knew that some respondents may feel uncomfortable talking about their private lives. Therefore, I had prepared what I needed to do in order to ensure that I overcame the challenges. what came out from the interviews is that Erikson stages of bio-psychosocial development was realistic. Most of the characteristics mentioned in the theory were very evident in each stage. In future, one of the main changes that I would like is spending more time with the respondents. I felt that the lack of prior interactions made some respondents feel more anxious.
McAdams, D. P. (2005). The psychology of life stories. Review of General Psychology, 5(2), 100.
McCrae, R. R., & Costa, Jr, P. T. (2003). Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist, 52(5), 509.
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