Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was an American, but German-born, psychoanalyst who was noted for his contributions to the field of developmental psychology. One of his best known theories was “The Theory of Psychosocial Development”, elaborated in 1950.
In this article we will see what each of the 8 stages or crises that make up Erikson’s theory, centered on the life cycle, consist of. We will know their most relevant characteristics and at what ages they appear.
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Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development: what does it consist of?
In this theory, Erikson establishes that there are 8 types of crises that we all go through throughout our life cycle, in the different stages of life. That is, from birth to old age (including subsequent death).
Each crisis corresponds to a life stage (to a more or less delimited age period); when a crisis is overcome, the next stage is accessed. On the other hand, each crisis includes a dichotomous term, i.e. two antagonistic concepts (e.g. trust vs. distrust), as we will see below.
These crises are strongly influenced by the vital moment of the society, by its own characteristicsThe crises are strongly influenced by the vital moment of the society, by its own characteristics, as well as by the development of external events (social, personal…). Let’s see what each crisis of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development consists of and the characteristics of each one of them:
Stage 1: trust vs. distrust (0 – 18 months).
Consists of the first stage and therefore, the first crisis.. It appears from birth and usually lasts until about 18 months (1 year and a half of age). This stage is characterized by the fact that the child initially distrusts everyone, but progressively learns to trust others (or not to trust them); that is, he or she begins to discern who can be trusted and who cannot be trusted.
Trust is a variable closely related to attachment and social relationships.. In this first stage, this trust has a more elementary character linked to sustenance, alluding to the fact that the child trusts or not that “X” person(s) will cover his basic needs. For trust to be created, it is necessary that the quality of the child’s care is good.
Stage 2: autonomy vs. shame and doubt (18 months – 3 years)
The second stage of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development begins at the end of the previous stage, at 18 months, and lasts until about 3 years of age. lasts until approximately 3 years of age. It is characterized by the fact that the child initially feels shame towards others and doubts everything. Progressively, if the crisis is “overcome”, the child will acquire autonomy and control over his own body.
In addition, he/she will be more and more able to perform tasks on his/her own. This stage is very important because it is related to the child’s independence, an essential tool for his self-concept and well-being (parents play a great role here).
Stage 3: initiative vs. guilt (3 – 5 years)
The third stage goes from 3 to 5 years old. Here the child is acquiring initiative to play and to do other activities. and other activities. He feels more confident and has more control of his world. In addition, the child begins to interact more with other children.
If the child successfully passes this stage, he/she will be able to guide other children to play or do other things. In case the child does not overcome the crisis or remains “stuck”, he will suffer from a feeling of guilt and self-doubt.
Stage 4: industriousness vs. inferiority (5 – 13 years)
The fourth stage of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development appears when the child is more autonomous and begins to be “older”, from the age of 5, and extends until the age of 13 (beginning of adolescence). Here the child can recognize what skills he/she has and what skills he/she lacks, as well as recognize the skills of his/her peers.as well as recognize the abilities of his peers. He/she can begin to make abstractions.
The reason for the crisis is that, on the one hand, the child still feels “childish” (inferior), but on the other hand, he wants to do things, to study… (industriousness). In addition, the tasks he/she wants to do become more and more demanding and challenging (which is what they require). That is why this stage is related to his skills.
Stage 5: identity vs. identity diffusion (13 – 21 years)
This stage takes place in the midst of adolescence: from 13 to 21 years old (WHO World Health Organization considers that adolescence extends from 10 to 19 years of age.approximately).
At this stage the adolescent finds his or her own identity (this includes sexual identity); he/she begins to understand what he/she likes, whether boys or girls, etc. Reaching this stage would mean overcoming the crisis. Before, but, when the adolescent is in full crisis, he feels lost and confused (identity diffusion). Failure to overcome the crisis is also called “role confusion”.
It is at this stage when adolescents begin to know what role they have or want to have in society, what they want to study, what they like, what aspirations they have, etc.
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Stage 6: intimacy vs. isolation (21-39 years old).
The sixth stage of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development goes from approximately 21 to 39 years of age. This is early adulthood. It is characterized by the fact that, on the one hand, the boy or girl wants to become intimate with other people, establish intimate relationships or partnershipson the one hand, but on the other hand, he or she is afraid of being alone (isolation). This fear can make it difficult to meet someone, but if the crisis is overcome, the person is able to develop affective (and healthy) relationships.
On the other hand, at this stage the person also begins to establish limits in their personal relationships, and begins to determine how much they want to sacrifice for others, how much they want to give, etc.
Stage 7: generativity vs. stagnation (40 – 65 years)
This stage is typical of middle adulthood (from 35 to 65 years of age, approx.). The person has already lived many things, but the following crisis arises: he/she wants to take care of others, even have children. He/she does not want to remain “stagnant” in this sense. in this sense.
This generativity also extends to creation; the person wants to leave a “legacy” for the world, whether through books, movies, art….
Stage 8: Integrity vs. despair (65 years and older)
The last stage of Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development appears from late adulthood, and until death. The person enters a nostalgic stage; he/she “remembers” his/her life because he needs to find a meaning, a logic, a sense of having done everything he longed for.
Its opposite is despair, which implies reviewing one’s own life and feeling frustrated. This stage includes thinking about everything that has been done, the things that have been enjoyed, the plans that have failed… and taking stock. If this crisis is overcome, the person leaves the world with a sense of peace.