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Erickson's Stages

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By yadis
Words 517
Pages 3
Our personality traits come in opposites. We think of ourselves as optimistic or pessimistic, independent or dependent, emotional or unemotional, adventurous or cautious, leader or follower, aggressive or passive. Many of these are inborn temperament traits, but other characteristics, such as feeling either competent or inferior, appear to be learned, based on the challenges and support we receive in growing up.
The man who did a great deal to explore this concept is Erik Erikson. Although he was influenced by Freud, he believed that the ego exists from birth and that behavior is not totally defensive. Based in part on his study of Sioux Indians on a reservation, Erikson became aware of the massive influence of culture on behavior and placed more emphasis on the external world, such as depression and wars. He felt the course of development is determined by the interaction of the body (genetic biological programming), mind (psychological), and cultural (ethos) influences. His developmental stages were based on his philosophy that: (1) the world gets bigger as we go along and (2) failure is cumulative.
He organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death (many developmental theories only cover childhood). Then, since adulthood covers a span of many years, Erikson divided the stages of adulthood into the experiences of young adults, middle aged adults and older adults. While the actual ages may vary considerably from one stage to another, the ages seem to be appropriate for the majority of people.
As you read through the following eight stages of Erik Erikson's categories with their sets of opposites, notice which strengths you identify with most and those you need to work on some more.
NOTE: If you'd like to experience growing up with the positive affirmations we need for each stage of development, read Words of Encouragement for Everyone. And listen to an excerpt from a CD that can be helpful for everyone who wonders what it would be like to hear the affirmations we all need at each developmental stage.
1. Infancy: Birth to 18 Months
Ego Development Outcome: Trust vs. Mistrust
Basic strength: Drive and Hope
Erikson also referred to infancy as the Oral Sensory Stage (as anyone might who watches a baby put everything in her mouth) where the major emphasis is on the mother's positive and loving care for the child, with a big emphasis on visual contact and touch. If we pass successfully through this period of life, we will learn to trust that life is basically okay and have basic confidence in the future. If we fail to experience trust and are constantly frustrated because our needs are not met, we may end up with a deep-seated feeling of worthlessness and a mistrust of the world in general.
Incidentally, many studies of suicides and suicide attempts point to the importance of the early years in developing the basic belief that the world is trustworthy and that every individual has a right to be here.
Not surprisingly, the most significant relationship is with the maternal parent, or whoever is our most significant and constant caregiver.

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