Biography of Erick Erickson


Erickson 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, mind and culture. He organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death. Since adulthood covers a span of many years, erickson divided the stages of adulthood into the experiences of young adults, middle aged adults and older adults. Ericksons basic philosophy might be said to rest on two major themes: 1. The world gets bigger as we go along and 2. Failure is cumulative.

1. Infancy: birth to 18 months, this is trust vs. mistrust our basic strength is drive and hope with this stage there is a big emphasis on the mothers positive and loving care for the child and on visual contact and touch if we successfully go through this stage in life is basically ok and have confidence in the future. If we fail to trust and are always frustrated because our needs are not meet, we meet, we may end up with a feeling of worthlessness and a mistrust of the world in general. The most significant relationship is with the material parent or whoever is our care giver.

2. Early childhood: 18months to 3 years, this is autonomy vs. shame our basic strengths are self control, courage, and will. During this stage we learn to master skills for ourselves, not only do we learn to walk, talk, and feed ourselves we are learning motor skills and toilet training. Here we have the opportunity to build self esteem and autonomy we gain more control of our body and new skills learning right from wrong. Our skills during the terrible twos is our ability to use the powerful word “no” this develops important skills of the will. If were shamed in the process of toilet training or in learning other skills we may feel great shame and doubt of our capabilities and suffer low self esteem as a result. The most significant relationship is with parents.

3. Play age:3 to 5 years old this is initiative vs. guilt our basic strength is purpose. During this stage we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie and ken toys phones and miniature cars. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the word “why”. At this stage we usually become involved in the classic “oedipal struggle” and resolve this struggle through social role identification. If were frustrated over natural desires and goals, we may easily experience guilt. The most significant relationship is with the basic family.

4. School age:6 to 12 years old this is industry vs. inferiority our basic strengths are method and competence. During this stage we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, this developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and sef esteem. At this age parents are no longer the complete authorities they once were, although they are still important.

5. Adolescence: 12 to 18 years old this is identity vs. role confusion and our basic strengths are devotion and fidelity. At this stage Development mostly depends upon what is done to us. From here on out, development depends primarily upon what we do. Life is definitely getting more complex as we attempt to find our own identity, struggle with social interactions, and grapple with moral issues. Our task is to discover who we are as individuals separate from our family members of a wider society. If we are unsuccessful in navigating this stage, we will experience role confusion and upheaval. The problem is that we don’t have much experience and find it easy to substitute ideals for experience. We can also develop strong devotion to friends and causes. It is no surprise that our most significant relationships are with peer groups.

6.young adulthood: 18 to 35 years old this is intimacy and solidarity vs. isolation and our basic strengths are affiliation and love. In the initial stage of being an adult we seek one or more companions and love. We try to find mutually satisfying relationships, primarily through marriage and friends, we also begin to start a family. If negotiating this stage is successful, we can experience intimacy on a deep level. If were not successful, isolation and distance from others may occur. When we don’t find it easy to create satisfying relationships, our world can began to shrink as, in defense, we can feel superior to others. Our significant relationships are with martial partners and friends.

7. Middle adulthood:35 to 55 or 65 years old this is generativity vs. self absorption or stagnation and basic strengths are production and care. Middle-aged is when we tend to be occupied with creative and meaningful work and with issues surrounding our family. We can expect to “be in charge” the role we’ve longer envied. The significant task is to perpetuate culture and transmit values of the culture through the family and working to establish a stable environment. Strength comes through care of others and production of something that contributes to the betterment of society calls generativity when were in this stage we often fear inactivity and meaninglessness. As our children leave home we may be faced with major life changes the midlife crisis and struggle with finding new meanings and purposes. If we don’t get through this stage successful, we can become self absorbed and stagnate. Significant relationships are within workplace, the community and the family.

8. Late adulthood:55 or 65 to death this is integrity vs. despair and the basic strengths are wisdom. Much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage is recovering from it. As older adults we can 0often look back on our lives with happiness and are content, feeling fulfilled with a deep sense that life has meaning and we’ve made a contribution to life this is called integrity. Our strength comes from a wisdom that the world is very large and we now have a detached concern for whole of life, accepting death as the completion of life. Some adults may reach this stage and despair at there experiences and perceived failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to there lives, the significant relationship is with all of mankind.

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