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Erik Erikson: The Life Span Theory

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Chelsea Amiel

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Erik Erikson: The Life Span Theory

Trust vs. Mistrust
Erikson vs. Freud
Erik Erikson: The Life Span Theory
Erikson's Early Life
Frankfurt, Germany in 1902
born out of wedlock and never met his father
mother married Erik's pediatrician Dr. Homburger.
Erikson did not know for many years that Homburger
was not his biological father.
Unsure psychological identity
with his mother and step father being Jewish, but being tall and blond, he grew up being rejected by classmates
hypersensitive and neurotic
studied at art school-always searching for identity
at 25, taught at Vienna school for children
trained in psychoanalysis and analyzed by Anna Freud
interest: psychoanalysis of children
8 Stages of Psychosocial Development

even if we don't obtain all basic strengths, we have the potential to do so
each stage offers a positive outcome
even if we fail, we can change at a later stage
not strictly the product of childhood

Research on Erikson's Theory
Case Study and Play Constructions
case Study:
hard to duplicate and verify case study
useful and detailed
play constructions:
300 boys and girls aged 10-12
scene from imaginary movie
girls: static, peaceful, low
boys: exteriors, action, height
failed to find similar results in ages 2-5
fathers treat more stereotypically than mothers

Adolescent Development
5 stages:
identity achievement
occupational and idealogical choices
strong ego identity, stable, realistic goals
harder subjects in college, stable relationships
high self-esteem
undergoing identity crisis
rebel against authority figures
no identity crisis, but firmly committed to occupation
Identity diffusion
aimless drifting, refect commitments
alienated achievement
identity crisis but no occupational goal
occurs from 12-18
30% still searching for identity at 24
college delays resolution of identity crisis
occurs over life span perhaps
Reflection on Erikson's Theory
Stage 1: Oral-Sensory
0-1 years old
mother responds to baby's needs: trust develops
mother is rejecting/inconsistent: infant develops mistrust and will beome suspicious, fearful, anxious
basic strength that develops from resolving crisis: hope
Stage 2: Muscular Anal Stage
2-3 years old
most important ability: holding on or letting go
major crisis: toilet training - society tries to regulate an instinctual need
if parents deny child's free will by forcing toilet training: child develops feelings of shame and doubt
basic strength that develops from autonomy: will
Stage 3: Locomotor-Genital Stage
3-5 years old
initiative can develop in the form of fantasies
if parents punish child and inhibit the displays of initiative, child develops guilt
if parents guide it with understanding, child develops initiative and understanding
basic strength that develops from initiaive: purpose
Stage 4: Latent Stage
6-11 years old
child begins school, ideally learns good study habits (industriousness) as a means of obtaining praise
praise and reinforcement foster feelings of competence
if children are scolded or rejected, they will develop inferiority
basic strength developed from industriousness: competence
Stage 5: Adolescence
12-18 years old
crisis: ego identity
we need to form a self image and integrate what we think about ourselves and what others think about us
people who leave the stage with a certain sense of identity are equipped to face adulthood with confidence/certainty
those who have an identity crisis could withdraw, or seek negative identity
basic strength to develop out of identity: fidelity
disagreed with using the couch
preferred the therapist face the patient
thought it could lead to sadistic exploitation
thought Freud overemphasized the unconscious
rarely assessed dreams
believed assessment should be modified to fit the needs of the person
didn't use psychological tests
Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt
Inititive vs. Guilt
Industriousness vs. Inferiority
35-55 years old
involved in teaching and guiding the next generation
when people don't have an outlet for generativity, they can become overwhelmed by stagnation, boredom etc... and regress to child-like ways
basic strength that develops from generativity: care
maturity and old age
reflect back on life with a sense of fulfillment: posess ego integrity
reflect back on life with a sense of frustration: feel despair
you need to do more than reflect, you need to be active in life
basic strength that develops from ego integrity: wisdom
internet and computer games allow different roles
Dungeons and Dragons study in Germany:
social ID and interpersonal connection increased with time
as intense and satisfying as real world
could lead to danger for instance: Catfish

12-18 month infants had strong emotional bond with mother; higher functioning when observed 3 years later
curious, sociable, popular
interview with Holocaust survivers 30-40 years post WW2:
dealt successfully with all stages but trust vs. mistrust
positive events counteract negative early experiences

psychological symptoms cannot be explained by Freud's orthodox theory
identity confusion: sense of alienation from cultural tradition which results in lack of clear identity
men emotionally disturbed coming home from WW2
Not repressed conflicts but confusion from being uprooted from their culture and thrown into war
extended Freud's theory in 3 ways:


Identity Cohesion vs. Role Confusion
Stage 6: Young Adulthood
Personality continues to develop in 8 stages over entire life
Greater emphasis on ego that id. Ego is independent
Whole picture NOT innate biological factors in childhood, but impact of personality on cultural and historical forces

adolescence-35 years old
establish independence from parents and parental instistutions like university and beginto function autonomously
establish intimate realtionships
people who are unable to establish intimacies will go on to isolation
basic strength that develops from intimacy: love

Stage 7: Adulthood
Intimacy vs. Isolation
Generativity vs. Stagnation
Trust and Security
Stage 8: Maturity and Old Age
Ego Integrity vs. Despair
Optimism about Human Nature
Questioned Freud's Techniques
Virtual Identity
Gender and Ego Identity
social and historical factors-->ego identity-->nature of personality
women's movement- younger women more influenced
career-oriented; marry later in life
young adulthood women:
scored higher in NEM (stress anxiety, anger)
middle age women:
scored higher in PEM (positive emotionality)
The Identity Crisis
positively correlated with power and intimacy motivation
related to having strong relations with people
goodness and worth of human life
positive correlation between generativity and physiological well being
increases with age
opposite of basic strengths
characteristics that emerge from poor coping with a crisis
ego consists of both adaptive and maladaptive attitude
maladaptive: only positive tendency is there (neroses)
malignant: only negative tendency is there (psychoses)
both could be corrected through psychotherapy
Basic Weaknesses
spend time recalling and examining life
people scoring low in ego integrity reported they did not engage in self-examination
study in Belgium: ego integrity linked to high feelings of subjective well-being, good health, low fear of death, less bitterness
Ethnic Identity
this aspect not considered by Erikson
Revised Racial Identity Model by William Cross
Gender Preference Identity
also not considered by Erikson
four stages in development of gender preference identity
recognition of personality development throughout the life span
identity crisis in adolescence
incorporation of cultural, social, and historical impact
"I came to psychology from art, which may explain, if not justify, the fact that at times the reader will find me painting contexts and backgrounds where he would rather have me point to facts and concepts" (Erikson, 1950, p. 13)
play construction sex analysis under critiscism
developmental stages may not be applicable to women
also to people in reduced economic circumstances
showed little interest in responding to critics; recognized there are many ways to describe personality
Reflections, Questions, Comments?
Trust vs. Mistrust
items 2, 5, 9, 13, 14 and 15 are reverse scored
0 becomes 3; 3 becomes 0
1 becomes 2; 2 becomes 1
add up all 20 items
range 0-60
average 40-41
Loyala Generativity Scale
The Psychosocial Stages
age 4, 8 and 11 asked to make up story on test pictures to determine which psychosocial stage reflected
results support Erikson's theory ie. 4 year old-autonomy
happiness-Adaptive development each stage
maladaptive development-sense of alienation/uprootedness
psychological well-being>emerging adulthood
3 groups of men take self-report measures
younger men higher levels distress, older men lower
younger best able to cope with dilemmas
Full transcript