Revisiting Erik Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development
Today, while I was watching my son play with his friends, I started to think about child development, and how without fail, children from each generation follow a similar life journey. I was reminded of my days as a graduate student and the paper that I wrote about Erik Erikson’s 8 stages of psychosocial development.
Erikson posited that personality develops in a rigid order through 8 stages of psychosocial development, from infancy to adulthood. During each stage, the person experiences a psychosocial crisis, which could have a positive or negative outcome for personality development.
My son is two and a half, so he is firmly in stage 2: autonomy vs. shame and doubt. It amazes me to see that even though he is growing up in a digital world, way different from my own upbringing, he fights hard to maintain his autonomy, just like I did.
For anyone who works with children, Erikson’s 8 stages are required reading. Below you will find a list of all 8 stages, along with a brief discussion.
Stage 1. Trust vs. Mistrust (Hope): In child development, these terms refer to the notion that the goal of infancy (from birth to 18 months) is to develop a basic trust or sense of trust of the world.
Stage 2. Autonomy vs. Doubt (Will): At this stage (18 months to age three), because children have the dual desire to hold on and to let go, overly restrictive parenting can make children feel powerless and doubt their abilities.
Stage 3. Initiative vs. Guilt (Purpose): At this stage (age three to six), because the motor and language skills of children are continuously maturing, they can become increasingly aggressive and vigorous in exploring their social and physical environments.
Stage 4. Industry vs. Inferiority Purpose (Competency): At this stage (age six to twelve), meeting success allow individuals to feel a sense of productivity, achievement, industriousness, and, in general, positive feelings about oneself and one’s abilities.
Stage 5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (Fidelity): At this stage (age 12 to 18), the big question that individuals confront is “Who am I?”.
Stage 6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (Love): During young adulthood (18-40), an individual learns how to share aspects of their life with another person.
Stage 7. Generativity vs. Self-Absorption (Care): During middle adulthood (40-65), an individual develops an interest in forming and guiding the subsequent generation.
Stage 8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair (Wisdom): In late adulthood (65+), individuals look back at their life and realize that their life has been their responsibility and that they need to take responsibility for their actions. Those who regret their past life choices feel despair.
Do you think these stages paint an accurate picture of human development?