Thursday, December 10, 2009


1.0 Biography of Erikson

Erik Homburger Erikson was born on June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. His biological father was an unnamed Danish man who abandoned Erikson’s mother before he was born. His mother, Karla Abrahamsen, was a Jewish woman who raised Erikson alone for the first three years of his life. She was a trained nurse who then moved to Karlsruhe, and in 1904 then, married to Dr. Theodor Homberger, who was Erikson’s pediatrician ( Erikson 1976).

In 1909 Erik Salomonsen became Erik Homburger and in 12911 he was officially adopted by his stepfather. The development of identity seems to have been on of his greatest concerns in Erikson’s own life as well as in his theory. During his childhood, and his early adulthood, he was Erik Homberger, and his parents kept the details of his birth a secret (Dicaprio, 1974).
Erikson focused on becoming an artist, after graduating high school. He studied art and variety of language during his school years. He loved traveling and wandered around Europe, keeping a diary of his experiences. He returned to Germany and began to teach art. While teaching at a private school in Vienna, he became acquainted with Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud. He learned psychology from Anna Freud in Vienna at Psychoanalytic Institute in 1927 to 1933 (Erikson,1976).

Erikson married Joan Serson, a Canadian dance at the private school. They had three children, one of them became a sociologist himself. With the Nazis coming into power, in 1933, they left Vienna for Copenhagen, Denmark where in set up a psychoanalytic training centre. Then in 1939 he moved to Boston, America. He was offered a position at the Harvard Medical School and practiced child psychologists privately. In 1936, he accepted a position at Yale University where he worked at the Institue of Human Relations and taught at the Medical School. Later, he taught at University of California at Berkeley where he was affiliated with the Institute of Child Welfare, and open a private practice as well. Then he went to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto, California and later to the Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, where he was a clinician and psychiatric consultant (Erikson,1976).

In 1950, he left the university of California and spent ten years working and teaching at the Austen Riggs Center, a prominent psychiatric treatment facility in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he worked with emotionally troubled young people. In the 1960s, Erikson returned to Harvard as a professor of human development and remained at the university until his retirement in 1970. Since retiring in 1970, he wrote and did research with his wife. He died in 1994 (Erikson,1976).

Erikson’s had a wide area of interests. He studied combat crises in troubled American Yurok along the Pacific Coast, the play of disturbed and normal children, the conversations of troubled adolescents suffering identity crises, and social behavior in India. Erikson was also constantly concerned with the rapid social changes in America and wrote about issues such as the generation gap, racial tensions, juvenile delinquency, changing sexual roles, and the dangers of nuclear war. Among his most popular books is Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (1958); Insight and Responsibility (1964) and Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968) (Baughman,1972).

2.0 Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson has made a very significant contribution to the field of psychology with his Theory of Psychosocial Development. He claimed that Sigmund Freud had misjudged some important dimensions of human development. While Freud said that our personality is shaped by the age of five. Erikson developed eight psychosocial stages that humans encounter throughout their life. The stages are Trust vs. mistrust, Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, Identity vs. Role Confusion , Intimacy vs. Isolation, Generativity vs. Stagnation, and Integrity vs. Despair (Engler, 1979).

2.1 The first stage, Trust vs. Mistrust (0-1 year)
The very important early component for development is the development of trust which occurs from approximately birth to one year. It is an infancy or the oral sensory stage. The task is to develop trust without completely eliminating the capacity for mistrust. Erikson defined trust as an essential trustfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one’s own trustworthiness. When an infant is born, he fully relies on others to fulfill his needs (Erikson,1976).
The feeling of security and trust of the environment is essential. If the parents give the newborn a degree of familiarity, consistency, and continuity, then the child will develop the feeling that the world, especially the social world a safe place to be, that people are reliable and loving. Thus the child will learn to trust his or her own body and the biological urges that go with it. On the other hand, an infant will develop mistrust and be apprehensive and suspicious around people, if the parents are unreliable and inadequate, reject or harm the infant, or turn away from the infant needs to satisfy their own instead (Erikson, 1976).

However, Erikson pointed out that parents who are overly protective of the child will lead him or her into the maladaptive tendency or sensory maladjustment like overly trusting, gullible, and cannot believe anyone would mean them harm. If the balance is tipped way over on the mistrust side than the infant will develop the malignant tendency of withdrawal, characterized by depression, paranoia, and possibly psychosis. If the proper balance is achieved, the child will develop the virtue hope, the strong belief that even when things are going well, they will work out well in the end (Erikson, 1976).

The tools used by infant to contact with the outside world are their mouth and senses , while his mother becomes the contact point between the baby and his environment. The harmonious relationship between the baby and mother through fulfilling the physical, psychological and social needs, is the baby’s basic experience of trust feeling. At this age if the feeling of trust towards environment is not achieved, then problems will arise. The feeling of mistrust arise when experiences to increase the feeling of trust fail and basic physical, psychological and social needs. For example, an infant who gets fed when he is hungry and comforted when he needs comforting will develop trust. Some mistrust is necessary to learn to discriminate between honest withdrawn, suspicious, and will lack self-confidence (Erikson, 1976).

2.2 The second stage, Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (1-3 year)
At this stage which occurs between ages two and three, the moving and feeling organs of the child have developed and there is the thrust feeling towards his mother and environment. This stage is the anal-muscular stage of early childhood. The task is to achieve a degree of autonomy while minimizing shame and doubt. The autonomy development during this period focused on the child increasing ability to control his body, self and environment. The parents and other care-takers permit the child to explore and manipulate his or her environment to develop his or her sense of autonomy or independence (Erikson, 1976).

A balance is required as parents should not discourage the child but neither should they push. The child will use his strengths to move and make movements according to his will. Parents need to be firm but tolerant at this stage so that the child will develop both self-control and self-esteem. On the other hand, the child uses his mental abilities to accept and refuse decisions. This self-autonomy is required to develop self-trust and self-esteem in later years. During this period it is important that the parents create a supportive atmosphere in which the child can develop a sense of self-control without a loss of self-esteem (Erikson, 1976).

Shame and Doubt about the child’s self-control and independence occur if basic trust was insufficiently developed or was lost such as when the child’s will is broken by an over controlling parent. If parents encourage the child on any attempt to explore and be independent, the child will soon give up the assumption that cannot and should not act on their own. Parents should keep in mind that even something as innocent as laughing at the child’s efforts can lead the child to feel deeply ashamed, and to doubt his or her abilities (Erikson,1976).

According to Erikson a little shame and doubt is not only inevitable but beneficial. Without it, a child will develop the maladaptive tendency which Erikson called impulsiveness. This is a sort of shameless willfulness that lead a child in later childhood and even adulthood do things without proper consideration of his or her abilities. However too much shame and doubt will leads to malignancy or compulsiveness, a feeling that everything must be done perfectly and thus all rules should be followed closely to avoid mistakes. A positive balance of autonomy and shame and doubt will develop the child virtue of willpower or determination, and become much better off as adults (Engler,1979).

2.3 The third stage, initiative vs. Guilt (3-6 years)
At this stage which occurs between ages four and five, a child must find out what kind of person he/she is going to be. This stage is the genital-locomotor stage or play age. The task confronting every child is to learn initiative without too much guilt. Initiative is a positive response to challenges, taking on responsibilities, learning new skills, and feel purposeful. The child learns to control himself or herself and manipulate the environment. The feeling of initiative develops in the child and starts wanting to carry out certain responsibilities. The child develops a sense of responsibility which increases initiative during this period. The child begins to sleep separately from their parents and help them with the housework (Arasteh,1965).

At this stage the child begins to widen his scope of social contact like becoming active outside the house and increasing ability to communicate. The role of father-mother-child is important to build the child identity. Parents can encourage initiative by encouraging children to try out their ideas, fantasy, curiosity and imagination. This is a time for play, not for formal education. The parents should help to integrate the social and roles and responsibilities. Sometimes the child is not able to fulfill his responsibility due to his weakness and needs support from his parents. If the child is irresponsible and is made to feel too anxious then they will have uncomfortable guilt feelings. Erikson believed that most guilt is quickly compensated for by a sense of accomplishment (Arasteh,1965).

Maladaptive tendency or ruthlessness will develop if there is too much initiative and too little guilt A ruthless person with high initiative will not care who they step on to achieve their goals. Too much guilt or inhibition will make a person not to try things because he or she wants a situation of nothing to feel guilty about. A good balance of initiative and guilt will lead to the psychosocial strength of purpose that is they will have courage, the capacity for action despite a clear understanding of one’s limitations and past failings (Baughman, 1972).

2.4 The fourth Stage, Industry vs. Inferiority
This stage occurs between six years and puberty where the child wants to enter he larger world of knowledge and work. One of the great events of this time is the child’s entry into school. So, this stage is the latency stage, or the school-age child. The task is to develop a capacity for industry while avoiding an excessive sense of inferiority. This is where he is exposed to the technology of his society: books, multiplication tables, art and rafts maps, microscopes, film, and tape recorder. However, the learning process does not only occur in the classroom, but also at home, friend’s houses, and on the street (Baughman,1972).
There is a much broader social sphere at work now for the child. He or she learns to face and solve problems. Through the education process the child learn to compete, be cooperative with others, knows how to give and take, be loyal and learn the ruling and procedures of events. The main agents of this socialization process are the teachers and peer-groups. When the child could not fulfill his needs according to his standard, it will give rise to problems and disturbances (Dicaprio, 1974).

A child will develop maladaptive tendency or narrow virtuosity if there is too much industry. Parents or teachers push into one area of competence, without allowing the development of broader interests. Successful experiences give the child a sense of industry, a feeling of competence and mastery, while failure gives them a sense of inadequacy and inferiority, a feeling that one is a good-for-nothing. There should be a right balance of industry and inferiority as mostly industry with just a touch of inferiority will keep us sensibly humble (Dicaprio, 1974).

2.5 The Fifth Stage, Identity vs. Identity Confusion.
This is a stage of adolescence, beginning with puberty and ending around 18 or 20 years old. During this stage, the child identity concern reaches climax. It is a stage of physical and psychological changes. The task during adolescence is to achieve ego identity and avoid role confusion. According to Erikson this is the time when adolescents seek their true selves. The teenager always question himself/ herself like who am I, how do I fit in, where am I going in life. Ego identity requires the teenager to learn about life and himself or herself and mold it into a unified self-image that his or her community finds meaningful (Erikson,1976).
Parents should allow the child to explore, they will conclude their own identity. However, if the parents continually push him/her to their views, the teenager will face identity confusion. Society should provide clear rites of passage, certain accomplishments and rituals that help to distinguish the adult from the child. Through ceremonies and educational events it has to made clear between the powerless, but irresponsible time of childhood and the powerful and responsible time of adulthood (Erikson,1976).

Too much ego identity leads to maladaptive tendency fanaticism. a person to involve in a particular role in a particular society or subculture that there is no room left for tolerance. He only believes that his way is the only way. However the lack of identity is perhaps more difficult still which is referred as malignant tendency or repudiation. They repudiate their membership in the world of adults and their need for an identity. They may become involved in destructive activities. To them being bad or being nobody is better than not knowing who you are (Erikson,1976).

A good balance of ego identity will make the child to have the virtue of fidelity which means loyalty, the ability to live by societies standards despite their imperfections and incompleteness and inconsistencies. A achieve fidelity means a person has found a place in his or her community, a pace that will allow him or her to contribute (Ewen, 1980).

2.6 The sixth stage, Intimacy vs. Isolation (18-40 years)
This stage occurs during young adulthood which lasts from about 18 to about 30 years old. The task is to achieve some degree of intimacy, as opposed to remaining in isolation. Intimacy is the ability to be close to others, as a lover, a friend, and as a participant in society. Intimacy with other people is possible only if reasonably well integrated identity emerges from stage five. At the beginning of the intimacy vs. isolation stage, identity vs. role confusion is coming to an end and it still lingers at the foundation of the stage. Young adults are still eager to blend their identities with friends. They want to fit in. This stage prepares them for intimacy, a close personal relationship, and isolation, the fact of being alone and separated from others (Arasteh, 1965).

A balance between intimacy and isolation makes love possible as they must know how to be alone in order to learn to truly love. Having a balanced sixth stage will help them tremendously later in the coming stages when unwelcome or unexpected isolation surfaces, for example, the death of a spouse or a loved one. In this stage, one is ready for commitments, is able to handle real relationships to a certain extent after all, establishing a real relationship takes practice and many of us do not marry our first love. Their ego should also be prepared for rejection, the challenge of break-ups, and isolation, being alone. They are afraid of rejection; being turned down, their partners breaking up with them. They are familiar with pain and to some of them rejection is painful, their egos cannot bear the pain (Arasteh, 1965).

Maladaptive form promiscuity refers to the tendency to become intimate too freely, too easily, and without any depth to one’s intimacy. On the other hand, the malignancy known as exclusion refers to the tendency to isolate oneself from love, friendship, and community, and to develop a certain hatefulness in compensation for one’s loneliness. A successful balance at this stage, will make a person carry with him or her for rest of his or her life the virtue or psychosocial strength calls love which in the context of Erikson theory means being able to put aside differences and antagonisms through mutuality of devotion (Arasteh, 1965).

2.7 The Seventh Stage, Generativity vs. Stagnation (40-65 years)
This stage is that of middle adulthood. It is the period during which people are actively involved in raising children. They assist the younger generation in developing and leading useful lives. The task at this stage to cultivate the proper balance of generactivity and stagnation. Generativity means an extension of love into the future. It is a concern of establishing and guiding the next generation and all future generations. There are many ways of generactivity, not only having and raising children, but can also be teaching, writing, invention, the arts and sciences, social activism, and generally contributing to the welfare of future generations to generativity as well (Dicaprio, 1974).

Stagnation is self-absorption, caring for no-one. So, a stagnant person ceases to be a productive member of society. An overextension stage is a situation of somebody who is overextended and no longer contributes well. On the other hand, a rejectivity is a situation of too little generativity and too much stagnation and therefore the person in this stage no lo longer participating in or contributing to society. If people are successful at this stage, they will have a capacity for caring that will serve them through the rest of their life (Engler, 1979).

2.8 The Eighth Stage, Integrity vs. Despair (From 65 years)
This stage occurs during late adulthood. This is the time in which the individual looks back and evaluates their life. The task is to develop ego integrity with a minimal amount of despair. At this stage, there is a sense of biological uselessness as the body no longer does everything it used to, and along with the illnesses, come concerns of death. Some who approach death without fear have the strength of wisdom. If the previous stages have developed properly then they will experience integrity. For example, a person who can look back on good times with gladness, on hard times with self-respect, and on mistakes and regrets with forgiveness will find a new sense of integrity. If the previous stages have not developed in a positive way then they will feel despair. For example, a person caught up in old sadness, unable to forgive themselves or others for perceived wrongs, and dissatisfied with the life they've led, will easily drift into depression and despair (Baughman, 1962 ).

Table 1: Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development
Expected Resolution
1. Trust vs. Mistrust
Child develops a belief that the environment can be counted on to meet his of her basic physiological and social needs
2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Child learns what he/she can control and develops a sense of free will and corresponding sense of regret and sorrow for inappropriate use of self-control.
3. Initiative vs. Guilt
Early Childhood
Child learns to begin action, to explore, to imagine as well as feeling remorse for actions.
4. Accomplishment/ Industry vs. inferiority
Middle childhood
Child learns to do things well or correctly in comparison to a standard or to others.
5. Identity vs. Role Confusion
Develops a sense of self in relationship to others and to own internal thoughts and desires.
6. Intimacy vs. Isolation
Young Adult
Develops ability to give and receive love: begins to make long-term commitment to relationships
7. Generativity vs. Stagnation
Develops interest in guiding the development of the next generation
8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair
Older Adulthood
Develops a sense of acceptance of life as it was lived and the importance of the people and relationships that individual developed over the lifespan.

3.0 Analysis of Erikson’s Philosophy

Erik Erikson was a Freudian ego-psychologist. He accepts Freud’s ideas as basically correct but he was he was much more society and culture-oriented than most Freudians as he is someone with anthropological interest who often pushed the instincts and the unconscious practically out of the picture. He was most famous for his work in refining and expanding Freud’s theory of stages. Erikson said that development functions by the epigenetic principle which says that we develop through a predetermined unfolding of our personalities in eight stages. They are trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, Intimacy vs. Isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and integrity vs. despair (Ewen,1980).
According to him, our progress through each stage is in part determined by our success, or lack of success, in all the previous stages. In claimed that for each stage involves certain developmental tasks that are psychosocial in nature. The various tasks are referred as trust and mistrust. He said that here is a balance we must learn: we need to learn mostly trust; but we also need to learn a little mistrust, so as not to grow up to become gullible fools (Dicaprio,1974).

Erikson emphasized that each stage ha s certain optimal time. He said that it is no use trying to rush children into adulthood, as often happen among people who are obsessed with success, and neither is it possible to slow the pace or to try to protect our children from the demands of life. This is because there is a time for each task. Erikson also emphasized the importance of interaction of generation which he called mutuality. He pointed out that children influence their parents’ development as well. The arrival of children changes the parent’s life who moves along their developmental paths (Erikson, 1976).

Erikson gave an example of mutuality problems of a teenage mother. He said that although the mother and her child may have a fine life together, often the mother is still involved in the tasks of adolescence, that is, in finding out who she is and how she fits into the larger society. At the same time, the relationship she has with her husband may have been immature while their infant has the simple, straight-forward needs that infants have and the most important of these is a mother with the mature abilities and social support a mother should have (Arasteh,1965).

Erikson’s greatest innovation was his theory of psychosocial development. His theory postulates eight stages of human development, not five stages as Sigmund Freud had done with his psychosexual stages. Erikson recognized the basic notion of Freudian theory. However he believed that Freud misjudged some important dimensions of human development. Erikson claimed that humans develop throughout their life span while Freud stressed that our personality is shaped by the age of five. Thus Erikson developed the eight psychosocial stages that humans encounter throughout their life (Arasteh,1965).

According to Erikson every human being goes through a certain number of stages to reach his or her full development, theorizing the eight stages, that a human being goes through from birth to death. He elaborated Freud’s genital stage into adolescence, and added three stages of adulthood. Erikson stressed the role of the ego as being more than a servant of the id. He said that the environment in which a child lived was crucial to providing growth, adjustment, a source of self awareness and identity (Engler,1979).

Table 1: Comparison: Stages of Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development and Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Theory of Psychosexual Development
By Sigmund Freud
Theory of Psychosocial Development
By Erik Erikson

1. Oral stage: Infancy
1. Trust vs. Mistrust: Infancy
2. Anal stage: Toddlerhood
2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt: Toodlerhood
3. Phallic stage: Early Childhood
3. Initiative vs. Guilt: Early Childhood
4. Latency Stage: Middle Childhood
4. Industry vs. inferiority: Middle Childhood
5. Genital stage: Adolescence
5. Identity vs. role confusion: Adolescence
6. Initimacy vs. isolation: Young Adult
7. Generativity vs. stagnation: Middle Adulthood
8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair: Older Adulthood

4.0 Religion in Psychosocial Development
Religion is an important element in Erikson’s psycholosocial development theory. According to Erikson, religious beliefs influence an individual value system which underlying his or her behaviours. For example religion obliges us to ask question whether we mean what we seem to be saying. Besides that, religion becomes the structure of individual thinking. For example religion elaborates to individual what he or she feels profoundly true even tough it is not demonstrable: it translates into significant words, images and codes, and the exceeding darkness, and the light which pervades it beyond all desert or comprehension (Erikson, 1993).

In Erikson’s theory of psychoanalysis development, religion is stressed as significant element in man’s stage of seeking identities. Religion serves the spiritual value system to create individual sense of identity. Thus, it influences the ego-strength in the formation of individual identity (Erikson, 1993).

5.0 Conclusion
Erik Erikson was a follower of Sigmund Freud . For Freud, what motivates or drives human behaviour was biological instincts of life and aggression, while for Erikson, the most important force driving human behaviour and the development of personality was social interaction. His developmental theory of the eight stages of man covered the entire lifespan. Based on the theory, we can divide the lifespan into two sequences of four stages, with a child development half and an adult development half. In first stage, the infant must learn the world represented by his parents is fine; in the second stage, the toddler learns “I can do” in the here and now; in third stage, the preschooler learns “I can plan” and project himself into the future; and in the fourth stage, the school-age child learns “I can finish” these projections. In going through these four stages. The child develops a competent ego which prepares him to face the larger world (Erikson, 1976 ).

On their hand, in an adult development half, we expand beyond the ego. Based on Erikson’ theory, the fifth stage concerned with adolescent to establish something similar to alright. In the sixth stage young adult must learn to love, in the seventh stage, the adult must learn to extend that love into the future, as caring and in the eighth stage, the old person must learn to finish himself as an ego, and establish a new and broader identity ( Erikson, 1976 ).

No comments:

Post a Comment