Freud’s pupils did not always agree with him and eventually began to modify some of his ideas and became important theorists in their own right.
Comparing Erikson with Freud
Differed in two important respects:
Freud children are passive slaves to biological urges, then molded by their parents
Erikson children are active explorers who seek to adapt to their environments. Erikson labeled an “ego” psychologist for believing that at each stage, people must cope with social realities in order to adapt successfully and display a normal pattern of development.
2) Freud places much emphasis on sexual urges
Erikson places less emphasis on sexual urges and more on cultural influences.
Shaped by his own varied experience born in Denmark, raised in Germany, spent adolescence wandering throughout Europe, moving to US.
Therefore Erikson’s Psychosocial theory emphasised social and cultural aspects of development
Eight life crisis
Erikson believed human beings face eight major crisis/conflicts during the course of their lives.
Each conflict emerges at a distinct time, dictated by both biological and social demands.
Each crisis must be resolved successfully in order to prepare for a satisfactory resolution of the next crisis.
Developmental stages do not end at adolescence as Freud’s do – he believed problems of adolescents are very different from those faced by parents or the elderly.
Most contemporary developmentalists agree
Basic trust vs Mistrust
Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt
Initiative vs Guilt
Industry vs Inferiority
Identity vs Role confusion
Intimacy vs Isolation
Generativity vs Stagnation
Ego integrity vs despair
Stage 1 – Basic Trust vs Mistrust
Birth – 1 Year
Corresponds to Oral stage
Infants must learn to trust others to care for their basic needs.
If caregiver = rejecting/inconsistent, infant may believe the world = dangerous, filled with untrustworthy people.
Primary caregiver is the key social agent
Stage 2 – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
1 to 3 years
Corresponds to Anal stage
Children must learn to be ‘autonomous’ – to feed and dress themselves, look after hygiene, etc.
Failure may force the child to doubt his or her abilities and feel shameful
Parents are the key social agents
Stage 3 – Initiative vs Guilt
3 to 6 years
Corresponds to Phallic stage
Children attempt to grow up and try to accept responsibility beyond their capacity
Sometimes undertake goals/activities conflicting with parents, which makes them feel guilty
Success requires balance – child must retain sense of initiative and yet learn not to impinge on the rights, privileges or goals of others
Family is key social agent
Stage 4 – Industry vs Inferiority
6 – 12 years
Corresponds to Latency
Children must master important social and academic skills.
If successful, children acquire skills to feel self-assured
Failure leads to feelings of inferiority.
Significant social agents are teachers and peers
Stage 5 – Identity vs Role Confusion
12 – 20 years
Corresponds to early genital stage
Crossroad between childhood and maturity
Who am I?
Adolescents must establish basic social and occupational identities, or they will remain confused about the role they should play as adults.
The key social agent is the society of peers
Stage 6 – Intimacy vs Isolation
20 – 40 years
Primary task is to form strong friendships and achieve sense of love and companionship (or a shared identity) with another person.
Feelings of loneliness or isolation are likely to result from inability to form friendships or an intimate relationship
Key social agents are lovers, spouses, close friends
Stage 7 – Generativity vs Stagnation
40 to 65 years
Adults face the tasks of becoming productive in their work and raising their families or otherwise looking after the needs of young people.
Standards of ‘generativity’ are defined by one’s culture.
Failure = stagnant and/or self centred.
Significant social agents are the spouse, children and cultural norms
Stage 8 – Ego Integrity vs Despair
Reflects on life, viewing as either a meaningful, productive and happy experience or a major disappointment full of unfulfilled promises and unrealised goals
One’s life experiences, particularly social experiences, determine the outcome of this final life crisis.
Does not address what drives individuals from one stage to the next
Often criticised for developing a theory based on personal observations rather than scientific methods
Contemporary empirical support: over 300 studies alone testing his stage 8 concept of ego integrity.
E.g. Torges, Stewart and Duncan (2008) – found women who resolved regrets at age 53 achieved higher levels of ego integrity at age 62 and generativity at 53 predicted ego integrity at age 62.
Empirical support for universality – Wang and Viney (1996) tested 360 children from China and 150 Australian children aged six to 18. No overall differences in terms of psychosocial maturity.