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  1. 1. Running Head: LIFE CYCLE 1 Stages of the Life Cycle: A Psychosocial Theory - Erikson Mikele Neely Colorado Technical University
  2. 2. Running Head: LIFE CYCLE 2 Stages of the Life Cycle: A Psychosocial Theory - Erikson Life cycle, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “The series of stages in form and functional activity through which an organism passes between successive recurrences of a specified primary stage” (2010). Erik Erikson was a psychoanalyst who lived to the age of ninety-two years old. He spent his life expanding Freud's stages of psychosexual development. Freud's theory had five stages, which were Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital, which Erikson expanded and evolved into eight stages of his own. Erikson believed that, "Successfully passing through each of these stages is thought to contribute to the overall development of the individual personality with unique strengths and weaknesses" (Leifer, & Hartson, 2004). Born in Germany to a young Jewish woman, Karla Abrahamsen, and an unnamed Danish man, who abandoned the family before Erikson was born, his life began rough. His mother married Theodore Homberger when Erikson was three years old. Erikson was teased at school for being a “tall, blond, blue-eyed boy who was also Jewish." He graduated high school and became an artist and a teacher of art. Erik changed his birth given name when he moved to America. His son believes the change was a decision that Erik made to define himself as, "Erik, son of Erik" (Boeree, 1997). After being psychoanalyzed by Anna Freud, Erikson began to extend Freud's stages of psychosexual development. "Erik H. Erikson's life cycle schema consists of eight stages. Three are located in infancy and early childhood (ages 1-5), one in childhood (5-12), one in adolescence, and three in adulthood" (Capps, 2004). The stages of his theory are: Trust vs. Mistrust, Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, Identity vs. Role Confusion, Intimacy vs. Isolation, Generativity vs. Self-Absorption, and Integrity vs. Despair. Trust vs. Mistrust happens while in infancy, the child develops trust of others to meet
  3. 3. Running Head: LIFE CYCLE 3 their own needs and begins to trust their self and others. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt happens while in toddler years; they gain the ability to act independently and trust themselves to be good. Initiative vs. Guilt happens in preschool; they gain role models and follow the rules as well as experience self control in social interactions. Industry vs. Inferiority happens during the school age; they develop the ability to make friends and independently achieve school tasks. Identity vs. Role Confusion happens in adolescents; they learn to know themselves and what they believe, they also develop a career goal. Intimacy vs. Isolation happens as a young adult; they develop an ability to share all aspects of life with others. Generativity vs. Self-Absorption happens as a middle adult; they can contribute to society in a meaningful way. Last, Integrity vs. Despair happens as an older adult; they maintain a sense of life achievement and absence of deep regret. Each stage builds to the next guiding the person to reach old age with a sense of life achievement, thus completing the life cycle. "Growth refers to an increase in physical size... Development, on the other hand, refers to the progressive acquisition of skills and the capacity to function" (Polan, & Taylor, 2007). "Erik Erikson spent time studying the cultural life of the Sioux of South Dakota and the Yurok of Northern California. He utilized the knowledge he gained of culture, environmental, and social influences to further develop his psychoanalytic theory." Freud’s theory had focused on the sexual side of development, however, Erikson’s experience with the Sioux and Yurok Native Americans helped him broaden Freud’s theory, expanding and evolving the stages to become a psychoanalytical theory (Cherry, 2010). Because of this, "Erikson's 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" (Harder, 2002).
  4. 4. Running Head: LIFE CYCLE 4 All in all, Erik Erikson’s life experiences contributed to the development of his theory. From his rough childhood, to his successful adult life, and the time Erikson spent with the Sioux and Yurok Native Americans, he was able to expand on Freud’s theory to develop his own theory. He defined himself as a self made man when he changed his last name from Homberger to Erikson. All eight stages of Erikson’s life cycle theory contribute to a successful life and a sense of completion before death. Due to his theory he will remain in history as a respected psychoanalyst and life theorist.
  5. 5. Running Head: LIFE CYCLE 5 References Boeree, G. (1997). Erik Erikson. Personality Theories, Retrieved from Capps, D. (2004). The Decades of life: relocating Erikson’s stages. Pastoral Psychology, 53(1), Retrieved from 61af-4303-b4ac-c763e2856c4a%40sessionmgr112 Cherry, K. (2010). Erik Erikson biography (1902-1994). Psychology, Retrieved from Harder, A.F. (2002). The developmental stages of Erik Erikson. Childhood Affirmations, Retrieved from Leifer, G., & Hartson, H. (2004). Growth and development across the lifespan. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. Life cycle. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from cycle Polan, E., & Taylor, D. (2007). Theories of growth and development. Journey across the life span. Retrieved from 8cca-4d21-8082-30fbeb25263c%40sessionmgr112