Psychosocial affected his scholarly work in many ways, having been born in an extra-marital relationship. He was born at a time when extra marital sex was not allowed in society in Europe. Erikson is the father of identity formation theory.
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He admired the postulations of psychosexual theory and went ahead to develop his own theory that was more accepted in society. He extended Freud’s analysis in four major ways. He increased our understanding on the ego by showing that the ego is a creative problem solve, which emerges out of genetic, cultural and historical contexts.
Furthermore, the scholar elaborated Freud’s five stages of psychosexual theory by giving it a social dimension, which was only implied in Freud’s theory but was never clearly stated. Furthermore, he extended the concept of human personality development to embrace the entire life span from infancy to old age. Finally, he explored the impact of culture, society and history on personality development.
Each of the developmental stages has a name, which is referred to as task. The stages of development are based on emotional polarity, which he referred to as conflict. An individual encounters conflicts in each developmental stage. Emotional polarity is usually symbolized by two terms.
Each of the terms explains the expected achievement in every stage. Optimal time is presented in a way that each stage occurs in an individual’s life. If the individual develops too much emotional tasks, then he or she is likely to experience negative tasks. This condition is referred to as malignancy. The outcome of each stage can result to malignancy, mal-adaption or balance. If an individual strikes a good balance, then a virtue or psychosexual strength emerges.
According to Erikson, there are eight stages of human development. The first stage is infancy or oral sensory stage. The optimal time is 0-12 months. Emotional polarity is oral sensory. The task is trust vs. mistrust. For the child, the duty is to develop hope without eradicating the capability of doubt.
If an individual develops too much trust, then he or she develops a sensory malfunction. Such individuals are easily convinced since they believe that no one will harm them. If the individual develops mistrust, he or she develops a malignant tendency referred to as withdrawal.
Such individuals develop depression, psychosis and paranoia in adulthood. If proper balance is achieved between trust and mistrust, then the individual develops a virtue referred to as hope. The second stage is anal muscular or early childhood. The duty in this period is to develop a degree of self-sufficiency while minimizing indignity and uncertainty. The child should learn to take control of anal related behavior.
The child can develop either independence or shame. Mal-adaptive tendency in this stage is referred to as impulsiveness, where an individual jumps into doing things without proper consideration of the outcomes. Malignant tendency is compulsiveness. This is a condition where an individual feels that everything must be done perfectly. Determination signifies balance in this stage. This is realized when an individual exercises freedom and restrains from bad behavior.
The third stage is the genital locomotive stage. The optimal time in this stage is 3-6 years. The problem facing every youngster is to master new things in society. At this stage, children are active in their environments. The dominant social modality is intrusive in nature meaning that the bodies intrude into the social space. Children at this stage tend to channel activities towards specific goals and achievements. The intrusion is not only on sexual organs but also on other things.
Children try to find out why things are the way they are. The child is largely influenced by the family setting. Mal-adaptive tendency is ruthlessness, whereby an individual acts without taking caution. Malignant tendency is inhibition. Inhibited person will not try things because he or she has a negative attitude towards society. A good balance results to a social strength referred to as purpose. Purposefulness enables an individual to develop a sense of reality.
Latency or school age is the fourth stage of development according to Erikson. The optimal time is 6-12 years. The duty is to develop the capability for diligence whereas keeping away from extreme sense of inferiority. During school age, children in all cultures receive systematic instructions in form of skills, which would be needed in society. Skills help children to attain a sense of mastering. There are new demands placed upon the child at this stage.
Mal-adaptive propensity results to constricted talent. This occurs when an individual focuses on one area only. Malignant tendency is referred to as inertial. It is a condition where an individual suffers from inferiority complex. Individuals feel incompetent because they do not venture in new things. Proper balance amounts to competency. Children at this age need to develop a sense of competence, which entails the use of intelligence and skills to complete tasks that are of value to society.
The first four stages are important in human development. Other stages include adolescence stage, young adulthood, middle adulthood and late adulthood stages. It should be noted that Erikson is a Freudian theorist. He drew many of his conclusions from Freud’s theory.