Erik Erikson, a well-known stage theorist, adopted Freud’s controversial theory of psychosexual development and made it into psychosocial theory. According to Erikson, the ego contributes positively and helps the development of the individual by mastering skills, ideas, and attitudes at each step of development. According to Erikson, this is what helps kids become contributing and successful members of society.
Erikson’s psychosocial theory states that there are eight stages of development that we go through in our lifetime – right from infancy to adulthood. And at each of these stages, there are going to be tasks and crises that we have to overcome to be sexual. That being said, now let’s take a look at these eight stages of psychosocial development.
Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust
Infants need to learn to trust the adults from being born to 12 months of their age. This trust builds when adults or caregivers take care of their needs. A sensitive, responsive caregiver leads to the infant seeing the world as a safe place. In case the infant is treated cruelly they will grow up mistrusting this world.
Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt
At the age of 1-3 years, toddlers start developing a sense of independence or autonomy. At this stage, he/she wants to decide to choose their toys and clothes. Denying them this independence leads them to have low self-esteem and feelings of doubt and shame.
Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt
At the stage of 3-6, kids are capable of asserting control and initiating activities. This is why kids need to be allowed to explore within the limits. This allows kids to develop a sense of purpose and self-confidence. Being unsuccessful at this stage means developing feelings of shame and guilt.
Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority
At the age of 6-12, children begin comparing themselves with their peers. This either gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride or makes them feel inadequate and inferior. Therefore, learning to not get along with peers can lead to a feeling of inferiority complex as they grow up.
Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion
At the age of 12-18, adolescents need to find their identity. Adolescents who manage to find themselves have a strong identity and can face life bravely. Whereas adolescents who are forced to conform become confused about their future and develop low self-esteem.
Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation
From the 20s through the early 40s, we feel the need to have intimate relationships. But, until and unless the previous stages have been resolved successfully, maintaining or developing healthy and successful relationships will be impossible. This leads to feelings of emotional isolation and loneliness.
Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation
From the 40s to mid-60s is the stage when one wants to find their life’s work and contribute to developing others by mentoring, volunteering, and raising kids. Failing to do this will only make the individual feel like they aren’t leaving a mark in this world.
Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair
From the mid-60s till the end of life is known as late adulthood. At this stage, we tend to reflect on life and feel either satisfied or like a failure. Those who feel proud about their accomplishments have few regrets, while others lead the end of their life with feelings of despair, depression, and bitterness.
One thing to remember here is that these eight stages are just a theory as to how an individual’s personality develops. This theory is a helpful way to understand the different challenges and conflicts we tend to face in life as we sail through it.