Wednesday, April 10, 2013
McAdams (2009), “Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development lays out eight stages of life through which individuals progress, from birth to death” (p. 348). The first stage trust vs. mistrust takes place at the age of infancy. The second stage autonomy vs. shame and doubt takes place at the age of early childhood. The third stage initiative vs. guilt takes place at the age of childhood or play age. The fourth stage industry vs. inferiority takes place at the age of childhood or school age. The fifth stage identity vs. role confusion takes place at the age of adolescence and young adulthood. The sixth stage intimacy vs. isolation takes place at the age of young adulthood. The seventh stage generativity vs. stagnation or self-absorption takes place at the age of mature adulthood. The eighth stage ego integrity vs. despair takes place at old age. These stages set forth an agenda for psychological individuality by specifying the central psychosocial concerns one faces during that period in his or her life (McAdams, 2009).
As of today, I find myself in the sixth stage intimacy vs. isolation of Erikson’s eight stages of life. This stage takes place during young adulthood, between the ages of 18 to 40. I am close to the end of this stage, seeing that I will be 38 at the end of this year. The psychosocial issue of this stage is of course intimacy vs. isolation. The associated virtue of this stage is love. Although I am in the intimacy vs. isolation stage the identity vs. role confusion stage contributed to my current stage. In the identity vs. role confusion stage two questions were asked; “how do I fit into the adult world” and “who am I” which enabled me to have a fully formed sense of self (Cherry, 2012). Having a fully formed sense of self was essential for me to form intimate relationships (Cherry, 2012). Therefore I answered the question of this stage “how can I love” unconsciously.
I knew one day I wanted love and wanted children of my own to love. I unconsciously knew I could love by loving someone else. I believe I unconsciously have loved others by just forming intimate relationships with them. Unconsciously love has happened like with my ex-wife, I unconsciously knew I could love her by fostering intimacy with her. Three times now I have had children and each time I have unconsciously just loved them when they were born without thinking to love them. I once was married and had three children, but now I am a single father of three children. I may indeed become married again or at least form an intimate relationship with a significant other therefore, I choose intimacy over isolation.
My youngest child of three children Xavier, who is 4, is in the third stage initiative vs. guilt. This coming fall Xavier will enter preschool or Head Start at the same school that my other two children his brother and sister attend. What Xavier experienced in the autonomy vs. shame and doubt stage contributes to his current stage. In this stage the psychosocial issue is of course initiative vs. guilt. The associated virtue of this stage is purpose. During this stage Xavier has started to assert his power and control over the environment through directing play and other social interactions (Cherry, 2012). He can do this by taking initiative through planning activities, accomplishing tasks, and facing challenges (Cherry, 2012). In this stage, I as a parent and caregiver need to encourage his exploration and help him to make the appropriate choices (Cherry, 2012).
I know I can never be discouraging or dismissive of him, because I do not want him to feel ashamed and become too dependent of others. Xavier’s play and imagination are an important role of this stage and his sense of initiative will be reinforced by giving him the freedom and encouragement to play (Cherry, 2012). “How can I be powerful” is the central question of this stage (McAdams, 2009). I believe Xavier unconsciously has answered this question. Although he has asked several times how he can be strong like me, his father and even tells me he is strong like me. At his age I think he has become powerful in his actions as a loving son and brother, actions of powerful friendships, imagination, thoughts, skills, and awareness of who he is within our family. I believe he answered the question unconsciously, but I may be wrong, and he may have indeed answered it consciously. Xavier’s success in this stage will lead to his sense of purpose, and failure will result in a sense of guilt (Cherry, 2012).
In my life I have gone through six stages of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Each stage has contributed to the next stage. I am nearly at the end of the sixth stage intimacy vs. isolation, and it will contribute to the next stage generativity vs. stagnation or self-absorption. Throughout these six stages I have gone through and experienced six psychosocial issues, six central questions, and six associated virtues. If time is on my side I have two more stages to experience of psychosocial issues, central questions and associated virtues.
McAdams, D. P. (2009). The person: A new introduction to personality psychology. (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Cherry, K. (2012). About.com: Psychology. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/intimacy-versus-isolation.htm
Cherry, K. (2012). About.com: Psychology. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/initiative-versus-guilt.htm