Erik Erikson Sigmund Freud Psychosocial States Psychosexual Autonomy Shame Initiative Guilt

Erik Erikson believed that Freud misjudged human development and created a series of psychosocial stages. Erikson believed that the primary motivation for human behavior was social, not sexual as Freud had predicted. Erikson also believed that the personality continued to develop throughout a person’s life. Erikson proposed eight psychosocial stages, occurring throughout a person’s life. In order to move from one stage to the next, a person must confront a certain task. The more successful the individual is at resolving the issue, the healthier the person’s development is.

The first developmental task in Erikson’s psychosocial stages is trust versus mistrust. This stage occurs during the first year of life and requires physical comfort and a void of fear of the future. Trust developing in this stage leads to an optimistic view of the world being a good place.

The second developmental task is autonomy versus shame and doubt. This stage occurs between ages 1 and 3 years. After trust is developed, infants move on to assert their independence. If a child is punished too harshly or restrained from exercising his or her independence too often, the child may develop a sense of shame and doubt.

The third developmental task is initiative versus guilt. This stage occurs during the preschool years, ages 3 to 5 years. In this stage, children are confronted with responsibility for one’s actions, possessions, and others. This new responsibility gives the child the initiative to make plans, set goals, and go on to be successful. Discouragement of accomplishments or exacerbation of failure may lead the child to feel guilty.

The fourth developmental task is industry versus inferiority. This stage occurs during the elementary school years, 6 years of age to puberty. During this stage, children become concerned with obtaining information and developing their intellectual skills. The children are eager to learn new useful skills as well as develop their social skills. However, if a child feels one’s work is incomplete, inadequate, or worthless, then the child might develop a sense of interiority.

The fifth developmental task is identity versus identity confusion. In the adolescent years between 10 and 20 years of age, individuals try to find their place in the world and determine who they are and who they want to be. It is during this time that they want to explore different roles. This exploration is important because the individual then determines which path to take. Positively supporting this exploration is healthy and leads to better choices and a positive future. If individuals are restricted, or sheltered, then there might be identity confusion.

The sixth developmental task is intimacy versus isolation. This stage occurs during an individual’s young adult life, between ages 20 and 30 years. During this stage, individuals strive to develop intimate relationships with others. In order to accomplish this, an individual must form friendships and one intimate relationship in order for intimacy to be achieved. Failure to achieve intimacy results in isolation.

The seventh developmental task is generativity versus stagnation. This stage occurs in middle adulthood, in a person’s 40s or 50s. It is during this stage that individuals seek to meaningfully aid the younger generation. People want to contribute to the next generation. When a person feels that he or she did not contribute anything helpful, he or she gets a feeling of stagnation.

The eighth developmental task is integrity versus despair. During late adulthood, at the end of someone’s life, people tend to look back at all they have done and determine if they have lived a meaningful life. If a person is satisfied with their lives, then they have achieved integrity; however, if a person is not satisfied and sees their lives filled with regrets, then they will feel despair.