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Erikson's Psychosocial Theory: A Qualitative Study

From the time of conception until death, humans experience incessant changes. One would experience biological, psychological and cognitive changes as one advances in life. It contributes to a change in the manner one considers and behaves. Development is the systematic change that takes place in an individual during the period of life (Shaffer and Kipp 2009: 2). The development of a individual is inspired by factors of character and nurture. Based on these factors, various psychologists have suggested theories regarding human development. Specifically, psychologists have been enthusiastic about how one's personality develops; whether personality is inherent or whether it's molded by one's experiences and environment.

Among such psychologists was Erik Erikson who proposed the psychosocial theory of development. Erikson was a follower of Freud and accepted many of the idea's that Freud created, however Erikson made alterations to Freud's ideas and launched the idea of psychosocial development (Erikson 1963, 1982 cited in Shaffer and Kipp 2009: 44). Freud presumed that the levels of personality development was influenced by the maturation of sex instinct, this theory was termed psychosexual development (cite needed). Psychosexual theory of development centers essentially on the unconscious head. The id, ego and superego will be the components of personality and these three components develop relating to the stages of psychosexual development. You can find 5 stages of psychosexual development; the dental, anal, phallic, latency and lastly the genital stage. The extent to which conflicts are settled in each one of these stages effect one's personality later in life. Erikson changed this theory by emphasizing more on public and cultural influences on development and personality, as opposed to the influence of sex instinct and urges. The psychosocial theory of development constructs some 8 stages of psychosocial turmoil that one would face at various periods of life. Each level consists of a significant crisis. Enough time of which each crisis emerges is dependent on factors of biological maturation and interpersonal demands that one would come across during various stages of life. The magnitude to which a person resolves each issue affects the emotional development and personality of the individual (citation needed). Early on life encounters, therefore, are assumed to truly have a significant impact on the way in which one would think about the world, the way you might form social human relationships and on what you might think about oneself.

To determine how Erikson's psychosocial theory of development may contribute in describing how interpersonal romantic relationships, sentiment and personality are designed, particularly in individuals of the Sri Lankan context, a organised interview was produced and 2 individuals were interviewed structured about how he/she looks back on his/her life. The interview provides method of obtaining qualitative data about the individuals' lives with respect to the psychosocial development that has and is taking place. The sample for the interview consisted of a 25 season old Sri Lankan male who was wedded and a 50 season old Sri Lankan woman who was simply divorced, sole and got 2 children. The occupation of the participant A (the male participant) was mechanised engineering and participant B (the female participant) functioned as a private secretary. Before the interview was conducted, each participant was briefed on the purpose of the interview and the method in which the interview would happen, then were asked if he/she would like to participate in the study. Information about the expected length of time of the interview and the type of the questions that would be asked was also given to the participants before the interview so that the participant would be completely aware of what the consequences of taking part in the study would be.

The interview was a organised interview; 38 available concluded questions were devised and there is typically 4 questions associated with each one of the 8 periods of Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. Following the participants agreed to participate in the analysis a in person interview was conducted at each of the individuals' homes. Prior to the interview began the individuals were briefed on confidentiality being retained, their rights never to answer questions that they wished never to answer plus they were given the right to withdraw at any moment they wished. The participants then agreed upon a consent form and the interview proceeded.

Stage 1: Trust versus mistrust

The first stage of psychosocial development is believed to happen during infancy (0 - 12 months). At this time the relationship between your infant and mother is worth focusing on. In order to cultivate a wholesome balance between trust and mistrust the newborn shouldn't be overprotected and overindulged the toddler should be cared for and not neglected. If the infant is abused or neglected at this time the infant's basic trust will be damaged and mistrust would be fostered. When one has mistrust one will expect that the world would bring more bad his/her way than good. You can find it hard to trust friends and loved ones, even contemporary society. Mistrust could even cause a person to be more avoidant of contact with risks because the average person feels that the globe is dangerous and inconsistent. Contrastingly, if the infant is overprotected by the mom the infant may create a false sense of trust. Insulation from any form of unexpectedness may amount to sensory distortion and the individual may become naive. Such folks are generally optimistic. Within the interview conducted, questions were asked to determine how trusting the participant was of the world. When asked in what the participant thinks the future contains, participant A stated that he was positive to a certain extent about the future and the replies that participant A provided discovered that he did not seem to have a problem in trusting other individuals. Participant A believed that the globe is good yet has its awful when asked if the participant thinks the globe is an undesirable place. Making use of the psychosocial theory of development participant A appears to have a wholesome balance between trust and mistrust. So that it can be inferred that as a child the participant obtained sufficient passion and care without having to be overprotected. Participant B, however, was pessimistic about the future, failed to see any good on the planet and didn't seem to be to trust other individuals with ease. Mistrust appears to have fostered more in participant B which may be because of this of disregard during infancy. However the degree to which this theory is effective can be of question. Participant B's mistrust may not be a consequence of experience during infancy, instead it may be an experience from later in life. The individual is divorced and the failed marriage may be an improved reason why the individual is pessimistic and finds it difficult to trust others.

Stage 2: Autonomy versus shame and doubt

Between the age of 1 and 3, exerting freedom becomes an integral challenge for the child. The child commences to get control over his/her body and can explore area. If the child is ridiculed for his/her makes an attempt at autonomy the child may become doubtful and ashamed of controlling situations and problems on his/her own. Participant A's responses to the questions based on autonomy required no extremes but rather dropped on middle ground. The responses disclosed that the participant made decisions separately and did not rely on others for matters that would have to be taken care of himself, however would seek help once in a while when in doubt. Participant B, however, still relied on parents for assistance when coming up with important decisions in life and would require assistance when facing difficulty or if doubtful in what to do. Therefore, it could be assumed that participant B is less autonomous than participant A. Yet, in the Sri Lankan culture it is not common to find individuals still seeking his/her parents for advice. People in Sri Lankan culture are meticulously knit. Even as children grow into adults, the relationship with parents stay strong and it is quite common to realize that elderly parents continue to live with their adult children and grandchildren. This closeness and confidence could be the reason why individuals still ask parents for advice even as an adult, not because of autonomy as a toddler. In such a sense Erikson's theory may be ethnocentric and not quite relevant in Sri Lankan culture.

Stage 3: Effort versus guilt

This stage takes place between the years of 3 and 6 years. In addition to autonomy, the kid now learns attributes of planning and starting tasks for the sake of being lively. Guilt is because being reprimanded for excitement and experimentation. At this stage in a child's life Erikson shows the value of adventure and play no subject how puerile it could may actually the mother or father of supervisor. Stopping an individual from initiation at this time may have an effect on the individual's assurance to start in later life and may instil fear that the individual is incorrect or would be disapproved. Nevertheless the child should still go through the consequence of flaws and find out through learning from your errors so the child will not turn out to be irresponsible so that the child's conscience builds up therefore that he/she does not become boastful in nature.

Stage 4: Industry versus inferiority

From age 7 to 12, the child's cognitive functions increase greatly. The competence of the kid develops and the child begins to engage in significant activity. Engagement in extracurricular activities in school may help the kid prepare to enter into life and be industrious as an adult. Contrastingly if the kid does not experience the satisfaction that success brings, experiences failing in assignment work and activities, or is denied the possibility to develop his/her unique potential and take part in college activities, in later life the individual may feel unproductive, unable to add or work in groups. Moreover, a degree of inability is important too so that the child has a feeling of modesty. The total amount between modesty and competence if important. One builds up the virtue goal if successful in this stage.

Stage 5: Personal information versus role dilemma

Adolescence (age group 12 to 18 years) is a significant level of development of a person. One becomes ever more independent, one commences to think of the future in terms of the job one needs to take up and the sort of lifestyle one wishes to follow. To make such decisions one must learn the roles that one will occupy as a grown-up. What should happen at the end of this level, corresponding to Bee, is "a reintegrated sense of personal, of what one wishes to do or be, and of your respective appropriate gender role" (Bee 1992 cited in McLeod 2013). Individuals start to explore choices and based on the result of such explorations, one's identification is produced. Forcing an individuality upon a youth would cause diffusion in which the individual lacks any form of commitment or interest. The youngsters would become rebellious or unhappy. In failing woefully to form one's personal information, you can experience foreclosure where in fact the young ones adopts an identification of convenience precipitately. The young ones that is unable to form his/her own identity becomes baffled about his/her role in modern culture. Individuals would develop the virtue of fidelity if successful in this stage. Although Erikson's theory details the development of fidelity the idea does not explain how the development occurs. It really is difficult to check the theory in this area which is not falsifiable. The relationship between exploration as a youngsters and development of personal information is vague. Participant A in the interview acquired tight parents and had not been permitted to explore and adventure as a teenager yet appears to have fidelity and a solid individuality. This contradicts the psychosocial theory of development.

Stage 6: Intimacy versus isolation

In young adulthood (18 to 40 years), one starts to share oneself and one's space more intimately with another specific. It starts with exploring a romance with an individual other than a member of family, which in turn could lead toward a long-term commitment to that person. Avoidance of intimacy and determination to a marriage may lead to isolation or even melancholy. If a person succeeds in this stage the individual produces the virtue of love. However in a country that has organized marriages it is difficult to observe how willing the first is to share one's personal space with another. It might you need to be that the average person is compelled to be in a committed romance with another individual. The obligation to stay in the relationship would be present without love. In this case determining the successfulness of an individual at this stage is difficult.

Stage 7: Generativity versus stagnation

This level occurs during middle adulthood (between 40 and 65 years). The average person starts off to feel more involved in the world and a part of a dilemna. Moreover, one would become more beneficial in terms of your respective profession or in conditions of elevating one's children. Some may even get involved in community activities and organizations that could benefit society. Failing in being generative in these ways would cause an individual to feel unproductive and stagnant in population. This level is important for the development of the virtue health care.

Stage 8: Integrity versus despair

As one steps into later years (65 years and over), one becomes unable to be as profitable as you use to be. Therefore at this stage one starts off to reflect on one's life in conditions of how satisfied one has been how he/she lived life. Integrity grows as a result of one discovering oneself as successful in life. Regarding to Erikson, if an example may be disappointed and feels one did not accomplish the life span goals one had, the average person would develop despair.

Whilst the psychosocial theory can be an aid in acquiring central development issues in the 8 periods, it continues to be difficult to use the theory as a conclusion of as to how and why such development happens and Erikson acknowledges this (Erikson 1964 cited in McLeod 2013). There is absolutely no explicit justification for the way the amount of development at one level affects the amount of development at another level. The psychosocial theory of development is said to be general nonetheless it is difficult to apply in certain ethnicities. For the solution of crises there is absolutely no universal mechanism that can be applied. It could change from culture to culture. Moreover, the psychosocial theory of development, similar to the psychosexual theory of development, is not falsifiable and is also difficult to test empirically. The lack of empiricism is one reason developmentalists like other viewpoints of development, usually the learning viewpoint, rather than the psychoanalytical point of view.

Despite the criticisms of the psychosocial theory of development, there continues to be support for Erikson's 8 levels of personality development (McAdams 2001). The emphasis on the fact that individuals undergo development positively rather than passively which humans are not at the mercy of irrational urges is a quality that Erikson presented after increasing Freud's psychosexual theory (Erikson 1963 cited in Shaffer and Kipp 2009: 44). Many find it easier to allow that humans are rational and there is relationship of both biology and sociable influences, with ego playing a larger role than id. The psychosocial theory indeed has provided understanding to the development that occurs through various levels of life. The impact that connections with family, friends and peers is wearing development has been brought to light and this theory can be employed to the training setting, work environment and even help improve parenting methods. Therefore despite the constraints of the psychosocial theory, the contribution to the field of developmental mindset that Erikson has made, in conditions of the psychosocial phases of development, is obviously valuable.

List of References

McAdams, D. P. (2001) 'The Psychology of Life Testimonies'. Overview of General Mindset 5 (2), 100

McLeod, S. (2013) Erik Erikson [online] available from <www. simplypsychology. org/Erik-Erikson. html> [19 March 2014]

Shaffer, D. R. , and Kipp, K. (2009) Developmental Psychology: Youth and Adolescence. 8th edn. Australia: Cengage Learning

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