When Erikson developed his psychosocial theory, he used Sigmund Freud as a basis for his theory (Capps, 2011, p. 881-882). Erikson expanded on Freud’s stages because he wanted to include old age, since Freud did not explain his psychosexual theory passed adolescence (Fleming, 2004, p. 9-3). It is significant that Erikson continued his stages of human development through old age; it shows us that development continues past adolescence. In Erikson’s theory he creates eight stages of development in an individuals “lifespan,” each stage has a crisis that must be addressed before the start of the next stage, (Sneed, Whitbourne, & Culang, 2006, p. 49).
Although each stage is critical for the next stage to be successful, each stage can be “revisited” because each stage effects the next stage (Sneed Whitbourne, & Culang, 2006, p. 149). In Erikson’s first stage Trust vs. Mistrust (0-1 yr. ), the child learns to either trust or distrust their mother as she responds or doesn’t respond to the basic needs of the child crying (Mooney, 2000, p. 41). If the baby learns to trust the parents, the baby will then develop a sense of hope for the future (Erikson, 1964, p. 274).
This is significant because if the baby doesn’t establish trust with the parents, then this person as an adult will have trust issues with others later in life. In Erikson’s second stage Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (1-3 yrs. ) the child learns to explore, talk, toilet train and walk. Children in this stage should be encouraged to explore and learn as this will help them develop willpower as they mature those children who are prohibited from exploring will begin to feel doubtful about themselves (Studer, 2006, para. 13). During Erikson’s third stage Initiative vs.
Guilt (3-5 yrs. ), adults are seen as examples with regards to how a child should engage in society (Stevens, 1983, p. 47). As children learn that they can do things like adults it is essential that parents reassure their children through positive “support”; if the child does not receive positive support in activities of choice, guilt may form as a result (Table 9. 1. Comparison of Freudian and Eriksonian Stages of Development, 2014, p. 1). Children in this stage also begin to ask for what they want, this helps children in their ability to make decisions later on in life.
Parents should keep their word when their child asks for something and they say yes, if the parent does not the child may develop a sense of guilt. If the child learns to take initiative, a sense of purpose will form in the child (Erikson, 1964, p. 274). Children in Erikson’s fourth stage Industry vs. Inferiority (6-12 yrs. ), start to develop a desire to do well in school and socialize with others (Table 9. 1. Comparison of Freudian and Eriksonian Stages of Development, 2014, p. 1).
If the child is given support to do well they begin to form competence. If the child does not receive proper encouragement in school, the child may start to feel inferior (Stevens, 1983, p. 48). This is important because it lets people know that children are affected by adult’s energy. In Erikson’s fifth stage Identity vs. Role Confusion (adolescence), the teenager experiences puberty and has trouble determining how they should “… relate to the world… ” with regards to jobs, behavior and etc. (Hamman & Hendricks, 2005, p. 72; Stevens, 1983, p. 49).
Once the teenager has identified what role they will play in society the teenager will develop a sense of “loyalties” to their own values, regardless of “contradictory values” in society (Stevens, 1983, p. 50). Teenagers who do not reach this, will develop role confusion in life (Hamachek, 1988, p. 359). In Erikson’s sixth stage Intimacy vs. Isolation (young adulthood 18-35 yrs. ), young adults seek long term intimate relationships, which may possibly lead to marriage and children (Table 9. 1. Comparison of Freudian and Eriksonian Stages of Development, 2014, p. 1).
Young adults that reach this stage develop a sense of love and those that do not reach this stage tend to isolate from people (Stevens, 1983, p. 52). This stage explains why some people aren’t able to socially connect to others. Adults in Erikson’s seventh stage Generativity vs. Stagnation (middle age 35-55 yrs. ) are focused on leading the next generation ahead, and evaluating their situation (Erikson, 1964, p. 267). People who are unhappy about their current situation either change what their doing to reach their goals, or become depressed and don’t change which results in stagnation.
Adults who are able to make adequate changes to their life develop as sense of care for themselves and others (Erikson, 1964, p. 267). This is important because the older generation has a lot to offer to the younger generation. During Erikson’s last stage Ego Integrity vs. Despair (55+ yrs. ), older adults are experiencing retirement and come to terms with their life decisions even if it is good or bad (Table 9. 1. Comparison of Freudian and Eriksonian Stages of Development, 2014, p. 1; M. Braxton-Newby, Fall Class Lecture/personal communication, October 20, 2014).
This is significant because when the person comes to terms with their life decisions this leads the person to develop wisdom (Erikson, 1964, p. 274). Adults who are unable to come to terms with their life decisions see themselves as failures in society, which is despair (Table 9. 1. Comparison of Freudian and Eriksonian Stages of Development, 2014, p. 1). This explains why some older people in society just appear to be grouchy towards others. Strengths and Limitations of Erikson A strength of Erikson’s theory is each stage has the potential for a positive outcome, if each crisis can be surpassed (Markstrom & Hunter, 1999, para. ). For instance, with the stage trust vs. mistrust the person has the potential to develop a sense of hope, if that persons parents respond to their basic needs in early childhood (Markstrom & Hunter, 1999, para. 3).
Just like Piaget, Erikson’s limitation is the structure of his theory. His theory doesn’t explain in my opinion why some people make it to the next stage without having successfully completed the last stage. Another limitation of Erikson’s theory is it tends to be male biased. Meaning it does not focus enough on the differences between male and female during development (Fleming, 2004, p. -22). Erikson non-account for Social Oppressions/ Social Privileges Erikson’s theory like Piaget, does not take into account for social oppressions/privileges. For instance, it does not discuss how ethnicity, sex and social class affects each stage possible success or failure. Since his theory does not discuss how these factors affects each stage of development, it does not take into account of social oppressions/privileges.
This theory was mainly based on the male development, which is why it mainly fails to include social oppressions/privileges (Fleming, 2004, p. -22). Erikson Theory in Social work Practice Erikson’s theory can be implemented in social work practice because it covers multiple stages of development that can be used to understand the family as a whole. For instance, a social worker can used this theory to explain to a family that it is critical to respond to a babies needs, so this child can have a solid foundation of trust in people in the future. This theory can also be used by social workers to help older families understand difficult life transitions, such as their child moving out or getting divorced.