Eric Erickson is best known for his studies with psychosocial development, or the development of a person within a social context. Eric Erickson’s theories focused primarily on the correlation of the release of sexual tension and psychosexual development. The purpose of this paper is for the author to develop a personal portrait integrating Erickson’s developmental theory, Kohlberg’s moral development, and gender and cultural influences. The author will discuss his development from birth to his current stage of development in his life as it applies to Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development and Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.
The author will also discuss gender and cultural influences in regards to how it helps shape and mold the author’s development. Eric Erickson organized life into eight stages that extend from birth to death (many developmental theories only cover childhood). Since adulthood covers a span of many years, Erikson divided the stages of adulthood into the experiences of young adults, middle aged adults and older adults. While the actual ages may vary considerably from one stage to another, the ages seem to be appropriate for the majority of people. One of the main elements of Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory is the development of ego identity.
Ego identity is the conscious sense of self that we develop through social interaction. According to Erikson, our ego identity is constantly changing due to new experience and information we acquire in our daily interactions with others. In addition to ego identity, Erikson also believed that a sense of competence also motivates behaviors and actions. Each stage in Erikson’s theory is concerned with becoming competent in an area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a sense of mastery, which he sometimes referred to as ego quality or ego strength. If the stage is managed poorly, he person will emerge with a sense of inadequacy. The focus of this paper will be on how Erickson’s theories on psychosocial development and Kohlberg’s stages of moral development can be used to survey my development in the different stages of life. In discussing Erickson’s developmental theory, there are eight levels of development. The first stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development occurs between birth and one year of age and is the most fundamental stage in life. The first stage of Erickson’s development that I will discuss is Trust vs. Mistrust. I was born on October 23rd 1978, into a two parent household.
My parents were fairly new to the married life, had recently relocated from Ohio to Alabama, and attempting to get settled into their new careers and life. Through careful planning my parents were able to make the transition from one environment and lifestyle to the next. Researchers have found that conscientiousness is closely associated with better adjustments to new environments and circumstances (Bardi & Ryff 2007). Since the time that I have been old enough to remember my parents have always done their best to provide me with everything I needed and some of what I wanted.
My home environment provided me with a safe environment to explore and learn age appropriate activities. My parents were consistent in their care for me which allowed me to gain trust in them and feel safe and secure in the world. The second stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during early childhood and is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control. The next stage of development in my narrative is the stage of Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. During this period of time my parents work with me on being potty trained.
I remember my parents being very happy with me going to the bathroom and not wetting my clothes anymore. I also begin to form a sense of self and develop interest in particular toys and could verbalize to my parents foods that I liked and did not like. The third stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during the preschool years; children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interaction. The next stage of development that I will address is the stage of Initiative vs. Guilt.
During this period of my life I was fortunate enough to attend pre-school. While attending pre-school I was able to develop my social skills and how to share with my peers. I remember having a very good pre-school teacher in Mrs. Crockett. Mrs. Crockett helped my development by reinforcing the importance of positive behavior and manners. Those are qualities that I still hold true to this day. The fourth stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during the early school years from approximately age 5 to 11. The next stage of development in my narrative is Industry vs. nferiority. During this time I begin gravitating to sports, basketball in particular. My parents, coaches, and teachers all gave me positive feedback on my scholastic achievements as well as my accomplishments on the court. During this time I took a lot of pride in my accomplishments and abilities. This stage helped shape and nurture my confidence in completing personal goals throughout life. The fifth stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during adolescence; children are exploring their independence and developing a sense of self.
The next stage of development that I will address is Identity vs. Confusion. This stage stands out to me because of the many peer related mistakes that I made. Fortunately my parents and other positive role models help lay a strong foundation of morals and values for me to reference in times of doubt. I emerged from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control. The sixth stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during the period of early adulthood when people are exploring personal relationships.
The next stage of development in my narrative is Intimacy vs. Isolation. In this stage of my life I felt like all of the above mentioned stages played a role in how I interacted with members of the opposite sex. Fortunately I have a strong sense of personal identity, which helps when trying to form an intimate relationship with another person. I am currently happily married and experiencing a secure and committed relationship. The seventh stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during adulthood; we continue to build our lives, focusing on our career and family.
The next stage of development that I will discuss is Generativity vs. Stagnation. I feel that my wife and I are just reaching this stage of our lives and we are beginning our family and getting our career’s in order. I am looking back on my life and realizing that most things that were important to me ten years ago are not relevant in my life today. My primary focus is on my family and career. The eighth and final stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during old age and is focused on reflecting back on life. The next and final stage of development in my narrative is Integrity vs.
Despair. Although I have not reached this stage in my life, I have given this stage much thought as I do want to reach this stage one day. I have had the privilege of observing my parents in this stage of their lives. I feel that in this stage of my parent’s life they feel proud of their accomplishments and feel a sense of integrity. Researchers have found that there is a direct correlation between autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance (Ryff, Singer, ; Burton 2008).
Even though my parents are in fairly good health and are capable of handling their everyday business, my siblings and I still feel the need to make ourselves available if our parents should need us. Researchers have found that autonomy in old age, however, partly expressed in the opportunity for older people to head their households, hinged on some support from an adult child living at home or on the presence of unrelated individuals in the household (Hareven 1981).
When comparing Kohlberg’s theory of moral development to Erickson’s theory of development I see some differences, such as Kohlberg’s theory focused on the moral judgment in children rather than on their actions and Erickson’s theory was more of a cause and effect based theory, but both theories are intertwined in that they require one to make choices that will ultimately affect their wellbeing and those around them.
I do not think that gender, environmental, cultural, or ethnic influences solely play a deciding factor in one’s psychosocial development or moral development. According to Crandell, Crandell, and Vander Zaden(2009)people in all cultures and walks of life employ the same basic moral concepts, including justice, equality, love, respect, and authority.