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The first published his eight
theory of human development
in his 1950 book, Childhood
The stages were included in
the chapter entitled The Eight
Ages of Man. He expanded
and refined his theory in later
books and revisions, mainly:
Identity the Life Cycle(1951);
Cycle Completed; A
Review(1982, revised 1996 by
Joan Erickson); and Vital
Involvement in Old Age(1989).
Introduction of the 8
Psychosocial (‘psycho’ relating to the
mind, brain, personality, etc. and
‘social’ which means the external
relationships and environment).
Biopsychosocial, in which “bio”
refers to life as in biological.
The theory is a basis for broad or complex
discussion and analysis of personality and
behavior, and also facilitating personal
development – of self and others. It can help
the teacher in becoming more
knowledgeable and at the same time
understanding of the various environmental
factors that affect his own and his students’
personality and behavior.
Syntonic – for the first listed “positive”
disposition in each crisis.
Dystonic – for the second listed
If a stage is managed well, we
carry away a certain virtue or
psychosocial strength which will
help us through the rest of the
stages of our lives.
Malignancy – it involves too little of the
positive and too much of the negative
aspects of the tasks, such as a person who
can’t trust others.
Maladaptation – is not quite as bad and
involves too much of the positive and too
little of the negative such as a person who
trusts too much.
Mutuality – reflects the effect of generation
on each other, especially among families,
and particularly between parents and
children and grandchildren.
Generativity – actually a named disposition
with one of the crisis stages (Generativity v
Stagnation, stage seven), reflects the
significant relationship between adults and
the best interest of children - one’s own
children, and in a way everyone else’s
children – the next generation, and all the
Psychosocial Crisis: The first
stage is infancy, is approximately
the first year or year and a half of
life. The goal is to develop trust
without completely eliminating the
capacity for mistrust. If the primary
caregivers, like the parents can
give the baby a sense of
familiarity, consistency, and
continuity, then the baby will
develop the feeling that the world
is a safe place to be, that people
are reliable and loving.
Overly trusting, even
gullible, this person cannot
believe anyone would
mean them harm, and will
use all the defenses at their
command to find an
explanation or excuse for
the person who did him
If the proper
achieved, the child
will develop the
virtue of Hope.
STAGE TWO (Early Childhood)
Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt
He begins to make choices and express his
will. If encouraged, he develops a sense of
autonomy and independence. In this stage
Erikson believes that the child may
develops a sense of doubt and shame
manifested in feelings of worthless and
incompetence. We should keep in mind that
even something as innocent as laughing at
the toddler’s efforts can lead the child to
feel deeply ashamed and to doubt his or
Impulsiveness – a sort of shameless
willfulness that leads you, in a later
childhood and even adulthood, to jump into
things without proper consideration of your
Compulsiveness – feels as if their entire
being rides on everything they do, and so
everything must be done perfectly.
If you get the proper,
positive balance of
shame and doubt,
you will develop the
virtue of willpower
STAGE THREE (Early Childhood)
Initiative vs. Guilt
Psychosocial crisis: Child begins to
explore his social and physical worlds
discovering what he can accomplish.
Erikson refers to this as a time for
developing a sense of initiative or a positive
attitude of personal accomplishment. At this
time, the child gradually becomes aware of
the various social roles presented by his
environment. In Erikson’s view, the basic
influence during this period is the child’s
families who can help him learn to be
responsible for his behavior and actions.
Ruthlessness – to be heartless or
unfeeling or be “without mercy”.
Inhibition - the inhibited person will not try
things because “nothing ventured, nothing
lost” and, particularly, nothing to feel guilty
A good balance leads to the
psychosocial strengths of purpose.
STAGE FOUR (School-age)
Industry vs. Inferiority
Psychosocial Crisis: the child’s world
broadens technical skills are learned
and feelings of competence, enlarged.
Children enter new world of the
neighborhood and the school. In
Erikson’s view, when children come to
believe that they cannot achieve
according to their school, family, or
peers, their sense of mastery will give
way to personal inferiority. Thus, they
become incapable of facing the
transitory adolescent years which lie
directly ahead. Parents must
encourage, teachers must care, peers
Narrow Virtuosity: we see this in children
who aren’t allowed to “be children” the ones
that parents or teachers push into one area
of competence, without allowing the
development of broader interests.
Inertia: this includes all of us who suffer
from the “inferiority complexes” Alfred Adler
A happier thing is to develop the right
balance of industry and inferiority – that is,
mostly industry with just a touch of
inferiority to keep us sensibly humble. Then
we have the virtue called competency.
STAGE FIVE (Adolescence)
Identity vs. Role Confusion
Psychosocial Crisis: According to Erikson,
is characterized by an identity – formation
crisis. The question “Who am I and what
can I do when I become an adult?”
confronts the adolescent. His struggle is
based not only on societal demands as an
emerging adult, but also on the pubescent
age. Since an adolescent spends more time
with his friend, the peer group now becomes
an essential source of general rules of
believes that his way
is the only way.
Repudiation – they
membership in the
world of adults and,
even more, they reject
their need for an
If you successfully negotiate this stage, you
will have the virtue Erikson called fidelity.
STAGE SIX (Young Adulthood)
Intimacy vs. Isolation
In this stage the individual develops a warm
and intimate relationship with another
person. If such sense of intimacy is not
acquired during this time of life, a sense of
isolation develop instead. Such attitude is
reflected in the ability to trust others in a
close and intimate manner.
Promiscuity – referring particularly to the
tendency to become intimate too freely, too
easily, and without any depth to you
Exclusion – which refers to the tendency
to isolate oneself from love, friendship, and
community, and to develop a certain
hatefulness in compensation.
If you successfully negotiate this stage, you
will instead carry with you for the rest of
your life the virtue Erikson calls love.
STAGE SEVEN (Middle
Generativity vs. Stagnation
The middle years of stage comprise the
productive years of adulthood. In this stage,
the individual’s productivity is gauged by his
contributions to his family and to society.
According to Erikson, the person who fails to
develop this sense of generativity becomes
preoccupied instead with his personal needs
and interests with his personal needs and
interests or both with a sense of self-
Overextension – illustrates the problem.
Some people try to be so generative that
they no longer allow time for themselves, for
rest and relaxation.
Rejectivity – too little generativity and too
much stagnation and you are no longer
participating in or contributing to society.
But if you are successfully at this
stage, you will have a capacity for
caring that will serve you through the
rest of your life.
STAGE EIGHT (Late Adulthood)
Ego Integrity vs. Despair
In the last stage, a person comes to terms
with the temporal limits of his life. It is the
fulfillment and culmination. In Erikson’s view,
it is the achievement of a sense of integrity
resulting from identification with mankind. If
a person, however, develops an attitude of
regret and fear of the end of life, then a
sense of despair emerges instead.
Presumption – this is what happens when a
person “presumes” ego integrity without
actually facing the difficulties of old age.
Disdain – by which Erikson means a
contempt of life, one’s own or anyone’s.
without fear has the
strength Erikson calls