Erikson?s Model of Development
Eriksons Model of Development
The works of Erik Homburger Erikson has always been highly esteemed by the classical and contemporary schools of applied psychology and psychoanalysis. After a thorough analysis of the structure, the nature and the scope of his research, it can be logically recapitulated that he claimed himself to be a successor of Sigmund Freud, although serious discrepancies in their interpretative approaches have been identified.
Personally I find his theory valid and legitimate. Specifically, I want to highlight the relevance of the identity crisis conceptual framework, which has been corroborated by his research, as well as by a significant number of subsequent studies. The cornerstone of his theoretical paradigm concerning the development of a typical, normally functioning human being is that at each stage of his life, a human being encounters a number of obstacles (sometimes referred to as internal conflicts) which he is expected to overcome. Unless this process is successfully completed, the process of development is definitely ceased and a human being hereby becomes mentally incapacitated and serious deviations are diagnosed.
The part of the theory which I mostly admire and which I consider to be the most academically legitimate and valid is his assumption that our living cycle is integrally divided into eight stages. Systematically, the concepts of virtue, psychosocial crisis, actor (significant relationships aspect) and existential questions play a vital role here. The relevance of his classification has been approved by a number of his own longitudinal research studies, as well as by the subsequent ones of longitudinal and cross-sectional natures. Besides, the structure of his theory heavily relies on the apparatus already developed (and already tackled by peer bias and criticism) by Sigmund Freud. In particular, the author leverages the concept of ego and superego.
However, in my view, some theoretical postulates still lack academic credibility (Eagle, 1997). The most disputable issue here is the formulation of the existential questions among the infants and the young children. The way the author has formulated these questions cannot be supported by the empirical studies due to the fact that the targeted cohorts are physically incapable of responding to the interviews during the studies. They have been based on the most probable assumptions, which considerably diminish their academic credit.
Several parallels are drawn between the study of Erikson and Sigmund Freud. However, Erikson does not recognize that sexual impulse remains the predominant one in the course of the human beings social and physical development.
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As far as my personal experience suggests, I must confess that the theory apparatus elaborated by professor Erikson is entirely legitimate. Since I am not practically capable of exploring the relevance of his postulates at the infancy and childhood stages of my personal development (primarily due to the fact that I lack sufficient memories, and interviewing my parents brought no viable results, since they lack psychological background and could not provide me with sufficient replies), I find it reasonable to focus on the stages of fidelity and love virtues (adolescence and young adulthood stages respectively).
The essential questions formulated by the author in this regard are who I am and what I can be. Indeed, the stage deals not only with love and other emotional feelings. At this stage, I was constantly, both consciously and unconsciously, pondering over the question of what I really want to be (in terms of my further professional occupation, as well as my social role) and how it matches my skills. The second step was to analyze and conclude whether particular skills should be cultivated or developed additionally. In entire accordance with the principles developed by Erikson, the identity conflict emerged at two paradigms. The first one that emerged was whether I possess sufficient skills and background to enter a college to continue my education, while the second one was whether I was attractive enough to communicate excessively with the prospective intimate partners. Truly, at this stage, me and the overwhelming majority of my peers set the boundaries for our future lives socially and professionally, deciding on what field to major in and whom (possibly) to marry (what skills and traits should our partner possess to become eligible).
The second stage I find reasonable to explore in the context of this essay is the stage of young adulthood, which accentuates the role of intimacy versus isolation traits. Once my personal identity (as well as the identities of my friends) has been totally formulated, we started to do our best to stabilize it and to diminish the factors which can hypothetically deprive us of the benefits we received and value. In full accordance with the theoretical framework of the discussed scholar, we all tried to make long-term commitments to them.
I believe that it is necessary to illustrate additionally that Erikson himself studied deeply the biography of the famous Indian civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi. This public figure established the boundaries of his ego at the stage of adulthood and kept his fidelity to his occupation throughout his entire life. In some way it can be suggested that his social orientation was relatively deformed, since his family life suffered for the sake of his political career, although an unconventional one.
However, I am firmly convinced that the most psychologically interesting stage of a human beings development is the stage of the so-called late adulthood, when a person summarizes his life. My grandparents, being religious people, every day thank the Lord in their prayers for the lives they received. On the other hand, their neighbors, chronic alcoholics, constantly grumble that they would like to have an opportunity to live their lives differently.