Erik Erikson’s Theory of Development


Erik Erikson’s theory presents powerful ideas and concepts that can support the changing needs of many people. The article “Identity Development throughout the Lifetime: An Examination of Eriksonian Theory” by Justin Sokol offers a detailed analysis of Erikson’s theory of development. According to the class materials, identity development is something that occurs in every psychosocial stage. Identity development occurs even after adolescence.

The class readings have also explored the strengths of Erikson’s theory. The theorist refined and extended Sigmund Freud’s theory in order to produce the best arguments. This knowledge explains why Erik Erikson “introduced new aspects such as healthy personality, the grid of psychosocial stages, ego identity, and the epigenetic principles in his psychosocial theory” (“Erikson’s Variation on Freud’s Theme,” 2004, p. 95). The ideas gained from the class materials can support many individuals and professionals.

History of Sigmund Freud’s Theory

Most of Erikson’s ideas come from Sigmund Freud’s Personality Development Theory. According to Freud, the experiences and ideas gained during childhood reshapes the personality of every person. The theory also explains how “the experiences of a child will determine his or her future” (Karcher & Benne, 2007, p. 6). Such experiences also determine the nature of relationships established by many adults. According to the theorist, every childhood experience determines the manner in which different adults develop their personalities. The theorist offers five unique stages of human development. These include “the oral, anal, latent, phallic, and genital stages” (Karcher & Benne, 2007, p. 3). These stages occur within the first 13 years after birth. The final stage makes it easier for a person to fulfill his or her adult duties.

Erikson accepted most of the ideas presented in Sigmund’s theory. However, he strongly believed that “such stages required new amendments” (Karcher & Benne, 2007, p. 3). This fact explains why Erikson’s psychosocial theory is a refinement of Freud’s psychosexual model. Erik Erikson also explored most of the crises encountered in different stages of development. This practice made it easier for the theorist to present a powerful model of human development.

A Detailed Description of Erikson’s Theory

The theorist used eight stages of development in order to support his theory. He distributed “the eight stages throughout a person’s lifespan” (Karcher & Benne, 2007, p. 3). These stages include “infancy (0-1.5 years), early childhood (1.5-3), play age (3-5), school age (5-12), adolescence (12-18), young adult (18-40), adulthood (40-65), and maturity” (Haber, 2006, p. 154). These stages are characterized by unique crises. Such crises determine the virtues developed in every developmental stage. Erikson examined “the role of a person’s society and culture in his or her development” (Haber, 2006, p. 155). The theorist also identified the conflicts encountered by children and teenagers.

The “human ego develops through continued resolution of different crises in the society” (Haber, 2006, p. 157). This knowledge explains why “children establish a sense of trust” (Haber, 2006, p. 157). They also develop “a sense of identity” (Haber, 2006, p. 159). This fact explains why Erikson’s theory focuses on the adaptive aspects of the ego. According to the theory, there is “room for continued development and growth throughout a person’s life” (Sokol, 2009, p. 143). The theory also explores how every stage determines a person’s future identity. The “epigenetic principle also explains how personality development follows a unique order” (Sokol, 2009, p. 143).

Identifying the Unique Aspects of the Theory

Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory has gained new ideas and concepts from different scholars. Sokol’s article supports the issue of identity development throughout a person’s life. The theory explains how different children develop unique identities and virtues. Such virtues are associated with the crises encountered during the early stages of development. The “identities formed during such stages determine the virtues associated with adulthood” (Sokol, 2009, p. 143).

That being the case, identity development continues in every stage. New studies have also supported the theory because it encourages human beings to deal with various challenges. Every person develops a unique personality depending on the experiences and challenges encountered in the society. This knowledge explains why a person’s culture can reshape his or her virtues. Every psychosocial stage presents unique challenges and crises. This knowledge explains “why human growth is the movement from non-ego identity to ego identity” (Sokol, 2009, p. 144).

According to Sokol (2009, p. 143), “human beings tend to master their surrounding environments”. This approach encourages them to deal with the issues and challenges affecting them. This practice makes it easier for them to embrace new values in order to succeed. The author also examines how human beings perceive different events in the society. Human growth “is therefore a continuous process that takes place until death” (Faris & McCarroll, 2010, p. 19). Many studies have supported Erikson’s theory because it addresses the gaps in Freud’s theory.

This knowledge also explains why “the theory is currently popular in different learning institutions and social settings” (Sokol, 2009, p. 143). Some analysts have also examined the weaknesses associated with Erikson’s psychosocial theory. For instance, the model does not identify “the major causes of human crises and development” (Haber, 2006, p. 169). The theorist fails to identify the best practices to deal with various crises and psychosocial conflicts (Faris & McCarroll, 2010). This weakness explains why many people are unable to make appropriate decisions. Such weaknesses have discouraged many individuals from using the theory.

How Professionals Can Use the Theory Today

The strengths of Erikson’s theory make it applicable in many fields. The theory explores the significance of different psychosocial stages. These “stages are crucial because they support the entire lifespan” (Faris & McCarroll, 2010, p. 18). The existence of discrete developmental stages encourages parents to bring up their children in a proper manner.

Parents can use this theory to empower, guide, and mentor their children. This approach makes it easier for every child to develop the best virtues. The practice will make them confident and happy. Parents can use the theory to make their children more productive. This is possible because the theory supports the best practices. This approach will “make it easier for many parents to support the changing expectations of their children” (Haber, 2006, p. 165).

Many people become unhappy after failing to achieve their goals. A sense of hopelessness emerges whenever a person fails to achieve his or her goals. This situation encourages managers and mentors to support the needs of their clients. For instance, mentors can use their skills to empower their clients (Brown & Lowis, 2003). The practice will encourage them to identify the best goals in their lives. Every mentor will ensure his or her clients embrace the best practices. The individual will also focus on every attainable goal. According to Erikson’s theory, human growth is a continuous process. This fact explains why a large number of employees can benefit the most from their managers.

Motivation is a powerful concept because it empowers many individuals in the society. Professional counselors and religious leaders can use this theory to motivate their clients. Every stage has its unique virtues and goals. Human beings should use these arguments in order to achieve the best outcomes. The practice will make it easier for them to identify their weaknesses and opportunities. This knowledge will also empower every individual in the society. Managers can use the theory to ensure their employees are contented with their jobs. The theory will “make it easier for more managers to re-pattern the experiences of their workers” (Brown & Lowis, 2003, p. 420). This practice will increase the level of performance in the targeted firm.

Many scholars have used this theory to develop their models of human development. A good example is the famous attachment theory. The theory examines “how different children begin to trust the people around them” (Brown & Lowis, 2003, p. 420). This sense of trust encourages more children to develop the best relationships with other people in the society. Failure to develop this kind of trust will make the child confused. Caregivers and counselors “can use Erikson’s theory to empower such individuals” (Faris & McCarroll, 2010, p. 19). The practice will encourage more people to develop better and meaningful relationships.

Many educators “can use the theory to design the best toys and games that will encourage their learners to achieve their goals” (Haber, 2006, p. 168). Teachers can use different Social Interaction Games (SIGs) in order to ensure their learners become confident. Such games include “hide and seek” and “football”. These games will make it easier for every student to embrace the power of teamwork. They will also “develop trust and have a sense of purpose their lives” (“Erikson’s Variation on Freud’s Theme,” 2004, p. 103). Many teachers have used the theory to support the needs of their children. Every teacher can “use better games and activities whenever teaching his or her students with various learning needs” (Faris & McCarroll, 2010, p. 19). This approach will ensure the targeted learners achieve their academic goals.

Many psychologists and psychoanalysts have used the theory to support the needs of their clients. Such professionals begin by identifying the development stage of every targeted client. This knowledge makes it easier for the psychoanalysts to utilize the best concepts and ideas. This understanding has made it easier for them to deal with various behavioral problems (Haber, 2006). A large number of people have benefited from such practices. The theory also powerful concepts that can address the developmental crises associated with every stage.

Every psychologist should use this theory in order to achieve the best outcomes. Many nurses should also use the theory to support the psychological and emotional needs of their patients (Karcher & Benne, 2007). Healthcare should be a holistic practice that focuses on the best medical outcomes. In conclusion, Erikson’s theory presents powerful ideas that can support the needs of many people in the society. Erik Erikson managed to refine Freud’s theory in order to produce a powerful model. Human beings should therefore consider the aspects of this theory in order to achieve their potentials.

Reference List

Brown, C., & Lowis, M. (2003). Psychosocial development in the elderly: an investigation into Erikson’s ninth stage. Journal of Aging Studies, 17(1), 415-426.

“Erikson’s Variation on Freud’s Theme. (2004). In M. Thomas (Ed.), Comparing Theories of Child Development (pp. 86-117). New York, USA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Faris, M., & McCarroll, E. (2010). Crying Babies: Answering the Call of Infant Cries. Texas Child Care, 1(1), 14-21.

Haber, D. (2006). Life Review: Implementation, Theory, Research, and Therapy. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 63(2), 153-171.

Karcher, M., & Benne, K. (2007). Erik and Joan Erikson’s Approach to Human Development in Counseling. Web.

Sokol, J. (2009). Identity Development throughout the Lifetime: An Examination of Eriksonian Theory. Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1(2), 140-147.