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Erik Erikson Developmental Theory

            "Human personality in principle develops according to steps predetermined in the growing person's readiness to be driven toward, to be aware of and to interact with a widening social radius." These are the words of Erik Erikson, a brilliant American psychoanalyst. Erikson being a student of the basic notions of Sigmund Freud's developmental theory (Freudian theory) believed that Freud misjudged some important dimensions of human development. According to Erikson, humans develop throughout their life span, while Freud said that our personality is shaped by the age of five. Erikson believed that childhood is very important in personality development. He accepted many of Freud's theories, including the id, ego, and superego, and Freud's theory of infantile sexuality. But Erikson rejected Freud's attempt to describe personality solely on the basis of sexuality. I personally tend to agree with Erikson's theory over the Freudian theory. As human beings we develop, change, and learn from the cradle to the grave. Erikson developed eight psychosocial stages that humans encounter throughout their life. The stages are Trust vs. Mistrust, Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, Identity vs. Role Confusion, Intimacy vs. Isolation, Generativity vs. Stagnation, and Integrity vs. Despair. All of these stages in Erikson's theory are present at birth, but unfold according to an innate plan, with each stage building on the preceding stages, and paving the way for subsequent stages. Each stage is characterized by a psychosocial crisis, which is based on physiological development, but also on demands put on the individual by parents and society. Ideally, the crisis in each stage should be resolved by the ego in that stage, in order for development to proceed correctly. The outcome of one stage is not permanent, but can be altered by later experiences. Everyone has a mixture of the traits attained at each stage, but personality development is considered successful if the individual has more of the "good" traits than the "bad" traits.

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