Erik Erikson studied first with Sigmund Freud in Austria. After his mentor died, he worked with Sigmund's daughter, Anna Freud. Like many of Freud's supporters, Erikson initially felt that his own theory was simply an elaboration of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory. Ultimately, though, he decided he disagreed with too many of Freud's key points. He felt Freud was accurate in noting that people undergo definite junctures in developing their personalities, however, believed that Freud had overemphasized the responsibility that sexual development plays and had neglected adult personality development. In his theory Erikson acknowledged eight separate phases of personality development. During every stage, he thought, the individual undergoes a "crisis" that will lead to either a healthy or an unhealthy trait. For example, if an infant's physical and emotional needs are met suitably, the infant is successful in his/her task -- developing the ability to trust others. However, a person who is hindered in a challenge may go on to the next situation, but bears the results of the unfinished task. For instance, if a toddler is restricted from learning through experience, the child develops uncertainty in his or her abilities, which may obstruct later efforts at independence. Likewise, a preschooler who is made to believe that the activities he or she initiates are bad may build up a sense of guilt that inhibits the child later. Based on this premise, if a person does not feel they can trust, they will not feel secure enough to investigate their environment and abilities enough to develop a sense of self-sufficiency. (Langley, 2000).
Stage 1: Infancy -- Age 0 to 18 months.
Crisis: Trust vs. Mistrust .
In the first year of life, infants depend on caregivers for food, warmth, and affection, and consequently need to be able to blindly trust for this provision. If their requirements are met consistently and responsively by the parents, infants will learn to trust their surroundings in general and will build up a strong attachment with the parents.