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Early and Middle Adulthood Paper Essay

In this paper, I will discus two theories that are related to early and middle adulthood. Also, I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of the theories. The two theories that I have selected are Erikson’s Intimacy versus isolation to explain the early adulthood stage, and the Life Events Approach theory.

In the Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory (intimacy versus isolation stage), Intimacy can be explained as “is the ability to fuse ones identity with that of another person without fear of loosing it” (Feist, 2008, 258). It further means an ability and willingness to share a mutual trust. It involves sacrifice, compassion, commitment and so on.

Isolation on the other hand, is the psychosocial counterpart of intimacy. It is defined as “the incapacity to take chances with ones identity by sharing true intimacy” (Feist, 2008, 259). Erikson believed that there should be a fine ratio between the intimacy and isolation; as too much isolation can further cause problems such as depression.

Love is the basic strength that is gained as a result from the crisis of intimacy versus isolation). According to Erikson, love includes intimacy but it also contains some degree of isolation, because each partner is permitted to retain a separate identity (Feist, 2008).

Strengths•His theory gave a life span developmental process.

•His theory explains each stage in detail including the time frame, and the changes involved.

•He addressed it is important to move through the stages in order or it could causes crisis.

•Extended Freud’s theory into different developmental stages such as adolescence, adulthood and old age.

•Claimed that growth occurs across the life span.

•Places emphasis on social and historical influences on development in his theory•Conflict between the opposing elements of each phase produces an ego strength or basic strength.

Weaknesses•His theory is not based on scientific evidence.

•His psychosocial developmental theory does not take into consideration different cultures of the world.

•The age groups with the developmental stages do not sound consistent.

•Generalizes that everyone goes through the same psychosocial developmental stages.

The Life-Events ApproachIn the earlier version, some events such as a death of a spouse, divorce and marriage could be life changing and could influence an individual’s development. In other words, such events could force the individual to change their personality as they bring along lot of stress.

However, contemporary life-events approach emphasizes that individuals personality development does not only depend on the life events itself but also on mediating factors (physical health, family supports, for example), the individual’s adaptation to the life event (appraisal of the threat, coping strategies, for example), the life-stage context, and the sociohistorical context (Santrock, 2008).

Strengths•Helpful addition to understanding adult development.

•Takes into perspective life stressors and other mediating variables that could influence ones development.


•The life-events approach places too much emphasis on change.

•It does not adequately recognize the stability characterizes adult development.

•It overlooks daily events that could be very stressful as well for individuals.

Therefore, in this paper, I have discussed two theories related to early and middle adulthood in detail. The two theories are Erikson’s and the life events approach theory. Also, I have discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each theory.


Feist, J., & Feist, G. J. (2008) Theories of Personality (7th edition). New York: McGraw-HillSantrock, J. W. (2008). Essentials of life-span development. NY: McGraw-Hill.

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