Eriksonian Perspective Essay
Greene (1991) described Eriksonian perspective on human development from the idea of epigenesis, in which each developmental stage depends upon the resolution and completion of the previous one. This idea proposed that anything that growth has a concrete map, from which it is understood that each stage has its time of passing. The Greene’s description advocates that human development is biopsychosocial and it is present throughout the human life. It is driven by a biologically set plan with the social identity being conditioned by a social factor.
Erikson argued that the human ego strives to improvement that is toward mastery of its environment. Thus personal effectiveness being promoted by the social organization becomes the driven mechanism behind the progression of each stage. Erikson derived eight developmental stages with each the pitcome of the resolution serving as the first step toward the next progressively superior stage (Greene, 1991). Although each and different culture resolves the unique requirements for the development differently, such progression is said to be universal in all cultures and human organizations.
Thus we can observe a common denominator that according to Erikson (Greene, 1991) is a biological program toward improvement. Baltes, Lindenberger & Staudinge (1999) supported Greene’s view but attempted to view the stages of development from the practical perspective. They saw the personality’s progression through the life stages as adaptive mechanism formed and guided with the needs and pressures of the environment. In other words, they inclined more to the point of view in which the environment rather than biology was the major player in the human development.
Based on this assumption, the authors suggested to view at lifespan psychology from the individual’s standpoint suggesting that two different people would develop differently even under exactly the same environmental stimuli. Ontogenesis or the study of individual development (Baltes et al. , 1999) appears to be more practical and functional. It considers the individual’s concern of “acquisition, maintenance, transformation, and attrition” (Baltes et al. , 1999) adaptive processes throughout the lifespan.
However, such “Westernized notion” is not eagerly shared by some researchers (Coughlan & Welsh-Breetzke, 2002). They, in particular, suggested that Eriksonian perspective is male-dominated and was presented in the Westernized context thus making individualized and masculianized human development as the blanket for the theory. According to them, such propagation of “individuality, competition, self-interest, comparative judgment, and value imperialism” devalues other life systems and steps away from the diversified views of human development.
As Erikson argued (Greene, 1991) the child’s personality is first affected by the mother and then transformed through the developmental stages within and by small groups, large groups, organizations, governments, religions, and the mankind at large. The child in infancy was thought to obey inner laws of development; the inner drives that lead the child toward realization of the full potential through interaction with the environment.
Such interaction with the environment causes inner restructuring of personality traits, which, through integration and synthesis, leads toward the full and complete realization of that particular stage. From Greene’s work (1991) we learn that stage 1 which is called “Basic Trust Versus basic Mistrust” lasts through two years of age and involves the establishment of trust by the infant toward the members of the family. The most illustrative of such can be little Michelle, the character from the Full House.
Her interactions constantly bring the development of new personality that can be characterized by newly developed psychosocial strength (i. e. higher degree of confidence in her communications). The second stage, “Autonomy Versus Shame” is characterized with developing of self-control and not loosing the “face” in the process. Such emphasis on self-esteem is important because the children of this age easily become shamed and can develop psychosocial issues of holding on and letting go (Christiansen & Palkovitz,1998).
The successful resolution of this stage manifests in the child’s ability to become more independent, with some gender differences. For example (Christiansen & Palkovitz, 1998) argued that male infants on his stage of development are more individualistic than their female counterparts. Coming back to Full House characters, we indeed, see that the little Michelle (once she became a little older) tends to gravitate toward her sisters and continuously seeking their approval. The child on the stage three, Initiative Versus Guilt, develops the sense of purpose, especially noticeable during the playtime.
The sense of purpose drives the child toward the active exploration of the environment and according to Erikson (Greene, 1991) brings her to the discovery of the lack of a penis. Contrary to the Freud, Erikson believed that such and inevitable (in some societies) discovery of “inequity” is driven more so socially than biologically (Greene, 1991). The successful resolution of this stage is uninhibited involvement in play with other playmates. The children on the stage four, Industry Versus Inferiority, start school.
This is a major transition in their lives and involved changing of perspective from the small family-based group to the larger social groups. According to Eriksonian perspective, the main drive for children on this stage is to become industrial which involves developing skills and competence through meaningful performances. The crisis on this stage may occur when the child’s self-efficacy is undermined. Learning collaborative skills and experiences can be critical at this stage of development. Stacy in Full House was often intimidated by collaborative involvement trying to achieve the performance of tasks independently.
Her father and uncles often taught her that learning how to collaborate and contribute would make things easier and more effective. Almost each episode suggested how Stacy (and her sisters) put a lot of effort toward performing any task. The child experiencing successes at creating and producing some value together with his or her peers (or parents) is critical toward the stage resolution (Greene, 1991). From the age of 12 through 22, the adolescent experiences Identity Versus Identity Confusion. This is the stage when adolescent develops into the young adult and is seeking personal and unique identity.
The stability of self-representation is crucial and is manifested in the desire to develop autonomy from parents, individuality of opinions, acceptance of his or her sexual preferences, and commitment to the career choices. The struggling with the issue of selfness often causes to name such stage as the most difficult. During the stage, the influence of peer groups become most consuming and focuses of interaction. The ability to sustain loyalties is the desired outcome of the resolution for this stage.
Either polarity we can see in characters of the movies like Girl Interrupted, Mean Girls, Even Stevens, and others. It is an uninterrupted parade of searched identities and strive for the independence in opinions and attitudes. When the young adult enters stage six (22 through 34) he or she enters Intimacy versus isolation. The focus of his or her life becomes developing of the meaningful relationships and seeking the intimacy experiences. This is the stage when most adults develop meaningful relationships to start a family.
Becoming a loner and shutting down others is a crisis to compare to a resolution of this stage. Many film features exhibit important characteristics of selfless love, on one side, and ruined families on another as picturesque illustration of this stage’s characteristics. One of the features that come to mind is Click, in which the main character is taught a lesson that commitment to family is more important than personal comfort. Even the legendary Casanova in the feature with the same name shows that final offering of commitment to start a family was an only choice.
When a person advances in years and through the stages of development on to the stage 7, Generativity Versus Stagnation, he or se is concerned with teaching and guiding the next generation. The proficiency of this stage is usually takes in an ability of taking care of others (Christiansen & Palkovitz,1998). The crisis may result when the person feels stagnated without being able to share personal expertise to others, especially the younger generation. This is tremendously visible in Full House as the father of the girls is trying his best to teach and guide his children.
He is visibly content and happy when his instructions and guidance are accepted. The final stage, starting at about 60 deals with Integrity Versus Despair. This is when the person is concerned of personal usefulness to others during his or her lifetime. As Greene wrote in his book, “Integrity is achieved by individuals who have few regrets, who have lived productive lives, and who cope as well with their failures as they do with their successes. ” There is an appreciation of the life as the whole and a content of the life well lived.
People with full resolution of this stage are not afraid of death, thus develop what we call wisdom. The feature Bicentennial Man shows that quite vividly. The android becoming a human develops wisdom through the personal choice of growing old and dying in the course of the old age, although as android he could live forever. In conclusion, it is worth noticing that despite the fact that the study examines the idea of epigenesis, one can find that the transition from one developmental stage to another is not always exactly predetermined by age.
For example, fro Erikson’s argument, each stage has a certain age limit. However, we are aware that not everyone fits exactly in to such age limitation and depending upon the unique characteristics of personality, micro-culture (i. e. family), group culture (i. e. school), and macro-culture (i. e. government) the age boundaries for each stage might be different. The idea that everything that growth has a concrete map from which it is understood that each stage has a certain time of passing has been observed empirically on many living species.
However, we cannot claim that each species has exactly the same time passing for each stage of growth. There will be some differentiation. In such, experimental results that examine the life cycle of one species will weaken the above-discussed theory due to the fact that it is very difficult if not impossible to determine the exact age boundaries between the developmental stages from one representative of the species to another. My personal opinion lies in parallel with this conclusion.
Observing my own developing in contrast with Eriksonian perspective, I find that stage four, for example, and in my case, extended before age six and way after age 12. My stage five began at age 14 rather than according to Erikson’s perspective, age 12. Many a time, the stage six begin after the age of 24 (not 22) and continues through early 40s (at least with my acquaintances). Thus, the exact map of stage development is not so exact, after all, and depends upon numerous factors I already have mentioned. Penuel (1995) in his article put the focus on identity formation.
According to him, although this research primarily was based on Eriksonian perspective, there is a clear notion that each and single individual develops his or her identity not necessarily in agreement with concrete time schedule of Erikson’s stages of development. Penuel made a point that despite the fact that Vygotsky offered theoretical foundation of identity formation, the specific guidelines behind sociocultural influence on identity were not set. Penuel urged not to replace Vigotsky’s view on the identity development by Erikson’s theory but to integrate both.
Thus, the main study point in Penvue’s article would be strong but not mechanistic influence of sociocultural processes on the identity formation. The discussion presented in this work strengthen my ideas that the development of an identity is more affected by external factors, like micro-culture, group-culture, and macro-culture and is not always follows the strict age-set boundaries. Observing my own and my friends’ identity formation support this notion. Stevenson-Hinde (1994) looked at human development from the different perspective.
It is more systemic as in the behaviors are interconnected within the specific system, and in thus if one component is affected others are affected as well. Such perspective deviates even more from he straightforward Erikson’s theory. It is not anymore the stage development but the systemic organization of behaviors, according to Stevenson-Hinde. This study weakens the theory and my idea about the identity formation. Although and without argument some behaviors are interrelated, this fact is not necessarily the cause of identity formulation.
The effect comes from the external environment thus the sociocultural characteristics affect the identity development more than the resulting set of behaviors. This conclusion s supported by self-observation. Examining my own interrelated behaviors I clearly see that those are the effect not the cause of the environmental influences. Thus environmental influences affect my behaviors that in turn help in identity formation. Horst (1995) argued with the general notion that the Erikson’s perspective did not consider accurate depiction of development through the lenses of gender.
According to her claim, contrary would be more accurate. Careful study of Erikson’s stages of development does consider the gender identity in which gender is relational to components of identity formation. The point of her article is thus, to consider that the gender has an influence on identity formation. This study strengthens my views on the theory in its notion of the gender influence. Certainly, male and female would not develop equally and would not manifest the same identity formation. The differential depends upon their own perspective of self as either male or female.
Even more so, how their external environment views them on the gender scale: from less feminine to more feminine and from less muscular to more muscular. Thus, their identity is formed not only from the point of view of being a human but also being a male and female and its specific location on the gender scale. My personal observations support this viewpoint. External attitudes, first from my immediate family and then from my friends) confirmed and helped me develop my identity IQ and specifically my gender identity IQ.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 February 2017
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