Erik Erikson’s Fifth Stage of Psychosocial Development
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Erik Erikson was a German psychoanalyst who is credited for his psychosocial theory of development. It is important to note that his stages of psychosocial development expound on Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory of development. Erik Erikson’s theory takes into account the impact of external factors such as the society and parents on the development of an individual’s personality from childhood to adulthood (McLeod). As children grow to an adolescent phase of life, they are braced with numerous identity challenges. Therefore, some of them touch on their self-esteem, how they regard themselves, and their sense of value to their individual self-assessment. Erikson’s theory postulates that one has to pass the eight stages of development throughout their lifetime. However, each stage is linked to a crisis or turning points an individual must be faced with and successfully overcome to proceed with development (McLeod). This paper seeks to explore Erickson’s fifth developmental stage commonly known as the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage and its application to my life.
Identity vs. Role Confusion
According to Cherry, this phase of development occurs during adolescent years between the ages of twelve and twenty. Erikson postulated that the successful completion of this stage would lead to what he termed as fidelity. He stated that it was an individual’s ability to live in harmony with the norms and expectations of society. This period is crucial in the transition from childhood to adulthood (Cherry). Development up to this stage is primarily dependent on what is done to an individual and the environment that a person is brought up in. Adolescence is a time of significant changes. Since the body and the sexual organs mature, as well as new expectations for social and educational adjustments arise with the shift to middle school, self-image typically suffers. Therefore, life can be very stressful, especially in the earlier transition stage for teenagers (Cherry).
Young people develop a sense of self and personal identity as they move from childhood to maturity. They may tend to feel insecure or confused about themselves and how the roles they are meant to play in the society as a whole. As such they seek to create a sense of self through experimentation of different roles and behaviors (McLeod).
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During this stage, young adults are leaning towards their independence and view their future from the point of what they want to achieve in terms of relationships, careers, etc. In essence, they are seeking to carve out a niche for themselves in the society (Cherry). Therefore, this is a crucial stage in the development of an individual since it defines the role that he or she will play in the society at large. This is in addition to helping them to gain a sense of identity. Adolescents who manage to pass this stage successfully have a solid sense of their individual identity. They also have the ability to stick to their principles in the light of difficulties and another individual’s perceptions. On the other hand, young teenagers who do not make an intentional quest for their identity develop a low sense of self-esteem and experience role confusion (Cherry). This is because their lack of identity forces them to conform to other people’s visions for their future. Therefore, it is difficult for adults to develop a sense of identity and definition of their role in their respective communities and society as a whole.
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I would apply this theory to my life with reference to Erik Erikson’s fifth stage of development. I would say that I did not manage to successfully pass the stage of Identity vs. Role Confusion. As a nineteen-year-old lady, I am still struggling with shyness, and I also tend to get nervous easily. This means that I still have not discovered my sense of identity because belief in myself and my capabilities would have been paramount if I had successfully passed through this stage of psychosocial development. The lack of belief in oneself also points to being unsure of the role that has to play in the society. This is because selecting, for example, a career path requires one to be confident in his or her abilities. Therefore, this confidence will propel one into making a career choice because he or she is sure of what they want to do or be. Self-doubt will lead to being unsure in what one wants to be as they are unsure of what field they might excel in.
At this stage, my timid nature portrays the influence of external factors on my growth. I believe that parents play a great role in the development of a child, especially at this crucial stage of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. The constant reassurance of a parent plays a role in the development of confidence in adolescents during this critical period because of the crises that young adults at this age go through. Hence, I believe that I would have had a higher sense of self-esteem if I had the constant reassurance and guidance of parental figures to assist me through this stage.
In conclusion, Erikson’s fifth stage of psychosocial development rings true in my case based on a self-analysis of my current character and the outcomes of passing through the stage of Identity vs. Role Confusion.