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Erickson’s theory states that we go through eight stages and that in each one we face a conflict that can either be successfully or unsuccessfully resolved. If unsuccessfully resolved it could back later on in one’s life and cause emotional problems.
This theory gives Psychologist developmental stages to work with; example a Psychologist would be able to go back to anyone of Erickson’s stages and pinpoint which developmental stage the person has unsuccessfully completed. Example; maybe something happened during the patient’s infant stage (Basic trust vs. Mistrust) where he or she was sexually abused, which resulted in the patient repressing his or her childhood memories, then a traumatizing event/experience later on in his or her life brought those repressed memories back.
I unfortunately have seen this happen with a young teenage Marine who graduated from high school and within 3 months of graduating from boot camp, he was sent straight to war. During the conflict this young man had to kill in order to ensure his platoon safely returned back to base camp. That is a lot is a lot of responsibility for a young man to have to carry, so early in his life. The young man continued to perform in an exemplary matter, and eventually was recognized by his command for his valiant actions. However, upon returning to the states the Marine’s work performance started to dwindle, he would come in late to work and alcohol was now being abused regularly.
Once his Command became aware of the Marines actions, they figured it was (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, since the Marine was involved in several gun battles during his time in Iraq. After initial observations by our Medical Aid Station he was referred to our Mental Health Office, which is staffed with five Psychologists. Immediately after seeing the head Psychologist it was reported that this young Marine was suffering from PTSD, however not from the war, but from being sexually abused by his step-father when he was between the ages of 3 to 4.
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Now I am assuming that Erickinson’s developmental stages played a role in helping the Psychologist pinpoint what stage in the Marines life he was struggling with, which in turn allowed the Psychologist to properly treat the young man.