I interviewed Lynda, a 56 year old-widow, she is a nurse in an emergency department, and is a native of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. “I was born into a loving family. My mother and father were in their early twenties when I was born. My parents, they weren’t wealthy but they gave me what they could, and they gave me love.” Erikson’s first stage of psychosocial development is Trust versus Mistrust. This stage occurs between birth to 18 months of age. In this initial stage of development the infant learns whether or not they can trust the world, and according to Erikson, this is directly contingent upon the infant’s caregivers and the quality of care the infant receives. According to the theory, if the needs of the infant are consistently met, the infant will learn trust; however, when comfort is not consistently provided by the caregiver the infant will learn mistrust. The development of mistrust will equate to poor attachment with the caregivers later on in childhood and lack of sympathy with peers.
Stage two of Erikson’s psychosocial theory is the crisis of Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt, this stage spans the ages of eighteen months to three years. A positive outcome in this stage will relate to the development of greater self-control. During our interview Lynda exp...
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...ings of accomplishment in this stage while, failure will lead to adults that are self-absorbed and have shallow involvement in the world.
Erikson’s last stage of psychosocial development is Ego Integrity vs. Despair, which begins at 65 years of age until death. Individuals in this stage must face end of life and accept aging as a natural process. According to Erikson, people who have developed ego integrity and accept their life failures and successes will not be afraid to face death. On the other hand, individuals who have not achieved ego integrity will experience a sense of despair and fear death. As I spoke with Lynda about her future she told me “I plan on retiring in a few years, you know, when my grandchildren are born. I’ve had a wonderful career and lived a plentiful life. I don’t know when my time will come, I want to enjoy every moment that I have left.”
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