Erikson's Psychoanalytic Theory of Development: Jo March of Little Women

Erikson's Psychoanalytic Theory of Development: Jo March of Little Women

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According to Erikson's psychoanalytic theory of development, there are certain relationships that help us proceed through life and move though stages of development. At every at stage in his theory there is a fight, there is a balance that must be found to solve a crisis. If the crisis is resolved in each stage the individual will find a virtue. A good balance is made up of mostly the positive outcome but a healthy amount of the negative is necessary or else the individual will have too much a good thing, which Erikson calls a maladaptation. (Maianu, 2011). I will be applying a few stages of this theory to the life of Jo March in the 1994 film “Little Women”.
Erikson's third stage of development is initiative verses guilt. In this stage the child must begin to find and show responsible behavior (Santrock, 2010). Instead of imitating other people's actions, they begin to initiate their own behavior. If criticized too much, they may feel guilty about everything they do, because constant scolding may cause them to feel that everything they do will be or could be wrong. This makes them too afraid to take the first step without being given specific directions. However, if too much initiative is acquired the person will not only take initiative, but they will go on with their plans and won't care who they step on as long as they reach their goals (Maianu, 2011). If the right balance between initiative and guilt is found, the individual will find the virtue of purpose. They will be able to feel useful and take the first step towards achieving their goal, without just mimicking others. Parent's can play a huge role in helping their child find balance at this stage. They can help the child find purpose by giving the child a limited a...


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...his is a hard time for her but she begins filling pages with her sister's story as well as her own. When Jo finishes writing her novel she symbolically ties the pages together and tucks a flower into the string. This is the moment where were we can see that Jo has found her true identity. She looks at peace with herself and the work that she has created. Later on, we learn that when the professor read her novel he thought it was like reading Jo's very heart (Anderson, 1994).










Works Cited

Armstrong, G. (Director). (1994). Little Women [Motion picture]. United States: Sony Pictures.

Maianu, C. (2011, Spring semester). Child Development, Psychology 212, [Lecture notes]. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Harrisburg Area Community College.

Santrock, J. W. (2010). Child development: an introduction(13th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities.

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