Erikson’s psychological theory of development was created in 1963. His was the first to address a lifelong psychological
development, as others addressed only pieces of one’s life. He believed such development to not reach an end, like other
psychologists’ theories showed, but to be a lifelong series of unconscious conflicts/crises. His theory holds that people
will resolve each crisis either more positively or more negatively. Positive resolutions to conflicts tend to be more helpful,
as will negative resolutions tend to be less helpful, due to the fact that earlier crises will impact later ones. Dealing
with one conflict could be more difficult if you fail to address a previous conflict. If needed, crises can be returned to
and re-worked later in life. Erikson believed that each crisis is centered on issues during a certain stage of life and they
are, therefore, age-related, but Erikson also realized that each crisis is not limited to a particular age.
The trust vs. mistrust stage brings the question of whether or not an infant views the world as reliable and predictable.
If the infant can depend on its needs being met, it will develop a sense of basic trust. Based on who I am today, I would
say that I resolved this crisis positively. I had a trusting and trustworthy family. I therefore believe that I felt I was
in a safe world and could trust others. I also feel that I had to rely on others for help with many things, because
of a childhood condition, later diagnosed as aspergers. I therefore wanted to and needed to trust them. I feel that due to
the way I resolved this crisis, I was able to resolve each future crisis more positively because I felt as though I could
trust others and, more specifically, their advice. Although, in many ways, I feel that during infancy I was almost too trusting
because I had no sense of fear, I’ve reworked this crisis. Now, I have learned to trust people unless I have a legitimate
reason not to.
I have always had issues with particular things. I had a tactile issue so I felt uncomfortable with the way certain things
felt (e.g., I didn’t like to stand on bathroom scales, grass, sand, etc.). When I was about four years old I had a medical
issue and was hospitalized. At another time, when I was about seven years old, I had a very invasive procedure done. Due to
the fact that I did not like people touching me in uncomfortable ways and the fact that they did not sedate me during the
procedure, my parents believe that this was an extremely traumatic experience for me. To this day I am still uncomfortable
in situations involving certain medical procedures. Although this situation altered my trust toward a certain group of people
and circumstances, I still have that basic trust that was formed as an infant.
During the stage of autonomy vs. shame/doubt toddlers determine whether or not they can be independent. If they do not
doubt their abilities, they will learn to do things for themselves. I believe that, when I was a toddler, I resolved this
crisis negatively because I was unsure if could do some things by myself, and other things I was unable to do independently.
I believe that I have re-worked this crisis and have now resolved it positively because I have always been told that I can
I’ve always had goals to accomplish. As a third-grader I was still an elective mute and wouldn’t talk in school.
I believe this, so far, to be the most difficult challenge that I have overcome. I still had a problem with speaking in front
of select groups. In middle school while I was going through my puberty years this may have actually been an advantage. While
my peers went through the emotional, chatty stages of their life, mine seemed to be on hold. This gave me the advantage of
being a better listener and observer. Therefore, when I reached that maturity level I had already learned from their mistakes.
Although emotionally I was probably inferior because of the way my brain worked, it almost gave me a more mature attitude
toward my friends. This advantage influenced my way of looking at life. While others’ emotions seemed to get in the
way, I generally saw the world in black and white, although I could still be sympathetic to their feelings.
I have always challenged myself and wanted to further myself in different areas. In eleventh grade I signed up for the
Criminal Justice class at MACC, which is an outgoing choice for someone of my character. To further myself in the area of
speaking, I signed up for a speech class. This was during the time that, in Criminal Justice, we were going to have to speak
in front of the class. The most recent thing that I’ve done, and continue to do, to challenge myself in these areas,
is catering. When catering, I constantly have to speak to people and I learn something new each time I work.
During early childhood we are faced with responsibility and the question of whether or not we can handle it, as is presented
in the next stage, initiative vs. guilt. The child learns to begin tasks and carry out plans, or they feel guilty about their
efforts to be independent. If they have initiative, they feel as though they can be responsible. I feel that, during early
childhood, I resolved this crisis negatively, due to the way I resolved the previous crisis. Since I couldn’t do many
things independently because of a short-term memory issue, I didn’t have to take much responsibility and I couldn’t,
very well, handle the little responsibility that I did have. I believe that I have re-worked this crisis over and over and
have only recently come to resolve it positively. I find my flaws and work on them, keeping in mind that I can overcome anything.
During elementary school we are faced with the stage of industry vs. inferiority. In this case, industry means being productive
and doing things well. I think that this was a two-part stage in my life. During elementary school, I resolved this crisis
positively in that I could do things well, yet negatively because I was not productive. I couldn’t be very productive
because I was a perfectionist with no concept of time. Although I may still be a perfectionist with little concept of time,
I have learned to prioritize. I therefore feel as though I have come to resolve this crisis positively, although it is an
ongoing struggle. Because of how I re-worked the previous crisis, I found that everything doesn’t always have to be
perfect. I can still do things well and can now be productive because I’ve learned to prioritize.
As adolescents we are faced with a decision of who we are: our identity or confusion of our identity. I believe that I
resolved this crisis positively. One reason is because I was always told to "Be your own person." Another reason why is because
I’ve never really cared very much about what others think about me. I believe that I was, and continue to be, more of
an observer so I focus less on who I am, and am intrigued more by who others are. I still find it fascinating to try to figure
out what circumstances make people who they are. I believe this results in my being very comfortable with who I am and who
I am becoming.
The intimacy vs. isolation stage generally arises during early adulthood and brings the question of whether or not we can
form intimate emotional relationships. I don’t believe I have experienced this stage or any future stages in my life
yet. I have seen my peers experience this crisis but, because I have matured emotionally slower that my peers in previous
stages, I believe that I have in this stage too. It now is not that I cannot form an intimate emotional relationship,
but rather, I do not see that that is necessary at this time in my life.
The generativity vs. stagnation stage generally occurs during middle age when we ask ourselves what we have done and what
we will do in our life. The feeling of generativity means that we feel we have accomplished much in our life and plan to do
more which generally results in us feeling good about ourselves, whereas the feeling of stagnation means just the opposite.
Generally during old age, or when we know that we are about to die, we are faced with the stage of integrity vs. despair.
During this stage we think about whether or not we lived our lives the way we wanted to. If we haven’t, we are often
faced with a feeling of despair.
I think that applying Erikson’s theory to my life has helped me to understand myself better. It has helped me to
understand who I was then and why I am who I am now. It has also helped me to realize how much I have accomplished and overcome
and what I should work on next. I believe that this theory is pretty accurate to the life of a fairly normal person. I do
not believe, however, that the theory is accurate to my life experiences. I positively resolved these crises in a different
order, and during a different stage in my life, than shown in Erikson’s psychological theory of development.