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What are Erik Erikson's stages of human development?


Erik Erikson identified eight stages of human development; we need to achieve a specific task related to each stage in order to attain healthy development. If we are unable to complete the task, we could instead develop an unhealthy emotional or psychological condition related to that stage.

  1. Infancy: Trust v. MistrustWhen the infant is properly fed (the task), he/she develops a sense of trust in the world. If not, distrust develops, which can lead to depression or paranoia.
  2. Toddler: Autonomy v. Shame and DoubtThe tasks here are literally physical tasks, like toilet training. Success and support in achieving these tasks leads to good self-esteem. A too-demanding or permissive approach can cause shame, which can lead to avoidance.
  3. Preschooler: Initiative v. GuiltThis task is for the child to take some initiative. When a child's assertiveness is approved and encouraged, he/she learns purpose. If the child is punished, he/she will develop guilt, which can lead to inhibitions.
  4. Elementary School: Industry v. InferiorityWhen a child successfully learns new skills, he/she gains a sense of personal competency. If a child doesn't complete this task, a sense of inferiority will develop.
  5. Adolescent: Identify v. Role ConfusionA teen is tasked with resolving his/her identity crisis. This allows him/her to achieve a sense of personal fidelity. If not, he/she can remain with an unstable sense of self.
  6. Young Adult: Intimacy v. IsolationThe task here is to create close relationships. Done right, the young adult learns to love. Failure to create these relationships can lead to promiscuity or rejection of relationships.
  7. Middle-Age Adult: Generativity v. StagnationDuring this stage, the adult learns to support the next generation. This is generally exhibited through parenting. If this generational care is not developed, the adult stagnates.
  8. Older Adult: Integrity v. DespairAs older adults near death, their task is to find an acceptance of their life. Adults who do this achieve ego integrity, while those who don't can become disdainful and feel despair.

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