Erik Erikson was one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. Creating his famous developmental theory, he argued that throughout their lifespan, people go through eight stages, with each of them being associated with a specific crisis. The successful resolution of the crises allows a person to live a fulfilling life, while failure to overcome them may lead to various negative consequences, including the persisting feelings of guilt, inferiority, and insolation.
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Erikson’s theory holds its value until this day. It is still studied, discussed, and applied not only in America but also in many other countries. It can be explained by the fact that this is a comprehensive and well-developed theory that covers the entire human lifespan and refers to the challenges many individuals have, indeed, faced throughout their development. For instance, one of the major Erikson’s contributions lies in coining the term “identity crisis”, which describes the state of uncertainty and confusion when a person is not yet sure what their values are, what roles they should play, to what group do they belong.
Many people have gone through a similar experience, and that may be considered as an argument in favor of Erikson’s theory. However, in his writings, describing the stage when identity crisis occurs, he mostly referred to teenage years while in the modern world, people continue to search for their identity sometimes even until their thirties (Kathy Anderson’s Psychology Channel, 2016). Nonetheless, Erikson’s explanation of the crisis is still considered authoritative today.
It is worth mentioning that Erikson’s works have not only theoretical but also practical value, as many modern psychologists base their studies on his ideas. For instance, some researchers propose therapy models inspired by Erikson’s theory (Knight, 2017). Others, drawing on his description of the ego-integrity crisis, explore its impact on the cognitive and emotional health of people in late adulthood (Malone et al., 2016). Overall, while some elements of Erikson’s theory demand review and reevaluation, it is still worth exploring, as it contains many ideas still relevant for modern psychology.
Kathy Anderson’s Psychology Channel (2016). Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Knight, Z. G. (2017). A proposed model of psychodynamic psychotherapy linked to Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 24(5), 1047-1058.
Malone, J. C., Liu, S. R., Vaillant, G. E., Rentz, D. M., & Waldinger, R. J. (2016). Midlife Eriksonian psychosocial development: Setting the stage for late-life cognitive and emotional health. Developmental psychology, 52(3), 496-508.
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