Erik Erikson (1902 –1994) was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis.
Erikson's greatest innovation was to postulate not five stages of development, as Sigmund Freud had done with his psychosexual stages, but eight, and then later added a ninth stage in his book "The Life Cycle Completed." Erik Erikson believed that every human being goes through a certain number of stages to reach his or her full development, theorizing eight stages, that a human being goes through from birth to death.
The Erikson life-stage virtues, in the order of the stages in which they may be acquired, are:
1. hope - Basic Trust vs. Mistrust - Infant stage. Does the child believe its caregivers to be reliable?
2. will - Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt - Toddler stage. Child needs to learn to explore the world. Bad if the parent is too smothering or completely neglectful.
3. purpose - Initiative vs. Guilt - Kindergarten - Can the child plan or do things on his own, such as dress him or herself. If "guilty" about making his or her own choices, the child will not function well. Erikson has a positive outlook on this stage, saying that most guilt is quickly compensated by a sense of accomplishment.
4. competence - Industry vs. Inferiority - Around age 6 to puberty. Child comparing self worth to others (such as in a classroom environment). Child can recognize major disparities in personal abilities relative to other children. Erikson places some emphasis on the teacher, who should ensure that children do not feel inferior.
5. fidelity - Identity vs. Role Confusion - Teenager. Questioning of self. Who am I, how do I fit in? Where am I going in life? Erikson believes that if the parents allow the child to explore, they will conclude their own identity. However, if the parents continually push him/her to conform to their views, the teen will face identity confusion.
6. love (in intimate relationships, work and family) - Intimacy vs. Isolation - Young adult. Who do I want to be with or date, what am I going to do with my life? Will I settle down? This stage has begun to last longer as young adults choose to stay in school and not settle.
7. caring - Generativity vs. Stagnation - the Mid-life crisis. Measure accomplishments/failures. Am I satisfied or not? The need to assist the younger generation. Stagnation is the feeling of not having done anything to help the next generation.
8. wisdom - Ego Integrity vs. Despair - old age. Some handle death well. Some can be bitter, unhappy, and/or dissatisfied with what they have accomplished or failed to accomplish within their lifetime. They reflect on the past, and either conclude at satisfaction or despair.