Integrity vs Despair: The Different Stages of Development by Erik Erickson

Category: Psychology
Last Updated: 30 Jun 2023
Pages: 3 Views: 20

There are many people who have come up with theories as to why we develop the way we do. According to Erik Erickson, we go through eight stages of development (four in childhood, adolescence, and three adult stages. According to his thoughts, "Erikson believed that as we grow and age, we pass through eight distinct stages of development. He thought that each stage was defined by a specific conflict between a pair of opposing impulses or behaviors." (no author, n.d.)

The first stage with childhood is the oral sensory stage which occurs in the first year of life that teaches trust vs mistrust. Depending on if the parents care for them correctly or not, they will develop trust or mistrust. If they learn mistrust, they think the world will be a scary and unreliable place. The second childhood stage is the muscular-anal stage that occurs from the ages of one to three. If parents let their children develop and explore, they will be confident in themselves. If they do not, the child will feel insecure and doubtful in their own skill set. They will feel shame, etc. The third stage is the locomotor stage which occurs from ages three to six. The child needs to start taking an independent role in planning tasks and making choices. If they don't then they will develop a sense of guilt for wanting their freedom and independence when making choices. The fourth stage is latency (5-12 years) which teaches industry and inferiority. If the child does not get encouraged to try adult like tasks, the child will feel inferior and unmotivated.

Following the childhood stages in adolescence is identity vs. role confusion (12-18 years). This is where the child in adolescence tries to find their sexual and occupational identity. If an adolescent is forced into a role they do not want to take on, they can go through an identity crisis or feel confused & unhappy.

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The first adulthood stage is intimacy vs. isolation. This happens between the ages of eighteen to forty and can lead to meaningful, loving relationships. The lack of this can lead to depression and isolation. After this stage comes generativity vs. stagnation (40-65 years).

This stage is where the person settles down with their relationships and career and feels successful for their achievements. If this does not occur, the individual can feel unproductive. As the individual finally becomes an elderly person, they reach the stage of ego integrity vs. despair (age 65 and up). In this stage the individual settles down and reflects on their lives. If they feel like they were productive and successful, they will gain wisdom. If they feel unaccomplished, it will lead to depression or despair.

"Erikson suggests that there is still plenty of room for continued growth and development throughout one's life. Erikson puts a great deal of emphasis on the adolescent period, feeling it was a crucial stage for developing a person's identity." (McLeod, S., 2016) To conclude, there are eight stages of growth and we need to experience all to become a full and complete person.


  1. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2016, from of-identity-formation.html
  2. Industrial and organizational psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved September 01, 2016, from psychology
  3. McLeod, S. (2016). Erik Erikson. Retrieved September 09, 2016, from

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Integrity vs Despair: The Different Stages of Development by Erik Erickson. (2023, Jun 24). Retrieved from

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