Developmental psychology is the scientific study of what is assumed to be systematic changes in normal human growth. It was originally focused on children, as Freud saw a personality development ending at adolescence and there a fixed element in adults. Today development psychology is concerned with stages over the course of a life span and pioneers like Erik Erikson attempted to define. It is also broader ion its focus understanding the complexities of development on many different levels. It is not focused solely on our sense of self or personality traits. Identity formation is still the seen a source for many types of mental illness. There is a greater focus on cognitive development as personality and identity formation tend to be issues where a great deal of subjective understanding can be interjected. Most psychologist acknowledging the complexity and broad number of opportunities for new self definition available to us over the course of a long life span would not see developmental stages quite a arbitrary as Freud and Erickson’s,
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is best remembered for his theory of personality development. He also is known for being one of the first to look stage development that set predetermined standards for children to meet in order to avoid personality dysfunction. (Stevenson, David B,1996)
Freud’s Stages of Psycho sexual Development are relational to erogenous zone. A child that becomes overly focused on one erogenous zone will become stuck as an adult and this will lead to neurotic behavior.
Oral Stage (Birth to 18 months) the child is rightfully focused on sucking. It is important that the child not experience too much or too little sucking pleasure or he or she will develop oral fixation as evidenced by smoking too much, biting nails , or over eating. A personality discord or of Oral fixation may lead to a person being a passive follower or an aggressive pessimist.
Anal Stage (18 months to three years) the focus of pleasure for the young child is centered on elimination or retaining feces. If the child becomes fixated at this stage they will develop an anal retentive personality and become obsessed with perfection and control or an anal expulsive personality and become disorganized and lack focus in their lives.
Phallic Stage (three to six years) The boy came to have unconscious sexual feeling for his mother known as the Oedipus complex. The child fears castration by his father and then decides to resolve the conflict by imitation his father’s masculine characteristic. If the conflict is not resolved then the child will develop disordered sexual identity and perversions. Girls are seen to go through a similar process by desiring their fathers and imitating their mother’s .This is known as the Electra complex.
Latency Stage (six years to adolescents) This is a stage in which children repress all sexual feeling and learn to interact and learn appropriate sexual roles by playing with children of the same sex.
Genital Stage- adolescents to adulthood) this is the stage where the focus of pleasure is the genitals and both boys and girls learn to seek their sexual pleasure in adult relationships with the opposite sex. Successfully reaching this stage means the child will develop into a normal normal adult(Sigmund Freud, 2010).
Erik Erickson (1902-1994) like Freud felt that children developed on an organized time line which predetermined issues that had to be resolved before healthy development could be obtained. Erikson focused on how children developed healthy senses of self. Disorders in adults could be linked to a lack of successful completion and a poor sense of self. Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development has eight stages Erickson felt adults through therapy could actually develop a healthy sense of self later in life.
Trust versus Mistrust. (Birth to 1 year) In this stage the infant learns to trust the world by trusting the consistency of their care giver. If trust is obtained; the child will feel secure in their surrounding and safe even when threatened. If trust is not obtained the child may grow up to be anxious and paranoid.
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (ages one to three) in these stage children asserts their autonomy and independent self from their parents. They learn to manipulate their environment and impose their will on it. Children if taught to be confident in their choices they become confident. If they are criticized or overly controlled they learn to feel shame and doubt about their ability to be independent in the world. Adults stuck in this stage are overly dependent and lack self esteem.
Initiative vs. Guilt (age’s three to six) Children grows in their ability to make decisions and impact their environment socially. They plan their play activities and take on roles of a social larder. If this stage is successfully supported the child learns to take more and more initiative in controlling the activities of their daily lives and have confidence. If they are overly controlled or have a negative reaction to their indicatives then they becomes guilt ridden as adults and tend to remain followers who assert little control over their life choices.
Self Identity vs. Role Confusion. (Six to adolescence) This is where the child learns in what ways they can actually socially define themselves in terms or career, family, and friends. They explore different options of identity to find which give them the most sense of personal satisfaction Again, if
predetermined ideas are imposed on the child or the child is not encourages to explore their options in the adult world they have a confused sense of self. This will lead to adult who move aimlessly from job to jobber relationship to relationship. The cause is that they are not confident to make a choice or commitment to a given role.
Intimacy vs. Isolation. (Young adulthood to middle adulthood.) This is when the now grown child learns to have productive relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. They also focus on
finding a life mate to create family in which commitment, safety, and care are established. A lack of successful completion of this stage leads to depression and a sense of worthlessness.
Generative vs. Stagnation. (Middle Adulthood) During this stage the healthy adult is focused on productivity in their community, work and family Adults who successfully complete this stage take self satisfaction in their contribution to the greater good those who do not complete this stage are left with a feeling of failure or being stuck. They have no satisfaction or happiness from their work or personal life. They may seek to redefine their sense of self in this stage, commonly known as the “midlife crisis”
Ego Integrity vs. Despair. (Late adulthood) This is the point we slow down in our social productivity and look back at the successes we have achieved in our personal and professional lives. Successful completion of this stage leads to an end life feeling of self integrity. A lack of successful completions will lead to despair, depression, and a lack of a positive sense of self (Cherry, Kendra, 2008).
I personally believe these stages while being a reflection of some the truth of some child development; are fluid and probably revisited many times by individual.Erikson stages are more applicable to most people’s lives and he is realistic in saying that many adults resolve issues of a sense of self over the course of a life span. Again he does not understand the fluid nature of some of the later stages.
In an age where people are not marrying till forty and pick many different careers over the course of a lifetime, it is probable that we revisit many of the stages where we have an opportunityo redefine our sense of self in the social world. Many people will retire from one career only to start another at what was once considered a very old age. Many may marry and have a family in their twenties and then remarry and start a new family in their forties. A longer life span gives individuals at least have many different social identities. They have an opportunity to take a sense of selfsatisfaction on many different levels. Most adults end their lives with an overall sense of accomplishments tempered with a few regrets. Emotional maturity demands we take credit for the mistakes as well as successes in our lives. Many people who experience substance abuse problems take a better sense of self by making a verbal amends for those mistakes they made as a result of a poor sense of self.
Cherry, Kendra (2008) In Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages Summary Chart, About.com Inc. Retrieved May 17, 2010 from About.com Psychology On line:http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.htm
Stevenson, David B (1996) In The Victorian Web ,. Retrieved May 17, 2010 from The Victorian Web On line: http://www.victorianweb.org/science/freud/develop.html
Sigmund Freud (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Encyclopedia Britannica On line: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/219848/Sigmund-Freud/22605/Sexuality-and-development