Erickson’s Last Three Stages of Adulthood
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Erickson’s sixth stage of development is intimacy versus isolation. This is the young adulthood stage experienced between 18 and 35 years. Individuals in this stage develop and form cherished relationships with other people. According to Erickson, developing intimacy involves the task of finding oneself and at the same time losing oneself in another person (Erickson, 1950). In this stage young adult tries to form healthy relationships with other people. Basic positive feelings developed in this young adulthood stage are love and affiliation. This is where the young adults struggle to meld their identities with identities of their friends as they are eager to fit in the society. However, rejection is their main fear. Rejection is taken as painful turn down which cannot be accepted by ego of a young adult.
After establishing their identities, young adults are willing to make lasting relationships, which can sometimes lead to marriage (Santrock, 2010). They are ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of their relationships. The initial milestone of this stage is that one tends to seek for single or multiple lovers and companions. Great efforts are made my individuals to establish satisfactory relationships. This is mostly done by getting married and making strong long-lasting friendships. This is the stage when one settles down with a family. In some cases, people enter this stage later being in their thirties when they decide to get married. Feelings of deep love and intimacy are experienced if one is successful in this stage (Erickson, 1993).
Conversely, when an individual fails to develop intimacy and friendships with others, he/she becomes isolated. The individual feels lonely and deserted by others. When a person feels alienated, the world shrinks and the individual starts to fight feelings of inferiority. As a result of this fight, one develops superiority complex in relation to others. The most important relationships in this stage are mutual friendships and marriage (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2004).
The seventh development stage is the middle adulthood stage. Generativity and stagnation are the main ego development outcomes. This stage lasts from 35 years of age to 55 or even 65 years. The main factors that influence the outcomes of this stage are production and care. The key concern in this stage is assisting young adults to develop and lead useful lives. Job is the chief area of concentration. According to Erickson, individuals in this stage are totally occupied with meaningful work to support their families (Erickson, 1950). Persons are in charge of their lives in this stage.
Middle aged adults aim at transmitting values and culture to their kids through working hard and building stable environment. They are determined to care for others and to increase productivity with an aim of improving the society (Crain & William, 2011). Adults express love and attachment to the members of the community without engaging in sexual contacts. They help children grow and become responsible adults. One of their central ideas is establishing comfortable homes for their families. They are able to achieve civil and social responsibility as well as emotional maturity. This is what Erickson refers to as generativity. Nevertheless, people at this stage are afraid of meaninglessness and inactivity (Erickson, 1950).
When children mature and get out of relationship boundaries with their parents as they leave home for schools and work, parents’ goals charge immediately. Adults start facing crisis as they struggle to find a new meaning and purpose in life. In case they do not succeed in this stage, they stagnate and feel self-absorbed. The most important relationships in this stage are built within the family, work place, and the community.
Erickson’s final development stage is integrity versus despair. This is the late adulthood stage, which people enter between 55years and 65 years until death (Erickson, 1993). Wisdom is the chief factor that influences the outcome at this stage. This is a period when individuals are old and the most important aspect of concentration is achievements in their lives. During this stage individuals evaluate what they have done in their lives. In various ways senior persons have created a good outlook in the past development stages. If one was successful in the previous stages of development, his/her reflective considerations reveals well lived life. This make individuals feel satisfied with their lives and, therefore, the integrity virtue is developed (Crain & William, 2011).
Erickson argues that most of the time is spent as people prepare for the seventh stage. During this last stage individual usually rests from middle adulthood which is much involving. This is why older adults look back at their lives and feels contented if they have achieved something meaningful in life. This is what Erickson refers to as integrity. Individuals in this stage have a deep sense of fulfillment. Their strength is rooted in their wisdom and the belief that the universe is quite extensive. They accept death as the last stage which completes the cycle of life (Erickson, 1950).
However, some senior adults experience despair in this stage as they evaluate their failures in life. They still feel the need to struggle and make life meaningful. They also do not accept death in their mind. They realize that they did not accomplish life goals and, therefore, were unproductive. Ultimately, this dissatisfaction leads to hopelessness and depression (Santrock, 2010).
In conclusion, the young adults between 18 and 35 years and are driven by love and affiliation whose outcome is either intimacy or isolation. Between the age of 35 and 55 or 65, the outcome is either generativity or stagnation which is influenced by production and care. The last stage preoccupies senior adults aged 55 and 65 up to death. Wisdom is the chief influencer which leads to either integrity or desperation.
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