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Applying Erickson’s Psychology Development Stages


Applying Erickson’s Psychological Development Stages to Analyze Mark’s Situation

Developmental stages are stages that everyone has to go through or at one time in a lifetime, even the adults underwent through those stages. Development theories are theories that divide child’s development into different stages mostly characterized by qualitative differences in behavior. There are several lifespan development theories, to begin with; perceptual development theory was developed by Gibson, and Gibson conducted numerous experiments on different forms of perceptions. (In Chen, 2014) He mostly majored on the visual perception of infants. Gibson did not describe perceptual development in consideration of age related changes, abilities or stages. However, he stressed mostly on perceptual development process. Secondly, we have Bowlby’s theory of emotional development; Bowlby’s theory is more of emotional attachment or bond between the children and care takers. Bowlby’s theory motivated the work of other researchers who were interested in further understanding how an attachment formed and how it affected emotional development. Basically, the main idea in Bowlby’s theory of emotional development is that; human infants need a secure relationship with their older caregivers in order to healthy emotional and social development to occur. We also have Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; the theory proposes that for us to develop our cognitive abilities, we have to move four different stages from birth to adulthood in developing our abilities. This theory proposes that, humans do not develop cognitive abilities in later stage before undergoing those cognitive abilities at an earlier stage of development. In summary, it is a process occurring in stages that a person has to go through all the four stages. There are other several theories of stages development, but will finalize it with Erickson’s theory of psychological development; according to this theory, Erickson proposed that social development occurs as a result of combination of different psychological processes which individual experiences in his / her lifetime particularly from interaction with other people. Erickson believed that, our social and internal needs progresses or changes as we grow older.

After getting a grasp of the development stages theories, will apply, one of the appropriate theory to analyze Mark’s spencer’s case study. And to take a quick summary of the story, Mark is a 16 years old student who lives with both his parents. His mother Joanne and his father Doug. Since kindergarten Mark schooled in the local schools until his 8th grade which he performed well and above average. Mark also has a senior brother Dave, who also performs well and above average student, is interested in sports and mostly plays baseball and football, Joanne Mark’s mother works as a secretary at a local real estate management company. Doug his father also works at a nearby insurance company.

In middle school, Mark was a strong member of scouts together with some of his friends but unfortunately, most of his friends quit scouting in the 7th grade. However, Mark continued with scouting till the 8th grade when he quit. He wanted to continue with the scouting but he couldn’t since most of his friends mocked him and thereafter giving up, Mark was neither interested in girls nor sports so he spent most of his time watching TV and playing video games. Unfortunately, at that time his grades started to fall. At the age of 16, Mark begged for a car and started drinking and spending most of his good times experimenting on drugs, let’s not forget that this stage when Mark is 16 years, he is in adolescent stage and experiencing new developments in his physical body and social surroundings. At this stage peer pressure works the most, (Schieffer, 2014) for instance, where Mark ask permission from his parents to go out for a weekend with his friend at his friend’s uncles place. At the friend’s uncle place, things turned as it was not expected when police disrupted their party because of the noise and underage drinking. Few months later, Mark’s parents found an alcohol in his room and realized their son needed help.

In comparison of the above case study and the life development theories, Erikson’s theory of personal development is the appropriate theory to analyze Mark Spencer’s behavior and development. Erikson’s psychosocial theory is divided majorly in 8 stages,  he categorizes those stages which occurs from birth- 12 years, which includes; trust vs mistrust, autonomy vs shame and doubt, initiative vs guilt,  industry vs inferiority and those stages that occurs a high school level which is identity vs role confusion.  The relevant stage according to our case study is the 2nd stage, in this stage of autonomy vs shame and doubt occurs between the age of 18 months and 3 years. And at this exact age, is when Mark was in his kindergarten school, according to Erikson, at this stage is when the child starts to stand firmly on his feet, the child separates the environment into I and you, me and mine. (Lessem , 2014) This stage consist of the maturation of the child’s muscle system and brain, from the case study Mark was able to attend kindergarten at his local area which shows that he underwent through this stage.

Will talk about the industry vs inferiority stage, this stage occurs between 6 and 12 years of age, what happens in this stage is basically to observe how things are done and learn from them, a good example is at elementary school.  This stage involves planning, working and sharing with others, according to Erikson; the important aspect of this stage is school. Back to our case study, we learn that when Mark was at this age, he was so involved in school related activities such as scouting and even learned the survival skills, even though he was not interested in things like football. At this stage, Mark was above average performing students, and due to this, we can assume that Mark’s past development stages such as those of childhood were well developed. The most important aspect is the feeling of superior and inferior for instance if the child is reinforced by his / her parents for a good job done such as performing well in class, they will feel hardworking and confident in their abilities and will keep doing well. But if they don’t get this reinforcement, the child will start feeling inferior and start doubting their abilities.

According to our case study, the most important stage by Erikson is identity vs role confusion which occurs between the ages of 12- 18 years. This is basically the adolescent stage, and from our case study, we realize that Mark started weird behaviors such as experimenting on drugs and alcohol. According to this stage, towards the end of adolescent, the person should have assembled the elements of identities which are joining each other and forget those elements which do not fit. Just at the age of 16, Mark begged for a car and started hanging out with friends where they used drugs and alcohol. In accordance to this behavior, we realize that Mark was undergoing both identity vs role confusion because he didn’t totally know who he is, is he the parent’s boy who sits in his room and watch TV and play video games? or is he the type who hang out with friends and involve themselves in illegal activities. ?. This is an evident on how Mark became totally confused in which side he was, but I can believe that it was peer pressure from his friends that made him engage in the illegal behaviors. According to Erikson, he claims that; social development occurs as a result of combination of different psychological process especially those obtained from other people. (Rustin, 2014) From these arguments, it is certain that Mark quit scouting because of his friends who made joke of him that at 8th grade he is still in scouting; secondly Mark started drinking as a result of his friends’ influence. We can assume that Mark also had some experiences in his early stage of life with his primary caretaker or the mother, why say this? You will realize that Mark was never interested in ladies, maybe how he was brought up he got all the love from the mother that he didn’t need any kind of love from a different individual.

At this stage, it is expected that the adolescent identity should have slowly integrated, for example preferred capacities, significant interactions and consistent role. If all of these doesn’t occur, the child can be confused with whom he / she is and the role that they have to play in the world. The most important event in this stage is the peer relationships, most of Mark’s relationship with his friends was peer influenced, a good example is at the age of 16 where Mark spots his friends and age mates driving cars and are able to have fun with girls. Mark then quickly demands car from his parents and luckily he was bought for one, immediately a good example of peer pressure displays itself when Mark is invited with a friend to his uncle’s place for a weekend. However, his parents were reluctant to guarantee him the opportunity they also never wanted him to get angry and finally allowed him to go with his friend.  But what we can derive from this kind of behavior displayed by Mark is that it was influenced by his friends, Mark’s parents’ finds a bottle of alcohol in his room and finally realizes he needs help.

In conclusion, those people around us can greatly influence how we behave and develop our personalities. (Adamo, 2014) Mark was around his friends, and when his friends quit scouting, he also did the same in his 8th grade, his friends drive cars and Mark reacted to that by demanding a car from his parents. Mark’s friends used alcohol and after sometime, Mark also engaged in alcoholism and drug abuse.

  • In Chen, R. (2014). Cognitive development: Theories, stages and processes and challenges
  • Adamo, S, G., & Rustin, M. (2014). Young child observation: A development in the theory and method of infant observation.
  • Schieffer, A., & Lessem, R. (2014). Integral development: Realizing the transformative potential of individuals, organization and societies.

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