Erikson: Trust Versus Mistrust Essay

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Erikson expanded on Freud???s thoughts on the importance of the parent-infant relationship.

He believed the quality of care giving was what is important for a healthy outcome during infancy. For example, ???relieving discomfort promptly and sensitively, holding the infant gently, waiting patiently until the baby has had enough milk, and weaning when the infant shows less interest in breast or bottle??? all were believed increased the outcome of a healthy baby (Berk 248).Of course, no parent can be perfectly aligned with their baby and his or her needs, and many factors come into play, but the text book, Infants, Children, and Adolescents, explains ???when the balance of care is sympathetic and loving, the psychological conflict of the first year, basic trust versus mistrust, is resolved on the positive side??? (Berk 248). An infant who trusts, ???expects the world to be good and gratifying,??? consequently, the infant is confident about ???venturing out and exploring it and he emerges from the stage well-prepared for the challenges of toddlerhood??? (Berk 248).On the other hand, the mistrustful baby who cannot depend on kindness and compassion of others, is more likely to protect themselves by withdrawing from people or activities that surround her (Berk). During my infant years, I experienced many ear infections due to an unknown reason.

These ear infections lead to not only damaging my ears but caused my parents many sleepless nights due to excessive crying as an infant. My mother was unaware of the cause of the excessive crying, eventually causing me to throw up.The doctor even miss diagnosed me and said there were no problems with my ears. My mothers intuition was right all along, but there was little she could do to heal my pain.

Growing up, my mother came from a household in which was jagged. There might have been very little love circling the home but it was never displayed. I can recall back to my mother saying how this has affected her and it follows closely to Erikson???s theory on the outcome of a mistrust baby. She has always promised that she tried to do everything she could to make that change when she had her own family.Dealing with an infant who excessively cries, could have not been easy.

With the help of earplugs, my mother has always told me that she would hold me when I cried, even if it was early in the mornings. I believe that this has lead me to become a trusting infant and which caused me to become such an independent toddler. Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt The next stage of Erikson???s theory shines on the transition to toddlerhood and the many influential experiences that toddlers go through. Experiences such as walking, talking, and potty training are just a few of the many.The conflict of toddlerhood, is expressed as autonomy verses shame and doubt and it is ???resolved favorably when parents provide young children with suitable guidance and reasonable choices??? (Berk 249). Parents who do not criticize or do not attack their children when they fail gives 2 year olds self confidence and security.

When children are given extra time to eat with a spoon, clean up, or are potty training, parents meet the children???s ???assertions of independence with tolerance and understanding??? (Berk 249). On the other hand, parents can be over or under controlling.These children with these types of parents often feel ???forced and shamed and who doubts his ability to control his impulses and acts competently on his own??? (Berk 249). Because of my parent???s ability to give me a balance of sympathetic and love during my infanthood, I became such an independent toddler who never experienced shame or doubt.

Erikson viewed toilet training as one of the very many influential experiences that can affect autonomy verses shame and doubt (Berk). My parents have told me that they equally let my brother and I take our time when we were being potty trained.Her philosophy was, ???When I was ready, I would do it on my own. ??? My family was living in Fort Wayne at this time, and I remember sitting in the bathroom, which we called it the ???blue bathtub??? bathroom, sitting on a child???s toilet. I ended up being three before I stopped wearing diapers! During another period of building my self-hood, dressing myself, my mother would allow me to have choices on what to wear in the morning. She has often told me that she would have allowed me to pick out my own clothes at this age if I was able to match.

I feel that my mother giving me this independence by giving me choices to choose from, instead of telling me directly what to wear and criticize me, it kept me from feeling shamed and doubting my ability to control my own impulses. I believe that because my mother let me have options I became a confident and secure 2 year old. Initiative versus Guilt Initiative versus guilt is the psychological conflict of the preschool years, where initiative ???suggests that young children have a new sense of purposefulness??? (Berk 364).While advancing in conscience development, initiative children are more enthusiastic when tackling new tasks, participate in activities with peers, and recognize the things they are able to do with adult???s help.

Erikson suggests that through play, children can be initiative because play allows preschoolers to learn about themselves, their social world, and allows children to ???try new skills with little risk of criticism and failure??? (Berk 364).Building on Freud???s psychosexual stages, Erikson explains that the negative outcome of early childhood ???is an overly strict superego that causes children to feel too much guilt because they have been threatened, criticized, and punished excessively by adults??? and when this occurs, ???preschoolers??? exuberant play and bold efforts to master new tasks break down??? (Berk 364). The initiative theory describes the diverse changes in young children???s emotional and social lives.This is the time for children to explore ???a confident self-image, more effective control over their emotions, new social skills, the foundations of morality, and a clear sense of themselves as a boy or girl??? (Berk 364).

My early childhood was based around play. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana for my early childhood where my family formed many memories in our backyard pool. I can remember following my father???s footsteps into the pool and swimming while holding on to his back from one side of the pool to the other.I had a best friend named Brandon, and we would spend all day in our swimsuits playing in the back yard on the swing set and in the pool. I can remember two instances clearly that follow along with Erikson???s initiative versus guilt theory.

Along side of the pool were rocks for landscaping. One day, Brandon and I decided to throw all of the rocks into filtration system of the pool. Another time, I remember Brandon and me getting into a birds nest and throwing all of the un-hatched eggs onto the sidewalk.Instead of unishment, my mother explained and visually showed us the consequences of what we had done to the birds and the pool. I feel that this unthreatening method made me feel secure but also build my foundations of morality by making me feel guilty that I did something wrong by showing me what I had done. Industry versus Inferiority The children with positive experiences entering middle childhood are ready to realistically accomplish middle childhood.

According to Erikson, adult expectations and the child???s drive towards mastery set up industry versus inferiority.Industry versus inferiority is ???resolved positively when experiences lead children to develop a sense of competence at useful skills and tasks??? (Berk 482). As children get older, parents should make new expectations and demands. Going to school and learning literacy and other subjects should be one of these demands. In school, ???children discover their own and other???s unique capacities, learn the value of division of labor, and develop a sense of moral commitment and responsibility??? (Berk 482).

On the negative side, is a chance of inferiority, which is reflected in children who have little confidence in their ability to do things well (Berk). There is a chance that this can develop in the family life because children are not prepared for school life or ???when teachers and peers destroy children???s feeling of competence and mastery with negative responses??? (Berk 482). Middle childhood is when my memories start to become clear. At a young age, my mother started preparing me for schooling by giving me age appropriate worksheets to help me with my academics. My father would help me with counting money and mathematics.I can remember even before kindergarten started, they would be helping me prepare for different subjects in school.

In first grade, I had a tutor that would also help me with schoolwork. With all of this help, a child should feel confident and feel a sense in pride of accomplishment, but unfortunately, my hearing loss caused me much insecurity with school. Before kindergarten started, I was fitted for my first hearing aids. I feel that with worrying about other children???s thoughts and opinions on my hearing aids, according to Erikson, my peers destroyed my feelings of competence.Identity versus Identity Confusion Erikson, being the first one to identify ???identity???, says that constructing an identity includes ???defining who you are, what you value, and the directions you choose to pursue in life??? (Berk 600).

Finding out who you are and what is true compels many choices, especially not until late in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Identity crisis is a term Erikson formed explaining the temporary period of distress a person goes through as they experiment before they settle on values and goals, but even once an identity is formed, it can continue to be refined in adulthood (Berk).The psychological conflict of adolescence, Erikson named identity versus role confusion. Erikson believed that because of the successful outcomes of earlier stages in infancy and childhood, there should be a clear path towards a positive resolution (Berk). The alternative, children who had negative experiences with trust, and little autonomy or initiative, or lack industry experience more of an identity crisis.

Through out my early adulthood, I witnessed many friends go through what Erikson named an identity crisis.Many friends colored their hair bold colors, cut their hair short and even got dreads. I had friends experiment with their sexuality, challenged their morals with drugs, and some even challenged their religion. Many friends decided to go ???goth??? while others wore pink and called themselves ???prep???. Middle and High School was a rough time for many of my peers where I thought finding my identity was easy.

I feel that the friends I was hanging with were going through so much that I learned and experienced through them.The successful psychosocial outcome of my infancy and childhood, I feel, paved my way towards a positive identity resolution. Intimacy versus Isolation Intimacy is defined by Erikson as ???a fusing of identities??? (Adams & Kacerguis). In this stage love relationships are the most important events.

???Intimacy??? refers to a person???s ability to relate to another human being on a deep, personal level. It is important for younger adults to develop an intimate relationship with another person because isolation can be felt.Young adults must be willing to be open and committed to other individuals. It is ???the capacity to commit to one self to concrete affiliations and partnerships and to develop the ethical strength to abide by such commitments even though they may call for significant sacrifices and compromises??? (Adams & Kacerguis).

If the intimacy stage does not happen, then it is believed that impersonal or superficial interpersonal relationships are to be formed. Individuals who do not develop a sense of identity, fear committed relationships and often subside to isolation.Erikson believes that these individuals are fearful that the combination of identities with another person will result in loss of their own identity, even with the people around them (Adams & Kacerguis). I started becoming intimate in middle school and all throughout high school and dated a few different guys, and through every one of those experiences I grew to find my own identity even more.

For four years of high school, I dated a boy who was my best friend. Looking back on the failed relationship, I let this boy consume most of my time, thoughts, and energy to the point that I had lost most of my long lasting friends.My mother used to tell me that my consumption was not healthy. It turns out, that my mother was right. Although my mother was right, I learned to relate to another human being on a deeper and more personal level than my other friends who never had a relationship through high school.

After the fourth year of being together, the boy and I went our separate ways following by unbearable pain, which took me years to get over. Looking back on to it, I feel that I lost myself into this boy because, like Erikson explained, we combined such an identity together that I had no idea who I was, my dislikes versus likes, or was able to make myself happy.It took me awhile to start dating again because I was very fearful of letting that happen to me again, plus I was in love with being single and focusing on myself! Generatively versus Stagnation Erikson???s stage of generatively versus stagnation refers to adults and their ability to care for another person. In this stage, parenting is the most important occurrence and if this adult has the ability to care for another human and if they are able to guide them to the next generation. But, generatively has a broader meaning and does not just mean having children Bradley).

According to Erikson, ???A person does best at this time to put aside thoughts of death and balance its certainty with the only happiness that is lasting: to increase, by whatever is yours to give, the goodwill and higher order in your sector of the world??? (Bradley). You can give generatively through child rearing, caring for others, or productive work. A person who ???fails in these ways feels an absence of meaningful accomplishment??? (Berk 16). These individuals must deal with these concerning issues because it can often lead to stagnation later in life.I have yet to reach the age where I am ready to have children on my own, but having children has always been a wish of mine.

Although, I have thought against it because people who do not have children seem to have much more money, but these people do not seem as if they fulfilled their full potential as a human being. I feel that people who do not have children are missing out on so much, including the friendship and bonding that you can have with your own child. My mother has always told me that I had such a caring personality and that I would be a great mother.I have pretending to be a mother through play as a child and cannot wait for the day to come. Currently, I am caring for children of all different ages at the day care facility that I am working it. From just playing with these kids for thirty hours throughout the week, I get so much gratitude and happiness from teaching them something I know.

Recently, I have showed all of the children how to fold their tongue like a burrito, and then twist it from side to side. It has been fun and interesting to watch them see me do it for the first time ever and then attempt to do it with their tongue.The moments like these are the moments that I cannot wait for with my own children. Integrity versus Despair Erikson???s last stage occurs in late adulthood.

Erikson explains that accepting one???s whole life is important and being able to reflect on that life in a positive manner is leads to integrity. According to Erikson, ???achieving a sense of integrity, means fully accepting oneself and coming to terms with death??? (Bradley). Adults should be able to accept their responsibility for their life and being able to undo the past and achieve atisfaction with one???s self is vital.Adults who are able to do this, feel a sense of fulfillment about life and ???accepts death as unavoidable reality??? (Bradley).

Not being able to do this, results in despair because they are unable to obtain a feeling of fulfillment and completeness. Older people who are dissatisfied with their lives fear death (Berk). Although I am not old enough to speak from experience on this stage of life, I feel as if I will be able to prepare myself for this stage and lead a life that is positive and will lead to integrity.Because of my parents ability to give me balance of love and security through all of Erikson???s stages, I believe I will lead a happy older adult life. I have an older friend who has just turned 45 and has experienced a lot in just those 45 years.

Recently she has been noticing that her looks have been aging faster than ever before. Every time I see her look in the mirror she gives me the advice to ???embrace aging! There is nothing you can do about it, so embrace and fall in love with the change. ??? This advice makes me smile recalling on it and is something that I will constantly remind myself when I am older.Works Cited

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