Throughout his entire life, a person undergoes physical and emotional upheavals. This transition starts from birth till death. The varied experiences and skill carry us from one stage to another. Opposites like good and bad, independent and dependent, leader or follower etc. govern the life. Erik Erikson divided the human life into eight stages from birth till death, based on the interaction of body, mind and ego. Read on to know various stages in a person’s life.
Various Stages In A Person's Life
Psychologist Erik Erikson describes eight stages of development in human lives.
Stage 1: Infancy
Time Span: Birth to eighteen months.
Babies tend to put everything in their mouth, which made Erikson refer infancy as Oral Sensory Stage. This stage is characterized by the dependence of the infant on the mother for basic sustenance. The baby feels the world through the parents. When all the needs of the infant are met at this stage, a basic understanding of thrust and confidence is developed. If the infant doesn’t experience thrust then a deep rooted feeling of mistrust and worthlessness is developed. In this period, the most significant relationship is with the constant caregiver. The psychological conflict in infancy is between trust and mistrust, and the basic strength ingrained is hope.
Stage 2: Early childhood
Time Span: Eighteen months to 2 to 3 years.
Though parents still remain the main objects of security, the toddler is on the process of mastering skills like walking, talking and feeding by themselves. The kid learns that he or she is independently capable of doing things. Learning skills gives more control over the body, in sense autonomy. The child asserts his/her will and increased mobility increases the self-esteem. Encouragements from the parents instill autonomy while demanding and restricting the child will develop shame and doubt. The development of ‘will’ is due to the ability of the child to use the word ‘NO’. As in the first stage, the most significant relationship is with the parents or the caregiver. Here the conflict is between autonomy and shame, and the strength is will.
Stage 3: Play age or preschool.
Time Span: 3 to 5 years.
At this stage, the child learns to take initiative. They want to do the things on their own. He or she copies the adults, which is evident in their role-plays. The child also encounters guilt for the first time as a result of frustration and learns basic skills and principles. The child explores the world around it and the mind is full of questions. Conflict arises due to the conflict between initiative and guilt, and the child acquires the basic strength called purpose. Children at this stage develop courage and independence.
Stage 4: School age or childhood.
Time Span: 6 to 12 years
A sense of industry is developed due to the acquiring and creation of new skills and knowledge. The child is active socially and any serious problems in self esteem results in inferiority. There worldview of the child also expands. At this stage, the child measures his or her success and worthfullness. They become aware of their individuality and work on doing the right things. It is the best stage for the development of self-confidence. Here, the psychological tug-of-war is between industry and inferiority. The strength or value gathered is competence. Now the significant relationship shifts from parents to schools and neighborhood.
Stage 5: Adolescence
Time Span: 12 to 18 years
The development shifts from “what is done to us” to “what we do”. Life gets more complex as there is a struggle to find the identity. There is also the struggle to come to terms with social and moral issues. The identity struggle is to find an individuality that is separate from the family but as a part of society. Here, the transition is from childhood to adulthood and so ‘role confusion’ comes into play, as the child ponders on the role he or she has to play as adult. The crisis is between identity and role confusion, and the strength learned is fidelity. The most significant relationship is with the peers.
Stage 6: Young adult
Time Span: 18 to 35 years.
Intimacy is developed as more trust is given on building relationships, either through marriage or through friendships. If there is failure to develop intimacy then the result is isolation. There is a feeling of love and of being wanted. Pain and rejection becomes familiar. The strength learned is love and the crisis is between intimacy and isolation. The relationships are with the spouse and friends.
Stage 7: Middle adulthood
Time Span: 35 to 55 years
Outmost importance is given to work and the person is devoted to creative and meaningful issues. Productivity and transmitting of cultural values and working for the betterment of society occupy the person. There is always the fear of inactivity and meaninglessness. The struggle is to find new meanings and purpose the failure of which can lead to self-absorption. The conflict is between generativity and stagnation and the strength that characterizes this stage is care. The relationship is with the family and workplace.
Stage 8: Late adulthood
Time Span: 55 years till death
Happiness and contentment for a life well lived gives a sense of integrity. There is a fulfilling sentiment that life has a meaning, and the person has contributed towards it. However, if they view their experiences as failure and still struggle to find a purpose then despair sets in. The strength at this stage is wisdom and the conflict is between integrity and despair. The relationship is with the entire mankind.