Erik Erikson was a developmental psychologist. His birthday was June 14, 1902.
To commemorate it, we are having a tournament!
One of Erikson's chief contributions to the field is describing stages of psychosocial development. He described eight stages of psychosocial development a human confronts from infancy to adulthood. Each of these stages is centered around a crisis. For infants, for instance, the crisis is "trust vs. mistrust". Can an infant learn to trust the world, or will they instead learn that the world is unsafe, unnurturing, and unpredictable, and learn to mistrust it?
The 8 crises are:
Trust vs. Mistrust
Autonomy vs. Shame
Initiative vs. Guilt
Industry vs. Inferiority
Identity vs. Role Confusion
Intimacy vs Isolation
Generativity vs. Stagnation
Ego Integrity vs Despair
Which way these crises resolve is variable and depends on the individual and the situation. Sometimes trust wins out; sometimes mistrust.
But let's ask the important questions...
Then, we will know what is the ultimate existential outcome for the human psyche.
Babies are born in the world, and the world is a dangerous place. There are volcanoes, apathy, bee stings, and hunger, and the world doesn't take care of you. Fostering a MISTRUST of the world seems like the only option.
But there is a second option. You can instead learn to depend on people who love you to keep you safe, cared for, and fed. If you do this, maybe you can learn to TRUST the world you live in.
As toddlers get older, they may learn they have AUTONOMY. They might discover they can do things. They can cause things to happen. They can put their clothes on and turn on the radio. They are really QUITE impressive. What could get in the way of this?
Maybe they try and do things but they fail miserably because the things they are trying are too hard. Maybe they are never given the chance to do things. Either way, instead of believing in their ability to do, they nurture doubt and SHAME.
Preschoolers eventually start to clue in on the idea that not only can they do things, but they can plan to do things. What keeps them from just going out and accomplishing everything? For one, GUILT. Now that they know they can affect the world, they know that things can be their fault. They make plans that fail, and start to feel culpable for their failures.
If a kid can overcome these feelings, they might just develop some INITIATIVE.
Everyone is worthless! But if you hone in particularly on how useless you are, you can start to cultivate in yourself a strong sense of INFERIORITY. You have no value. You have no worth. You have nothing to contribute. Go forth with that knowledge.
Or, you could instead, recognize what is special about you? Think about what you are good at and do those things? Accomplish. Strive to demonstrate your INDUSTRY and realize your value in the world.
As you drift through adolescence, you realize that there are many demands on who you are. Some people want you to be one way, some another, and you might want something completely different for yourself. You may not even know what you want, but are scared to decide. If you can reconcile all these competing forces trying to influence who you are, you can develop in yourself a sense of IDENTITY.
Of course, you could fail, and suffer from ROLE CONFUSION, floating through life not really sure who you are. Making decisions is hard. Making decisions about yourself is even harder. Why not just not do it? It's only who you are.
Some people have issues with INTIMACY!
But there's always another choice... consider ISOLATION?
Guess what! You get old and die. And before that, if you are lucky, you start to lose abilities you once had, and eventually find yourself with much less power than you had before. If you measure your worth by how you yourself are improving, your progress slows to nothing, and you run the risk of STAGNATION.
But what if, instead, you developed GENERATIVITY, and defined your worth not just by your own improvement, but the improvement of society and of the younger generation. If you did that, even in your aging, dying body, you'll find yourself still able to progress.
Near the end of your life, you can reflect back. Did your life make sense? Was it worthwhile? Are you able to develop some sense of EGO INTEGRITY? Are you able to think about the person you were and believe "yeah, that made sense."
I hope so, because there's little else to do at that point. Little else to do but DESPAIR.