One person who expanded upon Freud's controversial psychosexual theory of development was Erik Erikson. Erikson developed a psychosocial theory of development based on Freud's stages. He emphasized that the ego makes positive contributions to development by attaining attitudes, ideas, and skills at each stage of development. These attainments help children grow into successful, contributing members of society. During each of Erikson's eight stages, there is a psychological conflict that must be successfully overcome in order to develop into a healthy, well-adjusted adult.
Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development are based on (and expand upon) Freud's psychosexual theory. Each stage of development outlines a personal crisis that must be resolved between two different and opposing concepts. Erikson also added to Freud's stages by discussing the cultural implications of development; certain cultures may need to resolve the stages in different ways based upon their cultural and survival needs. The following are the stages and crises to be resolved in Erikson's psychosocial development theory:
- Trust vs. Mistrust - During this stage, infants must learn that adults can be trusted. This occurs when adults meet a child's basic needs for survival. If infants are treated cruelly or their needs are not met appropriately, they will likely grow up with a sense of mistrust for people in the world.
- Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt - By using newly developed skills, toddlers explore the world and attempt to make choices for themselves. Parents must foster a sense of independence in children by providing reasonable choices and not forcing or shaming the child into making decisions.
- Initiative vs. Guilt - Children begin thinking about who they want to be as an adult; this is done through make-believe play with parents and others. Initiative, a sense of ambition and responsibility, occurs when parents allow a child to explore within limits and then support the child's choice. If too much control is pushed on the child, the child may feel guilty about making choices on their own.
- Industry vs. Inferiority - School children must learn to work together with others in a cooperative setting. If children do not learn to get along with others or have negative experiences at home or with peers, an inferiority complex might develop into adolescence and adulthood.
- Identity vs. Role Confusion - Teenagers begin to question various aspects of life, such as who they are and what they want to be. They explore various roles and ideas, set goals, and attempt to discover their "adult" selves. Teenagers who struggle to adopt a positive role will likely struggle to "find" themselves as adults.
- Intimacy vs. Isolation - Young adults start developing more intimate sexual and romantic relationships with others. However, if other stages have not been successfully resolved, these young adults may have trouble developing and maintaining successful relationships with others.
- Generativity vs. Stagnation - During this stage, middle-aged adults begin contributing to the next generation, often through childbirth and caring for others. They also engage in meaningful and productive work, which contributes positively to society. Stagnation occurs if people feel they are not leaving a mark on the world in a meaningful way.
- Integrity vs. Despair - As adults enter their elder years, they reflect on who they are and what they have accomplished. People with a sense of integrity believe they have been successful in life, while despair occurs due to dissatisfaction or fear of death.