Identity Development

In the identity chapter, the first theorist that we talked about is SIgmund Freud. Freud spent a lot of time studying the unconscious mind and came to the conclusion that we may not always be fully aware of what we are doing or why we are doing it. He studied the unconscious mind by listening to his patients talk freely about whatever comes to mind as well as analyzing his patients dreams. In Freud’s theory of personality development he divides the mind into three parts: the id, the super-ego, and the ego. The id is the part of the mind that is already there at birth and it controls basic desires and instincts and focuses solely on pleasure. The super-ego develops at age five and has to do with the conscience and ego ideal. The ego does not develop until infancy or early childhood and it serves as a sort of mediator between the id and super-ego, which allows the desires for pleasure to be met in moral and socially acceptable ways. Freud also developed different stages of libido and what can occur if the child does not develop to the full potential during each stage. The first stage is oral, which occurs during infancy. The focus of libido during this stage is the mouth and the ways to further development are to wean a child off of bottles or pacifiers. If this development is not met, a negative consequence may be premature weaning, which can potentially lead to overeating and smoking in adult life. The next stage is the anal stage, which occurs during toddlerhood. The focus of libido is the anus and potty training can help further development during this stage. If this stage is not fulfilled properly, the child can become too lenient, which can cause them to be anal-expulsive or anal-retentive. The next stage is the phallic stage, which occurs during early childhood. The focus of libido is the genitalia and recognizing the Oedipus and Electra complexes can help to further development. The negative consequence of the incompletion of this stage would be the Oedipus and Electra complexes. The next stage is the latency stage, which occurs during middle childhood. There is no focus of libido and fostering social skills will help further development. The final stage is the genital stage, which occurs during adolescence. The focus of libido is the genitals and embracing sexual maturity helps to further development during this stage. Ideally, after this stage the complexes will be resolved and the child will be able to relate to the parent of the same sex.

The next theorist we looked at is Erik Erikson who developed the eight stages of man. This consists of eight different stages that correspond with different phases of life. The first stage is from birth to eighteen months and the crisis is basic trust vs.mistrust. This stage focuses on infants being able to build trust for their parents and those who take care of them. The virtue is hope, the pathology is withdrawal, and the focus is parental relationships. The next stage lasts from 18 months to three years old. The crisis is autonomy vs. shame and doubt, which centers around the child achieving independence and self control while maintaining a certain level of self esteem. The virtue is self control and will, the pathology is compulsion, and the focus is potty training. The next stage lasts from ages three to five and the crisis is initiative vs. guilt. This stage requires that the child be able to explore new relationships and activities and find a sense of purpose. The virtue is purpose, the pathology is inhibition, and the focus is exploration. The next stage lasts from ages six through twelve and the crisis is industry vs. inferiority. This stage focuses on doing well in an academic and competitive setting. The virtue is competence, the pathology is inactivity, and the focus is achievement. The next stage lasts from ages twelve to eighteen and the crisis is identity vs. role confusion. This stage occurs at the same time puberty hits and focuses on the child finding themselves. The virtue is fidelity, the pathology is abandonment, and the focus is identity development. The next stage lasts from ages eighteen to thirty-five and the crisis is intimacy vs. isolation. This stage focuses on the ability to commit to a long-term relationship. The virtue is love, the pathology is exclusivity, and the focus is intimate relationship. The next stage lasts from ages thirty five to between ages fifty-five and sixty-five. During this stage, people are often more focused on giving back to the younger generation. The virtue is care, the pathology is overextension, and the focus is giving back. The final stage lasts from between ages fifty-five and sixty-five until death and the crisis is ego integrity vs. despair. Since the people in this stage are near death, they mainly reflect on their own lives and accomplishments. The virtue is wisdom, the pathology is disdain, and the focus is the reflection of one’s life.

This graphic shows the eight stages and the age ranges they belong to.

This graphic shows the eight stages and the age ranges they belong to.

The last theorist we discussed is James Marcia. He came up with four identity statuses that are measured based on two factors: crisis/exploration, which involves exploring different options, and commitment, which involves committing to an identity or decision. The first status is known as identity diffusion and is a combination of low exploration and low commitment. The second status is identity foreclosure, which is a combination of low exploration and high commitment. The next status is identity moratorium, which is a combination of high exploration and low commitment. The final status is identity achievement, which is a combination of high exploration and high commitment.

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