Throughout life, we are all changing and evolving. However, in the development of psychology, the process of growth and maturing has been earlier associated only with childhood. Erik Erikson was one of the first theorists, who believed that development continues throughout life. Erikson developed his theory of psychosocial development taking into account the specific cultural context. According to him, each stage in life corresponds to certain expectations the society might have. Erikson introduces eight stages of the life span of every person: Trust vs. Mistrust (birth-18 months old), Autonomy vs. Shame (18 months to 3 years), Initiative vs. Guilt (3 to 5 years), Industry vs. Inferiority (6 to 12 years), Identity vs. Identity Diffusion (12 to 18 years), Intimacy vs. Isolation (18 to 35 years), Generativity vs. Self-absorption (35 to 55 or 65), Integrity vs. Despair (55 or 65 to death).
The psychological theory of Erik Erikson is based not only on the age criteria, but also includes behavioral and social, mental and somatic components. Erickson’s model represents the sequence of eight stages, including the development of crises that must be successfully resolved. There is a specific conflict at each stage, which allows an individual to develop successfully. Every conflict can be resolved by appropriate means or inappropriate ones that can prevent the transition to the next stage of development. It is believed that the crises left unresolved or poorly resolved, continue to occur throughout life, and the person feels insecure in similar situations during the next stages and can not deal with new difficulties and hardships. The most profound life crisis occurs at the fifth stage of development, which can be characterized by rapid physical growth, sexual maturing, concern about the perception of us by others and search of professional calling.
The final stage is also crucial, as people asses their life and their achievements. If a man looks back at his life with few regrets, and feels that it was worth living, it leads to a feeling of satisfaction. If, on the contrary, the person feels hopeless, reflects on his mistakes, it leads to a feeling of despair. According to Erickson, if a person achieves a sense of wholeness and self-identity, he will not be afraid of death, and this means that this person has reached the highest form of psychosocial development.