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Independent Studies: Developmental Disabilities, Essay Example

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Words: 2137

Essay

Introduction

Ericson[1] described the 8 life crises in the ‘ ego entry vs. Despair Stage'[2]. This paper discusses how the stage relates to older adults and aged people with disabilities. The paper is split into three distinct parts (i) the research related to this topic (ii) how the concept relates to seniors with disabilities and (iii) the validity of Ericson’s concept.  The paper addresses the question of how valid is Ericson’s concept and usefulness of same?. Ericson identified the following eight stages:

  1. Infant (Hope) – Basic Trust vs. Mistrust
  2. Toddler (Will) – Autonomy vs. Shame
  3. Preschooler (Purpose) – Initiative vs. Guilt
  4. School-Age Child (Competence) – Industry vs. Inferiority
  5. Adolescent (Fidelity) – Identity vs. Identity Diffusion
  6. Young Adult (Love) – Intimacy vs. Isolation
  7. Middle-aged Adult (Care) – Generativity vs. Self-absorption
  8. Older Adult (Wisdom) – Integrity vs. Despair

This paper focuses upon the last stage of Older Adult Wisdom – Integrity vs. Despair.

Research related to this topic

The following academic works advanced the research in this area:

  • A new inventory for examining Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development :  (Doreen A. Rosenthal, 2005).  ” The self-report questionnaire, developed in a pilot study of 97 adolescents and tested in a study of 622 adolescents, has 12 items for each subscale. Measures of reliability and validity are reported. It is concluded that the Erikson Psychosocial Stage Inventory (EPSI) is a useful measure for researchers interested in development from early adolescence and in mapping changes as a function of life events.”
  • The Problem of Ego Identity :  (Erikson, 1956)  Erikson discusses the 8th Stage in his ego despair concept.
  • Reminiscing and Ego Integrity in Institutionalized Elderly Males :  (William Boylin, 1976) ” Erikson’s theory predicts that reminiscing is an important part of satisfactory adjustment in old age. A questionnaire on reminiscing was administered to elderly institutionalized veterans, along with scales to assess the dimensions of ego adjustment. Those men who reminisced most frequently achieved higher scores on the measure of ego integrity. The relationship between negative affect of reminiscing and ego integrity which was found to exist suggested that reminiscence in this sample was in the form of the life review”.
  • Cross-cultural investigation of the validity of Erikson’s theory of personality development:  (Ochse, 1986) ” Constructed a self-report questionnaire for measuring the personality components that, according to E. H. Erikson (1950, 1959, 1968) are formed before the onset of old age. This applied to a sample of 1,859 15–60 yr old South African White and Black males and females. Results indicate that the reliability of the total scale was high for both Black and White Ss. The reliabilities of the subscales were adequate. Evidence of the validity of the scale is discussed”.
  • Psychosocial development in the elderly: An investigation into Erikson’s ninth stage:  (Lowis, 2003). ” This study investigated Joan Erikson’s suggestion [Erikson, E. H. (1998). The life cycle completed. Extended version with new chapters on the ninth stage by Joan M. Erikson. New York: Norton] that there is a ninth stage to Erik Erikson’s [Erikson, E. H. (1963). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.] Theory of Psychosocial Development to address the challenges of extreme later life. Questionnaires to measure resolution of Stages 8 and 9, compiled from original descriptions, were completed by 32 women aged in their 80s or 90s, and 32 women aged in their 60s. Results showed there to be a significant correlation between age and resolution of Stage 9 (P=.01), but not for Stage 8, and a significant difference between the mean scores of the two age groups for Stage 9 (P=.03), but not for Stage 8. Recognition that there could be a stage of psycho-social development applicable to people aged in their 80s and 90s, would be a source of comfort to aging individuals themselves, as well as invaluable to friends, relatives, and carers.”
  • Natural history of male psychological health: IX. Empirical evidence for Erikson’s model of the life cycle:  (Milofsky, 1980) ” The authors examine Erikson’s model of the life cycle by reviewing two 40-year prospective studies, one of 392 men from high-crime core-city neighbourhoods and the other of 94 successful college students. The empirically defined developmental stage of each man at age 47 and many other facets of each man’s life course were rated by judges blind to other data. The studies identified a well-defined, career consolidation stage that falls between Erikson’s stages of intimacy and generativity. The results support three hypotheses. First, the stages of men’s life cycle must be passed through sequentially; failure to master one stage usually precludes mastery of subsequent stages. Second, the age at which a given stage is mastered varies enormously. Third, the stage attained by middle life appears quite independent of childhood social class or education, although adult maturation is correlated with whether childhood was conducive to basic trust, autonomy, and initiative.”
  • A Test of Erikson’s Theory of Ego-Stage Development by Means of a Self-Report Instrument:  (Koskela, 1970).  ” The validity and reliability of a self-questionnaire was tested on students. “
  • Successful Aging: A Developmental Approach: (Ryff, 2010) ” The unique challenges and growth processes of middle and late adulthood have not been fully incorporated into previous studies of successful aging. This article examines earlier conceptualizations of successful aging and calls for a reformulation that is more responsive to developmental processes and theoretical guidance. Issues of operational definitions, selective sampling, and stage theory are discussed, and the perspective is illustrated with empirical research in the personality realm”
  • Relationships between career indecision subtypes and ego identity development: (Cohen, Chartrand, & Jowdy, 1995) ” Four cluster groups of career-undecided college students (N = 423) were formed from Career Factors Inventory scores. Career decision groups were compared across Erikson’s first 5 stages of ego identity development as measured by the Ego Development Scale (R. Ochse & C. Plug, 1986). It was predicted that career decision groups would differ in level of ego identity resolution, with groups that experienced the most indecision reporting the least successful resolution. Using profile analysis, overall profile parallelism, level, and shape were examined, and comparisons of career decision groups within the sub stages were made. Results indicated that the 4 career decision groups differed in their degree of successful identity resolution in the predicted direction. Results are related to career interventions and treatment”
  • Generativity Versus Stagnation: An Elaboration of Erikson’s Adult Stage of Human Development:  (Slater, 2003) ” Erik Erikson’s theory of human development posits 8 stages of life. This paper gives special attention to the adult stage of generativity vs. stagnation. A review of recent research provides new concepts that can be added to Erikson’s chart of development in the form of 7 psychosocial conflicts that give breadth to the central crisis of generativity vs. stagnation. They are inclusivity vs. exclusivity, pride vs. embarrassment, responsibility vs. ambivalence, career productivity vs. inadequacy, parenthood vs. self-absorption, being needed vs. alienation, and honesty vs. denial. Each conflict is connected to one of Erikson’s other stages of development. Given this framework, case studies of leaders could provide further knowledge about generativity as the intersection of society and the human life cycle.”

According to Prof. Ericson the later generation have the capacityto generate late life development and this gift may be passed on to the next generation. It is the concept of telling them what we have learnt from life. Ericson captioned the title ” I am what survives of me”. The USA is at a crisis point in that it contains a large pool of ageing talent, a result of the baby boomer period; this aging population will create a resource crisis.

The ageing group also have a large number of people left in the fringes. It is estimated that between 250,000 to 1 million Americans  fall into this category. Ageing services staff are not familiar with working with this type of group with developmental disabilities and as such are not prepared to help and assist this particular group of society.

Erikson believed that most of life is a preparation for middle adulthood stage.  Finally, the last stage is recovering from it.  As we grow older most of us can reflect and look back on our lives with a degree of contentment; the concept of life having true meaning and that we have made a contribution to it.  This feeling Ericson described as ‘Integrity’.  Hence individual strength is derived from the knowledge and wisdom of the world being extremely large and that we are somewhat detached from it and as such merely accepting death as the completion of life. The alternative is that some adults may despair at reaching this stage in their journey and a reflection on failures or a meaningless contribution may leave them asking ” was the journey worth it?” This can often cause a crisis late in life where there becomes a desperate flurry in order to add purpose and meaning into what is perceived as a wasted life.  ” Older adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.”  (Cherry, 2010).

Chart adapted from Erikson's 1959 Identity and the Life Cycle

Chart adapted from Erikson’s 1959 Identity and the Life Cycle (Psychological Issues vol 1, #1)

Summary

What Erikson is trying to tell us is that we need to develop ego integrity with a minimal amount of despair.  In order to achieve this we need a sense of detachment from society.  Many of us hold jobs for a long period of our lives and when retirement comes there is a sense of closure and a feeling of usefulness.  It is something that we have to acknowledge and prepare for.  It is a sense of biological uselessness as it is also a time when many women go through the menopause and men are often faced with new illnesses like prostate cancer, heart troubles, arthritis and diabetes.  We are suddenly for the first time confronted with our mortality and sense of vulnerability.  It is also a time when many of our friends and relatives die, including that of our spouses.  Under these circumstances it is not surprising that most of us feel a sense of despair.

Ego integrity means  the need to come o terms with your life, and ultimately feeling at ease with the end of life. If you are able to look back and accept the course of events  and the choices that you made in life as being necessary, then you needn’t fear death. We’ve all made mistakes but if you hadn’t made these mistakes, you wouldn’t be who you are today. Those who have  been very fortunate, or if you had played it safe and made very few mistakes, your life would not have been as rich as it is. “The maladaptive tendency in stage eight is called presumption. This is what happens when a person “presumes” ego integrity without actually facing the difficulties of old age. The malignant tendency is called disdain, by which Erikson means a contempt of life, one’s own or anyone’s. ”  (Boeree, 2006).

Works Cited

Boeree, D. C. (2006). Eric Erikson. Retrieved 4 17, 2010, from Personality theories: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/erikson.html

Cherry, K. (2010). Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages Summary Chart. Retrieved 4 17, 2010, from about.com: http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.htm

Cohen, C. R., Chartrand, J. M., & Jowdy, D. P. (1995). Relationships between career indecision subtypes and ego identity development. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Vol 42(4), , 440-447.

Doreen A. Rosenthal, R. M. (2005). From trust on intimacy: A new inventory for examining erikson’s stages of psychosocial development . Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 525-537.

Erikson, E. H. (1956). The Problem of Ego Identity. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association , 56-121.

Koskela, R. D. (1970). A Test of Erikson’s Theory of Ego-Stage Development by Means of a Self-Report Instrument. The Journal of Experimental Education, Vol. 38, No. 3 , 1-14.

Lowis, C. B. (2003). Psychosocial development in the elderly: An investigation into Erikson’s ninth stage. Journal of Ageing Studies , 415-426.

Milofsky, G. V. (1980). Natural history of male psychological health: IX. Empirical evidence for Erikson’s model of the life cycle. The American Journal of Psychiatery , 1348-1359 .

Ochse, R. (1986). Cross-cultural investigation of the validity of Erikson’s theory of personality development. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 50(6 , 1240-1252.

Ryff, C. D. (2010). Successful Aging: A Developmental Approach. The Gerentologist , 209-214.

Slater, C. L. (2003). Generativity Versus Stagnation: An Elaboration of Erikson’s Adult Stage of Human Development . Journal of Adult Development , 53-65.

William Boylin, B. ,. (1976). Reminiscing and Ego Integrity in Institutionalized Elderly Males. Oxford Journals : The Gerontologist , 118-124.

[1] Erik Erikson (1902 -1994), a German-born American psychoanalyst

[2] Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development considers the impact of external factors, parents and society on personality development from childhood to adulthood. According to Erikson’s theory, every person must pass through a series of eight interrelated stages over the entire life cycle

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