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Developmental Theories

Erik Erikson's Eight Stages of Life

Erik Erikson described eight stages of human development from childhood through adulthood. Through this stages each person is growing mentally and physically and built his/her own identity. People are pushed through the stages by their biological and by the social clock of the society in which they live.Each stages contain dilemma, in which the person is challenged by new situation and circumstances. Failure to resolve a dilemma suggests that the person might face some difficulties later in life.
Erikson defined the dilemma during adolescence early adulthood as identity versus role confusion. Every individual is challenged to define who he/she is and will be in the future. Young people face many decision such as what work to do, how to be a man/woman and what to believe in.
The dilemma in early adulthood is intimacy versus isolation. Intimacy is being able to merge your identity with someone else's without losing yourself in the process. The basic strength that is acquired by resolving the dilemma of intimacy versus isolation is LOVE, meaning overall sense of caring and generosity toward others. Erikson suggest that women can develop identity and intimacy in the relationship and at the same time, (Carol Gillian also suggest this idea), while men usually can not commit to others until they are sure of their own identity. Adults focus on their contribution to society in the next stage of life, generativity versus stagnation. The challenge of this stage is to decide how to make an individual contribution to society , and by doing so, acquire the basic strenght of CARING.

Jane Loevinger's Theory of Ego Development

She identified 10 stages in the formation of the EGO, a term introduced by Sigmund Freud, meaning the understanding of self.
Ego development begins in infancy with understanding that you are an individual separate from your mother. She describes full ego development as having an AUTONOMOUS SELF, a complex concept that includes being a self- reliant person who accepts oneself and others as multifaceted and unique.
She suggest that few adults ever achieve full ego development , but strive toward that goal for life time. In Loevinger's Theory, young adults are at a transitional SELF- AWARE LEVEL between CONFORMIST STAGE and the CONSCIENTIOUS STAGE.
Adolescent at the conformist stage view life in stereotypical way as black and white.

Young adults at the self- aware level begin to understand and accept individual differences and to distinguish the variations in feeling and that make us unique.
Thus , Loevinger echoes Erikson's Theory that individuals require a clear sense of themselves before they can form truly intimate relationship with others.
However Loevinger concluded from her research that because most people spent a lifetime developing this ability, the progress from one stage to the next is determined by an individual's psychological clock, not by chronological age or the social enviroment.

The Family Life Cycle

It is a stage when parents and children must separate one another so that young adults can accept emotional responsibility for themselves. According to the family life-cycle theory, three developmental tasks must be mastered for this to happen.

1. Young adults must form an identity separate from that of the family of origin. This process of INDIVIDUATION requires young adults to "sort out emotionally what they will take along from the family of origin, what they will leave behind, and what they create for themselves." (Carter & McGoldrick, pg.13)
2. Young adults must develop new intimate relationship with peers outside the family to provide the social and emotional support they need.
3. Young adults must make their first tentative commitment to a career or workplace role.

Parents play important role in development of the adult at this stage. Parents must be tolerant of differences of opinion as young adult makes occupational choices. Daniel Levinson's Theory of the Seasons of Life

Daniel Levinson has proposed that era of early adulthood lasts 25 years, beginning at about 17 years of age and ending with transition to middle age in the early forties. During the early adult transition, from the ages of 17 to 22 years, his research suggest, an individual must leave behind adolescent life and begin to prepare an adult LIFE STRUCTURE. During period from the age of 22 to about 28 years, the individual is ENTERERING THE ADULT WORLD> Early adulthood is a time for building the structure of one's life. According to Levinson "the life structure is the pattern or design of life, a meshing of self-in-world" ( 1978,p.278). He identified 4 major tasks of this period :

1. Forming a dream and giving it a place in the life structure
2. Forming mentor relationships
3. Forming an occupation
4. Forming love relationship, marriage, and Family

The DREAM is the individual's sense of self in the adult world and is the core of the life structure (Levinson, 1978). Men are more likely to described Dreams involving occupational accomplishment, but some men and many women describes Dreams related to community and family (Levinson,1996).
From the ages of 22 to 28, young adults build and test a preliminary life structure that integrates work, love, and community to attain their Dreams.
The age 30 TRANSITION occurs between the ages of 28 to 33 years.

Individuals re-evaluate the life structures that they formed in their early twenties to determine whether they are living out their dreams.

Klaus Riegel's Interpretation of Development

American psychologist Klaus Riegel suggest that development in adulthood occurs not in predictable stages but as individuals adjust in response to the interaction of both internal and external changes. His theory accepts an internal biological clock and a changing external social clock. He identified 4 interrelated internal and external dimensions of development :

1. The INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL DIMENSION describes emotional maturity and independance, and the maturity of mental processes.
2. The INDIVIDUAL BIOLOGICAL DIMENSION describes physical and sexual maturity.
3. The CULTURAL-SOCIOLOGICAL DIMENSIONS describes the expectations and opportunities that each society defines for individuals.
4. The ENVIROMENTAL DIMENSION describes the physical, economic, and political environment in which the individual lives. ( Kimmel,1990)

Since Riegel's theory integrates internal physical and psychological dimensions with external social and environmental dimensions, it explains how the pace of adult development reflects the changing social clock.

Leonard Pearlin's Theory of Psychological Distress

He disagreed with stage theories, suggesting that adulthood is not a series of transitions from one period of stability to another , but rather a lifetime of continuous change in which individuals might experience occasional periods of stability. According to Pearlin, 4 elements determine the path that individual lives will take :

1. Individual characteristics ,such as gender, race, intelligence, family background, personality, and education
2. The range of skills individuals have for coping with stress or change
3. The availability of social support networks
4. The nature and timing of stress that requires response ( bee, 1987)

He agreed that early adulthood might be the time for acting on the dreams of adolescence. However , he believed that people are able to change the life structure at any time ( Smesler & Erikson, 1980).
Pearlin is suggesting that the patterns that Erikson, Levinson ,and other developmental theorists have observed are a COHORT EFFECTS, that the changes in behavior result from socialized responses to a common social clock rather than from age-linked inner changes.

Individuals and Families in a diverse society -

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