3.10. Crisis = time-limited, disruptive, challenge

Are you in a crisis? According to Erik Erikson, we all are. Erikson divides psychosocial development into eight stages. Each period comes with its own "crisis," which once resolved, yields an appropriate "virtue."

0-1.5 years: Baby learns to trust, or mistrust the world. The former yields hope; the latter does not. Seems like many of us are still working on this one.

1.5-3 years: Toddler's crisis (or rather, Toddler's parents' crisis) involves a battle between autonomy v. shame & doubt. Making it through this stage confirms the child's (free) will. No, _____, this does not mean you always get your way.

3-5 years: The Preschooler may struggle with initiative v. guilt, but "purpose" emerges as a way to make sense of it all (hence the Why? why? Whyyyyyyy? WHHHYYY?s). A little bit of guilt here and there is fine for the developing ego and superego.

5-12 years: The School-age Child feels anxious about industry v. inferiority, ideally striving for competency. Failures are good for development of modesty, but being too hard on the child can lead to an inferiority complex.

12-18 years: Adolescents on their way to "fidelity" (the virtue Erikson ascribes as their goal) battle with identity v. role confusion. Somewhere between childhood morality and adult ethics, Adolescents figure out who they are. Don't worry if you still don't know who you are, since that's always a moving target.

18-40 years: In this terribly long window, "Young" Adults try for "love" while dealing with issues of intimacy v. isolation (almost read this word as "violation," which unfortunately can also occur). Long-term, happy relationships are a goal, which hopefully isn't asking too much.

40-65 years: The Middle Adult's concerned with generativity v. stagnation. A mid-life crisis may send one back to nursing (or whatever) school, lead to divorce, purchase of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, etc. Giving to society or the next generation and feeling a sense of satisfaction with one's life culminates in the virtue of caring.

65+: The Mature Adult brings wisdom to the table, though understandable shifts between despair and the self-acceptance of ego integrity occur secondary to the human condition and other heavy stuff.


  1. I captivated by your examples and brief summaries of each of life’s stages.

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