Psychosocial Stage of Development

Psychologists have recognized that one of the many factors that affects the development, or lack thereof, of an individuals personality are the situations and events that he or she had experienced throughout his or her life.  This was the crux of the study of psychoanalysis which was begun by Sigmund Freud and eventually developed further by Erik Erikson by providing further explanation to the different stages of psychosocial development undergone by individuals throughout their life.  This paper aims to focus of the current psychosocial stage of development the student is currently facing at this point in her life based on the different stages of development presented by Erik Erikson.  Apart from providing information regarding the intimacy versus isolation stage of development of Erik Erikson, I will also present various personal characteristics and events that had occurred in my life that had led her to be in this particular stage of the Erikson psychosocial stage of development as well as how this has influenced my relationship with other people and my own self-perception.

Intimacy Vs. Isolation According to Erikson
According to Erik Erikson, the personality of an individual develops in stages due to a crisis that the individual faces.  He stated that the manner on how an individual approaches a particular crisis and manages to deal with this particular crisis would determine the kind of personality that the individual would develop and carry on throughout his or her life.

Intimacy vs. isolation is the sixth of the eight psychosocial stage presented by Erikson.  This, according to Erikson, allows an individual the ability to establish and sustain interpersonal relationships with other individuals.  This stems from the formation of the ego-identity of the individual through different situations and events that involved a gradual need for examination, rejection and integration on the part of the individual.  Individuals who are able to succeed in dealing with these circumstances and events are those that have a high self-confidence.  On the other hand, failure to be able to develop ones ego-identity would lead to the individual developing to identity confusion, which can cause the individual the inability to hold on, develop and foster meaningful relationship and roles.

In retrospect, isolation occurs when an individual is hesitant in risking his or her identity through sharing intimacy in interpersonal relationships.  This often results in the exhibition of the individuals reluctance in accepting and giving out any form of care and affection towards another individual (Markstrom  Kalmanir 2001).  An individual who experiences isolation deals with feelings of shame, inferiority and having a low self-esteem and confidence towards oneself.  This is because shame is considered to be a feeling that is experienced by an individual who perceives that he or she is under the impression that he or she is being exposed, unworthy, defective and diminished as an individual.  This feeling often results from personal experiences that an individual has gone through in the past.

Personal Background of the Student
I am a 46-year old woman who has worked in law enforcement for over 25 years.  I am a person who considers my ability to communicate and willingness to help among my strongest personality traits as I had been the individual to whom my friends would seek help and assistance from.  As a result, I consider myself to be an individual who tends to concern herself with too many problems.  I also consider myself to be a creature of habit, a trait that I had developed growing up as I followed in my mothers footsteps, particularly when it comes to her interpersonal relationships.  Growing up, I remember many occasions where I had observed my mother catering to my father at all times, regardless of my mothers own personal needs.

Recently, I had experienced an extremely traumatic event in my life.  Despite the caring nature that I had developed growing up, I had to constantly deal with rejection, particularly from men with whom I had developed an intimate relationship with.  This was further heightened after her ex-husband left her and her child to pursue a relationship with another woman who is more well off than I was.

Psychosocial Stage of Development of the Student
Looking at my life right now, I can say that I am currently in Eriksons psychosocial stage of development of Intimacy vs. Isolation.  The constant rejection of men she had developed intimate relationships with has caused her to develop personality traits that are in line with those individuals that Erikson had considered those who are classified in the isolation spectrum of this psychosocial stage of development.  On the positive perspective, by undergoing this psychosocial stage of development, I have become more empathetic and sympathetic to individuals who are in crisis.  This allows me to be able not only to become an effective law enforcer.  The experiences that I had undergone had provided me with the knowledge which I am able to share to her friends who are facing similar situations, allowing them to be able to face similar difficult situations in their own lives.

On the other hand, these traumatic experiences have also brought about negative results, particularly on my personal perception towards developing another intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender.  Because of the constant rejection I had experienced in previous relationships with men, and being replaced with women who are materially more fortunate than I was, I began to develop a perception that it is this type of women that men are now seeking to foster a long-term intimate relationship with.  Despite her positive characteristics, I admit that I am now apprehensive to start and foster an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender for fear of being rejected in the end. At the same time, these experiences have caused me to develop a low perception of myself by viewing my socio-economic status as a primary cause for me to see herself as defective, unworthy and diminished as an individual.  As a result, I now face a variety of fears and troubling thoughts, which include the fear of being unworthy and unable to have and foster a long-term intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender.  While I may have recently began and is currently in an intimate relationship with another man, these fears and feelings remain to be very much real to me.

Developmental psychologists such as Erikson sought to determine what exactly would affect the development of the personality of a particular individual as well as why certain individuals would develop dissimilar personality traits despite undergoing similar situations and events.  This led to Erikson developing his psychosocial stages of development, which showed that each stage has two particular personalities that may develop.  How a particular individual responds to a life-changing situation or event would determine which personalities would develop.

This paper focused on the Intimacy vs. Isolation psychosocial stage of development which is the stage of development I view myself to be currently facing.  Experiences of rejection from men in previous relationships and being replaced with women who are more socio-economically stable than I am has caused me to develop perceptions of diminishment, unworthiness and inferiority.  Despite my current relationship, the previous experiences of the past have caused me to become more apprehensive in exposing herself and thereby hindering the development of an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender.


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