Friday, February 27, 2009


Every semester the writing center gets a lot of undergrad "customers" in clusters right when a certain psych paper is due, about stages of human development as defined by Erik Erikson. In this, my fourth semester as a tutor there, I'm now pretty familiar with Erikson's theories because I've read the same paper so many times. And I like them. As I just told a student, it's interesting to me that a psychologist wouldn't necessarily need to stop charting someone's social progress once they reached adulthood. If an adult at age 55 still valued "finding a soul mate" (intimacy vs. isolation, stage 6) over "living a life of meaning"(generativity vs. stagnation, stage 7), this might be seen as a red flag on par with a teenager still sucking his thumb.

It occurs to me that I and many people I'm friends with, at our tender age, are seesawing between stages 6 and 7, leaning a little more toward 7 -- though Erikson would posit that we wouldn't be ready for that for another 10 years. Is that a writer thing? Does it go along with the emerging theory that humans are getting smarter? It's all quite a delightful mind-bend. The Wikipedia article here.


j.m. said...

I don't think it's a writer thing. I think it's a flaw in Mr. Erikson's theory.

Amanda said...

Criticisms of it state that people who progress through the stages at an irregular or inconsistent rate still function highly.

I think.