There is no universally accepted definition for the term personality among different psychologists. This is why they have developed different unique theories about personality. However, the term personality can be defined as a given pattern with relatively permanent and unique features which provide individuality and consistency to an individual’s life. It is prudent to note that different psychologist have come up with different theories of personality. However, the father of personality theory still remains to be Sigmund Freud. This is because he was the first person to develop the theory of personality and that other psychologists just borrowed from him. This paper provides a critical and comprehensive analysis of the Erikson’s theory of personality development since the author believe that this is the most important theory that conclusively discuss personality development.
Ideally, Erikson has made tremendous contributions in the field of personality development. Erikson believes that the personality development can best be understood through a series of eight stages which begins at birth and ends at death. According to Erikson, each stage in life is marked by a crisis and therefore, the way different people deals with the crisis affect their personality development. The development of the eight stages is a practical idea which can be used to understand self, others and our daily interaction. For instance, by using the Erikson’s theory of personality development we can deduce why a given child of a given age for example, from birth to age one trust or mistrust others. This is because Erikson tells us that when a child is not loved during his first years of development, then such a child is likely to develop mistrust. This mistrust can develop and be part and parcel of the child even when he grew up.
One specific idea that was developed by Erikson is his ability to come up with the eight developmental stages of personality. For instance, the first stage is known as trust versus mistrust. During this stage, the child develops either trust or mistrust depending on how he has been treated. These stages are unique and important to understanding of personality development in a given subset of age.
Erikson’s theory of personality development though regarded as the best personality theory has its own strength as well as weaknesses. The strength of his theory lies on his ability to develop the eight developmental stages. For instance, the eight developmental stages can serve as a guide which holds across cultures and time. The stages can be used as a framework to understand and define our culture. Other strengths lie on its strong emphasis on adaptive and rational nature as well as interaction of social and biological influences. On the other hand, this theory has its own weaknesses too.
For instance, the theory is sometimes vague and difficult to test. It also mainly focuses on explaining personality development while leaving the most important part which involves describing how development takes place. In addition, the stages of personality development may not hold across time and culture. This is because in some culture, these stages may come earlier or even later. This implies that the timing of these stages may not be accurate.
Engler, B. (2008). Personality Theories: An Introduction. U.S.A: Cengage Learning.
Robert V. Kail, J. C. (2011). Human Development: A Life-Span View, 6th ed.: A Life-Span View. U.S.A: Cengage Learning.