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Strengths and Weaknesses


Importance in Psychology
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Strengths and Weaknesses of Erik Erikson’s Work          


Some of the strengths concerning Erikson’s work involve his eight stages. Erikson along with several other researchers found that his eight stages serve as a guide that holds across time and cultures as well. While other theorists refer to the ongoing approach of development as phases or transitions, Erikson was not afraid to characterize development as visibly marked stages. Erikson’s eight stages serve as an outline when it comes to defining our culture or even comparing it to a culture that had existed a few centuries ago. Most experimental studies based on Erikson’s work grip around his efforts to ascertain identity, but also around his outlook on adolescence. The Eriksonian theory is used based on the fact that it has been defined as well-equipped to resolve the crisis of early adulthood, this can be successfully reached once the crisis of adolescence has been resolved.

            Some of the weaknesses regarding Erikson’s work also involve his eight stages. If we accept his personal understandings of what each stage stands for, then everything will be ok. What needs to be mentioned is that sometimes in different cultures the timing can be rather off when being compared to the eight stages. A quick example would be potty training. In some cultures babies are potty trained by the time that they are nine months of age. In other cultures a few years pass until they begin the potty training and are even breast fed up until the age of five. Another example is that some cultures people marry as early as the age of thirteen and start having children shortly after that. Today, in our culture we have the tendency to hold off on marriage until around the age of thirty. Another topic that has been pointed out by many theorists is that Erikson’s theory is more applicable to boys than it is for girls. This can be linked back to the fact that he agreed with Freud’s belief that personality differences between boys and girls are biologically based, which originate in the possession or lack of a penis (penis envy). Another controversial aspect refer’s to Erikson’s work belief on identity formation. Something that Erikson did not realize at the time was that more attention should have been paid to the adult lifetime. Erikson’s work had a tendency to pay more attention to infancy and childhood, despite the so-called claim that his eight stages are an entire-life span theory.


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This site was last updated 05/31/06