Cedar Crest College Philosophy Essay

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Erikson Life Review (assignment description)

Please follow the rubric points (below) in completing your paper. In addition to these points remember that Erikson’s theory sees the resolution of life crises as integral to our personality development. How well we achieve crisis resolution at each stage will affect how we meet and accomplish crises in future stages. Also, although Erikson’s theory states that each life stage has a particular crisis that is addressed at that particular time in our lives, this isn’t to say that an issue of trust, for example, can’t be dealt with again at a later stage of life. However, how we emerge from our first few years of life regarding a sense of trust will inform how we handle and meet future crises that may involve an element of trust (example: trust in an intimate relationship). These are the threads that you want to keep going throughout the paper.

You should start off the paper with a quick introduction of what you’re going to do. Something like…”I’m going to conduct a life review at the age of 80 using Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development” or you could jump right in and start off saying… “As I look back on my life I see various threads of development” (or some other quick intro. sentence) and then get right into it. What I mean by getting “right into it”  is to  begin describing your early infancy years and experiences and apply Erikson’s first stage of trust vs. mistrust to your experiences. For example, you might say> “I was born into a family of three. There was a lot of love in my family and I had a healthy infancy. I talked early and my father always said I was outgoing and very sociable, etc. etc. …” “There were some struggles in my family early on, but I would say I learned to trust people because my family was always there for me and loved me so deeply that when I entered toddlerhood I was ready to face the world.” ” When I was three, and in Erikson’s stage of autonomy and shame and doubt, my older sister remembers that I always liked to talk to people in public and wanted to do everything on my own.” etc,, etc….  ” I guess I learned to be autonomous or independent early on because when I started school, I always did whatever I wanted to do, I never followed the crowd, etc. etc… sometimes this got me into trouble with teachers (give a few examples) but I think it was an important step in my development in becoming a very independent person.” However, once I entered adolescence, I didn’t feel this independence anymore. I really relied on friends and groups to provide me with a sense of belonging and identity. It took me until my early adult years to rebuild my sense of autonomy, but this time it was on an adult level, etc..  I accomplished this by doing …(fill in with some life experiences).

What you are doing in this paper is weaving Erikson’s stages and concepts into the real life events that have happened to you. You will continue doing this for all 8 of his stages, which will take you up to the age of 80 and his final stage of integrity vs. despair.

Paper tips:

*Make sure you address both positive and negative elements of each stage, or if there were no positives or negatives discuss this.

Make sure you address specific physical, cognitive, psychosocial crises that you may have experienced at a given stage (e.g., maybe you were a late talker, maybe your family moved during your adolescent years and you had to make all you friends, etc.- which could have been a psychosocial challenge at the time).

Keep going back to earlier themes as they may come out in different ways later in life.

Make sure you do a re-evaluation/reworking of earlier stages in adolescence and adulthood, per Erikson’s premise.

Make sure you consider and discuss how other people in your life (parents, siblings) may have had an effect on you and how their actions may have reflected their own stage of life crisis.

Paper shouldn’t merely describe your life (this often results in a rather mechanical and generic review of your life via the stages), but should analyze life events using Erikson’s themes (not only the elements of the stages, but the interplay between these elements. )

For example: “I think the earlier crises with initiative v. guilt, even though my parents were very supportive, led me to believe that I should not only try my best, but that I need to be totally successful at everything I do. This worked okay for me in younger years, but when the demands of adolescence, of navigating adult-like roles and relationships, and the academic demands of college began, I felt the need to succeed in a hypernormative way, driving myself to perfection and not settling for anything less than perfect. This took a toll on me and brought about feelings of inferiority… .  It wasn’t until I learned … that I was able to move past these feelings of inferiority and accomplish a greater sense of … .” (fill in the details and experiences)

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