AdultsErikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development: Young AdultsThe young adult has numerous stresses placed upon them through the route ofdevelopment. Erikson has theorised developmental stages of growth into tasks. OfEriksons’ theoretical tasks, one task describes the theory of intimacy versusisolation. This task theory can be examined using the normative crisis model.
The knowledge of developmental tasks of the young adult can be beneficial to thenurse especially associated with their ability to relate to the young adult.
One of the stages in life is the young adult, which suggests significant changesand an increase of responsibility.
This stage of development is described asbetween twenty and forty years, where “…the potential for furtherance ofintellectual, emotional and even physical development occurs”. (Gething, 1995,p.377). As people age the progress of the developmental stages can differ, sothey have formulated to assess the progression by using two principal crisismodels. The first, are the normative crisis model and the second includes thetiming of events crisis model. The normative crisis model has been powerful inshaping the psychology of the developmental stages as it has allowed theoriststo imply that stages of development can follow an age related time sequence.
The normative crisis model suggests that human development has a built inground plan in which crisis as describe by Erikson are seen as a requirementthat must be resolved by the person before successful progression from onedevelopmental stage to another. Such achievement of this task crisis shouldprovide the young adult with the ability to challenge previous ideas held by theadolescent about intimacy and isolation. This model is adapted for progressionof the tasks to follow the chronological age of the adult, while the relatedsocial and emotional changes progress through a sequence that Eriksoncharacterises in to eight specific crisis tasks over the life span. (Kozier, erb,blais & wilkinson, 1995.).
The second crisis model depends upon the timing of events and is not dependantupon resolution of crisis or a ground plan, but stresses the importance of eachevent that occur in the young adults life. Life events that proceed as expectedwill encourage development, where as life events that are unexpected can resultin anxiety and a slow progression of development. (Gething, 1995.).
The young adult according to Erikson’s theory of personality should beprogressing through the psychosocial crisis of intimacy versus isolation. Thetasks for this stage of life consist of courting and selecting a “mate”,marriage and associated choices, e.g. children and monogamous relationship,career choices and lifestyle changes and furthering intellectual abilities toaccommodate choices. (Turner ; Helms, 1987.). Some of the personal abilitiesthat the young adult must employ include decision making, career planing,understanding nature of increased responsibility and being able to accommodategreater demands of self.
Erikson’s theory describes the crisis of the young adults developmental stagebeing intimacy versus isolation. This indicates the maturity of psychosocialdevelopment from the prior stage of crisis of adolescence. Erikson’s theory hasbeen adapted and modified from Freud’s psychosocial theory to incorporate theentire life span, defining eight crises each with various tasks. (Kozier, et al1995). Erikson believes that “…the greater the task achievement, the healthierthe personality of the person”, (Kozier, et al, 1995, P.572.) thus suggestingfrom his theory that failure to achieve these tasks, will result in theinability to proceed to the next task or crisis. Erikson believed that failureto achieve any given task could lead to a detrimental effect on the ego.
(Rapoport & Rapoport, 1980.)One of the tasks of the theory of intimacy versus isolation, relates to courtingand selecting a mate for marriage. Courting usually starts prior to thisdevelopmental stage and may continue for an undesignated period. Thecontinuation of courtship is entirely reliant on the individual but thedevelopment of issues such as independence and sharing associated within aserious relationship should be initiated. A result of this task achievementshould be that the individual has developed or learned skills that are essentialto relationships, e.g. sacrifice, compromise and commitment. This task isconsidered a major issue that helps the individual to conclude their ownfeelings on intimacy with another. (Gething, 1995.).
The union of marriage is dependant on the partners involved as to the reason toextend a long-term relationship to marriage. Some reasons for marriage canconsist of a long-term commitment to sharing, companionship, monogamousrelationship and a desire to start a family. These characteristics symbolisededication, expression and development of the individual’s identity. Marriage isan opportunity to overcome Erikson’s negative theory of isolation and tocontinue through intimacy in a positive manner. (Turner & Helms, 1987).
These issues of marriage and courtship indicate a sense of achievement betweenidentity and intimacy as Erikson stresses it is important as “…before one canachieve intimacy, it is essential to have a sense of identity, which should beachieved in adolescence” (Gething, 1995, P.401). As this sense of identity andintimacy develop the young adult should also be generating their own sense ofmoral values and ethics related to relationships. (Gething, 1995,P.401). Eriksonalso considers marriage a mark of an adult and constantly refers to thedevelopmental importance of identity. With marriage, a change in “normal”lifestyle occurs, leading to greater demands, responsibilities and developmentof identity. (Gething, 1995.).
The changes in a lifestyle from an adolescent to a young adult lead toadjustment of situations, e.g. living arrangements, change of school to acareer/job and coping abilities, e.g. financial responsibilities. Theestablishment of this new identity can be stressful and demanding on the youngadult. These new changes require a considerable degree of maturity, whichErikson believes will promote physical and psychological achievement. One changein lifestyle leads to a new task, career preparation. This is an important partof a positive aspect of identity that plays a major role in individualdevelopment. (Rapoport, 1980).
Career preparation and achievement assist the individual to achieve furtherpersonal and developmental goals. The ability to maintain a job gives the youngadult financial independence and they are now at a stage where they can relateestablishment of themselves as a worthwhile and significant person to theirchoice of careers. (Turner & Helms, 1987.).
Career development fuses with many other facts of adult life. Erikson believesthe gender of a person affects the eventual career that the young adult, theabilities, interest and personality will also play a role in the choice ofcareer. The consequences of career choice are often voluntarily but can beforced upon for any number of reasons, e.g. parental advice. (Gething, 1995.).
The young adults choice in career gives identity, self-respect, pride, valuesand ideas about the world. According to Erikson this gives the individual ahealthier personality if they achieve set goals. The young adults first choiceof career may not be the best choice, “…young adults are less satisfied withtheir jobs, and are more likely to change later in life”. (Rapoport & Rapoport,1980, P.393). In this task the young adult discovers that work is a consequenceof life, and is bound tight with their ego and self-image. Erikson expressesthat if they are not successful with this task, the ego will be affected.
The nurse uses this information and knowledge about the young adult’sdevelopmental tasks to assess the domains of health. These domains can includephysical, psychological and emotional and then intervene according to thepositive and negative aspects of their health. Assessing and intervention is forthe well being of the young adult. To maintain the autonomy and sense ofachievement of the young adult the nurse should suggest positive alternatives asappropriate. Erikson describes the development of depression, anger and failureor delay of intimacy as a result of dysfunctional development. (Gething, 1995).
As the nurse can assist with advice and positive encouragement, he or she mustalso accept the decision made by the young adult, “…assisting with necessaryadjustments relating to health.”(Kozier, Erb et al, 1995, P.843).
The young adult period is marked with many changes to the life of a person. Thedecision related to career paths, development of relationships with peers andromantic relationships all places a lot of pressure on young adults. Erikson’spsychosocial theory of development describes intimacy versus isolation to be themajor issue for the young adult in personality development for the person in thetwenty to forty years age ranges. In the tasks of this stage the young adultmust resolve the issues to achieve growth and pass on to the next stage ofdevelopment. The nurse should posses the ability to asses the development of theyoung adult and appropriately provide support and encouragement.
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