Capstone Project: Human Development

Pages: 10 (3809 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] " In this manner, then, the social systems concept of feedback loop, is established. The individual recognizes his/her feelings of conflict as legitimate, internal feelings, and, simultaneously, receives messages from external sources, such as the larger social unit, as to what that social unit suggests the individual is.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Anderson, Carter, and Lowe (2006) write that, during the industry vs. inferiority stage, the child learns the technology of the surrounding culture; the institutionalized ways to achieve an understanding of such technology is supported and supplied by the culture so that the culture can propagate. Interestingly, in our American society, the school is an institution charged with conveying such cultural technology to the child. So are churches, and peer groups. The school, though, is unique in that it is an institution that exists to ensure that each member of the social unit participates in the organized and institutionalized culture (Anderson, Carter, and Lowe, 2006). In America, Acuna (1972) writes, the educational system socializes each student into adopting the majority culture's ways and customs. This is achieved by eradicating the majority group's values, culture, and language with that of the majority culture. This means of social control, during the formative industry vs. inferiority stage of Erikson's identity formation theory can negatively and profoundly impact the child, creating a sense of worthlessness and confusion over one's "correct" identity. Should the child fail to be successful in the institution of school, a stigma attaches and the child may, again, fail to have a greater ratio of industry than inferiority, creating a series of negativistic and consequent failures. Anderson, Carter, and Lowe (2006) note that a heightened sense of inferiority can result from lacking resources from previous stage crises, unreasonable or confusing expectations by adults/peers or excessively high standards to assess mastery of skills.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Cavanaugh (2005) writes that during young adulthood the major developmental task, achieving intimacy vs. isolation, involves establishing an intimate relationship with another. Erikson considers this the transitional growth crisis (Anderson, Carter, and Lowe, 2006). Erikson (1968) argues that intimacy means the sharing of all aspects of oneself without fearing the loss of identity; should intimacy fail to be achieved, isolation results. Intimacy can be developed by choosing a mate whom is representative of the ideal of all of the individuals' past experiences. The primary task of the intimacy vs. isolation struggle is to reciprocally engage with others sexually, occupationally, and socially. Love is the psychosocial strength that results from the successful intimacy-isolation struggle (Cavanaugh, 2005). Thus, love is a worthy goal and a sign of successful achievement for all preceding life stages.

Generativity vs. Stagnation

With the advent of middle age the focus shifts from intimacy to concern for the next generation, expressed as ego integrity vs. disgust and despair. The struggle occurs between a sense of generativity (the feeling that people must maintain and perpetuate society) and a sense of stagnation (the feeling of self absorption). Generativity is seen in such things as parenthood; teaching, like the man in the photograph; or providing goods and services for the benefit of society. If the challenge of generativity is accepted, the development of trust in the next generation is thereby enabled, and the psychosocial strength of care obtained (Cavanaugh, 2005).

Ego Integrity and Despair

As the culminating stage of all of Erikson's life stages, the integrity vs. disgust stage involves the crisis of aging. Anderson, Carter and Lowe (2006) write that this stage involves conservation; a consolidation, and protection of the ego integrity accrued in life, despite losses. In maintaining its continuity and consistency from one social system to another, the self, then, is understood as the identity that remains the same throughout social contexts Anderson, Carter and Lowe (2006).

The successful individual in this last life stage has the ability to accept their life experiences, their own histories, to appreciate the effects that they have had upon the world via relationships, and, ultimately, to accept their own mortality. The unsuccessful individual in this stage suffers bitterness, despair and remorse, as well as a refusal to accept the inevitable death that waits. Evans (1967, p. 53) quoted Erikson as saying that, given long enough, individuals become, once again, infantile-like, with a child-like quality, "if we're lucky, and senile childishness, if we're not… only in old age can true wisdom develop in those who are thus 'gifted.'"

In old age individuals must resolve the struggle between ego integrity and despair. This last stage begins with a growing awareness of the nearness of the end of life, but it is actually completed by only a small number of people (Erikson, 1982).The task is to examine and evaluate one's life and accomplishments in order to try and make sense of one's life. This process often involves reminiscing with others actively seeking reassurance that one has accomplished something in life. People who have regressed successfully through earlier stages of life face old age enthusiastically and feel their life has been full. Those who feel a sense of meaninglessness do not anxiously anticipate old age, and they experience despair. The psychosocial strength achieved from a successful resolution of this struggle is wisdom. Integrity is not the only issue facing older adults; Erikson points out that they have many opportunities for generativity as well. Older people often play an active role as grandparents, for example, and many maintain part-time jobs (Cavanaugh, 2005, 354). King et al. (2000) write that sick individuals who have not experienced themselves as valued and contributing members of a family (or a society) in their later years can be expected to experience more conflict about being the object of caregiving and are more likely to see themselves as a burden to the younger generations. Erikson (1968, p. 141) writes that an individual in the last stage of life, facing death, would say "I am what is left of me."

For this assignment, I have chosen a symbolic picture that I found online. This picture represents, in some measure, my perceptions about human development processes and life span concepts. I will attempt to explain how this design coincides with my perception of human development by first describing, generally, the overall image, how this picture demonstrates life phases, as well as the nature and process of human development. Then, I will attempt to identify not only "normal" and "not normal" outcomes associated with the design representation, as well as some of the unique characteristics of the displayed age periods in the picture.

My picture:

The picture above, to me, is a symbolic representation of the life and death cycle. As viewed from left to right, we can see that a fully matured adult male becomes, as time progresses, physically weaker as evidenced by the degraded posture, then by the use of a cane. As the man approaches death, represented by what appears to be a reaper, the man is cast, or falls, as it were, into the death chasm. It is interesting to note that as the man approaches death, he is necessarily approaching the source of light positioned near nexus of the life/death portal. This life/death portal is represented by the symbol for infinity. Perhaps the picture even suggests that there is a setting sun; that night is falling, as death approaches. In contrast, the sun seems to be rising as a new child emerges; as birth occurs. Further, the picture clearly shows that death holds a scythe, while the female, perhaps a representation of mother earth, holds a large feather, a wreath of some sort. Upon further inspection, it is clear also that both death and life are assisting in the transformation occurring; it appears that the old man falling into death is actually holding onto the arm of death; that death is assisting the man in the process of dying. Similarly, it appears that the birth mother is holding her hand out as if to support, to nurture, the newly arrived child into life. The representation of animals of all kinds emerging from the sea harkens of biblical scriptures; the delivery of animals by Noah from the great flood. Also, and I believe of particular importance, is the man on the shore herding the animals. I believe this is a clear symbolic representation of the duty of man to work, to strive and labor for his existence during life. Overall, I believe this picture represents the life and death cycle not as some type of origination and termination model, but as a cyclical process that requires constant activity. In this way, it would seem, the process of being born, of learning to walk, of learning to live, and, conversely, of learning to slow down, of learning to cope with ever degrading physical abilities, and, ultimately, learning to let go and let death take over, is a powerful and requisite life process.

Human development and counseling

I believe that the role of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Human Development.  (2010, November 28).  Retrieved May 26, 2019, from

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"Human Development."  28 November 2010.  Web.  26 May 2019. <>.

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"Human Development."  November 28, 2010.  Accessed May 26, 2019.