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Early and Middle Adulthood

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Select two theories related to early and middle adulthood development. Prepare a response in which you explain the selected theories. As a part of the explanation, be sure to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each theory.

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Let's look at two theories in detail to help in understanding the theories and information you can draw on for this paper.


Let's look at Erikson's and Levinson's theories.

There are some commonalities between the two theories. Both Erikson's and Levinson's theories are based on psychodynamic views of personality and development; tend to be descriptive and content focused. The stages are based on the following assumptions:

? defined by linear/chronological progression
? everyone goes through all the stages
? stages are in the same order for everyone
? each stage has certain primary tasks or issues
? no stage better than another (1)

I. Erikson's theory (8 ages of Man)

Erikson's theory of ego psychology holds certain tenets that differentiate his theory from Freud's. Some of these include: (a) the ego is of utmost importance, (b) part of the ego is able to operate independently of the id and the superego, (c) the ego is a powerful agent that can adapt to situations, thereby promoting mental health, and (d) social and sexual factors both play a role in personality development. (1) There are eight stages in this theory. Early Adulthood is Stage 6 and Middle Adulthood is Stage 7 of Erikson's Psychosocial Theory of development.

A. Early Adulthood (18-30 years): Psychosocial Stage 6 - Intimacy vs. Isolation

This stage covers the period of early adulthood when people are exploring personal relationships. Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed relationships with other people. Those who are successful at this step will develop relationships that are committed and secure. Remember that each step builds on skills learned in previous steps. Erikson believed that a strong sense of personal identity was important to developing intimate relationships. Studies have demonstrated that those with a poor sense of self tend to have less committed relationships and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression. (2)

Tasks in this stage are marriage and family. It involves the formation of mature adult friendships and involvement with others. (4). Erikson proposes:

? Body and ego must be masters of organ modes and of the other nuclear conflicts in order to face the fear of ego loss in situations which call for self-abandon.
? The avoidance of these experiences leads to isolation and self-absorption.
? The counterpart of intimacy is distantiation, which is the readiness to isolate and destroy forces and people whose essence seems dangerous to one's own.
? Now true genitality can fully develop.
? The danger at this stage is isolation which can lead to sever character problems. (7)

In fact, Erikson's listed criteria for "genital utopia" (influenced by Freud's theory) illustrate his insistence on the role of many modes and modalities in harmony:

? mutuality of orgasm
? with a loved partner
? of opposite sex
? with whom one is willing and able to share a trust, and
? with whom one is willing and able to regulate the cycles of work, procreation, and recreation
? so as to secure to the offspring all the stages of satisfactory development (7)

If a person successfully solves the developmental tasks in this stage, love and affiliation are ego strengths (romantic & Erotic and including the ability to commit oneself to others and maintain the commitment through degrees of compromise and self denial). (3) Instead, maladaptation in this stage can result if they have not completed the other stage ...

Solution Summary

This solution examines two theories related to early and middle adulthood development, including the strengths and weaknesses of each theory.