Personality Theory Review: Erickson’s Psychodynamic Principles in Personality Growth

Table of Contents

The term personality refers to the sum total of all characteristic traits of an individual like: attitudes, aptitudes, desires, emotions, cognitive functions etc. There are set a of personality theories that speak on the development and growth of the whole personality of an individual. This paper attempts to sum up Erickson’s psychodynamic principles in the personality growth. Erikson also supports the Freudian concept of ego, but his theory has a basis in culture and society. He presents the epigenetic principle which says that “we develop through a predetermined unfolding of our personalities in eight stages.” (Erikson, 2006, The epigenetic principle, para.1).

People pass through several stages of personalities in their lives, and their failure and success are decided by the principles by which they live. Every stage has a psychosocial goal and there is an “optimal time” to be performed. (Erikson, 2006, The epigenetic principle, para.4).

The different stages of personality development are given below in the table.

Erik Erikson

1902 – 1994 Dr. C. George Boeree

Stage (age) Psychosocial crisis Significant relations Psychosocial modalities Psychosocial virtues Maladaptations & malignancies
I (0-1) —
trust vs mistrust mother to get, to give in return hope, faith sensory distortion — withdrawal
II (2-3) —
autonomy vs shame and doubt parents to hold on, to let go will, determination impulsivity — compulsion
III (3-6) —
initiative vs guilt family to go after, to play purpose, courage ruthlessness — inhibition
IV (7-12 or so) —
school-age child
industry vs inferiority neighborhood and school to complete, to make things together competence narrow virtuosity — inertia
V (12-18 or so) —
ego-identity vs role-confusion peer groups, role models to be oneself, to share oneself fidelity, loyalty fanaticism — repudiation
VI (the 20’s) —
young adult
intimacy vs isolation partners, friends to lose and find oneself in a
love promiscuity — exclusivity
VII (late 20’s to 50’s) — middle adult generativity vs self-absorption household, workmates to make be, to take care of care overextension — rejectivity
VIII (50’s and beyond) — old adult integrity vs despair mankind or “my kind” to be, through having been, to face not being wisdom presumption — despair

(Erikson, 2006, Children and adults, table.1).

An individual has to maintain an equilibrium between psychosocial crises in all the stages because reaching the extreme point of any one these principles will cause improper growth and development of the personality. For instance, during the first year of a child, it has a significant relation with mother and the child will develop either trust or mistrust depending on the environment it receives. If the child develops trust, he or she will have more faith and hope. On the other hand, if the child develops mistrust, it will have withdrawal tendency and sensory distortion. Things happen in the same way in each state. An individual who makes a balance between psychosocial crises will develop an integrated and matured personality.

Erickson’s epigenetic principles offer proper guidelines in the growth of personality, and all age groups are include in it. Individual’s personality is formed from the circumstances in the society. Therefore, there are a number of social factors that influence the person in the development of his or her personality. Erickson’s principles are socially and culturally oriented, and this theory of personality is considered as one of the best. (Erikson, 2006).

Antisocial personality

Antisocial personality disorder is a psychological disorder that affects the whole personality of an individual, his or her family and the society. As person who suffers this disorder will have the characteristic trait of continuous violation of rules in the society and will disregard the rights of others. Usually, one who is eighteen years old and above can be diagnosed as antisocial personality disorder if he or she manifests a majority of the symptoms.

According to DSM IV a person can be diagnosed in this category if he or she shows at least three symptoms listed below:

  1. Failure to observe social norms: Remains occupied in doing illegal activities.
  2. Deceit nature: cheating others to make money, obtain sexual favors or use drugs.
  3. Impulsive nature and often switching jobs.
  4. Irritation, aggression and involves in physical fights doing harm to others
  5. Showing reckless disregard and misusing things
  6. Irresponsibility like discontinuing the work, disinterest to pay back debts.
  7. Lack of regret even if the error is committed. (Antisocial personality disorder, 2009).

Everywhere in the world, there are a set or norms that ought to be observed for the smooth functioning of the society and to achieve the wellness of all individuals. Those who are found violating the ordinary norms of the society are labeled as the antisocial. 2.10% of the Americans are supposed to be doing antisocial activities. (Prevalence and incidence of anti-social personality disorder, 2009). Ordinary people are in conformity with the norms while the antisocials violate it.


Treatments include teaching positive behavior, medication to control the behavior, involvement of “interdisciplinary team of teachers, social workers and guidance counselors,” doing systematic therapies in order to build up communication skills, developing social skills through modeling, role playing, corrective feed back and token reinforcement system. (Antisocial personality disorder, 2009, Treatment, para.1). There are “special education teachers and counselors” to treat students for a prolonged period of time. (Antisocial personality disorder, 2009, Treatment, para.3)

Reference List

Antisocial personality disorder: (2009). The world’s Leading Q & A Site. Web.

Antisocial personality disorder: Causes and symptoms. (2009). The world’s Leading Q & A Site. Web.

Antisocial personality disorder: Treatment. (2009). The world’s Leading Q & A Site. Web.

Erikson, E. (2006). P.

Erikson, E. (2006).

Erikson, E. (2006). .

Prevalence and incidence of anti-social personality disorder. (2009). WD: Wrong Diagnosis. Web.

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