Childhood and Society Themes

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The Eight Stages of Man

Erik Erikson is perhaps most well-known for his "eight stages of man", his theory of psychosocial development. The theory is Freudian in nature but expands Freud's five stage theory into an eight-stage theory. It focuses primarily on a dichotomy between possible psychological states that must be chosen between before proceeding to the next stage.

The first stage occurs in infancy, from 0 to 1 years of age, with an emotional dichotomy between trust and mistrust; the infant wonders whether her world is predictable and supportive. The next stage is the toddler stage from 2 to 3 years of age; its dichotomy is autonomy on the one hand and shame and doubt on the other. In this stage, the child wonders whether she can take care of herself or must always rely on others.

In the third preschool stage (4 to 6 years), the child faces a contrast between initiative and...

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