Erickson’s Theory & Christianity

by PammyMcB

I find there are three stages in Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development where faith can play a significant role in social development. During the Identity vs. Role confusion stage, adolescents are trying to find their identity and fit in to society. They hope to do so in a positive manner. They also begin at this stage to start thinking more philosophically and spiritually.

Through their ability to become devoted to friends and causes, they may find themselves joining a peer group that has a Christian background. This gives many a feeling of identity. This is also the stage that most adolescents’ faith is being tested. If their peer groups are delinquents, or they have developed an inferiority complex from the previous stage of development, they may find themselves becoming delinquents as well.

The next stage that I feel faith may contribute to the emotional and social development of the individual is the Generativity vs. Self-absorption or Stagnation stage. Many individuals in this stage begin to teach their children about their culture, if their culture is a Christian culture, the individual may want to pass their ideals on to their children. They begin to look at the bigger picture. In other words, they no longer see the world as a place that holds them as the epicenter, but now may see the world as much bigger than them. They want social change and to help their brothers. They usually turn to faith to find the answers on how to help.

On the other hand, if the person is more self-absorbed, they do not see the world in the same way. They may want to strive to help only themselves. Their end goal may be material, even if they feel that they are faithful, or Christians, they may be more devoted to the capitalist dream than to Christianity. The final stage that I feel faith may play a big part in is the Integrity vs. Despair stage. We all learn at a young age that death is inevitable. Whether you have faith in an afterlife or not often determines whether you fear death or not. A person with a lack of faith may fight death all the way, but those with a strong sense of Christianity, may be more accepting their inevitable fate.

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