Understanding Human Development
Human life involves ongoing physical and psychological evolution. The confirmation of this assumption is for example found in Erikson’s typology. According to Erikson, an individual undergoes eight stages, each associated with specific stages. The period between 20 and 50 years involves three periods that are young, middle, and old adulthood, with the latter two phases overlapping each other. To understand features of each period and challenges related to it, observation of three individuals were conducted. Each observation lasted for about an hour. To deepen understanding of different psychological stages, observations were complemented by interviews with the selected individuals. Excerpts from the interviews are used to illustrate salient psychological changes that occur at different stages of individual psychological development.
According to Erickson’s classification, the period of young adulthood starts when a person is around 20 years old, and it usually continues until approximately the age of 45. The confrontation between intimacy and isolation is the main leitmotif of the period. If an individual is able to successfully pass this stage, he or she finds satisfaction in intimate commitment. Otherwise, an individual may feel depressed. The veracity of this assertion was examined during the observation of and a conversation with a 25-year-old female interviewee. During the conversation, the woman was asked to share her plans for the near future, and she told that she planned to find a good partner and start a family. She also wanted to have two to three children. To accelerate the fulfillment of her plans, the interviewee posted her profile on several dating sites, and she often visited different parties. The interviewee noted that although she liked the whole process, she sometimes felt depressed. The woman attributed that to the fact that some of her good friends were already married and had children. The interviewed added that unlike her, they all seemed completely satisfied with their life.
When an individual enters middle adulthood, he/she changes priorities, which is preconditioned by achievements in the previous stage. During middle adulthood, an individual has already settled down within a relationship and established a career. The period of middle adulthood thus seems an appropriate time to feel a part of the bigger picture and give back to society. People choose different approaches to achieve this aim. A 36-year-old L. accomplishes it through volunteer activity. During the interview, the man said that he became interested in volunteer work after his trip to Latin America. He added that there he saw many needy people there, and believed that he had some resources, but most importantly a strong desire, to help them. During the interview, L. was asked why, in his opinion, awareness of social injustice came to him when he was almost forty years old. The answer to this question was very important, as it could either confirm or refute the hypothesis about the change of priorities that occurs at specific stages of life.
When answering the question, L. said that the trip to Latin America was the first time …