Discuss psychological insights into the development of identity in adolescence Erickson like Freud used the idea of crisis during stages of on individual’s life that needed to be resolved before moving on to the next stage. If these crises were not resolved development could not precede normality. Erickson’s ideas about adolescents stemmed from his observations of emotionally disturbed adolescents during therapy.
Erickson (1950, 1968, and 1969) also argued that adolescents typically experienced identity diffusion, which involves a strong sense of uncertainty. They need to achieve a sense of identity, which can be defined as “a feeling of being at home in ones body, a sense of knowing where one is going and a n inner assuredness of anticipated recognition from those who cannot” (Erickson 1950) Adolescents find it hard to do this because they are undergoing rapid biological and social changes, and they need to take major decisions in almost all areas of life (e.g. future career). In other words, adolescents typically face an identity crisis, because they do not know who they are, or where they are going.
Thus Erickson seemed to think that it was almost essential for adolescents to go through an identity crisis in order to resolve the identity issue and move on to the experienced uncertainty has four major components: 1. intimacy 2. diffusion of time 3. diffusion of industry 4. negotiating identity Erickson (1969) assumed that there are some important differences between males and females in identity development: females develop a sense of identity later than males, allegedly because they realize that their identity and social status will depend very much on the type of man they choose to marry. It is unlikely that a theorist would make such assumption in the gritty changed society in which we know live.
One of the implications of Erickson’s theory is that adolescents should have low self esteem because of the uncertainties they face. However the evidence does not support this. If there are changes in self image during adolescents, those changes are more likely to be positive than negative (Marsh 1989) There is also some evidence that adolescents are not always highly emotional. For example, Larson and Lamperman (1989) assessed the emotional states of American children between the ages of 9 and 15 on a hour by hour basis, finding that the onset of adolescents was not associated with increased emotional.
The evidence generally indicates that problems are more likely to occur early rather than late in adolescents. For example Larson (1996) found that boys less positive emotion in thier family interactions at the age of 12 and 13, and girls did the same at the ages of 14 and 15. After that, however the level of positive emotion increased in late adolescence. Returning to the level of childhood.
Ericson was correct in his arguments that adolescents and young adults typically experience major changes in identity. And that these changes can cause uncertainty and doubt. However, Erickson overstated the cause when he focused on the nation of an identity crisis that all adolescents go through. Offer (1998) reviewed the literature and come to the following measured conclusions: “the most dramatic findings are those that permit us to characterize the model American teenager as feeling confident, happy, satisfied a portrait of the American adolescents that contrast sharply with the drown by many theorist of adolescent development. Who contend that adolescence is pervaded with turmoil, mood swings and rebellion?”
On the negative side most of Erickson’s theorizing was about male’s adolescence and he had relatively little to say about female adolescents. This lead Archer (1992) to argue and say: A major feminist criticism of Erickson’s work is that portrays primary Eurocentric male model of normality. In fact as mentioned Earlier, Erickson relied mainly on his observations of adolescents undergoing therapy. He obtained evidence of an identity crisis in this biased sample, but this does not, mean that all adolescents are the same.
Another criticism for his concept of a single identity and for his research sampling which has been seen as too small in number and too male biased. Erickson’s ideas about identity have been termed oversimplified and more elaborate accounts have been given by Marcia and others. Marcia recognized that multiple identities are possible. Another critisim is that Erickson offers the option of adolescents must go through a crisis. On the positive Erickson was one of the first to develop a stage account of human development. Although his stage theories fail to take individual differences fully into account.