Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, as articulated in the second half of the 20th century by Erik Erikson in collaboration with Joan Erikson, is a comprehensive psychoanalytic theory that identifies a series of eight stages that a healthy developing individual should pass through from infancy to late adulthood.
Erikson’s stage theory characterizes an individual advancing through the eight life stages as a function of negotiating his or her biological and sociocultural forces. Each stage is characterized by a psychosocial crisis of these two conflicting forces. If an individual does indeed successfully reconcile these forces (favoring the first mentioned attribute in the crisis), he or she emerges from the stage with the corresponding virtue. For example, if an infant enters into the toddler stage (autonomy vs. shame and doubt) with more trust than mistrust, he or she carries the virtue of hope into the remaining life stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to return as problems in the future. However, mastery of a stage is not required to advance to the next stage. The outcome of one stage is not permanent and can be modified by later experiences.