A person goes through many transitions in their life, right from birth until death. Many of them undergo adversities in life, and many times they’d be called development conflicts. These conflicts, if not resolved, can be dangerous, and a person will continue to struggle. Do you know that there are different psychoanalytic theories of psychosocial development? Erik Erikson, who was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, known for his theory on the psychological development of human beings.
Erik Erikson formulated the eight stages from infancy to adulthood. According to each stage, people experience a different psychosocial crisis. It can have a positive or negative effect on the personality of the person. Mental health problems are a concern at any point in life and at any age. According to the research, mental health problems are a concern to at least one out of four people. Loneliness and social isolation are harmful to your overall health.
Individuals that come under the age range from 18 to 40 undergo a stage called the Intimacy vs. Isolation stage. At this age range, people start to explore a relationship with someone other than their family members. A relationship where they share themselves intimately with others. Some may find themselves longing for someone to share their success and failures with. However, some also avoid intimacy or engaging in relationships and retreat in isolation.
What Is So Unique About The Sixth Stage?
According to this theory, this sixth psychosocial stage focuses on how people grow and change across their lifetime. This huge factor differentiates Erik Erikson’s theory from other developmental theories. People pass through the cycles and chains of stages centered on emotional and social development. It is where a person encounters adversities in life. It is the stage where people are involved in a relationship. According to Erik Erikson, closed and committed relationships are vital to people when they enter adulthood. These relationships have a flavor of romance and friendship. If a person is in a successful relationship, that means they have resolved their conflicts. However, people who have experienced failed relationships may struggle with isolation and loneliness. These people struggle to develop or form romantic relationships and/or close friendships.
Conflict On Intimacy Vs. Isolation Theory
One of the significant conflicts under this theory of Erik Erikson is its focus on forming loving and intimate relationships with other people. Intimacy pretends to good physical and emotional wealth where a person’s perspective changes from “I” to “we”. Erik Erikson defined intimate relationships as those characterized by honesty, love, and closeness.
There are four main stages of intimacy depending on the person:
- Experimental: A phase that involves casual conversations and bonding.
- Emotional: A step when you are not afraid to share your feelings with someone.
- Intellectual: A stage where you are not scared to talk to someone about your opinions.
- S*xual: A step that is self-explanatory and does not need any explanation.
On the other hand, isolation occurs when a person fails to find a partner. They start feeling alone and might create a feeling of inferiority. They also feel threatened by closeness, and this is the manifestation of loneliness or isolation.
Risk Factors For Social Isolation Or Loneliness
Loneliness is not merely about being alone. Many people face loneliness even in a crowd. However, persistent loneliness has an impact on both physical and mental health. Loneliness leads to mental health issues like depression and anxiety and affects stress hormones, immune functions, and cardiovascular functions. When you are in your 20’s to ’40s, this is the intimacy vs. isolation stage where you start to value the sense of belongingness. You want to connect with someone or want to become a part of someone’s life, maybe for a working relationship or even for an intimate romantic relationship. Failing to achieve this creates lots of questions and results in unhappiness.
Impact of Loneliness And Social Isolation
Social isolation can become a vital factor in loneliness. It will also lead to depression. The cause and consequence of many mental health-related issues is loneliness. Once you feel depressed, you do not feel like going out with your friends, and you cut yourself off from the circle of love and friendship.
How To Overcome From This Loneliness?
Fearing commitment to relationships and intimacy can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression. Sometimes we also do not realize that we are depressed, as it can develop slowly. Feeling sad from time to time is very reasonable. However, if it starts affecting your everyday life, then it is dangerous. It is better to reach out for professional help like BetterHelp when you are experiencing loneliness. Professional therapists can help you overcome this struggle.
In the end, we will say that the Theory of Psychosocial Development by Erik Erikson’s works as a useful framework. With any theory, there will be some flaws, as our understanding of the world grows over time, and Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development is no exception.