Monday, November 14, 2011

Erickson's Developmental Theory's Impact on Nursing

How can the Developmental Theory be related to nursing? According to McEwan and Wills (2011), it is important for nurses to know the theory in order to be respond to their patients (p. 279. For example, an older man who is in a constant bad mood might be experiencing despair, and the nurse could better respond to him. Next, nurses can gather information about patients by using Erikson's theory and provide patient centered care. Next, nurses are responsible for helping address lack of functioning issues and becoming familiar with this theory would allow them to do so (McEwan and Wills, 2011, p. 279).

Nurses being familiar with Erikson's Development Theory can " in analyzing patient's symptomatic behavior in the context of traumatic past experiences and struggles with current developmental tasks" (Current Nursing, 2011). Nurses can help identify inpatient’s faulty behavior based on past experiences and stages and help them seek psychological assistance such as a counselor. Nurses can help patients who are having difficulty with developmental phases by providing care directed to the appropriate stage (Current Nursing, 2011).

How has Erikson's developmental theory influenced my nursing career? I currently work in the Critical Care setting where I see a wide variety of patients of all ages and backgrounds. I feel that being familiar with Erikson's theory allows me to be more sensitive to my patients and possibly understand more where they are coming from. Being familiar with this theory allows me to not take things patients do personally but instead realize that the patients might have had difficulty in life or one of Erikson's stages. For example, I had a very rude and grouchy gentleman who was 75 years old. Nothing I could would please him. I learned later that his wife had cheated on him with his best friend and one of his children had died. Realizing these things, I was able to take care of the patient in a more sensitive light.


McEwen, M. , & Willis, E. (2011). Theoretical basis for nursing. (3rd ed). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams, & Wikins.

Current Nursing. (2011). Theory of Psychosocial Theory. Retrieved November 13 from

What is Erickson's Developmental Theory??

Eric Erikson's Developmental Theory states that people develop based on the interactions of their culture, body, and mind. Erikson had eight stages of development through the lifetime which span from birth until death. Erikson believed that bad experiences in childhood would lead to inability to cope with problems as an adult. Erikson believed that the world became larger as people grow older. For example, a child only has the worldview of him or herself while the adult is able to see, hopefully, that the world consists of more than just him or herself (Harder, 2009).

The first phase of Erikson's development is infancy which is 0-18 months, Trust vs., Mistrust. In this phase, the infant learns to either trust that the world is all right by a mother's or father's kind treatment. A baby can develop mistrust if a mother or father is not there to meet his or her needs Harder, 2009).

The second phase of Erikson's development is Autonomy vs. Shame which is early childhood 18 months-3 years. In this phase, a child is supposed to learn to feed, toilet, and talk by him or herself. A child is able to develop a high self-esteem during this phase by gaining confidence in developing new skills. During this period, if children have a hard time learning skills, such as toilet training, then shame may occur which leads to a lower self esteem (Harder, 2009).

The next phase of Erikson's development is Initiative vs. Guilt which is ages 3-5. In this phase, children imitate the adults around them. Children take initiative with games by creating stories about themselves. Children during this phase experience guilt, according to Erikson, because we become frustrated over goals and desires that are not met (Harder, 2009).

The next phase of Erikson's developmental theory is Industry vs. Inferiority which is ages 6-12. In this phase, school age children are able to perform many tasks which leads to a feeling of industry. If children are unable to perform tasks and have unresolved issues from earlier stages, then feelings of inferiority may result (Harder, 2009).

In the Identity vs. Role Confusion phase, ages 12-18 years, teenagers try to discover their role in this world and try to decide about many different moral issues. In this phase, teenagers must learn to view themselves separately from their parents. If these goals are not accomplished, then role confusion results (Harder, 2009).

Intimacy vs. Solidarity vs. Isolation occurs ages 18-35. During this phase, the young adults try to develop relationships with others and marriage. Often families are started during this phase of life. If young adults are unable to develop positive relationships, then solidarity or isolation may result (Harder, 2009).

The next phase of Erikson's developmental theory is Generatively vs. Self Absorption or Stagnation which is ages 35-65. In this phase, adults often are in charge of work and their own lives. They strive to pass along their legacy to their children or people around them which is generatively. If they are unable to complete these tasks, then they become increasingly self absorbed or stagnant in their development (Harder, 2009).

The final phase of Erikson's developmental theory is Integrity vs. Despair which is ages 65 until death. In this phase, an older adult reviews his or her life and determines if any positive contributions have been made. If the older adult feels that positive differences have been made because of something he or she has done, then a sense of integrity fosters. If an older adult feels that they have made no positive contributions to the world around him or her, then feelings of despair result (Harder, 2009).


Harder, A. (2009). The developmental stages of erik erikson. Retrieved from