Running head: MIDDLE AND LATE ADULTHOOD
Middle and Late Adulthood
Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages
Middle adulthood is a very complicated life period which stimulates multifaceted lifespan changes in physical, social, and cognitive processes. It is the midpoint of an individual’s life and occurs approximately between the ages of 45 through 60 (Martin and Willis, 2005). During this life period, individuals experience an enormous amount of obligations such as beginning a family or caring for parents. However, they may also spend a lot of time contemplating where they are occupationally and where they would like to be in the long term as they prepare for old age. Development Psychologist Erik Erikson places an emphasis on middle adulthood development as a period of generativity versus stagnation (Simanowitz, 2003). He believed that the challenge which needs to be resolved during this life stage is productively contributing to the success of their family, community, and occupation (Simanowitz, 2003). If an individual fails to achieve these objectives within their personal and professional lives, they may become stagnated and never fully develop their capacity to care because they get caught up in their own desires never feeling a sense of accomplishment in the world (Martin and Willis, 2008). Gaining some resolution within this stage is critical to successfully navigating towards the end life psychosocial stage of ego versus despair, where an old aged individual can accept that they lived a life of meaning. This paper will examine the last two Erik Erikson psychosocial stages of development by comparing life tasks of middle and late adulthood and briefly identify a similar theoretical model which defines lifespan development between these two stages similarly to Erik Erikson’s concept.
Generativity versus Stagnation
Generativity versus stagnation is Erikson’s seventh psychosocial stage occurring during middle adulthood. When assigned a question it would be “How do I contribute to the world?” (Simanowitz, 2003). During this stage, people in middle adulthood focus on building their lives to support future ideals of career and family. They establish their careers, settle down within a relationship or get married to begin families to feel a sense of connectedness to the world through their own efforts (Martin and Willis, 2005). Life is no longer based on selfish interests or pursuits sought in search for passion and intimacy during young adulthood. Middle agers maintain responsibilities and seek to fulfill societal obligations by raising children, being productive within their occupation, and becoming involved in activities for the common good based on beliefs (Cherry, 2018). If a person cannot find a way to contribute through their societal or cultural role, they may become stagnate and feel a sense of disconnection from those around them (Cherry, 2018). According to Cherry (2018), care is the achieved virtue when a mid-lifer feel...