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Are You More Intimate or Isolated?
Andrea Sleeman

Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is composed of stages (building blocks) for the development of a mature personality and a comfortable identity. Each stage has an element of social experiences, which impacts a person’s development, competence and confidence. The timeline consists of stages spread across a person’s whole lifespan. The stage of Erikson’s theory that I chose to examine was Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation. This stage involves early adulthood when people are exploring personal relationships (between the ages of 19-40 years old). Since I am 21 years old and currently personally involved with this stage of psychosocial development, I had a strong interest in exploring this area further. I felt that I could relate closer to the feelings explored in this stage, as they would involve social experiences I am involved in now every day.

Each stage has two conflicting emotions. During this phase, the major conflict is forming intimate, loving relationships with other people while having a strong sense of self. The literature points out that having a fully formed sense of self is essential to being able to form intimate relationships. The literature also states that those individuals with a poor sense of self have less committed relationships than others and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness and depression. A better understanding of this stage will help me understand my own self worth, my personality and identity. By exploring where other people stand in their personal and emotional life, I might understand and form a stronger self identity and commitment with my personal relationships as well as improvement in components needed to develop stronger loving and intimate relationships.

There are many types of relationships. All relationships require communication, adaption, sharing of feelings and thoughts and commitment. It also requires a balance of experiences and needs. I have had difficulties with intimate relationships in the past because of my difficulties with communication principles and balancing and adapting to the constant changing environment. Once I understood my challenges and what I wanted in life, I was able to work on these challenges and I was able to allow more people in, to being close to me. This knowledge and improvement in skills will help me in my educational goals because developing relationships with my teachers and fellow classmates will allow me to succeed as a student and in life. I would not be the student I am today without reaching out to my teachers to help me and having friends to support me. Exploring the skills and experiences in this stage helped me change the direction of my career goals. I was able to determine that the nursing profession was not the correct profession for me. I was able to figure out what career path was right for me and what areas of development might need to be practiced more in order to achieve those career goals. By learning more about relationship development of this stage, I was able to figure out that if I loved the sciences (still), and wanted to learn more about relationships on a personal level and incorporate those skills in a professional one, I might need to find ways to improve my skills of communication, relationship interaction and comfort with self identity. Exploring this stage allowed me to think about where I wanted my career goals to go. I now know that I want to pursue being an occupational therapist, working with kids, and feel comfortable with personal interactions while strengthening relationships. It is a people profession with science mixed in.

I used the survey technique for gathering information from others about Intimacy vs. Isolation components (surveys were given to individuals involved in the stage at ages 19 to 40 years of age at my work). I worked at the local hospital...