Erik Erikson’s psycoanalytic theory categorizes
the lifespan into eight developmental stages beginning at birth and ending with
death. McLeod states that Erikson believed that a person’s ego is developed
through overcoming conflicts in each stage, and that through the successful
completion of each stage would result in a positive “ego” or personality (1970).
Failing to overcome the developmental conflicts in each stage, according to
Erikson could lead an individual to fall into despair and result in an “unhealthy
sense of self” (McLeod, 1970).
The last stage of Erikson’s theory is
labeled, ego integrity vs. despair. This category is for the older adult, sixty
five years and older. This stage is
characterized by a slower paced life style or by patricipants who are retired.
Erikson believed that this time period is where the older adult reflects on
their life and will either view their life as fulfilled and accomplished, or as
unfulfilled and unproductive. If an individual falls into the latter category
they could fall into despair or depression upon reflecting on their life. Alain
discusses that the older adults that focused on intrinsic goals developed a “a
sense of physoclogival well-being” whereas for those who centralized their live
on extrinsic goals did not experience positive feelings toward the finality of
their lives (2009). This final self reflection is important and can give the
individual time to make amends or find a way to make their life fulfilling. By
coming to terms with one’s own life it will allow the older adult to have a
sense of closure over their life and be able “to accept death without fear”
When at the end of the devopmental
stages it is important for the individual to be able to review their life and
receive closure as their lives comes to an end. A life review is described as a
“personal process by which a person evaluates his or her life as it nears its
end” (Butler, 2010). One would like to believe they have had a fulfilling life
and were able to accomplish their personal goals, thus achieving personal
integrity and overcoming despair.