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Erik Erikson established the psychosocial development of human beings that consists of eight stages starting from infancy until the late adult stage. During each stage of psychosocial development, the individual is confronted with several challenges that he must master and be able to successfully master the conflicts within each stage as the inability to do so would result to future problems.
The main crisis within the stage of young adulthood (age 20-40) is Intimacy versus Isolation which is marked by an individual’s exploration of his/her personal relationships. In this stage, an individual becomes ready to establish committed relationships as well as handle the challenges associated with it such as emotional pain, break-ups, rejection and isolation. Erikson believe it crucial that people learn to develop secure and committed relationships as those who do not tend to have a poor sense of identity and have an increased risk of suffering from depression and loneliness.
According to Erikson, the attainment of intimacy is both finding and losing one’s self to another individual. The formation of healthy relationships through friendship or marriage will result to the achievement of intimacy. This is also the time when couples who are involved in a mutually satisfying relationship establish a family of their own, thus experiencing intimacy at a deeper level.
Opposite to this, people become isolated due to their fear of rejection and the individual’s ego may not be able to handle the pain that can be brought about by this relationships thus resulting to isolation.
Erikson, Erik H (1959) Identity and the Life Cycle. New York: International Universities Press,
Stevens, Richard (1983). Erik Erikson: An Introduction. New York: St. Martin’s