Adulthood



1. Explain the Eriksonian stages relevant to adulthood.

20-35 Intimacy vs. Isolation: Affiliation and love are saught. Learns to make personal commitment to another person such as a spouse, parent or partner. This period is characterized by stressors such as time, commitments, children, illnesses which can lead to an individual choosing isolation over intimacy.

35-65 Generativity vs. Stagnation:Production and care are utilized as one makes an impact on the world. Seeks satisfaction through productivity in career, family, and civic interests. This period is characterized by a sense of passing things on in terms of career, family, etc. and achieving satisfaction through this productivity. Often, this is a period of a student becoming a teacher, from being mentored to being a mentor.

65-? Ego integrity vs. Despair:Reconciliation and sense of integrity in ones life. Reviews life accomplishments, deals with loss and preparation for death. This period is characterized by a need to maintain personal integrity when one's body, family, etc. may be slowly dissolving. Individuals may fear a loss of autonomy as they become more dependent on the care of others, such as their children.

2. Discuss the concepts of stage, transition, and normative crisis.

Transition is a bridge or juncture between successive stages such as courtship. e.g. moving from being single to being married.

Normative crisis is a period of rapid change and/or turmoil that strains a persons adaptive capacity such as pregnancy and childbirth. These normative crisis can lead to development of new integrations within a person, allowing the generation of new adaptive capacities. e.g., pregnancy and childbirth stresses lead towards capacity towards child rearing.

Stage is a period (such as mature adulthood) of consolidation of skills and capacities. During this period, an individual may begin a profession, and consolidate a marriage or occupation. These periods are not characterized by lots of rapid changes. A plateau is a period of developmental stability, such as between adulthood up to midlife. Rite of passage refers to socially sanctioned rituals that facilitates a transition, such as graduation or marriage. Regression refers to a temporary retrograde change in development such as a midlife crisis where there is a revival of earlier/more child-like behavior and coping strategies in response to stress (such as the stress of growing older).

3. Identify five developmental tasks of young adulthood.

(1) Restructuring relationships with parents. During this period, individuals develop a more mutual and equitable relationship with their parents which facilitates the parent's own midlife development.

(2) Establishing the identity of "novice" as the young adult forms a work identity. This may happen rapidly (going to work straight out of college) or over a longer period of time (medical school --> residency --> attending) depending on the profession.

(3) Integrating idealism as the young adult develops a sense of self. The individual establishes new adult forms of play which may reflect changes in interests or limitations of the body. The individual may also integrate new attitudes towards the passing of time (e.g., feeling that time is going faster, and feeling the pressure of not enough time).

(4) Apprenticeship or experimentation in work, developing adult friendships.

(5) Experimentation in intimate relationships such as developing a capacity for intimacy and becoming a spouse. This can also be manifested in becoming a biological and psychological parent.

4. Discuss courtship, marriage, and crisis.

Courtship is the stage of pair identity which usually progresses to marriage, but in modern society may progress to "living together" and then marriage or separation.

The median age of first Marriage has risen steadily since 1950 for both men and women with the number of persons that never marry increasing. The rate of divorce has been declining but the marriage rate is declining faster. Currently the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce is rising. Marriages ending after a number of years is also rising, often facilitated by midlife crisis or empty-nest syndrome.

Marital Crisis Points include childbirth, parenting, empty-nest syndrome, and affairs. Childbirth leads to physical and psychological changes with a shift in role change from caring about the other partner to caring for the child. There may also be situations of choosing marriage because of pregnancy. Empty nest syndrome may result in marital crisis especially when two people have just been waiting to divorce after the kids leave or when one individual has to reevaluate his or her role after 18+ years of rearing the kids.

Alternative marriages and parenting include Heterosexual Cohabitation and Homosexual Cohabitation.

5. Discuss midlife crisis.

Midlife crisis is associated with an awareness of one's own aging, death and severe or unexpected lifestyle changes such as death of a spouse, loss of job, or serious illness. There may be a feeling of a sandwiching of responsibilities for parents and children. This can sometime be associated with the physiological changes that occur in midlife such as menopause or male hormonal changes, and aging changes. Often, a new "tragic" awareness replaces romanticism.

6. Describe the major roles and tasks in parenting.

A significant role of parenting consists of providing for a safe environment for the children that gradually leads to emotional separation from the primary caregiver, often helped by the presence of a secondary caregiver. Parental agreement on discipline rules (corporal or not?) and better communication between parents and between parent and child will lead to better child development.

The task of raising the children while maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner is a significant challenge. This can sometimes lead to divorce. Divorce leads to challenges of single parenting, custody battles, and blended families.

7. Summarize the effects of divorce or being single on parenting.

Divorce and single parenting places a significant strain physically, emotionally and financially on the parents. Single parenting can result from abandonment or divorce. In single parenting, the child may have difficulty developing emotional separation because of lack of secondary caregiver. Children of single parenting are associated with an increase risk of difficulties coping, achievement, etc.

8. Describe the midlife transition.

Midlife transition involves signs of physical aging, being pulled between responsibilities for parents and children, possibility of major medical illnesses possibly leading to a midlife crisis. (see #5)

9. Discuss the process of bereavement.

Bereavement occurs after the loss of a loved one with whom one has been attached, such as a parent or a spouse, and is a normal response. It usually refers to a death but can also refer to any kind of loss. It is characterized by:

(1) Denial - an initial state of shock and denial
(2) Grief - manifested by minor sleep loss and weight loss, and some feelings of guilt and illusions that the deceased may be physically present, crying and sadness
(3) Ambivalence - attempts to return to normal activities.
(4) Over-idealizing - psychological mechanism to deal with loss by "bringing out the good" in the deceased.
(5) Detachment -- detachment from the lost person with ritual reattachments (going back to the grave, etc.)

Severe symptoms resolve within a couple months and moderate symptoms within a year. Physicians also go through their own process of bereavement, which can affect the course of the family's bereavement.