ErikErikson’s theory was influenced heavily by Sigmund Freud’swritings (Erikson,2014).Erikson explored three identity facets: the ego, personal, and socialidentities. Thus, put together, the theory posits that the externalfactors, parents, and society play a significant part in forming thecharacter of a person from childhood to maturity. Erik`s theoryadvances eight stages that every person must pass through beforebecoming an adult. Consequently, if an individual is fixated at aparticular phase of development, he develops characteristics that areinconsistent with societal expectations. For example, Erikson positsthat parents or guardians are responsible for the basic trust ormistrust patterns that children develop (Hendrick,2015, p. 159 – 161).Caregivers who protect, nurture, and respond to the needs of theiryoung ones produce infants who are secure and trusting. Conversely,neglectful and abusive mothers bring up children who are inconsistentand insecure. These traits persist even when the baby matures.Studies reveal that youngsters that fail to develop secureattachments in their first year develop serious social and emotionaldifficulties later in their lives (Green& Piel, 2015, p. 93).Aninterview with a young adult, aged 22, led to the development ofsignificant insights into Erik’s Trustvs. Mistrustpsychosocial model.
Erikson’sTrustvs. Mistrustmodel reveals that this is the most critical phase in a person’slife since it lays a concrete foundation for the development thatfollows in subsequent years (Lineros& Fincher, 2014, p. 38).This phase acquaints a child with an understanding of whether theworld is a space that can adhere to the fundamental rules and can betrusted to satisfy the vital physical needs. In essence, when thenewborn cries and receives the desired nourishment and attention, hebelieves that the environment is reliable. Nonetheless, even ifcrying does not immediately deliver the needed result, the babydevelops patience, a skill that is crucial in adulthood. By receivingthe necessary requirements, a youngster develops trust in his parentsand the environment that the world is safe. Sensory satiation isusually the process through which an infant receives life’spleasures. In addition, the child also starts realizing,subconsciously, that resources are plenty and should be shared withother individuals. In the same vein, adults whose experiences, atthis stage, fail to lead to the development of the requisite skills,tend to develop qualities that can be likened to untrusting people.Such individuals experience difficulty interacting with other peoplebecause they are afraid of rejection. They fear to request people forhelp since they believe no one is willing to offer it in fact, theseindividuals adopt pessimistic positions when something does not workout as they had planned. In essence, such people assume a glumworldview. Also, confirmation bias is relatively high in suchindividuals, because they filter information that could potentiallyhelp them to change their negative worldview.
Thus,after conducting an interview with a 22-year-old, called ChrisHarrison, it became evident that this individual was fixated at theTrustvs. Mistrustdevelopment stage his level of development did not fit in Erik’sIntimacyvs. Distantiationmental model. Erik’s theory posits that, at this age, a personshould be in the process of changing and transitioning, meaning thisphase should be one where an individual begins realizing newprospects for developing close interpersonal relationships (Research& Education Association Editors, 2012, p. 29).Chris stated that he found developing close ties with the personswithin his age bracket somewhat perplexing. He brought to bear theissue of rejection and low self-esteem. This character is similar toErikson’s “Mistrust”conception, where youngsters fail to develop the necessary securityduring their first year of development (Wamabach& Jordan, 2014, p. 678).Consequently, such individuals view venturing outside the protectiveshields of their caregivers as a terrifying experience (Harmening,2014, p. 33).The interviewee also contended that his fear of engaging in intimaterelationships was stimulated after he was rejected by a girl that heliked. This reaction is consistent with Erik`s supposition thatindividuals who do not complete the first stage of development becomedependent on other people and get a fragile sense of self (Brothers,2014, p. 105).However, this state can be quickly destroyed by abandonment orrejection.
Aftergaining insights on the issues mentioned above, the prudence todevelop an understanding of Harrison`s micro life events came to thesurface. Chris was requested to describe his self-image. He said thathe was exceedingly unsure of himself and believed that no one lovedhim. As a result, the interviewee felt that he always had to observethe behaviors of others before acting. Chris stated that he hadalways been watchful of what other people wore, how they acted, andwhat they did in the end, he always mimicked what these individualsdid. He was also very keen on the reactions of other people towardshim. These responses, according to Harrison, often led him to blamehimself when situations did not go as he desired. Chris also addedthat he feared to hurt other people, so he always avoided sharing hisfeelings. This behavior, according to him, led to feelings of angerwhenever he got aggrieved he even alleged that he had attacked someof his acquaintances after they had said things that annoyed himrepeatedly.
Theabove revelations led to the desire to understand how the intervieweereacted to stressors. Harrison was asked to state how he soughtacceptance from his peers. He affirmed that he worked very hard toplease the people that mattered to him, and moved out of his way todo anything that these individuals asked him. He added that he knewthat such an approach to life was wrong but he could not resist thedesire to be loved. However, when this plan failed, he became angry,and, on certain occasions, blamed other people for his misfortunes.Also, he contended that he always became defensive when someone askedhim about something controversial like his opinion on gay rights.This reaction, according to Chris, was motivated by the fear of beingcriticized for having a belief that was separate from that of hispeers. Due to these issues, Harrison contended that he focused ondoing everything that he did as perfectly as he could. He said thathe consistently made sure that trendy clothes were in his closet,talked about what the "cool" people said, behaved like hispeers, and even ate what he saw other people eating.
Afterdeveloping an understanding of Harrison`s micro life events, the needto comprehend his mezzo life affairs set in. In spite of hisundesirable self-image, Chris stated that he looked for ways ofcovering his undesirable traits. He said that he had always been anarrogant and egoistic individual. He asserted that he alwaysresponded to the questions whose answers he lacked defensively. Thisapproach helped him to answer only the questions that he could. Healso said that he argued with other people about the opinions thatwere not in line with his thinking. Although he feared annoyingothers, he became overly aggressive about the views that did notresonate with those of the people that he loved this was a way ofcovering his anxiety. This assertion led to the question of how hehandled intimate relationships.
Chriswas skeptical about other people’s relationships. He said that hedid not believe that two people could be completely faithful to eachother. Harison pointed out cases that highlighted the manner in whichintimate partners cheated on each other. He, therefore, believed incasual relationships where neither party could be held accountablefor cheating. This premise, seemingly, thwarted the interviewee`sability to build sustainable relationships. Later, Harrison contendedthat his view of intimate relationships was shaped by his inabilityto form a good bond with his previous girlfriend this led him toavoid similar social situations since he felt that he would, onceagain, be humiliated. He also believed that reaching out for helpwould only make the situation worse since people would only judge orridicule him, as opposed to rendering a helping hand. Chris displayedthe same attitude at work. He alleged that he never requested help ifhe was unsure of something instead, he pretended to be busy doingsomething else until his supervisor asked another employee to executethe task. His relationship with his family was also not very good. Hecontended that during his childhood, his parents were almost neveravailable. In fact, he said that he was taken to a boarding school asearly as grade 1. He always yearned for their attention but neverreceived it. In return, he held that he would not visit them as oftenas he should.
Thenecessity to study the interviewee’s macro life events also arose.In the large social groups, Chris said that he always placed emphasison avoiding mistakes. He always made sure that he knew what the dresscode was, who the guests would be, what the event would be covering,and even how one should speak to persons who belong to a highersocial class than him. Harrison contended that he was always nervousand, somewhat, overwhelmed before attending social gatherings. Also,after these occasions, he always felt tired because he spent a lot ofenergy trying to look good and speak correctly. Thus, he alleged thathe preferred avoiding such events whenever he could. Harrison addedthat he always interpreted comments as being critical, even thoughthe intention of the speaker was not to criticize him. Consequently,he found developing social interactions with people relativelyperplexing since he always felt conspicuous, shy, awkward, andincapacitated to express his opinions.
Tounderstand Chris’ predicament in a more comprehensive manner, theinterviewer implemented the systems theory. The systems theory is anapproach that accentuates the increasingly complex structures athwarta continuum that contextualizes the person in his environment(Friedman & Allen, 2011, p. 3). This supposition, by extension,helps social workers to comprehend the issues and dynamics in theclient’s environment so as to develop the correct interpretationsto problems, in addition to coming up with all-rounded interventionstrategies. As a consequence, a solution that has the “goodness offit," regarding the individual and his environment, isdeveloped. After applying the systems theory to Harrison’s lifestory, the following issues came to the surface.
Theprocess commenced by finding out the interviewee’s decision-makingprocess. Harrison, seemingly, deduced the reactions of other peoplebefore making his decisions. After interacting with a person, heusually made assumptions that guided him to deciding whether theperson liked him or not. He also used past experiences to makedecisions about his social interactions. For example, he assumed thatsince his girlfriend rejected him, all other women that he would meetin the future would act in a similar fashion. Additionally, hebelieved that the events that took place in his life would be held inother people`s lives. For example, since his girlfriend preferredanother boyfriend to him, he assumed that this would, eventually, bethe case in all other people’s relationships. His defensiveness tothe questions whose answers he lacked indicated a closed mindset.Harrison could not admit that he did not have an answer to thequestion that had been directed at him.
Secondly,understanding what the concept “systems” entails was deemed to beimportant. In this case, a system was conceptualized as a broad rangeof elements that have been organized to work together. Chris`understanding of the social space and his reaction to it wasconsidered a system. In essence, the structures and operational rulesthat guided his thinking helped the interviewer to develop acomprehensive understanding of his client`s worldview. Chris wasalways afraid of what other people would say or think about him. Inother words, he dependent on other people’s approval to feel goodabout himself. Once this appreciation had been granted, he felt goodabout himself however, once another person implied that he was notgood enough, his confidence was shattered. Thus, Harrison’sworldview was based on other people’s consent.
Third,systems thinking was applied to the interviewee’s perception of thesocial space. The interviewer began by developing a description ofthe issue that needed addressing. After the interview, it was evidentthe Chris was fixated at the Trustvs. Mistruststage. Thus, the best treatment plan was presumed to be the TFCBT(Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). This treatmentapproach enables the counselor to assume the role of an educator italso brings thoughts and behavioral patterns together, to enable thepatient to manage stress and solve his distressing thought patterns(Wurdeman, 2015, p. 17). The caregivers are usually included in thistype of treatment to offer counselors the opportunity to gather dataabout the individuals concerned. Also, by being exposed to the mannerin which parents care for their young, patients get the chance toconnect ideas to reality, and, thus, break the cycle of distressingthought patterns.
Inaddition to the above, the interviewer sought an understanding of thesystems that were involved in Chris’ life. The intervieweeexperienced difficulty fitting into the social space. Also, hisinternal and external cognitive thinking were in conflict. Forexample, he alleged that sometimes he appeared calm but was angry andhurt on the inside, which led him to react violently. This reactionmay be termed as the social functioning system since it has a highcorrelation with antisocial behavior. Through the TFCBT Chris wouldbe empowered to be more expressive in a socially acceptable manner.Consequently, his anger levels would be brought down since he wouldnot harbor too much rage within him. Also, his peers would understandthe issues that annoy him this would prompt them to avoid talkingabout such subjects in his presence. In the end, Harrison would beable to admit that he has no response to the questions whose answershe lacks this would make him an easy person to interact with.
Fourth,the relationship systems in Harrison’s life were considered. Chris’thought pattern can be described as "low self-esteem." Hehad a negative opinion of himself, and at times, judged thedepressing occurrences that were out of his control as products ofhis mistakes. Consequently, he avoided forming close ties with peopleto avoid getting hurt or tried too hard to do things perfectly toplease other people. When his efforts failed, he became angry andeven violent at times, he even blamed other people for hismisfortunes. Harrison assumed that all his future relationships wouldbe similar to his past experiences. As a result, he believed thateveryone hated him and intended to ridicule or judge him. He did nottrust anyone, including his parents, and believed that no one wasinterested in offering him a helping hand. This assertion wasrevealed when he stated that he never asked anyone for help in hisworkplace. His arrogance was also a way of hiding his inability toview himself positively.
Finally,the interviewer uncovered a number of explanations that helped him tomake the appropriate decision. Chris suffered from trust issues. Acritical analysis of his life, using the systems theory, revealedthat he was fixated at the Trustvs. Mistrustphase of his life. At one point, he contended that his parents werenever around, and shipped him to boarding school once he was oldenough to advance to grade 1. Harrison, therefore, never got theprotection, nurturing, and response of his parents (to his needs).Consequently, he was incapable of developing the requisite "securityand trust” attitude since his parents were, almost, never availableduring his childhood years. The feelings of insecurity manifested inhis adulthood, resulting in him developing low self-esteem and aninability to develop at the same pace with his peers since he wasfixated at the first step of growth, according to Erikson`s theory(Click& Parker, 2011, p. 85).
Thesymptoms that Harrison revealed have been associated with the peoplewho live in the various regions of the world. For example, thesurveys of clinical anxiety and depression, involving over 480,000individuals, reveal that mental health issues are serious healthconcerns across the globe (TheUniversity of Queensland, 2012).However, anxiety problems are more prevalent in the westernsocieties, as opposed to non-western societies. 10% of the people inWestern Europe, North America, and Australia suffer from clinicalanxiety. Lower statistics have been reported in other regions. 8% and6% of the people in the Middle East and Asia, respectively, sufferfrom anxiety disorders. However, depression was less common amongWesterners, in comparison to other regions.
Lowself-esteem has also been linked with child neglect (ChildPoverty Action Group, 2013).The approaches to comprehending child abuse, however, must alsoinclude the differing expectations and standards for parenting in thevarying cultures across the globe (WorldHealth Organization, 2012, p. 59).Simply put, the culture of a particular region defines the sociallyaccepted standards of parenting. Nonetheless, studies reveal that themajority of cultures across the globe discourage child mistreatment.The WHO defines child abuse as any form of sexual, physical,emotional, or negligent maltreatment, which results in actual harm tothe infant’s survival, dignity, or development in the context oftrust, power, or relationship of responsibility (WorldHealth Organization, 2012, p. 59).Thus, Chris’ inability to develop meaningful, intimaterelationships at his age can be contextualized within the child abuserealm, even though he is a mature adult. Harrison’s parentsneglected him at a very early age. As a result, he did not develop“Trust,”which led to fixation at his first stage of development.
Studiesfocused on self-esteem between the adolescence and young adultperiods are somewhat inconsistent (Erol& Orth, 2011, p. 607).A number of studies have documented that self-esteem goes up duringthe adolescence period while others refute this claim. In addition,research conducted among young adults indicates that few writingssupport the idea that self-esteem goes up during this age.Cross-sectional data, however, supports the notion that self-esteemincreases during adulthood (Erol& Orth, 2011, p. 607).Also, males, in the young adult category, have been reported to havehigh self-esteem compared to females, although the difference hasbeen reported to be relatively small, and, in some cases,insignificant. Regarding ethnicity, Blacks have been reported to havehigher levels of self-esteem compared to the Whites during youngadulthood (Erol& Orth, 2011, p. 607).Additionally, studies indicate that the Whites have higherself-esteem than the Hispanics. Thus, considering the findingshighlighted beforehand, Harrison`s condition is not influenced bybiological, ethnic, or age factors. The primary contributor to hislow self-image is the inadequate care and attention afforded to himduring his childhood years.
Ina recap of the above discussion, an interview with a young adult,aged 22, led to the development of significant insights into Erik’sTrustvs. Mistrustpsychosocial model, because the understanding that fixation in thisdevelopmental stage affects the personality that a person developswhen he matures was developed. Erikson`s supposition hypothesizesthat the extrinsic issues, parents, and society take a significantpart in determining the personality of an individual from childhoodto maturity. Chris` parents neglected him at an early age thus, hedid not complete his first stage of development. Consequently, hedeveloped a bleak worldview. The systems theory accentuates hiscondition by systematically revealing that issues that affect him ona daily basis, and recommends a treatment option for him. Also,Harrison`s ailment is not unique to him it affects many peopleacross the globe, as discussed above.
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