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Essay: Different Theorist’s Views on Human Life

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  • Published: 12 January 2020*
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Erik Erikson is the theorist behind the eight stages of development which defines eight major life crisis, which Erikson are significant in terms of individual growth and development. During each stage Erikson believes there is life crisis which we need to work through, also every individual will go through each of these stages in the same order. This theory looks at the development using five stages up until the age of eighteen, with another three stages beyond this age into adulthood. Erikson believes there is enough room for continuous growth and development throughout our lives, he feels that the adolescent stage is the most vital stage for a person to develop their identity. (miller, 2007)
The eight stages/ ages of man are:
Infancy 0-18 months, trust versus mistrust. This is when the infant learns to trust or not to trust others that care for them.
Early childhood 2-3 years old, autonomy versus shame and doubt. This is when children learn to exercise their will and control themselves or they may become unsure and doubt what they have done.
Preschool 3-5 years old, initiative and guilt. This is when children learn to initiate their own activities and enjoy what they have achieved and they become more determined, if they are not allowed to follow their own initiative they will feel guilty for their aim to become independent.
School age 5-12 years old, industry versus inferiority. This is when children learn to be competent at activities, which are valued by adults or else the child will feel inferior.
Adolescence 12-18 years old, identity versus role confusion. This is when adolescents establish a sense of personal identity, asking who I am or where I am going in my life. If they don’t establish their own identity, they will become confused about who they are and what they want out of life.
Young adulthood 18 -40 years old, intimacy versus isolation. This is when young adults develop the capacity to have intimate relationships, or they are at risk of loneliness and isolation.
Adulthood 40-65 years old, generativity versus stagnation. Adults must be productive in their work and willing to raise, the next generation or risk stagnation.
Maturity 65+, integrity versus despair. This is when individuals try to make sense of their past life and experiences, as they try to assure themselves that their lives have been meaningful or they despair over unmet goals. (Anon., 2011)
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, see diagram appendix 1

Maslow is a theorist who believes that all individuals need motivation, as without this we will have very little or no motivation at all. According to this theory we are motivated to meet our needs every individual has a range of different needs which we try to meet. Some of our needs are more basic than others, but the most basic needs must be met before we can think about other aspects of our life’s. Maslow used the term self-actualisation to describe the state, someone reaches when they have fulfilled their potential. (bingham, 2009)
A need is necessity in life to maintain a certain standard, these include the most basic needs such as warmth, fresh air, healthy diet, love, good health, protection from harm and safety all individuals should have these needs meet. (richards, 2007)

When Steven was younger his most basic needs, which was being met as he had a mother and father who provided him with the means to meet his needs. When his father left and his mother met a new partner this put Steven safety needs at risk, as his stepfather was violent and aggressive towards him and his mum. Steven needs to feel safe within his family unit and life, also his physical safety is at risk. A parent or family member should provide their children with the most basic needs, to enable that child to reach self-actualisation. Steven has no found a secure place to live getting the support he needs, therefore his basic needs are being met and through time he will reach self-actualisation and be all he can be.

Sigmund Freud’s theory was psychoanalytic theory, which looked at the personality of individuals. It is believed there is three levels to a person’s personality, these are the id, the ego and the super ego.
The id: This is the most primitive part of the personality which is selfish, self-centred and childlike. This is also driven by the pleasure principle, which looks for instant gratification of all wants and needs. If we do not meet are needs instantly, this can put us in a state of anxiety.
The ego: This is the part of our personality which is our internal adult, where the ego is in touch with reality and negotiates between the impulsive id and the moral super ego. This is known as the reality principle which seeks to please the id’s desires, this also functions in the conscious, preconscious and the unconscious mind.
The superego: This is the part of the personality that represents values and morals, it is said to be an internal parent or morality principle. (Anon., 2008)
This theory is also being associated with the unconscious forces, Freud’s psychodynamic approach suggests that the mind has three levels.
Conscious (ego) is current thoughts, feelings and perceptions that can be easily recalled.
Pre conscious (super ego) this is where we store our memories and information, these can be easily recalled with a little thought or prompting.
Unconscious (id)this is where we hold forgotten and repressed our memories, where we hide our fears and desires. Such as immoral urges or bad experiences from our past, it is not easy to get access to these thoughts and memories however they still influence our behaviour. (Anon., 2015)

Freud said that a healthy person will have a strong ego which will keep the id and superego in check with each other, if id overtakes then our impulses and desires will end affecting our relationships in life.

Freud and Maslow’s theories are completely different from each other, as they see society and the nature of human beings having different views. Humanistic theory studies the person as a whole realising that every individual is unique and that everyone is different, they also look at the person’s behaviour from the eyes of the observer and through the eyes of the person who misbehaving. Whereas Freud’s theory was based on what his patients told him, during counselling for him to get an understanding of how they behave. Humanistic theorists say that psychoanalytic theories are wrong, as they believe individuals are born with a positive drive for growth and development. Both of these theories still take into consideration the fact that individuals incorporate society’s standards, which we decide what is moral and acceptable to our behaviour. (Anon., 2007)

By looking Erik Erikson’s eight stages of man, we can have associated Steven to one of the eight stages age. As Steven is at the adolescent stage which is the identity versus role identity, this is the biggest stage of development as this as we move from childhood into adulthood. As children will become less dependent on their parents and more independent, as they want to belong and fit into a society. (Anon., 2015)
Steven is at the point in his life where he will not know where he fits, as he has been removed from the family home and placed in care. As Steven is at that vital age of moving from child to adult, this stage will be confusing to Steven as he may find transition difficult due to his situation. As Steven is no longer with his parents he may feel he as to grow up much quicker than most boys of his age, therefore he may pass through this stage quicker than most and he may not find his true role in society. However, with Steven going through this phase he will experience delinquency, therefore he may well rebel towards others as he will not like being told what to do. Within this stage Steven may will also develop the sense of what is right and what is wrong, Steven needs to be left to establish his own identity at this stage as if he gets forced into someone he is not he will become confused in what role he should play in society.

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