Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

What does Erikson mean by Integrity vs. Despair?

This stage occurs in late life. At this point the adult is facing the end of life. In other words, the adult is facing the reality of his or her own death. Life is not infinite, it has an end and the end is getting closer. This is a time of reflection, a time to review one’s whole life. Has it been what you expected? Were there things you were disappointed about? What was meaningful? If people can come to terms with their own life as lived, they can begin to accept the reality of death. They can reach a sense of integrity, of wholeness. If they cannot accept the reality of their life, if they are plagued by a sense of unfinished business or of disappointment, they can only face death with despair.


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