Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

What is involved with the stage of Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt?

The stage of Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt parallels Freud’s anal stage and takes place from about age 18 months to about age three. During this period there is new demand for self-control and for control of bodily functions. The process of toilet training is an important example of this. With these new demands, for the first time the child is exposed to the possibility of shame. Additionally, it is a time of greater independence, when the child demands greater autonomy. Depending on the parents’ responses to the child’s behavior, the child either develops a rudimentary sense of autonomy or becomes excessively constrained by shame and doubt.


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