Intimacy versus Isolation Stage: Overview & Examples

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  • 0:02 Erik Erikson's Eight Stages
  • 2:12 Intimacy vs Isolation
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrea McKay

Andrea teaches high school AP Psychology and Online Economics and has a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Psychologist Erik Erikson is known for his theory on eight stages of social development. This lesson will focus on the stage known as intimacy vs. isolation.

Erik Erikson's Eight Stages

As you look back on your life, can you see a natural sequence of development? Did you develop continually, or did you move through various stages? Developmental psychologists explore these questions and often identify stages in our development. Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was a stage theorist who believed we move through social stages of development, and one stage of interest is the intimacy vs. isolation stage.

Erik Erikson created a theory on social development.

Erikson's stage theory focuses on the importance of social interaction throughout our lives. We are social creatures by nature (if you don't believe it, spend some time in a high school classroom). Even those who would identify themselves as shy still develop socially and interact with people around them. Erikson believed that social development is a central motivating theme in our lives, and social development can influence how we see ourselves. For that reason, Erikson's stages are often called Stages of Psychosocial Development.

Each stage in Erikson's theory presents a challenge we face at a certain time in our lives. The manner in which we handle the challenge determines our success as healthy individuals. If we do not handle the task at hand, we have difficulty in our social relationships. The stages are laid out chronologically according to age.

Age of Stage Challenge
Infancy to 1 year Trust vs. Mistrust
Toddlerhood Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Preschool Initiative vs. Guilt
Elementary School Industry vs. Inferiority
Adolescence Identity vs. Identity Confusion
Young Adulthood Intimacy vs. Isolation
Middle Adulthood Generativity vs. Stagnation
Late Adulthood Integrity vs. Despair

Intimacy Versus Isolation

As we enter young adulthood in our early 20s, we also enter Erikson's stage known as intimacy vs. isolation. During this stage, young adults face the challenge of forming close relationships with others. They develop intimate friendships and partnerships. Intimacy is commonly associated with a sexual relationship, but it's possible to have intimate friendships as well.

To Erikson, intimacy means having a close, loving relationship characterized by honesty. Relationships with family members and good friends deepen and become more solid as you learn what it means to love. Some young adults in this stage make decisions about what qualities they look for in a relationship. Some find a spouse or a future spouse.

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