Episode 21: Erikson’s Eight Stages of Life

Want to learn more about Erik Erikson‘s eight stages of life? In this episode I describe each stage and give examples. We take a stroll through the various phases of life: from childhood, to adolescence, into mid-life and then we listen to two interesting voices of men nearing the end of their lives and they do so with very different perspectives John Wayne and Roy.

NOTE: If you have any trouble using the above player, try this SoundCloud player:

Memorize Erikson’s Eight Stages Once And For All!

Click the image below to hear brief interviews with individuals from Erikson’s different stages of life:


Resources for This Podcast

Memorize Erikson’s Eight Stages

Remember: pegwords are effective when they are:

  • Bizarre
  • Colorful
  • Contain action
  • Most important – when they evoke images that are familiar to you.

Here is the list of my keywords:

  1. Bun – (Trust vs. Mistrust) a rusty red (rust-colored) bun

  2. Shoe (Autonomy vs. Shame): a huge automobile (maybe a humvee?) stuffed into your shoe. The auto is driven by a guy named Shane (shame)

  3. Tree (Initiative vs. Guilt) a tree with an Inn and/or with Shia Leboef in it. A quilt (guilt) is wrapped around the tree.

  4. Dinasaur (Industry vs. Inferiority): industry: A dinosaur with dust all over it. He feels very inferior as a result.

  5. Sky Dive (Identity vs. Identity Diffusion) picture a sky diver jumping out of a plane and falling onto a car denting it. He of course is very confused as a result.

  6. Sticks (Intimacy vs. Isolation): picture two sticks in love (intimacy) they have their little twigs around each other and they kissing. I will also picture a stick all by itself (isolation).

  7. Heaven (Generativity vs. Stagnation). picture a generator (generativity) that ran out of gas and “died” and so is in heaven and a stag (stagnation) is pulling the rope to try start up the generator. Or picture all your previous generations (grandparents, etc.) are in heaven. Granda riding a stag. OR: general: you could picture a general in heaven who just shot a stag

  8. Plate (Integrity vs. Despair): picture a plate of grits (integrity) with a pear (despair) next to it on the plate.


Shakespeare describes the stages of life in his “All the World’s A Stage” speech from “As You Like It.” It was read by Reed Martin of the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

Click to go to the Reduced Shakespeare website.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

  • Here’s a great webpage which describes all of Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development.

  • I mentioned a website which discussed each of Erikson’s stages. Click here to go to Support for Change site where I found this interesting note about how adolescents “subsitute philosophy for experience”: “A significant task for us is to establish a philosophy of life and in this process we tend to think in terms of ideals, which are conflict free, rather than reality, which is not. The problem is that we don’t have much experience and find it easy to substitute ideals for experience. However, we can also develop strong devotion to friends and causes.”
  • Click here to go to StoryCorps where you’ll find lots of interesting interviews with regular folks of all ages.
  • Click here to go to the page on Archive.org where you can hear the original recording of John Wayne.

Here’s a great PowerPoint presentation on Erikson: