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Am J Psychiatry. 1980 Nov;137(11):1348-59.

Natural history of male psychological health: IX. Empirical evidence for Erikson's model of the life cycle.


The authors examine Erikson's model of the life cycle by reviewing two 40-year prospective studies, one of 392 men from high-crime core-city neighborhoods and the other of 94 successful college students. The empirically defined developmental stage of each man at age 47 and many other facets of each man's life course were rated by judges blind to other data. The studies identified a well-defined, career consolidation stage that falls between Erikson's stages of intimacy and generativity. The results support three hypotheses. First, the stages of men's life cycle must be passed through sequentially; failure to master one stage usually precludes mastery of subsequent stages. Second, the age at which a given stage is mastered varies enormously. Third, the stage attained by middle life appears quite independent of childhood social class or education, although adult maturation is correlated with whether childhood was conducive to basic trust, autonomy, and initiative.

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