More coursework: 1 - A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I - J | K - L | M | N - O | P - S | T | U - Y


The young adult has numerous stresses placed upon them through the route of development.

Erikson has theorised developmental stages of growth into tasks. Of Eriksons' theoretical tasks,

one task describes the theory of intimacy versus isolation. This task theory can be examined using

the normative crisis model. The knowledge of developmental tasks of the young adult can be

beneficial to the nurse especially associated with their ability to relate to the young adult.

One of the stages in life is the young adult, which suggests significant changes and an increase of

responsibility. This stage of development is described as between twenty and forty years, where

"...the potential for furtherance of intellectual, emotional and even physical development occurs".

(Gething, 1995, p.377). As people age the progress of the developmental stages can differ, so they

have formulated to assess the progression by using two principal crisis models. The first, are the

normative crisis model and the second includes the timing of events crisis model. The normative

crisis model has been powerful in shaping the psychology of the developmental stages as it has

allowed theorists to imply that stages of development can follow an age related time sequence.

(Gething, 1995).

The normative crisis model suggests that human development has a built in ground plan in which

crisis as describe by Erikson are seen as a requirement that must be resolved by the person before

successful progression from one developmental stage to another. Such achievement of this task

crisis should provide the young adult with the ability to challenge previous ideas held by the

adolescent about intimacy and isolation. This model is adapted for progression of the tasks to

follow the chronological age of the adult, while the related social and emotional changes progress

through a sequence that Erikson characterises in to eight specific crisis tasks over the life span.

(Kozier, erb, blais & wilkinson, 1995.).

The second crisis model depends upon the timing of events and is not dependant upon resolution

of crisis or a ground plan, but stresses the importance of each event that occur in the young

adults life. Life events that proceed as expected will encourage development, where as life events

that are unexpected can result in anxiety and a slow progression of development. (Gething,


The young adult according to Erikson's theory of personality should be progressing through the

psychosocial crisis of intimacy versus isolation. The tasks for this stage of life consist of courting

and selecting a "mate", marriage and associated choices, e.g. children and monogamous

relationship, career choices and lifestyle changes and furthering intellectual abilities to

accommodate choices. (Turner & Helms, 1987.). Some of the personal abilities that the young

adult must employ include decision making, career planing, understanding nature of increased

responsibility and being able to accommodate greater demands of self.

Erikson's theory describes the crisis of the young adults developmental stage being intimacy

versus isolation. This indicates the maturity of psychosocial development from the prior stage of

crisis of adolescence. Erikson's theory has been adapted and modified from Freud's psychosocial

theory to incorporate the entire life span, defining eight crises each with various tasks. (Kozier,

et al 1995). Erikson believes that "...the greater the task achievement, the healthier the personality

of the person", (Kozier, et al, 1995, P.572.) thus suggesting from his theory that failure to

achieve these tasks, will result in the inability to proceed to the next task or crisis. Erikson

believed that failure to achieve any given task could lead to a detrimental effect on the ego.

(Rapoport & Rapoport, 1980.)

One of the tasks of the theory of intimacy versus isolation, relates to courting and selecting a mate

for marriage. Courting usually starts prior to this developmental stage and may continue for an

undesignated period. The continuation of courtship is entirely reliant on the individual but the

development of issues such as independence and sharing associated within a serious relationship

should be initiated. A result of this task achievement should be that the individual has developed

or learned skills that are essential to relationships, e.g. sacrifice, compromise and commitment.

This task is considered a major issue that helps the individual to conclude their own feelings on

intimacy with another. (Gething, 1995.).

The union of marriage is dependant on the partners involved as to the reason to extend a long-term relationship to marriage. Some reasons for marriage can consist of a long-term commitment

to sharing, companionship, monogamous relationship and a desire to start a family. These

characteristics symbolise dedication, expression and development of the individual's identity.

Marriage is an opportunity to overcome Erikson's negative theory of isolation and to continue

through intimacy in a positive manner. (Turner & Helms, 1987).

These issues of marriage and courtship indicate a sense of achievement between identity and

intimacy as Erikson stresses it is important as "...before one can achieve intimacy, it is essential

to have a sense of identity, which should be achieved in adolescence" (Gething, 1995, P.401). As

this sense of identity and intimacy develop the young adult should also be generating their own

sense of moral values and ethics related to relationships. (Gething, 1995,P.401). Erikson also

considers marriage a mark of an adult and constantly refers to the developmental importance of

identity. With marriage, a change in "normal" lifestyle occurs, leading to greater demands,

responsibilities and development of identity. (Gething, 1995.).

The changes in a lifestyle from an adolescent to a young adult lead to adjustment of situations,

e.g. living arrangements, change of school to a career/job and coping abilities, e.g. financial

responsibilities. The establishment of this new identity can be stressful and demanding on the

young adult. These new changes require a considerable degree of maturity, which Erikson believes

will promote physical and psychological achievement. One change in lifestyle leads to a new task,

career preparation. This is an important part of a positive aspect of identity that plays a major role

in individual development. (Rapoport, 1980).

Career preparation and achievement assist the individual to achieve further personal and

developmental goals. The ability to maintain a job gives the young adult financial independence

and they are now at a stage where they can relate establishment of themselves as a worthwhile and

significant person to their choice of careers. (Turner & Helms, 1987.).

Career development fuses with many other facts of adult life. Erikson believes the gender of a

person affects the eventual career that the young adult, the abilities, interest and personality will

also play a role in the choice of career. The consequences of career choice are often voluntarily

but can be forced upon for any number of reasons, e.g. parental advice. (Gething, 1995.).

The young adults choice in career gives identity, self-respect, pride, values and ideas about the

world. According to Erikson this gives the individual a healthier personality if they achieve set

goals. The young adults first choice of career may not be the best choice, "...young adults are less

satisfied with their jobs, and are more likely to change later in life". (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1980,

P.393). In this task the young adult discovers that work is a consequence of life, and is bound

tight with their ego and self-image. Erikson expresses that if they are not successful with this task,

the ego will be affected. (Gething, 1995).

The nurse uses this information and knowledge about the young adult's developmental tasks to

assess the domains of health. These domains can include physical, psychological and emotional

and then intervene according to the positive and negative aspects of their health. Assessing and

intervention is for the well being of the young adult. To maintain the autonomy and sense of

achievement of the young adult the nurse should suggest positive alternatives as appropriate.

Erikson describes the development of depression, anger and failure or delay of intimacy as a result

of dysfunctional development. (Gething, 1995). As the nurse can assist with advice and positive

encouragement, he or she must also accept the decision made by the young adult, "...assisting

with necessary adjustments relating to health."(Kozier, Erb et al, 1995, P.843).

The young adult period is marked with many changes to the life of a person. The decision related

to career paths, development of relationships with peers and romantic relationships all places a

lot of pressure on young adults. Erikson's psychosocial theory of development describes intimacy

versus isolation to be the major issue for the young adult in personality development for the

person in the twenty to forty years age ranges. In the tasks of this stage the young adult must

resolve the issues to achieve growth and pass on to the next stage of development. The nurse

should posses the ability to asses the development of the young adult and appropriately provide

support and encouragement.

About this resource

This coursework was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

Search our content:

  • Download this page
  • Print this page
  • Search again

  • Word count:

    This page has approximately words.



    If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

    Essay UK, Adult_1. Available from: <> [25-05-20].

    More information:

    If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal: