Trust versus mistrust
According to Erikson, between 0 and 18 months, the child has to acquire the feeling of trust without fully eliminating the feeling of mistrust (Erikson, 1950). The feeling of trust will develop in the child if they receive a positive response from the parents. He or she begins to trust his or her biological urges as well as his or her own body. This will only occur if the caregiver provides the child with a high level of familiarity and consistency.
As such, the child comes to like the social world and feels safe since those surrounding him or her are reliable and loving. If the parents provide inadequate and unreliable love by rejecting and abandoning the child or failing to satisfy the child’s needs, the child develops mistrust; hence the child develops suspicion and becomes apprehensive to those around him or her. Such a child is likely to develop malignant withdrawal syndrome, which is characterized by disorders such as psychosis, depression, and paranoia. A child who develops mistrust increases their resistance to exploration and even risk-exposure (Erikson, 1950).
If the parents provide proper balance to the child’s emotional and social needs, they develop the virtue of hope and begin to have a strong belief that things will always work out no matter how bad they may seem. A child who is patient and is not overly frustrated when situations compel him or her to wait to satisfy his or her needs is an indication that the child has successfully solved the trust versus mistrust crisis.
Thus this crisis is solved by successfully guaranteeing peaceful warmth as well as comfortable exertion to the child. Avoiding over-indulgence and avoiding over-protection of the infant while providing adequate care and feeding enables the child to develop a balance between trust and mistrust (Erikson, 1950).
During infancy, the child develops an attachment to those around him or her. This could be the mother or caregiver. Attachment is the emotional connection that the child develops towards his or her caregiver and people close to him or her. If the child’s caregiver or mother is available and responsive to their needs, the child develops a sense of security and is, therefore, able to explore the world (McAdams, 1989).
Types of Attachments
Such children depend on caregivers for comfort, and they always seek their caregivers’ assurance whenever they feel threatened. They are normally distressed whenever they are separated from their caregivers (McAdams, 1989).
Such children tend to avoid their caregivers and would prefer a complete stranger to their caregivers. Such attachments arise from neglect or abuse of the child by the caregiver, and as a result, are not emotionally attached to the caregivers (McAdams, 1989).
It is caused by poor maternal availability, and therefore such children do not depend on their caregivers to provide for their needs. However, they become extremely distressed whenever the parent laves (McAdams, 1989).
Influence of Attachment on Personality Development
The attachment impacts the child’s personality development, although the personality displayed in adulthood does not necessarily reflect those displayed in childhood. A person who had been securely attached during childhood is likely to develop good self-esteem, ability to self-disclose as well as strong romantic relationships (McAdams, 1989). They become more confident and are at ease when dealing with others. Such children can express themselves and are also able to lead and listen to others. Secure attachments promote the development of warm and close relationships. They develop autonomy, self-reliance, and control over their actions.
They become popular among their peers and are also initiative and socially competent. They also show more dominance over their peers. However, none formation of secure attachments in childhood may negatively impact the person’s later personality development. Children would display attachment problems, possibly from neglect, early abuse, or trauma. Such a child is likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, conduct disorder, or even oppositional-defiant disorder later on in life (McAdams, 1989).
Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.
McAdams, D. P. (1989). Intimacy: The need to be close. New York: Doubleday.