The Effects of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) on the Successful Achievement of Erikson’s Life Tasks
Human development from one stage in life to the next is very significant. As a matter of fact, this is a life necessity. Human development begins from when an individual is born until the time when he or she dies. This means that there is some kind of development at every stage in life. Erick Erikson suggested eight-stage human development model. This means that there are eight stages of development in human beings. The description of these stages begins from birth to death (assuming that death is in old age). This means that it is an individual who experiences development from birth to old age who can be said to have undergone the eight stages of development. Nevertheless, various factors play a major role in determining the speed and way in which a person develops through these stages (Watts, Duncan & Cockcroft, 2009). Such factors include medical, genetic and environmental factors. A major medical factor that can affect this development is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
This paper will evaluate the stages of development in human beings as suggested by Erick Erickson in his developmental stages. Before looking at the effects of obsessive compulsive disorder on these developmental stages, a discussion of what the disorder is will be provided. The paper will provide a discussion of various aspects of the disorder and the way in which they affect development in each stage of human development. The paper generally discusses the effects of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) on the successful achievement of Erikson's life tasks during developmental stages of the lifespan. Before proceeding with the discussion of these effects, it is important to understand some vital aspects of the disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Many people at times go back to the same task in order to ensure that they have accomplished it successfully. For instance, when leaving the house, some people will go back to the door before leaving to make sure the door is securely locked. Though this might be a precautionary measure, people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) become obsessive when it comes to doing such things as double-checking that the door is well locked or that an iron box is unplugged. Such people as suggested by Berios (1985) have these obsessive ideas and compulsive actions interfering with their normal daily tasks. Such thoughts and behaviors are very hard to assume in people with this disorder.
Experts in this field like Berrios (1985) refer to obsessive compulsive disorder as an anxiety disorder. Some of the main characteristics of the disorder include: invasive thoughts that cause fear, apprehension, uneasiness, or worry, and by repetitive actions that are aimed at lowering the apprehension, anxiety, or by a blend of these kinds of obsession and compulsions. Obsessive compulsive disorder exhibit various symptoms like too much cleaning or washing; repetitive checking; excessive hoarding; obsessions with aggressive, sexual or religious ideas; dislike towards specific numbers; and anxious practices like opening and closing a door for sometime before making entry or exit. Such actions can tend to be alienating as well as time consuming. They can also result in serious financial and emotional distress. For the people suffering from this disorder, their actions can seem paranoid and possibly psychotic. Nevertheless, individuals suffering from the disorder normally distinguish their actions and behaviors as irrational, a realization that may render them more distressed.
According to Berrios (1985) obsessive compulsive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders. It is as a matter of fact believed to be fourth in the list of the most common mental illness. Its diagnosis is almost as often as other common disorders like diabetes mellitus and asthma. One out of 50 adults has been diagnosed with this disorder in the United States. The disorder also affects children as well as adolescents. Approximately one third to one half of adults with the disorder, report having experienced initial symptoms of the disorder during their childhood age. This suggests a “continuum of anxiety disorders across the life span” (Stewart et al. 2007: 285). The author asserts that the term obsessive-compulsive has come to be included in the English dictionary, and is normally applied in a caricatured or informal way in describing people who are extremely careful, perfectionistic, engrossed, or obsessed. However, it is important to note that even if these signs are normally present in people suffering from the disorder, it does not necessarily mean that every person exhibiting them is suffering from it. Additionally, with these symptoms, a person could be suffering from any other mental disorder like an autism spectrum disorder, or even no medical disorder.
Regardless of the irrational behavior exhibited by individuals suffering from OCD, the disorder is at times related to above-average intelligence. However, there is need for clarification in that there are patients of the disorder who will reveal below-average intelligence while others show above average intelligence. People suffering from the disorder normally have common personality characteristics like high attention to detail, cautious planning, evasion of risk, overstated feeling of guilt, and a propensity to be careful in decision making. It has been suggested that various factors are responsible for the development of the disorder. One of the tests that are used in assessing the seriousness of the symptoms is a standardized rating scale like Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale.
Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development and OCD effect
Several theorists in psychology have sent light on the issue of development through a life span. They all have identified the fact that every human being continues to develop from one stage to another throughout their life (Smith and Baltes, 1999). Majority of the developmental theories seek to provide an understanding of developmental trajectories and elements of the environmental context that could change at some point the course of life and have an impact on the trajectory. Erik Erickson is one of the prominent theorists in the area of human development throughout a life span. His theory is based on psychosocial stages that span from birth to old age (Erikson, 1959). His theory put an emphasis on stage-particular social tasks which assist interpersonal development as well as the significance of transition periods from one stage to the next. These transition points are characterized by a change in goals, values as well as major social tasks.
The initial stage of development according to Erikson is the infancy stage. This stage starts from birth to when an individual is 18 months. The stage is also referred to as the oral sensory stage. The positive and loving care of the primary care giver, who in most cases is the mother, is the major emphasis of the infant. At this point, touch and visual contact with the mother are stressed. According to Watts, Duncan & Cockcroft (2009), once a person goes through this stage successfully, there is the aspect of learning that life is basically fine. The provision of care, affection, love and reliability during this stage leads to the development of a sense of trust. Their lack on the other hand leads to a sense of mistrust. The major conflict in this stage is trust vs. mistrust. The art of feeding is developed in this stage, which is an oral stage. During this stage, it is not possible to diagnose obsessive compulsive disorder. In this case, it is not possible to recognize the effect of the disorder on development in this stage.
The next stage of development according to Erikson is the early childhood development stage. This is a stage that occurs between the ages of 18 months to three years. This is the stage where children are learning to master various skills on their own. As they learn how to walk, they also learn to talk and feed on their own during this stage. They also learn finer motor development at this stage. One of the skills that children are taught at this stage is toilet training. They also develop a feeling of autonomy as well as personal control over their physical abilities. Many other skills are developed during this stage as well as the ability to refuse; they learn to say “no.” They also begin learning right from wrong. Success in this stage leads to a sense of independence and self-esteem (Dacey, Travers and Fiore, 2009). Stewart et al (2007) argues that it is possible for children at this age to be diagnosed with OCD. Such children will have problems with development of basic skills such as coordination. This will make their movement awkward. This makes their completion of the second stage of development ineffective. Their ability to walk, feed and talk will be affected by the disorder. This also hinders effective learning of other basic skills such as toilet training, and playing with toys and other children, among others. Development is basically delayed because of the disorder. At this point a child can start developing sense of shame as well as uncertainty on his or her ability.
The stage that follows early childhood is the preschool stage or the play age stage. This stage of development starts from three to five years. Initiative vs. guilt is the main conflict that children at this age go through. During this stage, the child is generally exploiting the world around him or her. During this stage, they start to emphasize on power and control over their immediate environment. This is the period when they begin copying things that adults around them are doing. Children here also begin developing play situations. They make up stories, play out roles, and experiment with blueprints what is meant to be a grownup. They are curious as they want to understand the reason why things are how they are. This is where they become very inquisitive, with many “whys” beings asked. Children at this stage experience oedipal struggle. This problem is solved through social role identification. Success here leads to a sense of purpose while failure causes a guilt feeling (Dacey, Travers and Fiore, 2009). OCD can be diagnosed at this stage which can hinder success in completing this stage. A child with this disorder cannot successfully achieve control and power over his immediate environment. This is because of the need to be thorough as well as anxiety that accompanies the disorder. As other normal children develop stories and model real life situations, those with the disorder are left behind because of apprehension or the need to be careful. As others are experiencing with various games or toys, a child suffering from OCD might have an obsession for one game or toy. Their situation might be accompanied by guilt as they fail to accomplish tasks. They also lack a sense of purpose hindering their successful movement to the next stage (Stewart et al, 2007).
School age stage of development is the age between six and eleven years. During this age, individuals are able to create, learn and achieve different abilities as well as knowledge. This in turn leads to the development of a feeling of diligence and hard work. Social development also occurs during this stage. It is because this is the period where there is interaction with school-mates, teachers as well as neighbors. A sense of inferiority accompanies failure to successfully complete the requirements of this stage. Sense of lack of competence, and thus low self-esteem also comes with failure in this stage (Watts, Duncan & Cockcroft, 2009). Social skills are affected by children who are suffering from OCD during this stage. The disorder affects children socially causing isolation. Children at this stage will be affected because their ability to interact with others is affected. It is hard for children with the disorder to make friends and interact with new environments. Developing other skills like writing, reading, and problem-solving is limited in children suffering from OCD. Low esteem accompanies failure during this stage. This can also cause withdrawal and further isolation (Berrios, 1985).
Adolescent stage of development takes place from the age of 12 to 18 years. Identity vs. role confusion is the major conflict for individuals during this stage. It is during this stage that individuals develop a feeling of self identity and personality. During the adolescent stage of development, life gets more complicated as individuals are struggling with social interactions, moral values and self identity. One of the major tasks of adolescents is trying to seek what they are as separate people. Others around begin to withdraw from their responsibilities, leading individuals at this stage to develop attachment and commitment to friends and develop other causes of action (Dacey, Travers and Fiore, 2009). For a person suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder feelings of anxiety, uneasiness and apprehension become magnified. This is because of the uncertainties that are associated with their pending adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it. In order to deal with the feelings, they are more likely to be overly cautious as well as perform repetitive actions. For instance in the efforts look smart, one can be involved in actions such as repetitive washing and cleaning. Social interactions are also affected due to isolation that comes with the disorder. Major effects here will be role confusion as well as weal sense of identity (Stewart et al. 2007).
From the ages of 19 to 40 years, the stage in development is young adulthood. This is the stage where mature relationships are sought. Relationships which are mutually beneficial are sought with close friends or marriage. Intimacy is experienced through successful completion of this developmental stage. On the other hand, failure to meet the challenges and demands of this stage leads to isolation. This is the main effect if OCD during this stage. Because of the effects of the disorder, it is hard to form relationships at this stage. Poor judgment, anxiety, and apprehension among other aspects of the disorder affect formation of relationships (Berrios, 1985).
Diagnosis of OCD is rarely performed during the later stages of development. These two stages of development are middle adulthood and maturity stages. Middle adulthood is the stage between the ages of between 40 to 65 years. During this age, individuals develop or nurture things that will outlive them (Dacey, Travers and Fiore, 2009). They have children and develop major changes that will eventually be beneficial to others. Stagnation in life results from failure to effectively complete this stage, while a sense of accomplishment comes with success. The final stage in development is the maturity stage. This is the age of 65 to death. A feeling of fulfillment accompanies a reflection of accomplished life. Despair and regrets comes with failed life, while pride accompanies success in life. OCD affecting former stages of life can have a major impact on the final stage of development Watts, Duncan & Cockcroft, 2009).
Human beings develop throughout their life span in different stages. Such stages have been proposed different developmental psychology theorists, one of them being Erick Erikson. In his model, development takes place in eight different stages, with a person completing one stage before commencing the next. However, there are various factors that affect successful completion of one stage to the next. One such factor is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Various aspects of development that are affected by this disorder have been discussed.
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